Ten Things I Think I Think
1. I think these are my quick-hit thoughts of Week 18:
b. When David Akers kicks a field goal, it always looks like it's going to burst through the net behind the goal post. His kicks are missiles.
c. Bill Parcells and Carl Peterson together in Miami -- Peterson is a favorite of new Miami owner Steve Ross -- is more of an odd couple than Felix and Oscar. If that ever happens, I'm buying at Starbucks. For the world. Now that we know Parcells is going to stay in Miami, Peterson's going to have to look elsewhere.
d. Andy Reid: Ernest Hemingway with wire-rims.
e. I learn a lot reading Mike Reiss in the Boston Globe. This week, in his Reiss's Pieces online blog, there was this daunting stat that illuminated what an uphill struggle it was for the Patriots to get to 11-5. Tom Brady was injured on the 15th of 1,102 New England offensive snaps. How many other teams would win 11 games with their most important player playing 1.4 percent of the season?
f. I'm actually starting to like Deion Sanders on TV. I know that'll rankle some peers, but he's confident, he's opinionated, he backs up opinions with good arguments (some of which I think are bunk, but who cares?), and he's good at the sound-bite game. The time that he has with Steve Mariucci and Rich Eisen is good, free-flowing and natural.
g. "In games like this, you can't make mistakes,'' said Matt Ryan after making too many of them to win at Arizona.
h. You could have told me a lot of things in August, but if one of them had been that Joe Flacco would be a starting quarterback in the final eight of the playoffs in January, I wouldn't have believed you.
2. I think Miami didn't belong on the same field with Baltimore. And yes, I'm still picking the Ravens to make the Super Bowl.
3. I think my nightmare of the weekend was seeing Atlanta's Harvey Dahl, my SI all-pro right guard (you can catch my all-pro team on this site Wednesday, and in your magazines this week; I fully admit I am a poor substitute for Dr. Z, but you're stuck with me while he rehabs from his dual December strokes), get steamrolled by Arizona defensive tackle Darnell Dockett on the key play of Arizona's 30-24 win Saturday. See it? Dockett overran and quasi-knifed past Dahl on the second play of the third quarter, breaking up a Matt Ryan handoff five yards deep in the backfield -- amazing, amazing quickness by Dockett --causing Antrel Rolle to pick off the handoff and run 27 yards for a touchdown.
4. I think Brett Favre is perilously close to leaving the game -- for good, this time -- and disappearing into a Mississippi deer stand for a long time. That's where I found him Friday. As you've read this weekend, Favre told me GM Mike Tannenbaum purposely didn't ask him whether he planned to retire or not when they met last Monday, because the GM feared Favre would say he was gone. Permanently. Favre told him he'd be smart to not count on him and to look for a new quarterback.
Favre also told me he declined to have right biceps surgery, even though Jets doctors advised him to have the surgery if he thought he was going to play football in 2009. The fact he didn't choose to have the surgery, however, isn't a definite indicator that he's retiring, because a similar injury to his left biceps once went away without surgery in Green Bay. Favre also told me he hugged Mangini last Monday, post-firing, and said to him, "It's not your fault. It's all of our fault,'' meaning the players.
On the one hand, I think Favre is fully capable of changing his mind this year, just as he has in other years, and I do not discount him doing so. I still have a voice mail from last March from Favre, saying he was retiring, and there was nothing remotely tentative about that. So who knows? I've been wrong on this story a lot over the years, but after listening to Favre on Friday night, I would be very surprised if he played anywhere, ever.
5. I think this is what I liked about wild-card weekend:
a. Great job by Arizona timing Atlanta's snap count. Not just a great job -- maybe a game-deciding job.
b. Loved the pressure punt by Hunter Smith from the back line of his end zone late in the fourth quarter, a hurried 63-yard boomer that would have helped Indy win the game 17-14 if not for Darren Sproles' 26-yard return, setting up the game-tying field goal.
c. Very glad for Kurt Warner, who deserves a moment or two in the Arizona sun.
d. The refs didn't blow the game in overtime in San Diego. Those were all legitimate penalties on Indianapolis. The interference was a little ticky-tack, but it was there.
f. What a catch by Ronnie Brown. That's got to be the best play of his career, making a one-handed, diving catch in a playoff game.
g. Great pursuit by Minnesota defensive back Eric Frampton.
h. Great, great tackle by Chad Greenway, stopping Brian Westbrook from getting out of bounds so the timeout-less Eagles could try a 60ish-yard field goal as the clock ticked down before the half in Minnesota.
6. I think this is what I didn't like about wild-card weekend:
a. Mike Smith ... Mike, Mike, Mike. You've pushed every right button all season, but after driving 84 yards to the Cards' 11, shredding the defense, with everything working, and needing a foot to convert a fourth down, it was a major mistake to kick a field goal. In the event you don't make it, you've got the Cards pinned 89 yards from the end zone.
b. Thomas DeCoud ... Thomas, Thomas, Thomas. You've been a standout special-teamer all season, and now, on a huge punt-cover play in the third quarter of a tight game in the biggest game of the year, you smash into the return man a full second before the ball gets to him. Talk about handing a free 10 yards to your foe.
c. Marty Mornhinweg ... Marty, Marty, Marty. You've had a good play-calling December, and now, in the playoffs, and you're my Coach of the Week this week, but ... Third-and-one, 80 seconds left in the first half, you're moving the ball on the Vikes, Minnesota has just scored to move within 16-14, and you throw deep downfield instead of just getting the first down and a David Akers field goal or maybe even a touchdown right before the half. Just get the first down and a fresh set of downs.
e. Rookie Atlanta tackle Sam Baker either was still hurting Saturday with the after-effects of his midseason back procedure, or he's really awful. I watched him enough early this year to know he's not awful.
f. Michael Turner: zero rushing yards in the second half.
g. I don't know why Adrian Peterson, ridden hard all season, didn't touch the ball on the last 16 Viking plays of the season. Not that it would have mattered much, most likely, but he's your horse, Vikes. Ride him.
h. ESPN's Chris Mortensen had a great nugget on Boston College coach Jeff Jagodzinski being told if he interviewed for the Jets job to just keep walking and not come back. That's a ridiculous demand by Boston College, unless there's a clause in his contract that the coach cannot interview for NFL jobs, which I don't believe exists.
7. I think Baltimore defensive coordinator Rex Ryan would turn the Rams into a 10-win team overnight. Do you have any idea how many headaches his defense, and his crazy overload-blitzes, give to opposing offenses? It's impossible to figure them out. He's your man, Billy Devaney.
8. I think many people I know were making a big deal out of Pat Bowlen being out to dinner with Steve Spagnuolo on Saturday night and then meeting with Josh McDaniels on Sunday in Rhode Island while Jets owner Woody Johnson was on vacation out of the country. Hey, go easy on Woody. He needs his winter tan.
9. I think no one in the league -- and I mean no one -- can believe William Clay Ford didn't move to hire a new GM (even though there is great respect for Martin Mayhew) and the front-office staff.
10. I think these are my non-football thoughts of the week:
a. Explaining why the movie business deserves our disdain: The New York Times reported that the reason movies like Frost/Nixon and Gran Torino are out for a month in only a handful of theaters nationwide is to create a buzz for them and a ticket demand. If I had any principles, I'd boycott Gran Torino, but I can't because I'm an Eastwoodaholic. But that's a good way to improve business, Hollywood. By extorting people.
b. Loved, loved, loved Frost/Nixon, even after the obstacle course getting there. Frank Langella is so terrific in the movie, so Nixonian, so perfect. Best movie I've seen in a long time.
c. Coffeenerdness: "Refresh'' tea, at Starbucks, now is my go-to drink when caffeine is to be avoided at all costs. The minty drink, I've discovered, is quite good cold.
d. You can get anything you want at Alice's Restaurant.
e. Caught Bobby, the Bobby Kennedy assassination movie. Compelling and interesting. Emilio Estevez is smart. He made a movie where about 20 disparate characters from all walks of life come together at a major intersection of history.
f. Peter King Word Of The Week: Supercilious. Like DeSean Jackson was on his final punt return in Minnesota on Sunday. Did you see that? He ran out of bounds like the thing wasn't important, like he didn't care. Weird.