Posts Tagged ‘jeff fisher’

Aught Lang Syne: Top 10 Games — NFL

Opposite the NBA and MLB, the NFL had an amazing decade. Whereas those sports combined to produce three Game 7s in 20 championship series, the NFL saw five Super Bowls come down to the final two minutes. It avoided major scandals while providing us with a likable upstart turned detestable villain, one of the best rivalries the sport has ever seen, featuring two historically transcendent players at the game’s most important position. Oh, and it cleaned up its logo.

It might even be the Golden Age of the NFL.

As for my list, you’ll notice that the common theme uniting all 10 games is fourth-quarter drama. And not like, one-team-drives-for-one-late-TD-to-win drama, but back-and-forth-for-all-15-minutes-with-multiple-scores drama. And even having that high standard and far fewer games to choose from than in the other sports, I had to make some tough cuts. The final ones included the Steelers’ comeback win over the Browns on Wild Card Weekend in 2002 (the same day as a game that made our countdown), the Steelers’ upset of the Colts in the 2005 Divisional Playoffs, and the Colts’ incredible fourth-quarter comeback on Monday Night against the Buccaneers in 2003.

On the other end of the spectrum, the worst game of the decade was Super Bowl XXXVII, the Buccaneers’ 48-21 romp over the Raiders. If you don’t know why, you’re a Bucs’ fan.

10. 2000 Regular Season: New York Jets 40, Miami Dolphins 37 (OT)

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Unabated to the QB, Week 12: From Invisible to In-Vince-Able

“Everything considered, a determined soul will always manage.”

—Albert Camus

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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NFL Preview Bonanza: The Coolest Head Coaches

The NFL Season kicks off on Thursday night with the Steelers hosting the Titans. To prepare for what is already being dubbed the most anticipated season since the fifth installment of The Wire, we’ll be doing a full-blown (and probably overwrought) NFL Preview Bonanza, including looks at each division, predictions for every team (that actually add up), and, in true NPI fashion, rankings.

A common thread in sports discussion is the significance of a coach. Most people downplay the role of a manager in baseball, except when it’s Joe Torre or Bobby Cox. Most people downplay the role of a coach in basketball, except when it’s Phil Jackson or Gregg Popovich. And don’t even get me started on hockey, where I’m pretty sure the longest-tenured head coach was hired last summer.*

*I mean, teams ROUTINELY win the Stanley Cup after making midseason coaching changes. ROUTINELY.

Nobody downplays the role of the football coach, though. Football is the sport where the importance of the coach is never overlooked; some of the sports’ greatest legends—men like Vince Lombardi, Bill Walsh, and now Bill Belichick—never strayed from the sidelines.

But what makes a good coach? A football coach has to embody that Machiavellian intersection of fear and respect. A football coach has to be cool.

What is cool? Not even Miles Davis could articulate it. No, coolness is more like obscenity: You know it when you see it.

The following is a ranking of the 32 NFL coaches in ascending order of coolness. Explanations, when necessary, are attempted. By the way, the picture up top is of Hank Stram, undoubtedly the coolest coach in NFL history. If you didn’t know that, don’t bother asking why.

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