1. I think this is what I liked about Week 17:
a. Ed Werder finally gets his life back. The ESPN reporter and good friend of mine covered 11 Vikings games because of the Favre factor, and deferred coverage of the rest of the National Football League because he was one of the very few (the only?) reporters Favre communicates with regularly.
b. Think there's a chemistry between Drew Brees and Reggie Bush? Last four games: Brees threw 19 passes to Bush. Nineteen completions.
c. Tom Brady, the sixth player in history to throw a touchdown pass in every game of the season since the NFL went to 16 games in 1978.
d. "I guess the Patriots are really trying to solidify their position at the top of the BCS?'' AOL Fanhouse's Dan Graziano wrote as the Pats played Tom Brady into the third quarter of a 31-0 game, a game with no playoff significance for the Pats. Good line.
e. Great miking of Tim Tebow on Showtime's Inside the NFL the other day, from Tebow's touchdown run against Houston. "There's only one person that carries the ball right here!'' he said to the sidelines. "One person that carries the ball!'' And he did, and he scored.
f. Twelve catches for Jerome Simpson of the Bengals, more fodder for the anti-T.O.-and-Chad faction.
g. Ed Reed. Two straight two-interception games now. The ball just finds him.
h. The touchback man, Billy Cundiff. He finished the season with 40. Quite a weapon when two and a half times every game you don't let the kick-returner touch the ball.
i. New England's won six in a row by 21, 42, 29, 4, 31 and 31 points.
j. Brandon LaFell, giving Carolina its only highlight of the day at Atlanta with a 60-yard run on a reverse.
k. The maddening Chargers.
l. The interesting Raiders, who became the first team since the AFL-NFL merger to be undefeated in division games and not make the playoffs.
m. Jamaal Charles, who finished the year with 1,467 yards.
n. The Raider pass-rush, which tormented Matt Cassel and sacked him seven times.
o. Not even sure what the 158-yard performance by rookie Joe McKnight means for the Jets, but congrats, kid.
p. Rob Gronkowski, with his 10th touchdown as a rookie. No rookie tight end since Mike Ditka scored as many touchdowns.
q. DeMarcus Ware winning the NFL sack title for the second time in his career. He had three against the Eagles Sunday to boost his total to 15½. He had a league-high 20 in 2008.
2. I think this is what I didn't like about Week 17:
a. You don't get carries in the playoffs by fumbling at the goal line, Julius Jones.
b. Nor you in midfield in a 20-20 game, Dominic Rhodes.
c. Rumors about Mike Holmgren appointing himself head coach. Bad choice, Mike. You need a 15-hour-a-day grinder for this job. You don't want to do that, and you know it.
d. A loss to the Patriots, even by 31 points, I get. Losses to Cleveland, Buffalo and Detroit in 22 days, now there something I don't get. Tony Sparano's got some explaining to do.
e. Chad Henne. Miami's got to find another answer at quarterback.
f. Tim Tebow's inaccuracy.
g. Way to tune up for the playoffs, Chiefs. KC had 201 yards.
h. Jahvid Best sure ended the season on a dud note, being hurt and ineffective.
3. I think this is my take on the Favre/Sterger story: In the end, Brett Favre stonewalled and got penalized by the league, and Jenn Sterger got betrayed by an acquaintance who turned incriminating photos, allegedly of Favre, over to Deadspin. She was certain the league had enough evidence to suspend Favre for sending her the photos, but the same forensic crew that investigated Favre for her also investigated the case for the league -- Charlie Casserly reported that for CBS Sunday, and he's right -- and the crew couldn't say with 100 percent certainty that the pictures were of Favre and sent by Favre.
At the end, the league didn't buy that Sterger was sexually harassed by Favre, in part because the league's investigation of the case didn't find a trail of Sterger complaining about Favre.
I'm sure we all have our opinions of what Favre did, and how much exactly the league could prove in the case, but what the league could prove was a couple of awkward wooing-type phone calls from Favre to Sterger, and in the absence of more solid documentation that Favre harassed her, the league felt it couldn't go further.
My problem is the size of the fine. If Goodell felt Favre either lied or obstructed the investigation, it's a wrist-slap to have Favre pay one third of one percent of his salary as the sanction.
4. I think this is the first time you could say this since Barry Sanders played: It must be fun to be a Lions fan.
5. I think the saddest thing to realize this morning is that this might be the last day we can dissect a 16-game slate of NFL games for 10 or 11 months. Or 20.
6. I think this is everything that's wrong with the Pro Bowl, and the reason I pay it hardly any attention: Rodney Harrison played 15 years in the NFL as an enforcer safety. He and Ray Lewis are the only defensive players in NFL history with 30 career sacks and 30 interceptions. Brandon Meriweather has played four seasons in the NFL. He was benched twice this year for performance reasons. Still, Meriweather made the Pro Bowl this year, his second Pro Bowl berth. Harrison made two Pro Bowls in his career.
7. I think the Philadelphia Eagles shouldn't consider trading Kevin Kolb for anything short of three first-round picks. Ridiculous, of course. But think about it. Kolb's salary is manageable next year at $1.4 million. We haven't seen Mike Vick play a full season in forever. And if Vick goes down in September, do you want your season resting on the right arm of Mike Kafka? Kolb has more value by far than a normal top backup would have, because there's such a real chance of the starter getting hurt. So don't be tempted, Andy Reid. (Not that this offseason is going to business as usual anyway.)
8. I think the story of this season that will be quickly forgotten but shouldn't be is how Randy Moss disappeared faster than the Coors Light at a Penguins-Caps outdoor hockey game. Think of this: The Patriots shocked the football world in October by dealing Moss to the Vikings for a third-round pick. Since then, for the Vikings and the Titans, Moss was as invisible as a former megastar could be. His Minnesota/Tennessee stats: 18 catches, 236 yards, two touchdowns. That is one meaningless acquisition ... by two teams.
9. I think Andrew Luck should get a copy of the interview Sam Bradford did with Bob Costas last night on NBC ... if part of Luck's thought process on coming out includes worrying about going to the Carolina Panther because they're so far down. The St. Louis Rams -- now, that was far down last winter, with a 6-42 record in their previous three years. And Bradford did as much as he could to turn that team around, and almost took it to the playoffs in his rookie year. Not to write a script for NFL.com or anything, but all things are possible, Andrew Luck. Anywhere in the league.
10. I think these are my non-football thoughts of the week:
a. Jeanette Pohlen, how does it feel to have played the best game of your life in the biggest game of your life? Stanford's Pohlen scored 31 to key the Cardinal's 71-59 upset of UConn's record-breaking women's team. A bummer for all Nutmeggers -- like me -- but very good for the sport to see a good team stand up to Goliath. If the NCAA is smart, it'll find a way to put Stanford, Baylor and UConn in different brackets come March, to give those three a chance to meet in the Final Four again.
b. Classy reaction from Geno Auriemma on Stanford's gallant team and superb defensive effort: "They made us play bad. They're really good.''
c. Dumbest officiating decision of the new millennium: The "excessive-celebration'' call on Kansas State wide receiver Adrian Hilburn after he scored in the Pinstripe Bowl at Yankee Stadium Thursday to narrow Syracuse's lead to 36-34. Hilburn ran into the end zone, got to the back of the end zone, stopped, quickly saluted the crowd in the end zone, and ran to his bench. Two officials flagged him for the excessive celebration that to any witness other than a zebra would not have seemed excessive.
A 1.5-second stop, salute and run to the bench? In the House that Steinbrenner Built? George Steinbrenner, arguably the most patriotic of all Americans until his death last summer, is rolling over in his grave that a simple salute -- whatever its intent -- would cost a team 15 yards. The officials ruled the celebration was, in their words, "delayed, excessive and choreographed.'' I have three words for the officials' explanation: "dumb, dumber and criminal.''
So Kansas State, needing a two-point conversion, had to attempt it from 18 yards out and failed. Just a terrible abuse of power by the officials, and more so by the NCAA for making rules that micromanage what a team can do in the end zone after a score. They want these guys to be monks. Absolutely stupid.
Then, in the other bowl game that day, the Tennessee quarterback, Tyler Bray, threw a touchdown pass and gave the crowd a double throat-slash ... and got nothing. Nice rules you've got, NCAA.
d. Good luck in the new marriage, Jim Nantz. You deserve it.
e. You're telling me the best job you could get out there is Maryland, Randy Edsall?
f. I mean, I know Maryland might be a sleeping giant in the eyes of some, but is that the one job you leave a Fiesta Bowl team for?
g. Hey Geico: You can retire the lizard. We want Maxwell the pig, who cries "Wee wee wee'' all the way home.
h. Coffeenerdness: Said it before and I'll say it again: The dark-roast coffee at Pittsburgh convenience store Sheetz is worth passing by Starbucks for. Almost
i. Beernerdness: Had a bunch of different beers in the run-up to New Year's Eve, from far-flung breweries. My pick: Victory Pima Pils, from the Victory Brewing Company in Downingtown, Pa. Bordering on the bitter, but tremendously smooth with a taste of a German pilsner. Never had it before, but I liked it a lot. I did have one beer on a very wimpy New Year's Eve in Pittsburgh -- a highly recommended Arrogant Bastard, from California.
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