From The Cheap Seats

We knew it was going to happen, didn't we? The zebras were going to determine the outcome of a playoff game and render a lot of what we watched meaningless. They struck twice this weekend and while the games involved were still exciting, there's a bad taste in my mouth.

First the Bills played the Dolphins in a terrific game. Unfortunately, the win was tainted by a bad call at the goal line. Andre Reed was over the line, every replay showed it. When the ref made the wrong call, Reed leapt to his feet, angry (it was the second questionable call involving him) and bumped chests with the ref. He then backed away, but the ref had a quick trigger and called a 15 yard penalty and kicked him out of the game. Instead of first and goal inside the 1, or a touchdown, the Bills were back on the fifteen, which resulted in a field goal. Had Reed been there they might have scored on their next possession, or they might have been more careful, needing only a field goal to tie. I picked the Bills and I would pick them again, they had all the breaks go against them and still came awfully close.

Of course, the Packers had it even worse. Ahead 27-23 with under a minute to go, Jerry Rice fumbled, the Packers recovered, the game was over. Unfortunately, the refs didn't see the fumble and couldn't wait to blow the play dead. Isn't it interesting how these critical bad calls all seem to go for the home team? At any rate, the ball still belonged to the Niners, they scored a miracle touchdown with 3 seconds to go, Terrell Owens got his redemptive catch and everyone was happy. Unless you were a member of, fan of, or bettor on, the Green Bay Packers.


The big fun of the weekend was watching the Cowboys lose to the Cardinals. Hard to believe that could happen. I felt the 'Boys were ready to lose, just couldn't imagine the Cards doing it. Dallas was pretty helpless offensively, their relatively slow wide receivers blanketed by the Cards corners. They ran some, but only scored when Deion ran a punt back 40 yards. He is such an incredible athlete. Returning from an injury, he returned punts effectively and still was able to control his side of the field so effectively that Plummer threw to his side only three times.

Less fun was the Jacksonville-New England game. Without Bledsoe the Pats just didn't have the firepower to win this, the loss of Terry Glenn left them without big play players and it showed. The Pats had one solid touchdown drive, but just couldn't handle the Jags. The Jags were none to impressive, considering they had free reign in the first half against the hapless New England offense. Brunell was rusty, missing two open receivers for touchdowns, settling for a FG. They were also victimized by a terrible non-call of interference in the end zone, which cost them a TD. Fortunately, they won the game.


I know the BCS folks want to have all four of their games unopposed on TV, but having a game on January 2nd is a terrible idea. After all those games on 12/31 and New Year's Day, it's such an afterthought to toss a meaningless Orange Bowl in there. Having the ESPN announcers there made it sound like one of those Saturday night games they have, and Florida's manhandling of Syracuse made it look like one. Please move this game to New Year's Eve -- the Orange and Sugar Bowls have been played on that night before. These bowls deserve better than afterthought status.


Speaking of bowls, the Fiesta Bowl is tonight. I like Tennessee in the upset. These are two terrific defensive teams, both getting better, and I think this is going to be a tight one. The Vols have been great at winning the close ones all year, I think they'll do it one more time. Let's call it Tennessee 16, Florida St. 13.


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