Monday, January 12, 2015

Football this 'n' that

It surprises no one that the New England Patriots are not being wholly celebrated for pulling out an obscure---as in, hasn't been used in eons----play to befuddle Baltimore Ravens defenders and game officials on Saturday. I didn't see the game at all, not a single highlight, but what I take from it is that the Pats' detractors will, as per usual, see some reason to villify the AFC East champs based on their reputation alone.

Rather than describe what I didn't see, let me just say this. The game officials, as noted, were caught off guard just as much as the Ravens were, and it took the league office to clarify the legality of the play the morning after. Oh, sure, some will claim. The league has a vested interest because of the fact that the Patriots are being protected at all costs. If New England gets past Indianapolis, which defeated Denver and an ailing Peyton Manning on Sunday, they won't beat the NFC champion, likely Seattle.

The controversy surrounding the Pats overshadowed the Seahawks' 31-17 win over Carolina later in the night, and that was more fun because of the athleticism of Seahawks defensive back Kam Chancellor. Before a game clinching 90 yard interception return for a TD, Chancellor, taking his cue from division rival St. Louis, hurdled the Panthers' offensive line in an attempt to block a field goal try by Graham Gano. Carolina was called for a false start, and pushed back 5 yards, negating a successful kick. Chancellor hurdled the line again and this time barely grazed the ball, which sailed wide left. However, this time, Chancellor was called for going offside, mistiming his advance. Gano ultimately nailed the 3rd attempt, leaving the Panthers down 14-10 at halftime. It'd be the closest they'd get.

Last month, the Rams did the same thing against the Giants, and succeeded with the blocked kick on the first try. No flags. Did Fox announcers Kevin Burkhardt & John Lynch remember that play? Nope.

The Colts played a brilliant defensive game against former teammate Manning and the Broncos, but, yep, that was overshadowed, too. This time, it was a little karmic justice being issued to the Dallas Cowboys at Green Bay. Replays show that Dallas receiver Dez Bryant was ruled down at the 2 yard line, even though Bryant extended his arm to allow the ball to rest just on the fringe of the goal line. Turned out that Bryant had lost control of the ball long enough for the catch to be nullified. Ballgame over, as it was on 4th down. Aaron Rodgers, doing his best Willis Reed impersonation, lives on to fight another day, though it's likely his season will end in Seattle.

Tonight sees the end of the college football season, which now is threatening to match the length of the NFL season. It was better when it was a 10-11 game schedule, bowl included. However, television has made it such that the college schedules are getting longer, the better to prepare the players for the NFL. Still, too  many kids are declaring too early for the draft. It isn't that they're physically ready. In the cases of Jameis Winston & Johnny Manziel in particular, it's a lack of maturity, trumped by the lure of big bucks.

That said, Marcus Mariota, a junior QB at Oregon, likely will play his last game tonight, as the first College Football Playoff championship goes to Oregon. Too bad most of the country won't see the ending, since the game will finish after midnight in the east.

I'm making it official now. Colts vs. Seahawks in the Super Bowl.

If Bill Belichick thought he was rid of Rex Ryan, think again. Ryan has signed on as Buffalo's new coach, replacing Doug Marrone, who bailed after 2 seasons due to the sale of the Bills to the Pegulas, also the owners of the NHL Sabres. Now all Rex and every other coach in the league needs is to hire private investigators to prove that the Patriots are up to something shady.

Well, it could be worse. It could come out that Vince McMahon might have a stake in the Patriots. Belichick has been painted as being Vince's kind of guy, after all.

And if that happens to be true (though I doubt it), don't say I didn't warn you.

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