So here we are: This is it.
I should have asked earlier; do you want an epigraph? Only one?
Knock yourself out: “It seems to me I am trying to tell you a dream—making a vain attempt, because no relation of a dream can convey the dream-sensation, that commingling of absurdity, surprise, and bewilderment in a tremor of struggling revolt, that notion of being captured by the incredible which is the very essence of dreams.” —Joseph Conrad, Heart of Darkness
“All great deeds and all great thoughts have a ridiculous beginning.” —Albert Camus, “The Myth of Sisyphus”
“In truth the way matters but little; the will to arrive suffices.” —Ibid
“This, to use an American term, in which discovery, retribution, torture, death, eternity appear in the shape of a regularly repulsive nutshell, was it.” —Vladimir Nabokov, Lolita
Those last two sound familiar: There are only so many that work that well for a Super Bowl.
Are you at least excited for this one? Obviously. But two weeks is still too long. This game needs to be played the week after the championship games.
But a week’s too short! Play the game on Wednesday!
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“This is a gift I have, simple, simple! a foolish extravagant spirit, full of forms, figures, shapes, objects, ideas, apprehensions, motions, revolutions. These are begot in the ventricle of memory, nourished in the womb of pia mater, and delivered upon the mellowing of occasion.”
—Holofernes, Love’s Labours Lost
Over the past several seasons, I have really disliked the Indianapolis Colts. This dislike has manifested itself in tangential attacks on the city of Indianapolis, the Colts’ fan base, the fact their stadium is a dome, and even their more or less beyond approach uniforms. The exact derivation of my distaste for Indianapolis was, for a time, unclear. After all, there are few teams pre-adolescent Tim latched onto as intensely as the 1995 Colts and Captain Comeback, Jim Harbaugh.* I was disproportionately disappointed when Ted Marchibroda left the Colts to coach the Ravens, and even more so when that Indy team slumped to 3-13 in 1997.
*And by “latched onto,” I mean rooted hard for in the AFC Championship in Pittsburgh.
The Colts used their No. 1 pick that year to draft Peyton Manning, and I haven’t really liked them since. Continue reading »
“It’s not so easy to become what one is, to rediscover one’s deepest measure.”
In his playoff preview column last week, ESPN’s Bill Simmons talked about how the rules for playoff football had changed: Running the ball and stopping the run were no longer prerequisites for playoff success. Simmons pointed out all the crazy quarterbacking statistics this year—with 11 guys throwing for over 4000 yards and all—and how last year’s Super Bowl became a back-and-forth aerial assault between Roethlisberger/Holmes and Warner/Fitzgerald. Teams that didn’t excel in, or even especially try, running the ball could still win in the playoffs.
You might remember that way back in Week 1 I mentioned the downfall of the running game in American football. In that post, I said, among other things, that there was a lack of correlation between having a star running back and having postseason success (see: Chris Johnson this year). I also asked whether a team that passes the ball 60-70% of the time be successful in the NFL.
What neither Simmons nor I could have predicted was the efficacy of a one-dimensional rushing attack. It used to be that, in order to stop an offense, you made them one-dimensional. Take away the run and make the quarterback beat you, or vice versa. But throughout this NFL season, some of the league’s best offenses were so good in one area that it didn’t matter what they did in the other. And the success of a one-dimensional offense was reiterated and furthered on Wild Card Weekend, when three of the four winners won with unbalanced offensive performances.
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“Everything considered, a determined soul will always manage.”
It was the worst GameCast experience of my life and the perpetuation of what would become an annual Giants’ tradition. On November 26, 2006, Big Blue led the Titans 21-0 going into the fourth quarter. They were about to put an end to an ugly two-game losing streak, move to 7-4, and proceed to win the NFC East—or so I thought.
That’s when Vince Young went to work. The then-rookie led the Titans on one touchdown drive, and then another. Then the Giants had Tennessee in a 4th-and-10, and Mathias Kiwanuka had his arms around Young, and he let go, and Vince ran for the first down and eventually, threw for another touchdown. An Eli INT—by PacMan Jones, no less—and a Rob Bironas field goal completed the comeback.
Three years later, Vince Young led a similarly remarkable comeback, converting three fourth downs while driving the Titans 99 yards in the final moments for a 20-17 victory over the Cardinals. One would think that the postgame narrative would have been structured around Young’s abilities in the fourth quarter, perhaps with references to his Rose Bowl appearances and that comeback against the Giants. Instead, much of the talk was on how Vince Young is finally living up to the hype. Gregg Easterbrook said Young’s success proves Tim Tebow can start in the NFL at quarterback. On PTI, Peter King even compared Young to JaMarcus Russell.
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