I’ve been a fan of the Miami Dolphins since 1969, through their heyday and despite that um, they’ve not been playing good football for a long time and haven’t made the playoffs as consistently as they once did.
I have other teams I like to see play, like the Rams, who I liked because of their helmets, believe it or not. All in all, if the NFL is playing I’m watching… because it’s football. Locally, there are three teams many root for: The Washington Redskins (often called the Deadskins), the Balitmore Ravens (who were once the Cleveland Browns) and the current and defending SuperBowl champions, the Philadelphia Eagles who were, more often than not, called the “Slegles” because if they didn’t have a shitty season, they’d choke in big games and play like they were a high school football team.
Last night, the defending champs played the Chicago Bears and despite the Bears having the #1 defense, it was a missed – or now, officially – field goal that allowed the champs to continue in the playoffs and ended the Bears’ season and, expectedly, vilifying their kicker… and a guy who once played for the Eagles and was released because, um, he kept missing field goals at critical times and losing games.
Now, I’m not an Eagles fan, not like I am a fan of the Rams who’ll be playing this coming weekend… but they’re one of the local teams and many football fans will keep an eye on their local team even if not a real fan. I also like Kansas City’s chances; they’ve been playing lights-out football with an amazing QB and coached, by the way, by the same guy who once coached the Eagles and made them into a division powerhouse if not, sadly, Super Bowl champions.
But the Eagles, led once again by the guy they call Saint Nick – QB Nick Foles – pulled out a win when everything was pointing to the fact that their usual late-game heroics weren’t gonna save them this time.
And as he’s proven he can do, Saint Nick pulled another “miracle” out of his pack with a fourth down, this is the game and season – touchdown to Golden Tate but leaving time in the clock for Chicago and their QB, Mitch Trubinsky – to stage a comeback of their own.
And I was t surprised that the Eagles’ defense, which is usually pretty good, just failed to stop the Bears from getting into field goal range which set up the thrilling scenario a lot of football fans live for.
It’s fourth down, ten seconds left on the clock, and Chicago is setting up to kick the game winning field goal which is well within their kicker’s range. As expected, the Eagles call their last time out to freeze the kicker, a game tactic that, in most cases, doesn’t work. The time out is called at just the right moment, the whistle blows to stop play but the Bears’ kicker goes ahead and kicks the ball anyway – and the kick was good.
I don’t know about anyone else watching the game and in that moment, but I got a sense of what was gonna happen before it did… because Mr. Murphy is also a fan of football, it seems, that and game commentators have a long history of jinxing kickers by talking about their current record and how they’ve not missed kicks from distances that are well inside their range.
Time’s back in and I’m nowhere near Soldier’s Field, not a true Eagles fans in that sense – or a Bears’ fan – but I cold feel the tension and suspense at the long snapper did his job, the holder grabs it and spins the ball so that the laces face away from the kicker, who is already into his kicking motion.
Now it’s an exercise in… geometry? Not really sure what science is involved but as the kicker makes contact – and there are bodies flying all over the place – if you could mentally track the ball’s vector, you knew it was gonna hit the goalpost before it actually hit it. But, as these things can go, it deflected downward after hitting the goalpost and how many times have we’ve seen a ball whack the goalpost and bounce over the crossbar and go through?
My eyes tracked the ball from the moment the kicker made contact, knew it was gonna hit the goalpost, watched it bounce off the crossbar… and back into the field of play.
And I said, “Holy shit… they won. Again.” I also knew that the poor kicker was gonna get crucified and the network dutifully showed this same guy missing game winning field goals earlier in the season and, how about that – some of them got doinked in the exact same way this season ending kick did.
The Eagles dodged yet another bullet; Bears fans are looking for some rope to string the kicker up but, wait just a moment! Seems that the NFL had a reason to take a really close, frame by frame look at the kick and it appears that an Eagles’ defender got just enough of a finger on the ball to affect its trajectory and cause it to go more left than intended.
So… homey didn’t get frozen by the timeout and choke – his missed for a reason. Still, disgusted Bears fans probably ain’t gonna care that their kicker missed because the ball got tipped by the merest of fractions of space – he still missed, the hopes to advance deeper into the playoffs is gone and the Bears will be looking for a new kicker next season.
Then there’s the Ravens’ game against the Colts. If you watched that game, you know that Baltimore lost a close game… but it’s how they lost it that, I think, will stir up some shit in the offseason, like the head coach’s decision to stick with his rookie QB who wasn’t getting anything done until late in the fourth quarter while keeping their more experienced and Super Bowl winning QB on the bench… and more so when said rookie fumbled away the Ravens’ chance to pull out a last minute save.
Coach Harbaugh will be second-guessed for this by a lot of armchair, Monday morning coaches as well as the experts in the game; the coach – and even the players and owner will defend the decision because, as one of the commentators of the same brought to the viewers’ attention – and as said to some fans by a Ravens’ player, “We got here with number 8 so show him some love and stop being fair weather fans!”
That maybe so… but number 8 did cost them the game, didn’t he? His inability to move the offense just made the Colts’ defense look really damned good and, perhaps, better than they usually are and before the end of the first half, even the commentators were of a mind that a QB change was coming because, clearly, this kid just flat out sucked and as his -2 yards of passing indicated.
But they change never came and by the time the third quarter was half over, the fans were screaming at Harbaugh it put Joe Flacco into the game… and the expert commentators were wondering why Harbaugh wasn’t listening and doing what, statistically, makes sense: If the guy playing ain’t getting it done, put the guy in who can, oh, like the guy who has led the team to many playoffs by winning the divisions and, oh, yeah, won the damned Super Bowl.
Besides, how much worse could things get given that things were already quite fucked up? The cameras kept showing Flacco sitting on the bench and showing shots of Harbaugh studiously ignoring the very loud chants to get Flacco into the game and with the hopes that he can turn the game around so they could extend their season.
And we’ll never know if Flacco could have done just that. The Colts now have a date with the Kansas City Chiefs and while Colts QB Andrew Luck played brilliantly as dis the Colts’ defense, um, wow… have you seen KC’s offense with Patrick Mahomes at QB? Their defense hasn’t been… consistently outstanding but, um, when your offense can put up 50 and make it look magically easy…
Just wanted to share this with y’all because I’m still sitting so,what amazed that the Eagles keep finding ways to win games that they should have lost.