Finally getting back in the saddle again

Chris Duprau

I can hear Steven Tyler screaming those words at my first concert ever, “I’M BAAACK….BACK IN THE SADDLE AGAIN.” I mention that because I feel like screaming that now that I’m back writing for all my loyal readers (all ten of them). Thus far we’ve had ourselves a wild and wacky NFL postseason. Allow me to review the big things that happened and set us up for championship Sunday.

The concept of coaching seems to have been lost this postseason. Mike Martz used his third and final timeout in the Seattle game….with two minutes left in the third quarter. Now I will give him this, he did win the game, but come on, seriously. No wonder one of his players threatened his life. The other two examples of poor coaching unlike Martz’s, did unfortunately cost their teams the game.

Marty Schottenheimer in overtime decided to drive the ball three times into his line with about four minutes left on the clock to give his kicker, who was a rookie, mind you, a 41-yard kick to win the game. The Jets defense was absolutely exhausted at the time and a sweep to the outside, a play-action pass…anything would have gotten them a first down and made it easier for their kicker. Needless to say, he missed the kick and the Jets won the game.

Flash forward the next week: the Jets are tied with the Steelers with 2:06 left. Big Ben has finally played like a rookie. New York is playing great. Every Lou and Frank from Queens is going wild, and the whole bar I’m in is chanting J-E-T-S JETS JETS JETS! Then Doug Brien hits the crossbar on a field goal attempt from 44. Not all hope is lost though as the Jets intercept Rothlisberger and are driving. With 38 seconds left they are at the 24 yard line of Pitt making it about a 41-yard field goal and they still have all three time outs.

This is when insanity occurs, and it has to be insanity because there is no other possible excuse. The Jets don’t call a time out until about nine seconds left. Why? They could have easily driven another 10-15 yards. They then have Pennington take a knee with four seconds on the clock. They’ve wasted a golden opportunity. Brien missed the kick, Jets lose and New York fans count down the days until spring training.

For some reason, I don’t know why people just don’t like them. Maybe it’s because many Boston fans are obnoxious (not that Eagles fans can talk) but everyone I saw this week was rooting and picking the Colts to beat the Pats. I personally enjoy the Patriots and their hard working attitude. I thought it was going to be a tough game, and I couldn’t have been more wrong. Complete and utter domination is the best way to put it as the Pats won 20-3. As my mentor Bill Simmons said, “This was the four letter word t-e-a-m beating the five letter word s-t-a-t-s.”

I like Manning, I really do, but that was a shameful performance he put on last week. The year before he lost but, he showed some heart in the loss. This year he looked like a little kid trying to play with the older boys. Bonus points for when Boomer Esiason called Manning the next Dan Marino with Dan Marino sitting next to him. Bonus bonus points for the fact that Boomer Esiason made fun of another quarterback.

(Cue the Robbie Krieger guitar rift.)

“This is the end, beautiful friend. This is the end my only friend the end.” That’s what I hear now when I see Brett Favre play. You just don’t know which Brett Favre you’re going to get anymore. He’s a loose cannon who sometimes blows himself up.

I have been a big Favre supporter and will nine times out of 10 give him the benefit of the doubt. After that play against Minnesota when he forward latteralled, I knew that it was the end of the line. Like Marino’s out pattern against the Jags, Simms sixth sack against the 49ers and and Aikman’s six interception game against the Giants. That was the sign that Brett is done. I’m not saying that he is going to retire, it’s just that he’s past the point of no return- he’ll never be the great one again.

Okay, let’s look at this week’s games now. The Pats are a team on a mission and not even the 21st century version of the Steel curtain is going to stop them. I’m sure the mad scientist known as Bill Belichek has figured out a way to make Big Ben make a mistake and don’t forget that the last time these two teams played and Pittsburgh won the Pats didn’t have Corey Dillon. That’s huge. When Bill Cowher is your coach in a championship game (don’t get me wrong, I like Cowher, but he is 1-4 in championship games at home) and you have a rookie quarterback going against the best TEAM (I accentuate that word because that team can beat anyone), you’re in trouble and the Pats will show that with a win this weekend.

You’re probably wondering why I haven’t mentioned the Eagles yet, and that’s because I have a lot to say about them here. Four conference championship games in four years, pretty damn good. Has not been done since the Cowboys of the early -mid ’90’s.

Things are aligned for the Birds to finally win. McNabb looks good, everyone is healthy for the most part aside from T.O. Freddie Mitchell and his “amazing hands” have come out of their year long coma since 4th and 26. They’re playing a team that on paper they should beat. I almost and repeat ALMOST feel like rooting for the Birds because I don’t know if the city can handle another loss. The Birds will definitely…wait…wait, haven’t I seen this one before.

The underdog Falcons, coming to play the team with the best record in the conference and given no chance to win. It looks eerily like the ’99 NFC championship game when the Falcons beat the 15-1 Vikings in Minnesota. Michael Vick is one crazy quarterback and is the first athlete since the ’00 version of Vince Carter that I watch just because he is probably going to do something amazing. (Vince is no longer on that list.) The Falcon defense is good, real good and the Atlanta running game is the best Philly has seen since the Pitt game. I’m not going to say my pick for fear of jinxing myself but I think you all know what it is.

Next week, I’m taking a break from football since there are two weeks before the big bowl and I am going to look at the crazy baseball off-season and bask in the sunshine that seems to finally be shining on New York’s other team.