Monday Morning Hangover

The Giants played their worst game of the 2008 season on Sunday, losing to the Eagles in a performance worse than the Columbus Day embarrassment in Cleveland. The Giants could not find any rhythym offensivley and defnsively they couldn’t get a third down stop. Put the two together and you have recipe for disaster or in this case a recipe for a loss to the Eagles.

It’s hard to get down on the Giants who are now 11-2 because we all know they aren’t going to win every game. No team does that. I guess you can say one team did that, but then they lost when it really mattered.

The loss to the Eagles is going to be dramatized as the Giants not being able to live without Plaxico Burress or the fact that the Eagles are back and in the hunt for a playoff spot. Neither of the two explanations for today’s loss is true, the reason for the loss lies in three game changing moments.

The first of these moments would be the play action pass from Eli Manning to Domenik Hixon that could have resulted in a touchdown on the play and if not it would have put the Giants in position to at least score a touchdown. Eli’s pass could not have been any better as it was right on the money to Hixon, but the receiver just simply missed it as a potential six point play slipped through his hands.

The second moment would be the missed tackle by Kenny Phillips on a 3rd and long that would have forced the Eagles to punt and given the Giants a chance to drive down the field and take the lead in a game where they couldn’t have played any worse.

And the third moment would be the play on another third down where the Giants appearred ready to sack Donovan McNabb, but instead after about three minutes of standing in the pocket, McNabb found Brian Westbrook streaking from left to right behind the line of scrimmage and with only Antonio Pierce covering him Westbrook raced to the end zone with ease. This play turned out to be the dagger that ended the Giants day.

Had even one of those plays gone the Giants way, then we are sitting here celebrating a Giants win and a 12-1 record. But I am not going to sit here and be a poor sport and say that the Giants should have won. That is something only Donovan McNabb would do.

McNabb cracks me up. He really is a joker. And I am not talking about his inconsistent play either. I am talking about his words and his actions as a professional athlete and a person.

On Sunday after earning a first down, that’s right a first down. Not a touchdown. Not a win. After a first down, Donovan McNabb raced to the sideline and waved to the fans at Giants Stadium before pumping his fist and then chest bumping his teammates. At the time the Eagles led the Giants late in the game and looked to be on their way to win the game. At the same time the Eagles were 6-5-1 and on their way to not making the postseason once again. But apparently that did no register in Donovan’s mind.

Then after the game, Donovan told reporters (as seen on ESPN) that the Eagles “should have won the first game.” Not only did the Eagles lose the first game 36-31 at home, but they allowed 200 rushing yards and had the Giants capitalized a few more times in the red zone, the game could have been a lot worse for the Eagles. But there is nothing worse than when a professional athlete says his team “should have won” because then he is giving the impression that not only does he have poor sportsmanship, but he is also displaying his stupidity. I am not sure a team that tied the Bengals and got embarrassed by the Ravens “should” have beaten the Giants in their first meeting, but then again it’s Donovan McNabb talking and you have to take whatever he says with a grain of salt.

But anyways back to things that matter and teams and players that matter. Like I said, a perfect season is imaginary. And finishing 15-1 after being 4-1 wasn’t very likely either. So, it is hard to be upset with the Giants after winning seven straight and 11 of 13. The loss once again humbled a team who could definitely use the humbling loss before the playoffs begin. The last time they lost, they were able to knock off seven wins in a row. So, maybe their loss to the Eagles is a blessing in disguise. Because it certainly isn’t a bad thing given the events that occured later in the day…

If John Sterling called football games instead of Yankees games, the broadcast of Tony Romo’s interception at the end of the Pittsburgh game would have sounded something like this:


After a day in which the G-Men couldn’t have played worse, at 7:24 PM Eastern Standard Time, the New York Giants became your 2008 NFC East Champions. And at that moment the 2008 Dallas Cowboys ended their own season. (Cue: Beautiful Day by U2)

For the third straight season, Tony Romo played the role of the biggest goat in the National Football League as he and the mighty Cowboys squandered a 13-3 lead late in the fourth quarter, eventually losing 20-13 to the Steelers. It was an extraordinary turn of events and possibly the worst collapse of the season. (I understand that the Sage Rosenfels debacle in Indy was worse, but this game had a lot more at stake).

In 2006 the Cowboys season ended when Tony Romo couldn’t get down the snap on a game winning field goal attempt against Seattle in the playoffs.

Last season the Cowboys season ended when Tony Romo threw an interception in the end zone against the Giants in the divisional playoff.

And yesterday the Cowboys season ended when Tony Romo threw a pick six to — of the Steelers in a game the Cowboys had to have and did have with only minutes remaining.

Romo finished the day with one touchdown and three interceptions in what was essentially a playoff game for the Cowboys. But when he threw that interception with — remaining in regulation and the score knotted at 13, he didn’t just throw a pick six, he threw away the Cowboys season, Wade Phillips’ job, and all of Cowboys fans’ hopes of winning a playoff game for the first time since 1996.

Romo might have gaudy stats. He might post ridiculous regular season numbers. He might be regarded as one of the best at his position in the entire league. But when the game or season is on the line, there is no else in the league who could possibly blow it as bad as Tony. But now he can have the entire spring and summer to vacation and relax with his gorgeous celebrity girlfriend (Jessica Simpson), the same way another regular season hero (Alex Rodriguez) spends his time during the World Series, though his celebrity girlfriend (Madonna) is well below Simpson.

Sure, the Cowboys are still listed at the sixth seed in the playoffs right now, but they also have to face the Giants, Ravens, and Eagles to finish out their 2008 schedule. The Falcons who have the same record as the Cowboys (but one less conference win) end their season by playing the Bucs, Vikings, and Rams. And even the Eagles who are a 1/2 game behind both the Cowboys and Falcons have an easier finish than Dallas because they play the Browns, Redskins, and Cowboys.

Here is what the NFC playoffs look like right now (it will change after the Tampa Bay/Carolina game on MNF):

1. New York Giants, 11-2 (East) *
2. Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 9-3 (South)
3. Minnesota Vikings, 8-5 (North)
4. Arizona Cardinals, 8-5 (West) *
5. Carolina Panthers, 9-3
6. Dallas Cowboys, 8-5
7. Atlanta Falcons, 8-5
8. Philadelphia Eagles, 7-5-1

* – Clinched division

There is a very good chance that the Dallas/Philly game in Week 17 could be the deciding game for the sixth seed in the playoffs. With the Eagles playing the Browns this week, they will be 8-5-1, and with the Cowboys playing the Giants there is a more than likely chance they will be 8-6. The Eagles would jump them in the standings and could move into the last playoff spot, pending what the Falcons do.

With the Giants losing and the Eagles winning and the Falcons losing and the Cowboys losing, the NFC playoff picture just got a whole lot more interesting. Had the Giants and Falcons won today, both the Eagles and Cowboys would be eliminated for the most part, but instead they are very much in the race for a wild card berth.

Brett Favre is overrated. There I said it and it is the truth. There are plenty of football fans out there who don’t want to believe that statement and who would argue it saying that Favre is a hero, a legend, and a football icon, but really the man is just a guy who won one Super Bowl and has been able to stay healthy long enough to hang around and play in a lot of games in a row.

Brett Favre isn’t a bad player, but he isn’t who many think he is. He isn’t this legendary figure who flies in and gives a memorable performance in a big game and he is nowhere near being one of the elite quarterbacks in the NFL. Instead he is the man who usually takes the ball with a siutation to give his team a chance to win and his efforts normally wind up with the opposition sealing the deal on a victory.

It has gotten to the point that you just know Brett Favre is going to do something to cost his team the game. Whether it is overthrowing a receiver on a possible easy completion or throwing a pick at the most inopportune of times, Brett Favre always lets his team down.

I understand that Brett Favre has played in three million consecutive games and that he is still playing quarterback in the NFL at an old age, but really he is just football’s version of Cal Ripken Jr. Favre has won one Super Bowl and has picked up three MVP awards. Ripken won a single World Series and received two MVP awards. Favre has his record of consecutive games started by a quarterback and Ripken holds the record for most games played in Major League Baseball. But the two of them just hung around and around and then hung around some more, creating this false image that they were better than they actually were.

Today’s loss wasn’t necessarily Brett Favre’s fault considering his defense couldn’t get a stop against Shaun Hill and Frank Gore and they couldn’t get a stop even when Frank Gore left the game with an injury. But the Jets lost and are now faced with a chance of missing the playoffs.

Isn’t it funny that only a couple of weeks ago the nation was talking about the New York Jets being the team to beat in the AFC? I think it’s hilarious.

I think it’s funny that the New York Jets have gone from possible No. 2 seed to possibly giving the New York Mets a run for their money for the worst regular season collapse in the history of sports. Only two weeks ago the Jets were 8-3 coming off wins at New England and Tennessee. Now they are 8-5 with back-to-back losses to supposed lesser opponents and looking at missing the postseason. Two weeks the Jets were a lock, a guarantee, a certainty for the AFC East title. But in just 14 days their world has been turned upside down and now they are faced with the very real chance that they just might not reach the playoffs, again.

At the same time the country was annointing the Jets as the AFC’s best, the Patriots and Dolphins were barely breathing in the playoff race and their 2008 seasons were close to being over. But while the Jets have been mailing it in as if they were auditioning to be the official team of DHL, the Patriots and Dolphins have crept back up on the Jets and have made the AFC East a race once again.

All three teams sit at 8-5 entering Week 15. And the Jets might hold the tie-breaker advantages now, but the Dolphins still have to play the 49ers, Chiefs, and Jets and the Patriots have the Raiders, Cardinals, and Bills. With these two schedules, the Jets final three games against the Bills, Seahawks, and Dolphins give the Jets the hardest path to the postseason.

As for the rest of the AFC, well it looks like this:

1. Tennessee Titans, 12-1 (South)
2. Pittsburgh Steelers, 10-3 (North)
3. New York Jets, 8-5 (East)
4. Denver Broncos, 8-5 (West)
5. Indianapolis Colts, 9-4
6. Baltimore Ravens, 9-4
7. Miami Dolphins, 8-5
8. New England Patriots, 8-5

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