“For where there is no battle there is no life.”
I had that quote all set up to use at halftime of the Giants-Panthers debacle (which we’ll get to later) before realizing that it would work even better for what transpired in that other New York football team’s game.
For many, the signature play of the Indianapolis Colts’ decade did not take place in their overwhelmingly forgettable Super Bowl XLI win over the Bears;* rather, it was in the 2004 Divisional Playoff game in New England, when Dominic Rhodes had the ball ripped out of his hands by Tedy Bruschi. “They don’t want it!” Bruschi yelled, pointing to the ball as he jogged to the sidelines.
*To substantiate my “overwhelmingly forgettable” claim: What was the score? Who really deserved MVP? What was the key play, and who made it?
That has long been the perception about the Indianapolis Colts: They don’t want it as much as New England or San Diego. On Sunday afternoon in Lucas Oil Stadium, Jim Caldwell proved all the doubters true. In pulling Peyton Manning and several of his starters from the second half of a tight game with the New York Jets, Caldwell—and it should be noted that the coach was simply acting under the orders of GM Bill Polian—took the coward’s way out.
Over at Deadspin, Will Leitch recently made a list of people who had had a particularly bad decade, or as Leitch put it, “reputations that were devastated by the last 10 years.” This list included Ricky Williams.
That list no longer has any credibility.
Sure, when Ricky Williams graduated from Texas in 1998, he was college football’s all-time leading rusher—a mark that would be passed a year later by Ron Dayne, who really deserves to be on this list but isn’t. Williams entered the NFL with high expectations, generally because Mike Ditka moronically traded the entire draft and his professional dignity to land Williams in New Orleans. Although Williams hasn’t quite lived up to those expectations, he’s still been one of the best running backs of the decade; on Thursday night, he surpassed 7,500 rushing yards since 2000, which isn’t half-bad for someone who had an “awful decade.” Ron Dayne would certainly jump at the opportunity to double his career yardage.
Every time it seems to me that I’ve grasped the deep meaning of the world, it is its simplicity that always overwhelms me…. Everything simple is beyond us. What is blue, and how do we think “blue”?
Three seasons ago, the NFL peaked in terms of its own scheduling. Every team had enjoyed its bye week by Week 9 (hehe), meaning that there was a distinct midway point of the season by which everyone had played eight games.
The NFL, for some unknown reason, tinkered with its bye scheduling in the subsequent years, pushing some byes back later in the schedule. Thus, this year, while 30 of the 32 teams have already had their bye and have played eight games and can be totally compared at a kind of midway point, the Giants and Texans are 5-4 heading into their byes.
This does not, however, mean that we can’t still consider this halftime of the 2009 NFL season and the perfect time to look back at what I thought was going to happen, and what subsequently did not happen. We’ll hand out awards amidst some “Pats on the Back” and several “Yeah, about that…”s.
NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS
Last Season: 11-5
This Season: 11-5, AFC #3
They’re not going to go 16-0, if only because no team has ever gone undefeated without having a running back. At the same time, they get Tom Brady back, and last I checked, that guy’s pretty good. Do I need to keep going? You know this team is good, and nobody else in the division is even close.
Tim’s favorite player in New England Patriot history is…: I mean, it’s kind of hard not to like Troy Brown, right? He was so small! If Troy Brown were white, a lot worse, and with a tendency toward concussions, he would have been Wayne Chrebet.
A Great and Recent Patriot Game: It seems tough to overstate the significance of this game in retrospect, considering the subsequent directions of these two teams.
Wasn’t that fun to watch? No, because I fell asleep at halftime with a severe case of sinusitis. It sucked.
If the Patriots were a character on The Wire, they would be: The Greek. They control everything.
Did you know?: The Patriots officially have the league’s coolest retro logo with Pat the Patriot.