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Wild-card wrapup

The highlights -- and lowlights -- of the playoff action

Posted: Monday January 9, 2006 9:57AM; Updated: Monday January 9, 2006 9:22PM
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Joe Theismann
Joe Theismann + Mic = Lethal combination
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Random thoughts and observations while watching the four wild-card games...

Saturday

1. At 3:14 p.m. ET, I start flipping around the dial and notice ABC's pregame show has started already. I assumed it would start at 3:30, one hour before the first game. For some reason, the network felt it needed 90 minutes to preview two games. Uh oh, after a few minutes, host Chris Berman throws it to the trio calling Redskins-Bucs: Mike Patrick, Joe Theismann and Paul McGuire. I quickly start flipping around the dial again. I come across a "Best of the Royal Rumble" show on one of DirecTV's promo channels. I stick with this for a while. It's great hearing Gorilla Monsoon's voice again.

2. Back to the pregame show and Tom Jackson, Michael Irvin, Steve Young and Chris Mortensen are outside in the middle of Times Square demonstrating what Chris Simms has to do on while running the Bucs offense. Young, who is running this segment despite sounding like he has laryngitis, says about Simms, "I gotta give him credit. He's come a long way this year." What happened to his concerns that young QB would be hurt by a laissez-faire attitude in the Simms household?

3. One of the best things about ABC's coverage is the players introducing themselves at the beginning of the game. It's funny to see how cool the University of Miami alum thinks they are when they announce their alma mater as "The U." Bucs LB Ryan Nece and SS Jermaine Phillips are also wearing great floppy hats, while Simeon Rice is decked out in a pink New York Yankees cap.

4. This broadcast team is beyond bad. They are constantly screaming, they constantly say stupid things and they have the lamest sense of humor. I would love to know what Theismann has on the Disney execs, because he'll be on the Monday night ESPN broadcast team next year. It's painful to listen to him. He predicts that Joe Gibbs would replace punt returner Antonio Brown with Santana Moss after Brown fumbled a kick. When Brown is back in there on the next punt, Theismann doesn't say a word. He's going on and on about how Washington kicker John Hall couldn't kick a field goal more than 46 yards because that was his long in pregame warmups. He mentions this in the first quarter when the Redskins punted from the Bucs' 34. He mentions it before Hall attempts a 47-yarder. After Hall makes the kick, with two or three yards to spare, Theismann again says nothing. Just terrible.

5. Michael Pittman looks like he should've been a pre-2005 major league baseball player.

6. It's good to see promos for Lost. It feels like there hasn't been an original episode in months. One request for when the show returns: A LOT less Ana Lucia. She's up there with Theismann on the annoying scale.

7. The game ends up being a thriller despite both teams setting offensive football back 100 years. The announcers don't shut up about how great Simms was, but I'm not overly impressed. He completed nothing but short stuff. Whenever he had to throw long, it was a disaster, although Edell Shepard had one of the worst drops you'll ever see on an easy TD catch.

8. Theismann wraps up the game by saying Gruden did the best coaching job of his career this season. Really? Even better than the year he WON A SUPER BOWL??

9. The big story outside of the outcome was Sean Taylor's spitting in Pittman's face. Funny. Earlier in the game, Theismann gave us a lecture on how Gibbs only wants high-character guys on his team. Major props to ref Mike Carey for not also giving Pittman a 15-yard unsportsmanlike after he took a swing at Taylor. If someone spits in your face, you should be able to take a swing without a flag flying.

10. Troy Brown scores the Pats' first TD. Adam Vinatieri pulls off a great pooch punt. Willie McGinest plays like a man possessed. Tom Brady throws three TD passes. Bill Belichick orchestrates a defense that makes Byron Leftwich look more confused than President Bush trying to open a door. The cast doesn't seem to change for the impressive Pats, and neither do the results. Just a remarkable run.

11. Ben Watson somehow escapes three tackles, tiptoes near the sideline and cuts upfield for a thrilling TD. The Pats always seem to get their tight ends involved. Don't think that isn't a factor in their success.

12. Was there a player in the NFL this season who failed to live up the hype more than Jags rookie Matt Jones? I know it was just his first year in the league and he was learning a new position, but everybody expected much more from the former college QB.

13. Nothing much to say about the announcing in this game. Al Michaels and John Madden always do a solid job. Plus, after listening to the previous trio, anyone would've been an improvement.

14. Nothing much to say about the game, either. Bottom line: The Jaguars don't belong on the same field as the Patriots.

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