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Monday, December 16, 2013

In The Air Last Night

After a one week vay-cay, your favorite Hat Trick is back!

Yesterday’s slate of NFL games were played following Friday, the 13th. That is my best explanation of a handful of games whose unexpected results, all happening on the same day, cannot be explained by logic and reason available to the public.


The Saints went into St. Louis heavily favored against a struggling Rams team in 2011 and got their pants kicked off. Most of the 2011 team is on the 2013 roster. Certainly the Saints would not overlook this opponent after being embarrassed under similar conditions a couple of years ago. Right?

It’s like the Saints learned nothing from history. I didn’t send a minute at their practice facility on Airline Drive in Metairie, LA, but it is painfully apparent to me that, as a team, the Saints were collectively completely unprepared. Sean Payton’s post game comments confirmed that theory.

How a team this good has some of its members – only five or six (or more) starters/high repetition players would do it – blow off film study/practice/conditioning or whatever preparation is required each week before an NFL team tries to win on the road in the home of another NFL team, regardless of the record, is unbelievable and unacceptable.

The fact that this team had a similar meltdown in the recent past adds salt to the wound. The fact that a clinched playoff berth and further entrenchment into the driver’s seat for the NFC South championship and a first round playoff bye is galling. As a Saints fan, I want DNA testing to prove that this was the same Saints team we’ve watched all year coached by the same Sean Payton who won Super Bowl XLIV.

No home cooking for Brees in St. Louis 1

Record wise, the final result isn’t surprising. But considering that the injured Aaron Rodgers was replaced by Matt Flynn and the Cowboys led, 29-3, in the second half, even by Dallas Cowboys standards this Tony room-led choke job was unforeseeable.

Romo is in the holiday spirit. Two interceptions - so costly that doubters were made out of die-hard Cowboys believers and so ill-timed that Tom Landry could be heard screaming bloody murder from the grave resurrected the Packers from their playoff grave – are the greatest gift the Packers could have received on Sunday. Incredibly, the Cowboys still control their own destiny because of the next topic on our buffet.

The Dallas Cowboys cheerleaders switched to Christmas attire for the second half. Like these beautiful women, Tony Romo also got into the spirit of giving...the ball away. 2

Apparently nobody wants to win the NFC East because the Eagles took the big fish that was control of the division and just threw it back into the water. The previously 3-9-1 Vikings, without running backs Adrian Peterson and Toby Gerhart and with Matt Cassel calling the signals (he was the Vikings’ third string QB at one point) were low hanging fruit for any team in a close division race. Apparently that fruit was infested with worms.

Running back Matt Asiata scored three touchdowns in his real first action of the entire season. Cassel looked like the one-time understudy to future Hall of Famer Tom Brady he was five years ago. Greg Jennings looked like he hopped into a time machine and brought the Pro Bowl version of himself from the past to play in the place of his present-day self as he made 11 catches for 163 yards and a touchdown.

Perhaps Eagles coach Chip Kelly simply has a flair for the dramatic. He’s on a collision course with Dallas for (yet another) Week 17 showdown involving the Cowboys that will decide the NFL East.  

Matt Asiata had good reason to smile and he gave the Vikings fans three good reasons to smile yesterday. 3


The Patriots have always had trouble playing against the Dolphins in Miami. But if you told me Patriots quarterback Brady would get the ball in the final two minutes with all three timeouts, march his team down the field and get four shots at the Dolphins’ end zone from inside the Fins’ 20-yard-line I’d have never guess the real end would happen. Not only did the Dolphins firm up and turn the Patriots away in the final seconds, but the door was slammed shut on 4th down by undrafted rookie safety Michael Thomas, playing in his first NFL game, ever, intercepting Brady in the end zone.

Miami may be the only NFL city where people could wear this stuff to the game comfortably. Yesterday was the first time in several years that the action on the field was (almost) equally worthy of a man's attention as she is. 4


The Steelers led this game, 30-7, at the start of the 4th quarter before the Bengals padded the score sheet with some late garbage time points. After the calamities that befell the Patriots and Broncos earlier, the Bengals had a golden opportunity to put themselves in control to earn a first round bye and a trip to the second round of the playoffs for the first time since the 1990 season against a 5-8 Steelers team that was circling the drain and hosting the Bengals in a half empty Heinz Field on Sunday Night Football.

The Steelers very quickly said, “Not in my house.” The Bengals tucked their tails. The Steelers ran them out of town.

Le'Veon Bell and the Steelers took out an entire season of frustration on the playoff-hopeful Bengals. 5


I’m not superstitious. I don’t believe in curses, full moons, rabbit’s feet, or voodoo dolls. But the Friday the 13th explanation is the only one I have for the five aforementioned upsets happening all on the same day. Toss in Denver’s one-sided loss at home to the desperate San Diego Chargers on Thursday night and the superstitious and supernatural are the only possibilities that my mind can devise to explain the string of oddities in the NFL in Week 15. Reason and logic just don’t cut it.

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