Friday, November 24, 2006

A Day Filled with Turkey, both on & off the field

Well I certainly got my fill of turkey yesterday, and some of it was even on my plate.

To say that the games on TV were actually bigger birds than the ones served for dinner around the country would not be an understatement.

I shouldn't include all the games in that statement. Just the two biggest. The night game on NFL Network appeared to be a decent one, except nobody saw it. And the BC/Miami tilt turned out to be pretty decent, if you're a Miami fan & you like excruciatingly painful offense.
Here's a rundown of all the turkey digested yesterday, complete with the dressings:

-Dolphins 27, Lions 10
MY PICK: Lions 23-20
Okay, remember that caveat about never betting against Detroit on Turkey Day? Fahgeddaboudit. Now that Detroit absolutely, positively, unequivocally SUCKS, and it has lost 5 of the last 6 Thanksgiving Day games, that rule of thumb is out the door. The new rule has been changed to "never bet ON Detroit on Turkey Day until it gets its heads out of its ass and stops embarrassing the city & the franchise where the 'football on Thanksgiving' tradition started.
The Lions actually had the nerve to come out playing well, giving fans & gamblers hope. They took a 10-0 lead just 9:00 into the game and looked like they might turn the losing tradition around. Then Miami woke up. Former Detroit & current Miami QB Joey Harrington (19-29, 213, 3TDs, 1INT) accomplished something that he never could while he was a Lion: throw a touchdown pass on Turkey Day (he was 1-3 on Thanksgiving with no TDs in 112 pass attempts in his 4 seasons in Detroit.) Harrington tossed 3 TDs, Miami out-rushed Detroit 186-21, and the rout was on when Marty Booker caught a 19-yd TD pass near the end of the 3rd quarter to make it 24-10 heading into the 4th. By that time many of the fans who came to boo Harrington had left, and there were plenty of them. It got ridiculous at one point. I mean was he alone the reason the Lions have sucked for so many years? He's gone now and they still suck, so who they gonna boo now? Oh yeah, they turned their ire towards team pres Matt Millen. Talk about an f'd up organization. Poor Rod Marinelli. He wanted to be a head coach so bad, but he should have just waited for Chucky to get booted in Tampa. It was an ugly way to start Turkey Day. I think fans should start a petition to take the Lions off Thanksgiving until they decide to be good again; all that turkey + watching those turkeys= a lot of indigestion.

-Cowboys 38, Bucs 10
MY PICK: Cowboys 31-13
Speaking of indigestion, we had plenty of it from the second game. What could be more sickening than watching the Bucs get sliced like a Butterball, Terrell Owens celebrating after a touchdown, and new Dallas cult hero Tony Romo breaking a record that neither Troy Aikman or Roger Staubach had held? Answer for Bucs fans & Cowboy haters: nothing. The Bucs, like the Lions, started off strong, giving their fans and fans around the country who were praying for a decent game (false)hope. Alas it didn't last long. The Bucs drove the length of the field on their opening drive on the strength of short Cadillac runs sandwiched around a 53 yard pass from Gradkowski to Galloway. By the time Alstott rumbled in from the one for a 7-0 lead just thru the 1st quarter, people in Tampa Bay were spitting out their stuffing in shock that the Bucs scored on their first drive. Too bad it would be the only time all day that the Bucs crossed midfield.
By the time halftime rolled around Romo had thrown 3 TDs, the Cowboys led 21-10, and the rout was on. Although Tampa Bay ran the ball (101yds) much better than most had expected against Dallas' stingy run defense, Gradkowski continues to be a mystery at the QB position. He cannot get his timing with Galloway down. Many times the former Cowboy receiver had broken open downfield, only to have to stop or backtrack to catch up to Gradkowski's lame pass. He's just too fast for the Rocket to catch up to. Granted Gradkowski did make some plays with his legs, but if a QB can't hit his top target on fly patters deep down the field, then what the hell is the use? Too bad they couldn't graft Chris Simms' arm onto Gradkowski's body to create a Super QB. The second half was all Dallas. Romo (22-29, 306, 5TDs) continued his assault on the record books, and when the smoke cleared (from TB's secondary getting burned more than a blunt at a Snoop Dogg party), he owned a record that no Dallas QB in the storied history of the franchise had accomplished: he ended with 5 touchdown passes on Turkey Day, tying a Dallas overall record, but the only one to do it on Thanksgiving Day. Oh great, another reason for the fans & media to go nuts over him. Look I like the kid- he's got talent, smarts, and it appears he can make most any type of pass (lord knows he made all kinds against the Bucs),but they're already anointing this kid as the Second Coming after 5 games. Wait 'til he's played a full season in the NFL, when defenses gear up to stop him, to decide if he's the best thing ever.
One thing's for sure: this edition of the Bucs might be one of their worst ever. Now that's an accomplishment.

-Miami 17, Boston College 14
MY PICK: Miami 27-26
I might have had the score a bit high, but I had the outcome pegged. There were just too many things working against BC for them to win this game. As if it wasn't bad enough that this was the 22nd Anniversary of the Miracle in Miami Flutie-to-Phelan game, but to shove it down Miami's throats by having Flutie in the booth, Phelan on the phone, and showing the replay of the Catch about a zillion times leading up to the game was just playing with fire. it's bad enough to lose a game like that; it might be worse to be reminded of it ad nauseaum for a week leading up to the anniversary game. By the time the game rolled around the Canes wanted to toss Fltie into the Atlantic, put Phelan on a non-stop trip to Uganda, and burn all tapes of that classic contest. On top of all of that you had Miami playing the game for their recently killed senior leader, Bryan Pata, who was slain outside his apartment last month, and for coah Larry Coker, who was all but assured of being canned right after the season ends. A lot of karma going against BC, and then Miami came out and played defense like the Canes of old, holding the Eagles to 193 total yards-just 24 rushing- and QB Matt Ryan (7-34, 169, INT) all night long. BC took the lead first on an Andre Callender 5-yard TD run, and added to their lead when stud DB Dejuan Tribble returned the first of his 3 interceptions for a touchdown after a horrendous throwaway near his own end zone by Miami QB Kirby Freeman.
But the Canes dug deep in the second half and found the will to win this one for the Coker. One can only suspect what his halftime speech sounded like: "look, everyone knows I'm a goner as soon as the season ends, If you guys have any pride yo will go out there and win this game. Don't worry about me- I have a lucrative career as an Uncle Fester impersonator awaiting me after I leave here. But do this for Bryan, for yourselves, and to stop all those blasted replays of the Catch." Or something like that. Whatever it was, it worked, because Freeman (13-26, 181, 1TD, 3INTs) bounced back and ed a long drive in the 3rd quarter that turned out to be the winning points. It was an emotional victory for Miami, and a crushing defeat for the Eagles; they now are out of the running for BCS bowl, and it's all because of karma, baby.

Lesson learned: don't rub a monumental loss in the face of a team that has faced tragedy & adversity all year. It's called extra incentive, and Miami rode it to an emotional win.

-Chiefs 19, Broncos 10
MY PICK: Chiefs 24-21
I'm not going to say much about this game because, well I'm pissed that there is NFL action on Thanksgiving night and I can't watch it, that's why. It seemed like an exciting, hard-hitting rivalry game. The Chiefs (7-4) continued their resurgence by pounding their Hammer of God (sorry, Gears of War reference-that game is addicting. By the way, that add campaign, where they show a humongous creature crawling out of the ground as the haunting Donnie Darko song "Mad World" by Michael Andrews plays? it works) Larry Johnson a ground-breaking 34 times for 157 yards as KC won for the 5th time in their last 6 games. Johnson also scored a TD and he has been carrying the load offensively during this streak; he now leads the NFL with 202 yards. Jake Plummer (25-39, 16yds, 1TD, 1INT) did nothing to prove that he should keep his job, leading to even more speculation that rookie Jay Cutler will take the helm for Denver when they play Seattle a week from Sunday. And the vaunted Bronco running game? How 'bout a puny 8 yards on the ground, to a staggering 23 for KC. Yikes. The AFC West is now a complete dogfight, with San Diego leading at 8-3, but KC & Denver nipping at their heels at 7-4. And both of these teams travel to San Diego, on Dec. 10th (Den) & 17th(KC.)
Okay, so now that I've digested all that horrible football, and all of my wife's awesome turkey, dressing and desserts (she made a mean pumpkin pie this year), it's time to dig in to Day 2, Post Turkey Day aftermath. Plenty of action on tap, and plenty of leftovers waiting to be consumed.

-Texas A&M (8-3) @ Texas (9-2) High Noon EST ABC
Colt McCoy is back and he will get his first taste of this annual post-holiday rivalry as the Longhorns try to get to a major BCS bowl despite their stunning 2nd loss to K-State a couple of weeks ago. This game used to be a battle of Big 12 heavyweights, but with one team owning a National Championship and the other coming out of years of mediocrity, it goes back to being a plain old hate-filled rivalry game. Should be close, but Texas is too strong with Colt 45 (27TDs, 2100 yds), RBs Jamaal Charles & Selvin Young (301 yds, 12 TDs combined) and WR Limas Sweed (17 yds, 11 TDs) for A&M to handle.
MY PICK: Texas 27-19

-LSU (9-2) @ Arkansas (10-1) 2:30 CBS
This should be the game of the day and possible one of the best games of the weekend. Two SEC heavyweights go at it with BCS implications on the line for the Hogs and the hopes of spoiling that bid for LSU. Arkansas, which has not lost since their season opener to USC, has already secured a spot in the SEC Championship game next week against Florida. But with a win today over a good LSU team and next week over the Gators the Hogs still have a small chance at making it to Glendale for the BCS title game. They need about 45 other things to happen for them to get there, but they have a shot and they will be playing with an extra fire today. LSU has won the past 3 meetings, and talented QB Jamarcus Russel will be a tough test for the Razorback's defense. But Arkansas also has a guy that not many teams can handle, RB Darren McFadden, who is suddenly on the Heisamn watch with 303 yards & 12 TDs. If he has a big game today he will be in the hunt for the Heisman, the Hogs will be in ther hunt for the SEC & National title, and they will be shouting "wooooopigsooooeeeyyyy" till the cows come home down in Hogland.
MY PICK: Razorbacks 24-20

-Colorado (2-9) @ 23Nebraska (8-3) 3:30 ABC
The Buffs truly suck, having fallen into the abyss after the Gary Barnett Era scarred the program for life. Nebraska has had a decent season under former Raider whipping boy Coach Bill Callahan and will head to the Big 12 Championship game next week. So there isn't much to play for in this rivalry game other than pride & bragging rights. This game dates back to the heated days of the old Big 8, when the contest decided the conference champion each of the final 7 years. Now since the game moved to the day after Thanksgiving in 1996 Nebraska has won 7 of 10. No matter, it's a post-Turkey day tradition that is usually fun to watch, and I hope there is snow blowing around and someone gets their helmet knocked off.
MY PICK: Nebraska 33-6

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