1. I think this is what I liked about Week 14:
a. Chan Gailey's quote to me about Ivy quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick: "His demeanor in meetings and practice is Harvard. His play on Sunday is Ohio State.''
b. Tremendous video, and sound, from FOX, of the roof collapse in Minneapolis. That's the video of the year. No doubt. Just a thought for David Hill and Ed Goren: Whoever either had that idea or executed said idea deserves a little extra dough in their paycheck this week. Like, a five-figure piece of extra dough. Great idea and footage.
c. Heck of a bang-bang hit on Mike Wallace, breaking up a perfectly thrown Ben Roethlisberger pass, by Cincinnati cornerback Leon Hall.
d. Santana Moss, who runs like a jackrabbit.
e. ESPN (and I have no idea if the WWL did this voluntarily or under some duress), for allowing its Monday night Ravens-Texans audience to be creamed tonight. Not only does Giants-Vikings severely dilute the New York market because FOX will air the Giants game, but also the game's going to be on DirecTV Sunday Ticket, meaning anyone with that service will have a choice of games tonight -- as will tons of sports bars.
f. ESPN's Greg Garber for a superb feature story on the announcer-less game 30 years ago. What, you didn't know NBC once did a game without announcers? I loved Garber's touch of doing the story announcer-less -- that is, he didn't speak in the piece. His subjects did, but no narration from Garber. Good idea. Very good execution. And very interesting to see Bryant Gumbel as a latter-day Mod-Squadder in the piece.
g. HBO, for the Vince Lombardi documentary. I have to say I'm only halfway through it, but the depth and intelligence of it so far are stunning. I love seeing his kids talk about what it was really like to be Lombardis, particularly when his daughter tells the story of not being able to find Green Bay on a map before their moves, and dad telling her when he's done there, everyone will know where Green Bay is. Sounds too corny to be true, but it's fact.
h. John Abraham. His two sacks Sunday give him 11 for the year.
i. Cameron Wake. His two sacks Sunday came in the clutch, late, and were important in the Dolphins' 10-6 win. He may be a dark horse for it, but he's forcing himself into the Defensive Player of the Year voting.
j. Jay Feely, the Arizona kicker and mad Tweeter, for his monster game against Denver. In a 35-minute span, Feely kicked five field goals, including a 55-yarder, and ran for a five-yard touchdown. Cool for a kicker.
k. The Patriots, for their fifth straight turnover-free game.
l. Leon Washington, for his seventh career kickoff return for touchdown.
2. I think this is what I didn't like about Week 14:
a. Scary head-hitting-the-turf concussion suffered by Aaron Rodgers.
b. Amazing I: Detroit and Green Bay, combined, converted zero of 13 third-down attempts in the first half in Detroit.
c. Amazing II: Net passing yards for Detroit through 41 minutes versus Green Bay: zero.
d. Donovan McNabb. If the Buc defenders could catch, the Redskins would likely have gotten routed Sunday, and he could be on the first Acela out of Washington this morning. Exaggerating there a bit, but McNabb was mostly dreadful against the Bucs. They just couldn't catch what he was handing them.
e. The rib injury to Devin McCourty. New England's defensive rookie of the year candidate didn't play after suffering it midway through the second quarter.
f. The dislocated elbow, which we all saw graphically on TV last night, suffered by Eagles linebacker Stewart Bradley. Very bad news, and not just for a guy who can't seem to stay on the field. Bradley's loss is big, because he's a good player ... and he's the brain center of defensive coordinator Sean McDermott's scheme.
g. Sixty-seven yards and five first downs from the Chiefs. The first-place Chiefs, I should add.
h. The Jets' offense. A disgrace. No offensive touchdowns for nine quarters now. In the span of one week, the New York playoff path has gotten impossible. To reach the Super Bowl -- even if the Jets make the playoffs -- they'd now almost certainly have to win three road games. This team winning at Jacksonville, Pittsburgh and New England? I don't think so.
i. Chad Henne's day: 55 passing yards. He's regressing. Rapidly.
j. I think last week was the low point to be a Redskins fan. Now? After seeing the McNabb/Gano show again? Not so sure.
k. Matt Flynn's decision-making could use some work.
l. Drew Stanton's, moreso.
3. I think Ben Roethlisberger looked a little bit broken in the second half against Cincinnati. He might have a high right ankle sprain, courtesy of a pileup, and, in general, he's taken a huge beating the past few weeks. Not playing the violin for the guy, but I can only imagine how bad he might look now had he played the first four games instead of being suspended for them.
4. I think we were just starting to like you, Matt Flynn, in the middle of the third quarter at Detroit when you'd driven the Pack down the field and were in the red zone, and then you threw a blind ball to the goal line ... and Detroit linebacker D'Andre Levy found the ball right in his breadbasket. Goes without saying, but let me pound this into you: Dumb throw of the day. By far. Instead of having breathing room and a 10-0 lead, you hand the ball to Detroit with only a 3-0 lead with 23 minutes to play.
5. I think I don't know how you could have an ounce of faith in Carson Palmer this morning, not after handing the Steelers two touchdowns on interception returns, and not after continually misfiring again. It might be time to deal him to San Francisco for a second-round pick in April, Mike Brown. Or a third-.
6. I think it looks so depressing to be a Panthers fan. The empty seats. The hopelessness. That's about as down as a franchise can be. I understand Jerry Richardson wanting to pay a new head coach a reasonable salary ($2.5-million, for example, per year), but that franchise might be so far under water that he may have to rethink that future plan and pay Bill Cowher what he's worth. I can't imagine 60 percent of his season-ticket-holders re-upping for what they'd consider more of the same. The Panthers need a facelift. Even though recent history says low-profile coaches (Mike Smith, John Harbaugh, Mike Tomlin) are good risks, Carolina needs a headliner more than Atlanta or Baltimore or Pittsburgh did when they made those hires.
7. I think that was a little creepy, Tashard Choice, running up to Michael Vick after a loss, Sharpie in hard, and having him autograph your glove.
8. I think I must be the only one in America who is not shocked that a grounded person, marginal safety Keith Fitzhugh, gave up a shot at being on the Jets' practice squad because he didn't want to risk losing a full-time job he liked (plus felt some bread-winning responsibilities) as a train conductor. At the time he made the call early last week, he thought if he took the job with the Jets (with no guarantees it would last longer than one week), his conductor's job would disappear. It's a cool story, but if you're a breadwinner and your money in counted on by a family that needs you, I'm not sure giving up a shot at the NFL lottery is such a stunning thing to do.
9. I think this is one of the amazing numbers of the day: Tom Brady and Bill Belichick have been together for 108 regular-season wins. Chuck Noll and Terry Bradshaw teamed for 107.
10. I think these are my non-football thoughts of the week:
a. RIP, Elizabeth Edwards, noble and smart and betrayed.
b. Fun night Saturday out in New Jersey at the home of Sam Flood and wife Jane (Sam's our Football Night in America executive producer) for the crew. Headline of the night: Rodney Harrison and Dan Patrick outside at the basketball hoop in the Flood driveway, playing H-O-R-S-E, and in mid-game, matching each other on eight straight shots from downtown. The silky smooth Patrick was too much for Harrison, though. Patrick won HORSE to HO. Is that how you keep score in that game? It's been so long.
c. I miss New Jersey a lot. You know you miss the Jerz when you get a little emotional driving past the Garden State Plaza. Sniff sniff. That's my mall!
d. I see Taylor Swift turns 21 today. I bet she won't remember me leaving my size-14 hoofprint on her red dress at Saturday Night Live last year. Either that or it's scarred her for life.
e. Sorry I missed you in Boston the other night, Joan Rivers. Had to catch up on some sleep. And the $195 price on StubHub was a tad of a deterrent as well.
f. Albert Breer of NFL Network tweeted yesterday about the noted Chicago meteorologist Amy Freeze (yes, her real name). I bet he didn't know Amy was a cheerleader at BYU and married the Brigham Young mascot, Cosmo the Cougar. What a Cougar.
g. No, I didn't just make that up.
h. Coffeenerdness: Just to be fair, I did try the Amtrak coffee once more the other day. I was desperate for coffee. Nope. Still weak as a kitten.
i. Beernerdness: What do you think? I'm on the verge of making this a semi-regular category. Give me your input.
Baltimore 23, Houston 20.
The Ravens had an extra day and a half to recover from the Pittsburgh heartbreak of a week ago, and that's a good thing. Expect a big night from Anquan Boldin, going up against a terminally weak secondary with not much pressure expected on Joe Flacco.
New York Giants 23, Minnesota 20.
It'll be eerie inside Ford Field tonight, and I expect you'll have more fans for the Giants than for the division-rival Vikes. Giants players have been in airplanes and hotels all weekend, and who knows how all that will factor into what happens tonight. But I say Eli Manning takes advantage of his rehabbed receiving weapons and makes more plays than whoever quarterbacks the Vikings.
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