by Robert Ferringo - 11/08/2005
Guts. Stones. Cajones. Moxy. Whatever you call it, there is a certain amount of recklessness and daring that is required to play in or bet on the National Football League. Week 9 did not appear any different than any other Sunday in this 2005 season. However, several bold maneuvers by players and coaches are still resonating throughout the league.
How about 4th-and-one, five seconds to play, down three points to your most hated rival. In a game that Kansas City absolutely had to have, Dick Vermeil threw caution to the wind and was rewarded with Larry Johnson's game-winning touchdown run. The Chiefs earned the win and kept themselves in the running as a playoff dark horse, stunting the progress the surging Raiders in the process.
Another audacious 4th-and-one call occurred out in San Francisco just a few hours later. The New York Giants, struggling to shake a plucky 49ers club, were stuck at the San Fran 32 and decided to roll the dice. The result was Eli Manning tossing a beautiful, deep strike to Jeremy Shockey for a game-changing touchdown just before the half. The move propelled New York to the win, and kept them in the driver's seat for the NFC East crown.
But the most intrepid move - with the most potentially far-reaching ramifications - concerned Philadelphia's decision to suspend and deactivate Terrell Owens. They danced with the devil for a year-and-a-half, but decided that his price was too high. The Eagles finally had their Faustian moment, and on Tuesday they tried to repent. But did the move come too late?
This whole Owens/Eagles issue has already been beaten to death in the media. My simple thoughts are that Terrell Owens represents everything that is wrong with modern sports. The fact that his attitude and actions are overlooked due to his "performance" speaks volumes about our culture.
Regardless, the Owens/Eagles situation displays that at all times life in the NFL is a gamble. And as in any public arena, some risks are rewarded while others leave you busted. But remember, "You can't lose what you don't put in the pot. But you can't win much either."
Here are my random thoughts from Week 9:
-- Week 9 was so predictable that no one saw it coming. Favorites were 14-0 straight up (money line parlay and teaser players had a day). The favorites finished 9-3-1 against the spread, and by my count are 68-59-3 ATS on the season.
-- Since the start of the 2003 season (40 games) the Jacksonville Jaguars won by more than a touchdown only twice. I believe they may do it once more this year, but in any game that they're giving more than seven I suggest taking the points.
-- God bless the Carolina cheerleaders. If you don't know, two of them got arrested for having sex - with each other - in a bar bathroom down in Tampa. Now, you're telling me that two smoking hot NFL cheerleaders couldn't have found somewhere safe to get down? Seriously, give me a call next time ladies.
-- Michael Vick's numbers on Sunday: 22-for-31, 228 yards, one touchdown. Most NFL quarterbacks call that an average day. For the top tier signal-callers, it's a below average outing. For Ron Mexico, it's a season/career day and should put to bed any criticism of his lack of passing ability.
Once again, the Falcons won. And once again it was the 160 yards rushing, and a clutch defensive play (Keion Carpenter's interception after Miami moved within eight yards of tying the score).
-- Carolina has won five consecutive games, and looks like the Super Bowl contenders that everyone expected them to be. In fact, they're 12-4 over their last 16 regular season games. That's solid, but not as dominant as they would have you believe. Other than Tampa Bay, the Panthers haven't beaten a team in 2005 that currently has a winning record. The combined win-loss total of their opponents this year is 20-45.
-- Home dogs finished 1-6-1 ATS this past weekend, with the lone victory coming when the Jets clawed back against San Diego. Thus far, home dogs are 15-16-1 ATS for the year.
-- Due to injury, Randy Moss has been severely limited in his contributions to Oakland this season. However, he made a sparkling cameo in Kansas City. His seven-yard touchdown catch would have been a winner, had the Raiders defense not worn down (again) at the end of the fourth quarter.
-- Even the Democratic Party was showing some spine in the last two weeks. It's been enthralling and horrifying watching the Republican Party implode over the last two months, but it's nice to see the Dems try to capitalize.
-- Tiki Barber is clearly a team player, but I think he's getting fed up with Brandon Jacobs getting all of the short-yard and goal-line carries. If you don't believe me, just look at Tiki's body language whenever the rookie subs in for him.
-- If I were NFL commissioner for a day, one of the first things I would do would be eliminate the timeout after the kickoff. After a team scores there's a TV timeout. After the commercials, they come back and kickoff, and there's another TV timeout. That's really annoying.
-- The best summation I've heard regarding the Eagles/Owens relationship was that it was like dating a stripper. At first its fun and you think it could work. But sooner or later it degenerates into a horrific, nightmarish disaster that involves paternity tests, STD's, and slashed tires.
And how could you not laugh out loud watching Drew Rosenhaus say that he "loves" Terrell Owens, or that T.O. is a "great person", or that all of this is the media's fault? Priceless.
-- Fourth quarter, up eight points, facing 4th-and-goal at the Jets one-yard line, with LaDainian Tomlinson on your team, what do you do? Marty Schottenheimer opted for the field goal on Sunday in New York instead of going for the jugular. That type of conservativism is why you never trust him with a big spread or in a big game.
-- I heard that the people of France were tired of being the butt of jokes about being soft and weak. In response, they decided to riot and indulge their inner pyro to show the world that they're not pansies.
Argentina? They riot just for the fun of it.
-- If you can bet on Indianapolis going undefeated, bet your life and the lives of your immediate family members on them not. They still have to play Cincinnati, Seattle, Jacksonville and Pittsburgh.
-- Neil Rackers, who is now 26-for-26, gets my vote for MVP. OK, so I'm kidding, but the kid's having an outstanding year.
-- In just half a season, New England has had 35 different starters at 22 positions.
-- New Orleans clubbed the Bears defense for 104 rushing yards in the first half by using an extra tackle instead of a tight end. Defensive coordinator Ron Rivera made adjustments, and Chicago allowed only 29 yards running in the second half. That's outstanding coaching.
-- After their 21-9 win in Baltimore, the Bengals were chirping about what a physical team they are. They're backs did run 30 times for 101 yards, but I still wouldn't call them "tough". However, they're on the right track and are an outstanding 4-1 on the road.
-- Much like Carolina (which has been an ATM as visitors), Pittsburgh has been money on the road. The Steelers have now won 11 straight away from Heinz field.
-- Cleveland, Miami and Arizona look like they'll be changing quarterbacks - again. Is it shocking that those three teams are a combined 31-79 since 2003?
-- Washington is a tough, gritty team, but I think they'll be the one without a playoff chair when the regular season music stops.
-- Dallas, which lost tackle Flozell Adams for the year, is reportedly close to signing former Browns tackle Ross Verba. Verba, who is a good but not outstanding tackle, talked his way out of Cleveland after pricing himself out of their range. Now he may get what he wants due to the Cowboys' desperation.
-- From the Kansas City Star:
"At 9 a.m. Sunday, Trent Green walked through the seats near Section 121 of Arrowhead Stadium, found the spot and taped a note on the orange chair. The sign said, 'Jim Green, we miss him and we love him.' Green didn't want anybody to sit there. It was his dad's seat."
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