Pats make late-season run; Jags falling despite win
Posted: Wednesday December 21, 2005 12:05PM; Updated: Wednesday December 21, 2005 6:28PM
Can I humbly request a vote of sympathy? On Dec. 22 the NY Wine Press holds its annual Christmas Champagne Luncheon, featuring 12 vintage dated grande marque Champagnes, including Dom Perignon and Pol Roger Cuvee Winston Churchill, and many other high quality numbers. If the New York City Transit strike continues, guess which two people you know will not attend? Oh sure, we could drive in and try to buck the howling mobs, and search in vain for a parking garage that would have space, and sit in long, honking knots of traffic.
But we won't. We'll stay home and I'll try to bear down and write a carefully crafted, deeply touching mailbag column that will truly reflect my warm Christmas feelings for my fellow man. And then I'll set fire to the town of Denville. (Just kidding, fire dept., just kidding). If the strike is miraculously settled before Thursday at noon, then it'll be the same misshapen lunacy that you'll read, fueled by great stores of the bubbly. Don't worry -- Linda, who tastes wine very judiciously, is the one who drives home, and props me up in my chair, and feeds me the e-mails to answer. Meanwhile there are other fish to fry, but I must admit, I'm doing my rankings with one eye on the news reports.
If I were them I'd worry about No. 21, Bob Sanders, a media darling because he lays hard hits on people, who was exposed in coverage. I'd worry about the way the Chargers' Shawne Merriman ravaged the Indy O-line. And what would happen if someone decides to seriously go after RCB Jason David ... it's bound to happen. See, that's what one little loss does.
I'm reading about all the records this team could set. I'm also noticing that the Titans put together four long scoring drives Sunday. OK, a down game on the road and all that, but do you really feel that you're seeing a big league defense at work here?
Negative, negative, negative, that's all you can be, says a person who monitors what I write. OK, sorry, let's salute this happy bunch that's one victory away from the W-L mark of the two Bingo teams that went to the Super Bowl.
Once again, the Pro Bowl-voting fans have it exactly wrong. QB Hasselbeck is stiffed for New York's Manning, who showed some deep disturbing flaws against the Chiefs on Sunday. But in the RB department, the Giants' Barber must watch the Hawks' Alexander step to the podium, although there's no doubt in my mind that Tiki's the better player. But the day I start agreeing with the fans Pro Bowl selections will be the day I retire to New Zealand to chart the rugby matches.
We got ESPN's second string crew of Sterling Sharpe and Mike Tirico for Broncos-Bills on Saturday night, and actually this was a big improvement over the varsity team. But when Sharpe announced early on that Mike Shanahan confided to him that he was going to come out running the ball, I smiled up my sleeve and announced to the Flaming Redhead, "Just watch, this is gonna be good." Sure enough, the Broncs' first three plays were passes. So were nine of 11 in the first quarter. The real howler was how upset Sharpe got ... "He promised me, he told me," etc. Hey, champ, join the fraternity. This here's a pea, and it's gonna be under one of these three shells, see.
They are what they are. Solid, given to sound execution, a good team to back when betting against the erratic Johnny come latelies, which is what I did last weekend. And I'll have more to say on this subject when we progress a little farther southward in our rankings.
OK, our first controversy. Jacksonville used to occupy this spot. No more, even though the Jags won. The Bears, who have decided to show us what a real offense looks like, have moved up. I will now shortstop the rippers with memories (the worst kind), who are eager to point out that I was the chap who said, why bring in Rex Grossman? What has he ever shown? Yeah, I admit it. I didn't know nothing then. I once was lost but now I'm found; 'twas blind but now I see, la la la.
A five-spot jump for the darlings of history. Tedy Bruschi looked as if he were carrying a copy of the Bucs' playbook Saturday. Roosevelt Colvin was back to his Bears days. Corey Dillon and Kevin Faulk again were laying the groundwork for the offense. Let's not get too giddy, though. Missing were the keynoters in the secondary, such as Rodney Harrison and Ty Law. But it'll be fun watching this team battling its way through the playoffs as underdogs.
Based on the Colts game, two players joined my all-pro check list: Merriman, who has gradually come on during the season, and ... you're not going to believe this one ... the Colts' DT Montae Reagor, who came through with a fine, understated performance. This is exactly the type of player I like to have on my team , a sleeper, a nobody -- until he's discovered next year.