Monday, January 21, 2008

Thoughts on the Championship Games

Getting in Touch with my Feelings

This sucks. I was all ready to root against the Patriots in the Super Bowl because I'm not prepared to deal with the ludicrous hyperbole that will come from certain quarters. (The opening bit about how the '86 Lakers and '07 Colts intentionally lost because they were terrified of the Celtics and Patriots and that this deprived Boston fans of their just desserts was possibly the perfect encapsulation of Sports Guy's bitchiness. His team is on the brink of the first 19-0 season in NFL history and he still manages to piss and moan about how it's all so unfair for Boston fans. These people really cannot let the Red Sox Persecution Complex go.) I was ready to root for the Packers. Hell, I was even ready to root for the Cowboys. But now? I have to root for a New York team? And after my enjoyment of baseball was slowly destroyed by the incessant Yankees-Red Sox drumbeat from the Worldwide Leader, we'll now be subjected to two weeks of hype leading up to a Boston-New York Super Bowl? Kill me now.

I felt annoyed about not having a rooting interest in the Super Bowl, but nothing cheers me up quite like a little Hitler humor:


I was interested to read how Peter King would react to his man-crush Brett Favre playing so poorly in the Packers' biggest game of the season. Naturally, he totally ignored Favre's role in the game. King spends roughly 5,500 words on the two games and only at the very end meekly points out that Brett shouldn't have thrown a pick to R.W. McQuarters. Really, doctor? Would it pain you to also point out that Favre threw a terrible pick to Corey Webster to set the Giants up for the winning field goal in overtime? Or that Favre preceded his interception to McQuarters with a truly dreadful throw into triple-coverage? Will Deanna no longer invite you over for tea and crumpets if you point out when her husband throws abysmal passes that would cause various talking heads to label just about any other NFL quarterback as a choker or a terrible passer? Yesterday's game really made me think that Favre is the anti-Bonds. Barry Bonds gets treated ruthlessly by the press because he is, by all accounts, a prick (or at least he's a prick to the media). Favre can get away with terrible throws that would lead any other quarterback to be pilloried because he is, by all accounts, a really good guy. And let me be even more frank, just to show you that I'm not a hard-hearted man, and that it's not all dollars and cents: I was rooting for Favre after reading the Sports Illustrated Sportsman of the Year piece. That said, sports are supposed to be about performance and Favre's performance was not good yesterday. At one point in the fourth quarter, I was cringing at the idea of Bill Belichick having two weeks to come up with pressure schemes designed to force Favre into excessively risky throws. What does it say that I'm far more confident that Eli Manning will be able to handle the looks that the Pats will throw at him than Fave would?

That said, Favre had no running game to speak of and New York's defensive line won its match-up with the Packers' offensive line, so Favre shouldn't be singled out as the only reason why Green Bay lost. It's not easy to win on a windy day when your running back produces a tad more than two yards per carry.

I don't know if anyone else noticed this, but Favre seemed to have a lot of problems when Green Bay was heading left-to-right on the TV. I assume that there is a wind-related explanation for this, but Favre was unable to complete anything other than very short screen passes in the first quarter, the fourth quarter, and overtime. He was OK in the second and third quarters. Eli Manning, on the other hand, was able to consistently make passes throughout the game.

Random Stuff

In case you're wondering, I did feel quite conflicted by the fact that Charles Woodson and Amani Toomer were matched up against one another all game.

Did anyone else notice that Philip Rivers' first pick was caused by Mike Vrabel kicking out his leg as he flew by and tripping Rivers during his delivery? Isn't tripping, you know, illegal? And why was I able to notice this, but Jim Nantz and Phil Simms prattled on about Rivers making a bad throw? Should the slogan for the Pats' linebackers be "we're old and slow, but we know the best ways to cheat"? (Actually, Vrabel had run right around Marcus MacNeil on that play, so slow isn't the right word for him.)

Norv Turner redeemed his reputation in this post-season, but the guy is a really, really conservative coach. Punting from the 36 down two scores in the fourth quarter is the most obvious example, but did it seem to anyone else that San Diego's playcalling on first and second downs was, dare I say it, Big Ten-esque?

I was impressed by the Pats' ability to switch identities on offense based on the opponent. With Brady struggling and the Chargers doing a good job on the Pats' spread formations, New England was able to shift course and run Laurence Maroney using two tight end sets. Now I can see what Charlie Weis was trying to 20-hour practice weeks with inexperienced players who lack basic fundamentals.

I was quite amused to read this piece, which concludes as follows:

"Sports in my view is a highly disposable product in that it has a significant decline in viewer interest once you know the outcome," said [Jeff] Genthner, the general manager of Atlanta-based regional sports networks FSN South and SportSouth. "So therefore you know that when people watch your sports event they are watching it live and can't fast-forward through the commercials. Agencies and advertisers know that as well."

while Der Wife and I were watching the Packers-Giants game on DVR and fast-forwarding through the commercials. Because the Pats-Chargers game started at the same time as the Barca-Racing match (yes, I know I'm probably the only person who viewed this as a legitimate conflict), I decided to DVR both, watch the first half of the Barca match, and then start the Pats game with a 45 minute delay so I could fast-forward through commercials. That 45-minute lag lasted me through halftime so I ended up having to watch the second half in real time. In case you're scoring at home, that's 45 minutes of commercials and useless piffle from the CBS studio crew in a 100-minute period. The lesson I took is that there is no reason to start an NFL game less than one hour after the actual start time. I've said it before and I'll say it again: no league pisses on its fans quite like the NFL.


Kenneth said...

I will be rooting for Patriots, not because I actually like that team or that city. In fact I cannot imagine how annoying all Boston people will be if they win the Super Bowl.

I will be rooting for the Patriots out of hatred for the 1972 Dolphins. I am very tired of hearing from every single member of that team. I just wish they would shut up and stay retired, especially Don Shula. They all come across a petulant children who will not give anyone credit. My wish is this Super Bowl will slip them back into their whole, and I can starting hating the Patriots.

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