Big Lead Sports Bar


Catching Up, Yet Again

Now that the holiday season is over, it's time to get back to work. Of course, that means recapping four days of sports into one neat little post, but I'll try my best...
Steelers 23, Bengals 17- If this turns out to be Bill Cowher's last game roaming the Steeler sidelines, it was a fitting exit to a great era. In what has been one of the most uninspiring NFL seasons in recent memory, this game stood out as very exciting, coming close to, if not achieving, "instant classic" status. We had big plays, lead changes, big hits, and loads of drama. And the Steelers won to boot, crawling back to a .500 season in the process.
Mr. Bill's postgame press conference sounded like a man who thought he wanted to walk away, yet truly enjoyed the game he just won. During the game, he showed the emotion that didn't seem to be there in 2006, especially in chewing out Willie Colon. He successfully played "ice the kicker" with Shayne Graham, which he greatly enjoyed. And he left that tiny window of doubt open that maybe he would stay on. But according to Ed Bouchette, that window is all but closed.
Regardless of the disappointment that was the Steelers' title defense, it was an enjoyable finale.
My highlights:
1. Santonio Holmes' 67-yard "walk-off" overtime TD. For a young man who had a roller coaster season, I'm glad he went into 2007 on an up note. And the play broke the Bengals' backs in the process. Even better.
2. James Harrison's upside-down slam, which resulted in a 15-yard penalty. Silverback is developing a rep for the December bodyslam in a rival game. He just makes things happen, period.
3. Anthony Smith's hit on T.J. Houshmandzadeh. Breathtaking.
4. Fast William Parker's 134 yards and 2 TDs, breaking Louis Lipps' team record with 16 for the season. Nice atonement for the fumble with a score on the next drive. FWP finished with 1,494 yards rushing for the season.
5. James Farrior's bone-jarring tackle of Carson Palmer, also resulting in a 15-yard penalty. Well worth it.
6. Ike Taylor starting the last game. Given all the cash the Steelers forked over for Taylor, he's a player you want to go into the offseason on a positive.
7. Jeff Reed hits a big field goal, and manages to keep his weiner in his pants in the process.
8. Shayne Graham's 39-yard miss in the last minute. Do you realize the Bengals lost in Denver on a botched PAT and then lost to the Steelers on a missed 39 yarder? If this team has competent special teams, that's a two-game swing by itself.
So Cincy will join the Steelers in watching mediocre teams like the Jets and Giants in the 2006 playoffs, and they can both look in the mirror for all the reasons they aren't participating. As much as I enjoyed the Steelers' win, this could have easily been yet another loss in typical '06 Steeler fashion. The Parker fumbled en route to the end zone and subsequent Chris Henry TD catch was the season in a nutshell. I heard some of the Mark Madden & Stan Savran postgame show, and Savran gave a stat that blew my mind: this year's Steelers had 10 red zone turnovers. Last year, how many red zone turnovers did they have? One. This was a sloppy, unfocused team, and sloppy, unfocused teams finish 8-8. I'm glad this season is over.
USC 32, Michigan 18- So much for Michigan claming they deserved a shot at the National Championship. They were thoroughly outclassed by the Trojans, who look to be the early favorites in 2007. I enjoyed Brent Musberger's analysis of the pending Lloyd Carr criticism, listing bloggers among those lining up to verbally flog the Wolverine coach. When Brent Musberger acknowledges you, you've officially arrived.
Dick Hoak retires- After 45 years with the Steelers, Dick Hoak is finally hanging it up at age 67. Upon hearing the news, Joe Paterno phoned Hoak and called him a pansy.
Bob Knight sets the record- The controversial coach won his NCAA-record 880th game, edging New Mexico, 70-68. The postgame included a playing of Frank Sinatra's My Way. He then tossed a folding chair onto the court.
Jim Mora Fired- The Coach Killer claims another victim. Now Mora can pursue Tyrone Willingham's job with all his energy.
Dennis Green Fired- The Cardinals have already assembled a list to hire their next coaching failure, including Russ Grimm, Ken Whisenhunt, Bears defensive coordinator Ron Rivera, the Titans' Norm Chow, and Colts assistant head coach and quarterbacks coach Jim Caldwell.
Pittsnogle scores 42, Xplosion fall anyway- The hated Albany Patroons were definitely Pittsnogled, but managed to steal a 132-130 victory over the Pittsburgh XPlosion. If a team is struggling to find an identity in a cluttered sports market, I don't think a 1-11 record will help too much. Of course, if they can lose on a consistent basis, year-in and year-out, they may get a free stadium built. It's called the Pittsburgh Pirates Theory.
Darrent Williams killed in a drive-by: I can't imagine worse news to open the New Year. After the shooting of Joey Porter in Denver in 2003, and Williams' shooting on New Year's Eve, Denver is quickly developing a very negative reputation. The details are limited yet gory, including blood on the shirt of Javon Walker, who was a passenger in the same limo. SI has a chilling gallery from the crime scene.


Anonymous said...

The personal foul called on James Farrior was ridiculous. The hit was not late, he didn't lead with his helmet, nor did he slam Palmer to the turf in an overly violent manner. Thankfully, we won the game anyway.

I agree, Mondesi, that the "old" Bill Cowher made his first appearance of the 2006 season when Willie Colon was flagged for taunting. It was great to see that emotion return to the Steeler sideline, albeit in Week 17.

Like the players stated yesterday, I believe that Cowher is gone. Unless the Rooneys make an offer in the $7-8 MM per yr range, I think that we'll see Cowher coaching the Carolina Panthers or Washington Redskins in 2008.

And that will suck.

Lastly...Boise State is my new favorite NCAA football team. If you stayed up to see the end of the Fiesta Bowl, it was well worth your time.

Adam said...

Where is the Outback and Gator Bowl recaps? Two great games played by two great local teams (even though I hate WVU I can acknowlege them as a good team)dont get mentioned? wow...

and yes, the Fiesta Bowl was worth staying up for. Oklahoma is now 0-3 in their last 3 BCS games. Can you say has been? I'll even throw Pitt fans a bone. Where is Jason White? The esteemed college football writers, the same ones who brought you the great 55-10 Orange Bowl a couple yeas ago, gave that waste of human flesh their Heismen Trophy over Larry Fitzgerald. Stupid.

And finally, I just want to send a big shout out to my Nittany Lions, who througly manhandled the Volunteers yesterday. If Sean Lee hadnt missed that tackle, we're talking 20-3 PSU. Not even I expected the outcome. I kept expecting Tennessee to blow it open, but i guess our defense is just that darn good. CLEARLY the SEC is a much better conference than the Big 10 huh? I mean who cares that we just had two teams beat the rear ends of SEC teams who were considered the best in the conference. But what do i know? I anticipate a preseason top 10 ranking, baarring any unforseen offseason problems. You heard it here first. O wait. No you didn't. Derrick Williams garunteed a National Championship next season.

vinnie said...

So it looks like Double M is a regular reader of Mondesis' House. Yesterday I heard him use your line about the Xplosion continuing to lose and still getting a free arena like the Pirates -- almost verbatim!

Unknown said...

The Fiesta Bowl, featuring David, Boise State, against Goliath, Oklahoma, has already been permanently seared into my brain as one of the most incredible games ever played, in any year, on any level. I will never, ever forget the thrills in this game.

Boise State slugged it out toe to toe, even had a good sized lead late in the game, only to see a valiant effort by the Sooners tie the game up with one minute to play. You're thinking O.T.. But wait, Boise's Q.B. throws the worst interception since Neil O'Donnell in Superbowl whatever and it looks like it's lights out on a valiant effort by the Broncos.

It was a surreal scene: The Boise State fans nearly crying over the godawful turn of events, while the Sooner fans were yukking it up, celebrating, and knowing in their good ol' hearts that the inevitable outcome had finally manifested itself. It just took a little longer, that's all.

The trickery which fell on the Sooners after that was absolutely right up there with the best the Steelers have ever amazing play after another leading to a two point conversion and a victory. But all the while, Oklahoma wasn't just sitting back, they had scored a touchdown on a 30 yard run on the first play of overtime themselves! Talk about a slugfest!!!

This game was at a level that very very few have ever approached. The hitting was so strong throughout the entire game that the players were literally taking their lives into their hands just being on the field.

Even now, a few days later, I am still in awe of what transpired in this game. It will certainly go down in history as one of the top three games ever played in college football.

A few other thoughts: I haven't seen hitting in the NFL anywhere near the overall intesity level of the bowl games...the Boise player proposing to the head cheerleader on National T.V. was another surreal part of this game. It was like, "Not only is college football America's game, here's the football hero popping the question to the cheerleading captain!" How much more red-blooded American can you get than that??? The only thing they didn't do was give everybody an apple pie and a Chevy truck for attending!