Sunday, January 15, 2006

The Lesson

Two examples, one lesson:

1) Seahawks up 17-10, 5:17 left in the 4th quarter. Third and 6 from their own 48. A Washington stop here gets them the ball back with a ton of time on the clock. MVP Shaun Alexander is out because of a concussion. Backup running back Maurice Morris had been stopped for minimal yards on first and second down this drive. The Seahawks send the receivers wide, showing the importance of this first down. Instead, they hand the ball off to 34 year old, 13 year veteran fullback Mack Strong. Strong beats a blitzing safety and gets loose in the secondary, cracking off a 32 yard run down to the Washington 20. The run turns out to be the longest in Strong's career, and the longest in Seattle Seahawks postseason history. After a few rushing plays (including another tough 5 yarder from Strong), the Seahawks' Josh Brown drills a gimme 31 yarder to go up 20-10, a two score lead with just 2:58 to play. If not for Strong's big run, there's no telling if the Seahawks hold on.

2) Denver up 10-6, 4:39 left in the 3rd quarter. Brady starts humming, driving the Pats from their own 22 to Denver's 10 in just three passes. After a penalty and a couple of 5 yard plays, it's third and virtually goal from the 5. Brady looks for Troy Brown in the corner, but Champ Bailey makes a ridiculous play on the ball, picking off the three time Super Bowl champ and (as Bill Simmons never fails to remind us) a guy who has never lost a playoff game in his life. Bailey streaks down the field 100 yards, nearly scoring, but he's caught from behind at the one yard line by a 253 yard tight end - Ben Watson. After an unsuccessful New England challenge, Mike Anderson gets in the end zone for a touchdown. What could've been a 13-10 lead for the Patriots going into the fourth quarter immediately became a 17-6 two possession game heading into the fourth quarter, on the road against a run-first team. Bailey's pick makes an enormous difference in the game, changing the complexion entirely.

Of course, the readers know what I'm getting at. What do Strong and Bailey have in common (and Ben Watson for that matter)? Do. Not. Fuck. With. The. Dawgs. (unless you're another Dawg).

In fact, suiting up yesterday were 11 Bulldogs. Strong, Bailey, Watson, George Foster, Nic Clemons, Chris Clemons, Phillip Daniels (who had a decent game for the Redskins, knocking down a pass on a big play early), Demetric Evans, David Greene, Patrick Pass, and Richard Seymour (a beast, as always). Mere quantity doesn't seem to make the difference, since both losing sides had more Dawgs. It's purely playmaking qualities.

Today's games, if one were wise, one would watch for big plays from Carolina's Thomas Davis or Will Witherspoon on defense, with maybe a John Kasay 50 yarder to win it. Or in the event of a Steelers upset, watch for a big play from Verron Haynes or a huge game from Hines Ward. The Bears and Colts have no Dawgs, and in fact the Bears rely on Florida Gators at several key positions (Grossman, Alex Brown, Ian Scott) and also we all know whose band the Colts' most important player used to direct.

If the home teams suffer defeats today, you'll know why.

UPDATE: I rule for suggesting it. DO. NOT. FUCK. WITH. THE. DAWGS. Also, I like the Steelers and the Seahawks nest week. And the Seahawks in the Super Bowl. Go ahead and load up on it for that mortgage payment, bitches.