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What an NFL Sunday. Looking at the slate of games before kickoff, it didn't seem we would be in for anything special -- there were a few promising matchups, but mostly stinkers.
But when Ryan Longwell's field goal split the uprights Sunday night to give the Packers an overtime victory over the Lions, it marked a fitting end to perhaps the most exciting day of football so far this season.
And in all the excitement, we learned a lot about some teams. We learned which are contenders and which are pretenders. To use another cliché, we separated the wheat from the chaff. (Whatever "chaff" is. I have no idea. But apparently it's no good and you shouldn't want any part of it.)
What else did we learn?
We learned Texans kicker Kris Brown really, really, really wants Reggie Bush on his team.
We learned it is insanity to leave Cowboys backup tight end Dan Campbell unaccounted for in the red zone, as he is an unmatched offensive talent.
|More NFL Highlights|
• Wojciechowski: Colts making history.
• Clayton: Bucs return to basics in win.
• Recap: Packers pass Lions.
• Recap: Giants eliminate Eagles.
• Bayless: Week 14 Damn! moment.
• Complete NFL coverage
We learned the Chargers and Panthers will battle down to the wire to see who truly deserves the title of Most Overrated Team in Football. (Not counting college football, of course, where Notre Dame is the proud and eternal holder of that honor.)
We learned that although Kyle Boller's passes are easy to intercept anywhere, they are that much easier to pick off in the thin Rocky Mountain air.
We learned all those who said Curtis Martin was too injury-prone to make it as an NFL back when he came out of Pittsburgh 10 years ago were correct.
We learned that after four years in the NFC, the Seahawks might finally have earned a promotion back to the majors.
And lastly, we continued to learn that I have a growing and somewhat annoying and amateurish habit of writing everything in my weekly wrap-up column in short, declarative, bullet-point-like sentences.
So on to the week in review.
Now.Headlines That Are Probably In Newspapers This Morning ...
Chicago: "Bears rent out studio to record 'One-and-Done in the Playoffs Shuffle'"
Indianapolis: "Neighbors report seeing knife-wielding Nick Buoniconti lurking in Peyton Manning's bushes"
Minneapolis: "Vikings' inevitable elimination from playoff contention pushed back yet another week"
New York: "Jay Feely allowed to have dessert again"
Oakland: "Tuiasosopathetic: Raiders blown out by lowly Jets"
National: "Packers unable to overcome Favre's late interceptions in loss to Lions"
(Note: Sunday's Packers-Lions game ended after most newspapers went to print, so editors ran the above headline thinking it was a pretty safe bet.)
Ten Things I Thought Of While Purchasing A $10,000 Espresso Machine ...
1. I admittedly don't follow the entertainment industry all that closely, so my facts might be off a little bit here, but I'm surprised this new movie about the gay Cowboys I keep hearing about isn't getting more play in the mainstream sports media. You'd think the news of a homosexual couple playing for a well-known sports team -- "America's Team," no less -- would get tons of coverage. But, hey, hopefully this is a sign that perhaps Jeremy Shockey is the only person who still cares whether a Cowboys player -- or their head coach -- is homosexual.
2. Interesting to learn that Eagles quarterback Mike McMahon is both from Western Pennsylvania and a Rutgers alum. Unfortunate combo there, as I'm pretty sure any chance he had for greatness because of his Western PA quarterbacking heritage was canceled out the first time he put on a Rutgers uniform.
3. I love this growing opinion among Bears fans that Chicago would suddenly become unstoppable if Rex Grossman replaced Kyle Orton as quarterback. I guess I somehow completely missed Grossman's previous stellar performances as an NFL quarterback. As did the NFL's official statistician, because in Grossman's six career games over three seasons, here are some of his numbers: 3 touchdowns, 4 interceptions, 54.5 percent completion rate, 5 fumbles (2 lost). Those project almost exactly to Orton's statistics over his 13 games this season. And though both are pretty much interchangeable in their mediocrity, Grossman would be both mediocre ... and rusty. So where does the Orton hate spring from? Is it the neck beard? Is it that hard for Bears fans to look at it every Sunday? If that's the reason, I can understand. Really, it's an absolutely disgusting neck beard he has there. But beyond that, I'm miffed. Wanting to replace Orton with Grossman is like wanting to ditch George W. Bush for Jimmy Carter. (Don't you do it, Laura!)
4.. I was going to write something here about how I think Matt Millen should be fired and that it's despicable if the reports from Detroit of Lions fans being thrown out of the stadium last week for holding up "Fire Matt Millen" signs are true, but as I started to type that, several Lions employees stopped by and threatened to smash my laptop and throw me out of my apartment. So I won't be writing about that. Instead -- and in hopes Millen's henchmen will stop lighting my dog on fire -- I'm merely going to say this: Matt Millen is great. But, if I may add one thing, I wish he would allow Dick Jauron to eat from time to time. The guy is wasting away. Oh, there they go again. My dog is in flames. OK, I take it back. Millen may continue starving Jauron if he thinks that's best.
5. You have to hand it to Brian Billick. He's going to coach his drastically underachieving team through to the end of the season while being just as smug and arrogant as ever. Sunday in Denver, he sported a leather jacket and some nifty aviator shades on the sideline, perhaps thinking the Broncos would be so blown away by his coolness during warm-ups that they would forfeit in hopes of using the scheduled game time to get their pictures taken with him. But for whatever reason, the Broncos didn't forfeit. That didn't stop Billick, though -- he kept rocking the shades until the end of the game, despite the fact that the sun had set and the Denver sky was pitch-black for a good portion of the second half. By that point, he might have been sticking with the aviators less for the cool factor and more because wearing them in the dead of night made it nearly impossible for him to view the dreadful team he coaches.
6. If the Texans ever construct a Ring of Honor at Reliant Stadium (don't laugh; if the Seahawks can have one, so can the Texans one day), the first honoree must be Kris Brown. His potentially tying, 31-yard field goal at the end of regulation Sunday deserves recognition not only for being the worst kick in the history of organized football at any level but also because it might have locked up Houston's chances to get the No. 1 pick and draft Reggie Bush in April. And even without Bush, Brown's boot is easily the most memorable moment in Texans history, right after that one play from a year or two ago where David Carr didn't get sacked.
7. I would have loved to have been the guy who happened to catch Brown's kick in the stands. Just a great story to tell your friends:
"So I caught a field-goal ball at the game yesterday."
"Really? That's awesome. Didn't they get the net up in time?"
"No, the net was up."
"So did the guy kick it over the net?"
"Nope, not over the net. The net really wasn't even in play on this kick, I guess you could say."
"Uh, OK. Well, where were you sitting?"
"A few rows up in the back-left corner of the end zone."
"I don't see how that's possible."
"Neither do I. And that's even after I saw it happen with my own eyes."
"Was it windy or a bad hold or from a really long distance or something?"
"Nope. No wind. Good hold. And only 31 yards away. It just happened to be the worst kick in the history of football."
"And you caught it?"
"Yes I did."
8. It was cool to see Samkon Gado's mother, a native of Nigeria, in the stands in Green Bay. But I wonder if, deep down, she was sincerely happy to be there. Here's a woman who grew up in a country where the average temperature is about 90 degrees, sitting in the last row at Lambeau Field for four hours in single-digit temperatures, watching her son play a sport she likely has little interest in and knows even less about. Again, there's no way I can know how she really felt about being there, but all I'm saying is if I have a son who someday offers me a ticket to watch him play cricket in 105-degree heat in Ghana, I'm probably going to put that puppy up on eBay.
9. For those of you who might be thinking: "I've been reading your column all season and you obviously know nothing about football," well ... the joke is on you, suckers! I had a bye this week in my fantasy football league playoffs, meaning -- obviously -- that I am a genius when it comes to football.
10. Attention CBS Sunday evening viewers (i.e., the elderly): For those of you tuning in expecting to see "60 Minutes," "60 Minutes" will be seen in its entirety immediately after the game, except on the West Coast.
Fast Facts About The Playoff Contenders ...
1. Indianapolis: While in college at the University of Minnesota, Tony Dungy fronted a widely panned rock band called "Temperate Tony and the Monotones."
2. Seattle: Seahawks long snapper Jean-Philippe Darche recently was voted the 28th-best French Canadian long snapper of all time by the French Canadian Long Snapping Press Club.
3. Cincinnati: Wide receiver Chad Johnson often stays so late at Bengals facilities that he sleeps there. Not because he's putting in extra work, though, but because he doesn't want to risk being away if a camera crew should happen to stop by.
4. Denver: To ease the symptoms of the serious ailment known as acid reflux disease he has been afflicted with, former Broncos quarterback John Elway has placed himself on a strict diet of oats, hay, carrots, apples and sugar cubes.
5. Pittsburgh: LPGA golfer Natalie Gulbis broke up with Ben Roethlisberger during the offseason because of a misunderstanding over the quarterback's repeated requests for a foursome with Laura Davies and John Daly.
6. Kansas City: In the six weeks since Priest Holmes has been injured, during which Larry Johnson has rushed for 852 yards, Holmes' teammates have taken to calling him "Wally" or "The Pippster."
7. San Diego: LaDainian Tomlinson was injured in a pileup during last week's game versus Oakland when a Raiders player reportedly dug his knuckles into Tomlinson's ribs. But it wasn't, as reported, a rib injury Tomlinson received from the anonymous Raider but something far more serious, painful and embarrassing: the dreaded purple nurple.
8. New England: In the same week Tom Brady was named "Sportsman of the Year" by Sports Illustrated, the Patriots quarterback also was named "Man of the Year" by Internet Porn Enthusiasts Monthly.
9. Chicago: When Brian Urlacher calls his old high school football coach, the first thing he wants to talk about is Wildcats football.
10. Jacksonville: Jaguars wide receiver Jimmy Smith has officially supplanted Jets receiver Wayne Chrebet as the NFL's leading example of a player who has been called underrated so often that he has become overrated.
11. Tampa Bay: Chris Simms' birth is the only documented case in history of a person being born with an actual silver spoon in his mouth. (Thanks to Steve Y. from Utah for submitting this fact.)
12. New York Giants: Eli Manning purposely completes only 50 percent of his passes so he can keep defenses guessing from one play to the next about what he's going to do. (Thanks to Archie M. from New Orleans for submitting this fact.)
13. Dallas: Cowboys owner Jerry Jones is intrigued by reports of the world's first successful face transplant.
14. Carolina: After wide receiver Steve Smith "changed the diaper" on the football after scoring a touchdown last week, he went home and spiked his child.
15. Atlanta: Head coach Jim Mora Jr. has been practicing an impression of his father's famous "Playoffs?!" rant so he can unveil it after Atlanta's next loss.
16. Washington: Sometimes Joe Gibbs wishes Clinton Portis would dress up as Champ Bailey.
17. Minnesota: Vikings quarterback Brad Johnson, who is 37, attended Florida State so long ago that all his incarcerated Seminoles teammates have since served out their terms.
DJ Gallo is a regular contributor to ESPN The Magazine, as well as the founder and sole writer of the award-winning sports satire site SportsPickle.com. He also contributes headlines to The Onion.