Once again, I'm calling free game on the bashing Peter King's column thing and going back at it this week. It's so easy. It's like taking candy from a baby. Or from Amy Winehouse.
The Pittsburgh Steelers might be the luckiest team on the face of the earth, but they also are the most mentally tough. You'd better have a four-leaf clover, and an anvil in your shoulder pads, to beat them right now.
You know, they've lost some of these types of games, too. Seriously. I know you know this, though, because you refer to it like three sentences later.
And I hope every PR guy in the league passes out to every player the part of my column about what Matt Birk is doing this week. It's that important.
Yeah, you fat douchebag, make it about you. And I hope Pac-Man Jones skeet skeet skeets all over it when they do.
The Titans have Pittsburgh coming to Nashville on Sunday afternoon, and suddenly, that's a vital game. The winner of that game will be the No. 1 seed in the AFC playoffs, the loser No. 2.
This is just a minor qualm here, but they will have to play games in week 17 and they will matter if the Steelers lose theirs and the Titans win. Assuming the Steelers beat the Titans, which I guess will depend on what Jeff Fisher decides to do on the coin-flip.
Tennessee had won the toss before the game. The Titans elected to receive, and Houston chose which goal to defend, picking the favorable winds in the second and fourth quarters. Obviously, Fisher wishes he had deferred, and taken the prevailing winds in the second and fourth quarters.
If Tennessee loses to Pittsburgh, Fisher's going to remember that coin flip for a long, long time.
I was drawn to Harrison's story by Minnesota center Matt Birk, who is doing something I hope every player in this league will heed this week. Birk is donating $50,000 from his Week 16 gamecheck (his base salary is $5.32 million this year) to jump-start Gridiron Guardian Sunday. Birk has written to all NFL players, who should be receiving the letter early this week, asking the rank-and-file to donate a portion of their pay this week to the Gridiron Greats. In the letter, Birk says: "This is a humanitarian issue, and the people suffering at the center of it are some of our own.'' Each player will be able to make a contribution to the cause from this week's paycheck.
But, more importantly, they are also going to get a copy of Peter King's column.
6. Philadelphia (7-5-1). I'll bet you $1,000 that Donovan McNabb howled uproariously over the T.O. hijinks last week. Several times.
I'll bet you $1,000 the baristas at Starbucks jack off into your coffee. Several times.
8. Indianapolis (10-4). Tony Dungy's such a good person, and so nice to his former protégés. He can even make Rod Marinelli look good.
Tony Dungy is so good! He loves Jesus! And he said nice things about his friend Rod Marinelli instead of saying he sucks on TV! What a guy!
9. New England (9-5). The Patriots scored 35 points in the first 18 minutes at Oakland, in a driving rainstorm. Football is a funny game.
Why, were the endzones suddenly protected by a moat?
10. Minnesota (9-5). Personal note here: I'm so happy for Tarvaris Jackson, who threw four touchdown passes with no interceptions in Arizona. His story is so good. Last year, at 6 a.m. the day after the Super Bowl, he and two buddies were working out and throwing the football because he was so excited about preparing to be the Vikings' starting quarterback. He went out the day after The Big Game because the Vikings had crushed the Giants two months earlier, and the Giants had just won the world championship, and if the Giants won the title, Jackson figured, why not us?
Wow! I have goosebumps from reading that. Of course, my goosebumps are borderline retarded, but still.
Seriously, why is an NFL QB going out and throwing a football hoping that he wins the Super Bowl the upcoming year an incredible story? And why do you even know this? Were you hanging out with them in the shower afterwards?
11. Atlanta (9-5). I love football. How great is it that we could well look back at the Justin Blalock fumble recovery/thievery-at-the-bottom-of-the-pile at the end of this year as the biggest play of the Falcons' season.
It's so great. I'm seriously shocked that a fumble recovery could be a big play. That's why I love football. And how crazy is it that gas prices could drop 60% this year? I mean, seriously, we could look back on the lack of serious structural damage from Ike and Gustav as the main reason it got this low. That's what makes oil speculation and destructive hurricanes so great.
12. Tampa Bay (9-5). Not time to bury the Bucs, but you've got to be extremely worried about their ability to stop the run if they make the playoffs. Last two games versus the run: 37 carries for 299 yards for Carolina, 43 carries for 175 yards Sunday in Atlanta. The Bucs have the proverbial must win coming up Sunday at home against San Diego, and they'd better wear their big-boy pads for that one because the Chargers will come in rushing.
San Diego is ranked 27th in the NFL in rushing. How do I know this? Because I have the internet.
"All game they didn't make plays. One drive they did.''
-- Baltimore middle linebacker Ray Lewis, on the Steelers' 13-play, 92-yard drive in the fourth quarter for the only touchdown in Pittsburgh's 13-9 win over the Ravens -- the first Steelers win in Baltimore in six years.
This isn't a dig at Peter King here. I just want to say...fuck you, Ray Lewis. I hope you stab somebody tonight in Baltimore and they bleed their hepatitis on you.
Mike Mularkey, offensive coordinator, Atlanta. I bet when Mularkey's son, at 5, first got on a bike, dad would not let son use training wheels. Because that's how he's coached Matt Ryan this year. Third-and-one, Atlanta 28, three minutes left in the first half. Interesting opportunity here. The Falcons had been running the ball well, and I assumed he'd send Michael Turner up the gut. Which he did ... but he had Ryan make a phony sideways tossing motion toward Jerious Norwood before faking play-action to Turner up the middle. Then, in almost the same fluid motion, Ryan rainbowed a pass in the left flat to Norwood, who had no one to beat for 17 yards and a first down.
This was not a vintage day for the Atlanta offense -- 373 yards and 13 points in 71 minutes (including 11 minutes of OT) -- but Mularkey has done such a terrific job in inculcating Ryan into the NFL way, and this play was the perfect illustration.
While they may have sucked for the majority of the game, the fact that their QB was trusted to convert a third and one shows that Mike Mularkey never used training wheels. Back in his younger days when he was tagging drunken sorority girls in the kitchen closet, Mike Mularky never once used any sort of protection.
2. Matt Ryan, QB, Atlanta. Merril Hoge, on the "State Farm NFL Matchup Show'' Sunday (I give them so many plugs that "State Farm is There'' is my personal anthem), called Ryan the NFL MVP, which seemed to stun his panel pals. Not stunning here.
I really can imagine Peter King laughing and singing the "State Farm is there" jingle while he wipes Brett Favre's jizz off of his chest with a Tony Romo jersey.
5. (tie) Troy Polamalu, S, Pittsburgh; Ray Lewis, MLB, Baltimore; James Harrison, LB, Pittsburgh. The two Steelers guys are here because the stingiest defense in points and yards allowed has to get its due. And Lewis, with a sack and a tackle for loss and another virtuoso performance of running the Raven defense, is playing like he's 25, not 33.
Untouched through the line for a sack! DPOY!
I still believe Bush will be an effective, point-producing player. But he needs to learn that one cut is the way to go. If you can't find a hole after one cut, you've got to burrow ahead and be happy with a three-yard gain -- in both running plays and punt returns -- instead of trying to hit the home run.
You tell him, Peter King. I'm sure Reggie Bush is reading your column for advice on how to run in the NFL. Peter, you've got to learn. Talking about stupid personal minutia in the player's lives is not the way to write a national column about the NFL. Take it from me, I started a free blog on Blogspot.
So you want to know why Pittsburgh defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau, boss of the league's stingiest defense, has had so much success over the years?
I'll give you a clue: At 7:28 p.m. Thursday, while the team, coaching staff and front-office staff was at a 5:30 p.m.-8:30 p.m. holiday party at Heinz Field, LeBeau was finishing up practice review for the day and practice preparation for the next day. Then he made a short phone call to me, and made it to the party for the last half-hour or so.
When I'm 71, I pray that I have the energy that man does for his work.
Dick LeBeau is the only coach in the NFL who works long hours. Plus, he has old man musk. Need I say more? Good, because I don't have any actual evidence as to why Dick LeBeau is a really good defensive coach. And why does it matter that he called you? Why is Dick LeBeau calling you? Are you guys discussion travel stories?
Friday afternoon, Montclair, N.J., four-way stop, and I'm at the western stop sign. I have the right of way. No car is at either the north or south stop sign, and a blue Maxima approaches the stop sign across from me.
Honestly, no one cares. I've already lost interest in where this story is going.
I know I'm at a dead stop because I have to shift the car back into first gear, which I do only when the car is stopped.
You drive a manual transmission! MANLY!
I proceed straight into the intersection, and the Maxima, which only slowed down and never came close to stopping, turns left, in front of me, with no signal. Now, we can count the traffic tickets right there on three fingers -- stopping at a stop sign, not signaling on a turn and I think there's also a statute about really ticking me off. So I lean on my horn and the guy driving the Maxima waves me off. Like: You didn't really expect me to stop there, did you?
What if he was there before you? You never mentioned that. Also, stopping at a stop sign is not a traffic ticket. In fact, you are expected to do it.
I'm a bit of a driving hypocrite because I do my share of law-breaking driving. But I've always thought that these municipalities struggling so mightily with reduced budgets could make big dough by simply posting unmarked police cars around town and pinching drivers for rolling through stop signs and going 43 in a 25-mph zone. It might even make people drive the way they're supposed to.
I am a bit of a hypocrite because I also do stuff that I'm not allowed to do on the road, yet I get off on railing on other people for the same violations. I've also always thought that municipalities who need money can ticket drivers who break the laws of the road. The way they could do this would be to dispatch police cars to the areas where people are breaking the laws. They could put a cop at every street corner. This way, all of the tickets they collect might make a dent in the salaries of all of the extra police officers that they can't afford to hire. All this time, people will be murdering each other in non-four way intersection areas of the town.
The Chicago Blackhawks. The Blackhawks set off on a six-game, 12-day road trip on Nov. 18 -- to, in order, Phoenix, Dallas, Toronto, San Jose, Anaheim and Los Angeles. (Who thinks of these itineraries? Magellan?) In between a Saturday night date with the Maple Leafs and a Tuesday noon flight to San Jose, the players were going to have their one day off on the trip, a Sunday, back home with family in Chicago.
LOL! If only Magellen had planes and only had to travel in a 2,000 mile area.
Other than Toronto, what is wrong with that road trip? Anything? Seriously, do we still have planes?
A couple of weeks have passed. The Blackhawks lost all three games on the last leg of the trip, but no one was blaming the Gravenhurst detour. I asked Sharp if the team had any regrets about attending the wake.
"None,'' he said. "No complaints. We were where we should have been. We'd do it again, 100 times.''
So I asked the Chicago Blackhawks if they regretted going to the funeral of a father-like figure to many of them, because they lost some hockey games. Can you believe they said no!?!?! And, can you believe I'm talking to the Chicago Blackhawks in my NFL column?
And that's my good news story of the week. Be proud, Canada. You've raised some nice boys.
Yes, Canada. You have Peter King's regards.
I preface this by acknowledging that I am employed by NBC, the beneficiary of the potential to change the late-season schedule, so you rightfully should look at this and say, "Of course King's going to empathize with the concept of flex scheduling and pay homage to powerful Lord Ebersol. It's helping to pay King's massively bloated salary.'' And you'd be right, sort of. So skip over the section if you don't want to read my propaganda about how good flex scheduling is for the football fan from Orono to Oxnard.
For starters, I don't know anyone who wants to risk a return to those glory days of 2004, when we got 3-11 Cleveland versus 3-11 Miami in Week 16, and the 5-10 Giants and 6-9 Cowboys in week 17. NFL Fever! Catch it!
I don't know what NFL Fever is, or why it's capitalized, but I am kind of hoping that you catch it.
Ebersol listens to lots of voices advising him on which game to request in NBC's six flex weeks, but he relies most heavily on a two-man kitchen cabinet, John Madden and game producer Fred Gaudelli.
A what? A "two-man kitchen cabinet"? What the fuck does that mean? It's a cabinet. You can't add words to it that preface it in other instances. Like, if I say that you, Peter King, have an association with Dick Ebersol, I can't just call it a North American Man-Boy Love Association and expect it to still make sense. Even though it kind of does. Bad example.
Of course, FOX isn't happy losing Carolina and the Giants. But if you're a big fan of the NFL, and you don't have DirecTV or four TVs in your living room, and if you can now see the best AFC game of the weekend (Steelers-Titans) early, a game with possible Wild Card ramifications following that (Eagles-Redskins), and then a game for NFC playoff supremacy (Panthers-Giants), what's better than that?
What was the point of all this? Who's complaining about flex scheduling? FOX?? Who the fuck cares? Who do you think reads your column, football fans who watched the games this past weekend or FOX executives? Why are you pretending that this is a controversial stand? WHY DO YOU INSPIRE SUCH HEAVY QUESTIONMARK USAGE, YOU HEAVY MAN????
a. The excessive reverence for the Heisman Trophy by ESPN had me wretching up my pork chop Saturday night. Did Jesus win the Heisman? Moses? Abraham Lincoln?
This is like the pot calling Ben Wallace black. You make a guy like Derrick Mason sound like Ghandi for talking to people while he signs autographs, and now you have a problem with excessive worship??? Who are you, Jim Jones?
f. Why does every announcer say "football game'' instead of "game'' or "field'' or "player'' over and over and over in the same sound bite? We know the sport is football. Does Joe Buck say, "The Cubs are playing a heck of a baseball game on this baseball field?'' Does Mike Breen say, "This is a basketball game for the ages, and these basketball players out on that basketball floor will remember it forever?''
Does Peter King say, "I'm going to touch Matt Ryan on his manpenis and maybe swallow his manseed?". NO. No he does not.
5. I think if you combined Dallas Clark the receiver and Anthony Fasano the blocker, you'd have a Mackey-Winslow type, a player in the argument for the best tight end ever.
If you combined the best features of any good player with the best features of another good player, you'd probably have a really good player. If you combined Mike Vick and Peyton Manning, you'd have a 4,000-yard passer who runs a 4.3 forty and probably the best QB ever. If you combined Ray Lewis with John Holmes you'd have an HIV-positive linebacker with a large penis who killed two people after a Super Bowl.
a. Good luck to Doug Marrone, the Saints' offensive coordinator, who was released by New Orleans with the team out of playoff contention to take the Syracuse job. Classy call by Sean Payton, to allow Marrone to leave so he can get a jump on recruiting. Marrone's a good man and a smart coach, and Greg Schiano has proven at Rutgers that no job is beyond salvageable.
Get off the fucking Rutgers bandwagon, cockpocket.
f. David Clowney, that was one heck of a catch for the first grab of your career, the one-handed lunger from Brett Favre.
And if anyone knows about one-handed lungers from Brett Favre, it's Peter King.
i. Kelley Washington of the Patriots, on a rainy field in Oakland, made a great, great tackle on a kickoff, pinning the Raiders at their seven.
Holy fuck, man, it was raining. I get it. All of the players were playing in the rain, Peter. This isn't the fucking Wizard of Oz. Rain is not a big deal.
a. How can Devin Hester take a punt and run backward 10 yards, as he did Thursday night against New Orleans? Isn't that against every punt-return fundamental he's ever been taught?
Again, Peter King giving tips to explosive NFL players on how to play the game. That's what some of them do, Peter. Sometimes he turns it into a big gain, sometimes he doesn't. Don't you think that maybe Devin Hester would get the benefit of the doubt? Didn't Antwan Randle-El and Dante Hall do this all the time back in the day? Peter King's "School of Fundamentals For Players Who Have No Reason to Listen to Anything Peter King Says" should be graduating it's inaugural class next April.
8. I think if Steve Slaton (last five games: 156, 73, 130, 120, 100 yards) had been playing this big a role all season, he'd be challenging Adrian Peterson for the rushing title right now.
I think if Steve Slaton had been averaging 115.8 yards a game all season, he'd be in the hunt for the rushing title. I think this because I just multiplied it by 16 and it comes out to 1,853 yards, which is usually enough to put a player in the hunt for the rushing title.
a. Why, oh why, if you're a politician in Illinois do you think you're getting away with anything big? Assuming this latest idiot goes to jail, that makes it four of the past eight Illinois governors who would have been imprisoned.
You hear that, Illinois governors? LISTEN TO PETER KING BEFORE YOU DECIDE TO RAFFLE OFF SENATE SEATS!!!! Apparently selling a senate seat to the highest bidder is ok in any other US state.
d. I think, regrettably, we have to help Detroit. Too many lives at stake to not bail them out. But there'd better be a car plan with vehicles we're actually interested in buying.
Thanks for your insight. Think of all the people who will die if we don't help! Why don't you start by sucking on the exhaust pipe of a Lincoln Navigator?
f. Coffeenerdness: Did an exclusive interview with Marv Albert last night about his coffee habits. Turns out he likes three double-tall cappuccinos a day, and doesn't mind drinking them at room temperature.
g. I have to get a life now.
Self-depriciative humor doesn't help you here. I still think you are a tremendously large bag of douche. If you emptied all of the douche out of the bag, you could probably fit 4,583 liters of Jay Cutler's sperm in there and still have plenty of room to spare.