Posted: Wednesday November 9, 2005 11:39AM; Updated: Wednesday November 9, 2005 11:53AM
Shades of night have fallen. The wind is whipping the leaves against the windowpane. I can hear a wolf howling from across Birchwood Lake. The Flaming Redhead is in Venice, the guest of honor at un ballo in maschera at the Doge's Palace. Our tabby, Little Jake, is lying across my notebook, sleeping, obscuring the research I had done for my rankings column. Thus, once again I must wing it and write whatever nonsense comes into the remnants of my mind.
Offensively they had it all together Monday night. Defensively? Well, after the first Patriot series, I thought we were in for a 41-38 shootout and no one would get to bed much before 1:30 a.m. But then the Indy D-line took over. Yes, the defensive line. Until this year it had just been Dwight Freeney and the other guys, but tackle Montae Reagor got one of the Z game balls for his relentless assault on the pocket. Freeney was pretty much enveloped by double-teamers, but he made one play that absolutely took my breath away, flashing in from his RDE spot to mess up a tight end screen on the other side. I didn't like the Colts' secondary, particularly RCB Jason David, who looked as if he could be had.
My daughter, Sarah, just e-mailed me that she is pulling hardest for the Steelers, especially Troy Polamalu. It runs in the family. There was no greater fan of the Steel Curtain Steelers than my son, Mike, when he was a youngster. His favorite player was Jack Lambert. See how well I trained my kids? They favor defensive players.
Brandon Jacobs, the 264-pound short-yardage back, started right, cut back sharply and banged it in for a one-yard TD against the 49ers. In the end zone he did his new dance called the World Wide. When he got to the bench Tom Coughlin smiled and said, "Where did that Cabbage Patch stuff come from?" "Wow," Jacobs thought, "he remembers Jerry Rice's old end-zone dance." After the game the writers congratulated the coach on his knowledge of dance history. "Cabbage patch?" the coach said. "I said, 'Where did that cutback come from?' He didn't hear it right." You know something? When I first heard this story, I thought it was hilarious. Now that it's taken up almost half the column ... well, I'm too tired to go back and do a rewrite.
Well, I'm glad to see my preseason Super Bowl team starting to look Super Bowlish, but of course, the story I like best, coming out of Carolina, is the one about the two cheerleaders who were busted for fighting in the bar after having sex in a restroom stall, "angering patrons waiting in line," the wire story said. NEXT!
When Alex Gibbs was the offensive line coach at Denver, his guys made it a point of honor not to talk to the press. Following in that tradition, Gibbs' Falcons counterparts are doing the same thing. Jim Mora was approached about this. He mentioned that O-linemen didn't have much to say anyway. He was reminded that Mike Kenn and Jeff Van Note were quite articulate and witty. "How many games did they win?" the coach said. This is a miserable way to treat two of the greatest warriors in the team's history. They rank one (Kenn) and two (Van Note) in longevity, with, respectively, 18 and 17 years of service. Between them they played in 11 Pro Bowls. Mora, basically, is a good guy, and I know this thing just slipped out, but it really bothered a lot of people, myself included.
Their victory over Baltimore was a triumph for mathematical logic. Three trips in the red zone, three TDs. Ravens -- four trips in the red zone, three field goals. Each TD being worth four points more than each FG, we arrive at a ... you can figure out the extent of the victory. This has worn me out.
Rookie edge rusher Shawne Merriman underwent surgery to repair a dislocated bone in his left wrist. He is expected to play after the bye week. You bet he'll play, now that he and Shaun Phillips are hitting their stride as one of the most devastating pair, coming from the outside. They'll get that bone relocated in a hurry.