Thursday, January 19, 2006

Professor Ellis D Trails Championship Game Syllabus

What a wild weekend from the perspective of the referees. To err is human, but to complete disregard is abhorrent and inexcusable.

This week’s Colts game brought me back to my childhood. I recalled an experience that I had buried among the many heartbreaks that my city has so fruitfully given me.

I was 13 and was going to an Eagles game with my Uncle. We didn’t have much in common other than Football and that was a lot considering my father was less than a sports enthusiast. It was week 4 and I was looking forward to this game, as the Eagles were 1-2 and were in need of a win, but the Colt’s were 0-3 and looked poor to say the least. As you can deduce, I felt confident.

Jack Trudeau was on his way out with Jeff George backing him up and Eric Dickerson on the downside of his career, making his final pro bowl the year before in 1989. They had the juggernaut, Albert Bentley taking the load, Ha Ha. The Eagles had Randall, Byers, Barnett, Williams, Keith Jackson, one of the earliest RBBC that I can recall with Sherman, Toney, Sanders, hell even Robert Drummond, and a sick defense that was still getting better.

I remember the Birds took the early lead after the they stalled a drive at the five and had a couple of strong opportunities to score. This would come back to haunt them later in the game. Toward the end of the quarter, Jack Trudeau hit Jessie Hester from the 5 as the Colts took the lead. I thought, of course they could get it in from the five and we couldn’t. Randall and his gang wiped away my melancholy with an awesome second quarter. Cunningham first hit Keith Jackson with a touchdown from just inside mid-field and the Eagles were flying. He threw another TD a couple of drives later to Arkansas Freddie Barnett, I don’t remember how far, but I do remember the catch was awesome. It was halftime and I was thoroughly enjoying a 17-10 lead after Indy scored a field goal just before the quarter ended.

During the break, I thoroughly enjoyed my soft pretzel with mustard as my Uncle was trying to hit on this drunken lady some seats down from ours. She smelled like a sponge soaked in week old Yeungling Lager. I didn’t care my team was in control, or so I thought.

Anyway, the third quarter was underway and before I knew it the lead was now 20-10. I remember being happy that the field goal by the Colts at the end of the half was now erased. Then, as I was counting down the minutes to victory, they drove down the field on us. Just when I thought that we would hold them to a field goal, Bentley breaks off a TD that was thirty yards or something. I was pissed. I remember screaming curses that my uncle was completely unaware that I even knew. The rest of the game was a struggle.

Neither team could muster any offense and I just wanted the game to end so the Eagles could take their win. With about five minutes left in the game, the Eagles drove down to the Colt’s ten, but again all they could get was a field goal, up by six. The Eagles stopped the Colts on their next drive and all they had to do was get a first down to end the game. One first down. That’s it. Simple, right, NO!! They were forced to punt back to the Colts with 1:06 left. I will never forget that. Indy had the ball on their own 25. NO problem, right, again NO!! Jack FUCKING Trudeau drove the shitty colts down the field against the absolute worst prevent defense I have ever seen. Prior to this drive, my uncle was convinced the game was over. We were making our way around the inner ring of the Vet as to get closer to the exit while still watching the end. As we moved, so did the Colts. We were not believing the ineptness that our defense was showing us. We ended up stopping to watch the final few plays of the game right behind the handicapped section. It came down to one final play. 6 seconds and they were down 6. They needed a touchdown and we had Eric Allen. We were golden. Nope. Jack FUCKING Trudeau hits Bill Brooks with no time remaining to take the game. I was so fucking mad that I kicked whatever was in front of me. It just happened to be an Eagle fan in a wheelchair. I screamed so much and with such a fury that I couldn’t go anywhere for almost an hour. I had so much pent up rage stemming from my colorful childhood life, that it all just came out in a wave. I hated the Colts for a long time after that. Eventually, I moved on as a football fan, but anytime there is a deciding play at the end of an Indianapolis game, i.e. Harbaugh’s pass going through the WR’s hands at Pittsburgh, I just can’t help but go back to that painful day in Philadelphia

These are the final games leading up to the Superbowl in Detroit. This is the closest the Lion’s fans get to see a Lombardi Trophy in their town. There should be some good matchups this week and I for one cannot wait to see how the survivors of “refs rule weekend” come out and play.

Carolina made the vaunted Chicago Defense look like a high school team. Someone needs to check under Steve Smith’s Jersey, I think he might be a robot. He is insane. I could only imagine what he could do with a WR on the other side that even had a smidgen of talent. It’s a shame that De’Shaun broke his ankle. Hopefully he can come back at full strength next year. Seattle on the other hand, played a different game. They survived their game, despite losing the MVP of the league very early. Washington was not able to capitalize on some mistakes, but the Seattle defense played well. This week, Carolina brings their road show into Seattle and will try to do their part in making it a 5 seed vs. a 6 seed in the SB for the first time ever. Two wildcards could possibly be playing for the title. This proves beyond any doubt that our league has changed. This one is going to be a close one. Both teams are hungry and I think the intangible of being at home will help Seattle in this one. Those fans have been there for that team through some bad players and they will be ready on Friday.

Jake Delhomme – He is playing his best football of the season at just the right time. He has done well against teams with strong pass defenses and now gets to face the weakest of the three. In this day and age, it is pretty meaningless. Jake the joke could show up too.
Nick Goings – If the line opens up holes like they did against Chicago, then Nick Lachey could run through Seattle.
Steve Smith – He is the top WR in the league. Randy Moss, Hah! Terrell Owens, too bad his mouth out sizes his talent. Chad Johnson, he comes close. He is a robot. He could do anything he wants on the field. No one can cover him. At least CJ has TJ lining up on the other side. Smitty could have a coat rack on the other side and still catch 150 and 2 TD’s.

SA – He is a super player, but will his bell being rung interfere with him running on a Carolina defense that is flying high. TJ was averaging some 5 yards per carry, but the Bears had to abandon the run, for they couldn’t stop the Panther offense.
Matt Hasselback – He played like a leader in the wake of losing his anchor last week, but can he orchestrate a super bowl contender. Holmgren is banking on it.
Darrell Jackson – He is back to playing at the level we have all gotten accustomed to over the past few seasons. He can be the difference maker.

Pittsburgh pulled of the improbable. Wait, Peyton has a 3-6 playoff record. He doesn’t seem to handle the pressures of playoff football. Maybe he was looking forward to playing a team he does well against instead of the Patriots. Tony Dungy needs to be in control. I know that Peyton is the man and all, but Manning should have called a timeout and spoke to his coach. Just sending the players off the field is just wrong. Denver beat the Patriots thanks mostly to the refs. Some might say it’s justice for the calls that went their way so many times in the past. Now, we have a game that few predicted in the early part of the year. Denver was dealing with Maurice “I prefer jail to the gridiron” Clarett and Pittsburgh almost had to let Randel El quarterback a game, eewww. This should be a battle in the trenches. Two teams that predominantly rely on the run to achieve success and it may come down to how many mistakes their respective QB’s make in the clutch. Pittsburgh needs to come out like gangbusters to have a chance. Their defense is strong, but the toll of playing three road games takes it toll. They were involved in an emotional roller coaster against Indy and in the end there were some saying that they got lucky after completely out playing the “unbeatable” Colts. It would be hard to get that going again repeatedly on the road for anyone. Denver seems poised to make the big dance. They are disciplined, and focused and as long as Jake doesn’t force it, which he hasn’t done this season, they should be off to SB Xtra Large.

Ben R. – He is an extremely efficient passer. He has does what it takes to win, while growing so much in only his second season. I just think it’s too much for a 23 year old to go into the mile high city and beat the Broncos to go to the superbowl. Maybe I’ll be wrong.
Jerome Bettis – You can bet that this guy wants this game more than anything other than a win in the following game. He will play his hardest that his body will allow. You know his arms will be clutching that ball with a ferocity after his Pisarcikesque play on the two against Indy.
Willie Parker – Fast Willie needs to utilized much in the way he was versus the Colts. He can take those screens and go all the way. Denver needs to stay in their lanes and not over pursue.
Hines Ward – He is one of the best Wide Receivers in the league, too bad this week he faces Champ Bailey. He will get his fantasy points, but no scores.
Jake Plummer – He finally realizes that he doesn’t need to put up big numbers to win, but is certainly capable of doing so. He should do this week what Peyton should have done last week, dump off the passes to combat the pressure put on by Pitt’s defense. This will allow Denver to set up the run and thus the play action.
Mike Anderson – If the Broncos get near the goaline, he will get them across the stripe.
Tatem Bell – If I had this guy in a keeper league, I would be licking my chops. He could get a couple big runs if the defense isn’t careful.
Rod Smith – I’m banking on him having a big first half in order to have choice of players in SuperBowl Deathmatch.

After this we will be down to two and Superbowl X-tra Large will be at hand. Another year of over priced commercials that don’t ever live up to the hype. All eyes will be on the halftime performance and we might get a nipple slip from Keith Richards, as he is so beyond repair that I could see him not being able to dress himself, but still play that guitar like most of us breathe.

As always, go with your gut and don’t look back.

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