So, this year's Super Bowl champ is going to be one of the following teams: The Cardinsls, Eagles, Ravens or Steelers. If that isn't a sign of an impending apocalypse, what would be? Waking up and finding out that Satan had just sexed up your grandma and was currently taking an evil dump in your toilet? All I'm saying is that, when the explosions start and fire and brimstone begin falling from the and cover, kiddies. Duck and cover.

pissed fan
Jim suddenly realizes getting that "2009 Super Bowl
Champion Titans" tattoo on his ass was a bad idea...

The Tennessee Titans: So...remember the Titans? They were the proud owners of the best regular season record in football. Now? They've gone a fishin'. So I guess the best record isn't that important after all. In fact, it hasn't been since 2004 when the Patriots went 14-2 and beat the Eagles in the Super Bowl. Since then, winning the regular season has been more curse than blessing. Sort of like being named President of the N'Sync Fan Club. To wit: Sometimes with great power comes great shame and personal disappointment.

But I digress. Based on some key stats, the Titans dominated their matchup with the Ravens. They almost doubled-up on Baltimore in total yards (391-211) and had 12 more first downs (21-9). They rushed for 116 yards to 50 for the Ravens and also owned the time of possession (34:07 to 25:53). Kerry Collins threw for 120 more yards than rookie upstart Joe Flacco. (281-161). So...what happened? Mistakes. Tennessee made 'em, Baltimore didn't. Fact is, the Titans -- who were plus-14 in turnover differential during their first 16 games -- blundered away multiple scoring opportunities. There were fumbles (five of them, two of which were lost, including LenDale White's butterball at the Baltimore 17 at the end of the first half). There was an interception (by Samari Rolle at the Ravens 12). There was that bungled fourth down conversion in the second quarter when Kerry Collins and center Leroy Harris -- who was only in because Kevin Mawae was out with an elbow injury -- miscommunicated on the shotgun snap. That play murderated a drive that had reached the Ravens' 30. And let's not forget how Rob Bironas shanked a 51-yard field goal attempt halfway through the third quarter despite having the wind at his back. White, Collins and Bironas: The Three Stooges of Fail.

I guess that, no matter what your record is, having lost three of your last four games can be a momentum killer. (For those questioning my mad math skillz: Those games against the Browns and Lions didn't count as wins. They barely counted as scrimmages.) Oh, and bye weeks make teams sloppy.

Keith Bulluck -- who went all "Incredible Hulk" after the game by smacking around some small metal barriers lining the tunnel leading to the Titans' locker room -- said: "It's a little shocking. You go out and play defense the way you did. At the end of the day, realistically you have two, three turnovers inside the 20, you're not supposed to win. Playoff football, those are the mistakes you can't have as a team.

So does this stinging playoff loss reduce to nil the team's NFL-best 13-3 record, a defense that ranked second in points allowed and a franchise-record 12 sacks allowed? Pretty much, yeah. Added Bulluck: "To be part of the nucleus of that 13-3 team was fun, but it's empty because I'm one who knows it doesn't really matter what you do in the regular season. The whole goal is to get in the playoffs. We had our one-and-done, which is unfortunate. When you're there, that's why you have to make the most of it. You have to realize how important it is."

This photographer did more to impede Holmes than
any of the Chargers. And yes, that was a bad sign.

The San Diego Chargers: You have to (but not really) admire the plucky spirit that allowed them to BOLT their way to an 8-8 record and eke out a undeserved technically-earned playoff spot. You could also applaud the way they handled a 12-4 team in the first round, even if that victory was obtained because they got all the calls due to an archaic playoff system that unfairly forced a 12-win team to play on the road against an 8-win division champ. But in 100 cases out of 100, teams that shouldn't be in the playoffs at all usually get eliminated sooner or later. Usually sooner. And such was the case with Chargers in Pittsburgh.

Darren Sproles -- who got lots of "Sproles is better than Tomlinson, so maybe the Chargers should build their running game around him" play after lighting the Colts' notoriously porous defense for a gazillion yards -- was held to 15 yards on 11 rushing attempts. (And 8 of those yards came on a single rush. You can do the math on your own, but I'll go ahead and tell you that he didn't get very far on those other 10 runs. I'd also like to point out that Sproles was playing for a new contract, which for a professional athlete is like touching one of those invincibility stars in Super Mario Brothers.) The Chargers revived defense got run over by Willie Parker, who had a season-high 146 yards and 2 touchdowns. And the Steelers' offense, which ranks closer to the bottom of the league than the top, lit up for 35 points thanks, in part, to Santonio Holmes' 67-yard punt return for a touchdown that tied the game at 7-all in the first quarter. This might be a good time to note that Pittsburgh is one of the worst return teams in the league, and Holmes' TD was their first score on a punt return December 17, 2006.

And then there was San Diego's Third Quarter of Doom. During that brutal 15-minute stretch, the Bolts spent 17 seconds in possession of the pigskin, as compared to 14 minutes and 43 seconds for the Steelers. And what happened in those 17 disastrous seconds? Well, Rivers threw an interception on first down from the Pittsburgh 23 and a Steelers punt bounced off Eric Weddle's helmet...and the Steelers recovered.

Said Phillip Rivers: "We were standing on the sideline and it was like, 'We were in for one play in the quarter and it was an interception.' There was a little bit of disbelief. You can't call it a fluke, those guys made plays, but that was crazy." So is learning about the past by studying ancient bird poop...but it happens, apparently. Dogs. Cats. Living together. Mass hysteria.

But despite the fact that they were outplayed on offense, defense and special teams, Chargers coach Norv Turner -- who, seriously, should have been fired half a season ago at least -- wants you to believe that his team barely lost. "I don't know that I've been in a game that was so significantly affected by two or three plays." I might believe that if Turner was an extra-dimensional being attending his very first American football game. But c'mon, Norv, really? Almost every football game that isn't one of those "wheels come flying off" type of disasters comes down to two or three plays. Just ask the Colts. (Only replace "plays" with "bogus calls" or "home cooking.")

In the final analysis, though, Phillip Rivers wants you to know that the blame for their substandard season and playoff flameout shouldn't fall on the shoulders of the coach or the players. Rather, it should be distributetd equally among the fans and experts who before the season started dreaming Super Bowl dreams about a talented and highly paid squad of underachievers. "It was like crowd noise being pumped in. It was overdoing it, and we had yet to play a game and you're talking about a game that's going to be played February 1. Ultimately we can do a better job of understanding you've got to win in September and win in October. You're not going to win the game on February 1 until February 1. It's a long season." He's grown very wise, has this one. The Jedi ghosts must be so proud.

"Told you, I did, a retard Rivers was."

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Act I: Tragedy

Since the early weeks of the season, I've declared my team crush on the Panthers on this website, even labeling them "a pizza with everything on it" and other such hyperbole meant to convey my genuine admiration of a team that seemed poised to attain glory this season. Hell, they were even the source of my return to faith in the NFL. They were fun to watch, fun to cheer for, and fun to post about.

Alas, baby Panther. It seems the NFL playoffs system has swallowed you, Cronos-like, before you ever reached maturity. Faretheewell, good Panthers. Absent my beloved Patriots, you were my only hope; I wish you well in the next life season.

Think you, kind readers, that I wax unnecessarily lugubrious? Allow me, if I may, to remind you of the final score: Cardinals 33, Panthers 13. OH THE SUCKAGE. Losing by 20 points to a 9-7 team in the freaking PLAYOFFS?! On just 220 passing yards by Kurt Warner? I know Neil Rackers has a family to feed, but 5 field goal attempts? For 15 points including extra points after TDs? Larry Fitzgerald caught for 166 yards and even HE didn't score 15 points. What were you DOING, defense?

But I digress. We've known for months that Arizona's offense was potent despite a non-existent running game. That the Cards would put up 30 or so points in a playoffs game was expected. Let's get down to wailing and gnashing our teeth about Saturday's REAL culprit:


Jake, I don't care if it was your birthday. I don't care if you couldn't find your lucky underoos that morning. I don't care if your goddamn grandmother was dying of ass cancer and croaking out your name with her dying breath as you struggled to regain your composure in time to take the field. 5 INTERCEPTIONS AND A FUMBLE IN A PLAYOFFS GAME, JAKE? My god. If the Panthers were a pizza with everything on it, you were the errant frat boy who gleefully shat on my pizza. SHAT ON MY PIZZA, I SAY. Again!

There's simply nothing else to be said. And thus fell the 12-4 Panthers to the 9-7 Cardinals. Thy will be done, O Vengeful NFL Gods. I offer up this sacrifice of clementines and leftover Hershey's Kisses from my Secret Santa in Thy honor.

Act II: Comedy


[deep breath]


Everyone watches sports for different reasons. Some watch because they get a thrill from the gritty mano a mano action of finely-tuned specimens of human in their physical primes squaring off against one another in demanding feats of strength; some watch because the never-ending cycle of defeat and victory, of despair and hope, of utter loss and sweet, singing redemption in some way resonates with their understanding of this fleeting madcap adventure we call life; still others watch because men in tight pants (Vince Wilfork notwithstanding) are easy on the eyes.


Ah yes, my friends. It is time for the audience participation portion of this tragicomic gridiron adventure: the part where we all point and laugh at the once-mighty Giants, who stumbled and fell in memorable fashion against the plucky 9-6-1 Eagles on Saturday to finally, definitively put an end to the post-coital haze from last year's Superbowl and knock them out of the running for a second championship. HA!

Let's review. Despite 307 total yards gained (thanks in part to a monster 92-yard performance from Brandon "Human Mack Truck" Jacobs), the Giants managed only 5 trips into Philadelphia territory and were rewarded in less-than-spectacular fashion by 2 missed field goal attempts and not a single touchdown. (If only they'd had Neil Rackers!) Eli Manning threw two picks -- including one with 3:15 remaining that effectively killed even the faintest of hopes that a comeback was in the works -- and reminded us all that he's Eli Goddamn Manning, Thrower of Picks, Flubber of Games, and Almighty Prince of the Late-Season Slump. Ha. Haha. Hahaha. HA!

And so it goes. For every tragic failure, there is a failure that fills someone, somewhere (read: me) with glee. Onwards we march to The Battle of the Birds for the title of Less Pointless 9-Win Team NFC Champion! Hurrah! Or, like, Tweet! or Squawk! or something.

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17 - Dick
I'm sure he's thinking: "An early vacation
means more time to spend my extension money!"

The Buffalo Bills: A season that began with such hope-lifting promise (5-1 through the first six games) ended with a soul-crushing thud after the Patriots shut them down with a 13-0 shutout, which made the Bills 2-8 since Dick Jauron and the Bills agreed on the terms of his three-year contract extension. It was New England's 11th straight win over their division rivals. Although a team usually has to win a game or two in a series to earn the title of "rival." Anyway, the Buffalo Chips just seemed to lack preparation and focus since Jauron's extension agreement, leading to confusion, sloppy play and lots and lots of turnovers. And this was epitomized by the following killer sequence that occurred late in the first half:

Their biggest miscue came in the final minute of the second quarter with Buffalo threatening to score. With no timeouts, 22 seconds left and facing third-and-5 from the Patriots 12, the Bills ran Fred Jackson up the middle for a 3-yard gain. Though it was initially unclear whether he got the first down as officials were late in spotting the ball, the Bills immediately sent out their field goal unit.

Buffalo, however, couldn't get a play off amid the confusion and didn't get any help from Bills tight end Derek Schouman and center Duke Preston. They were involved in shoving matches with Patriots players at the 5, making it impossible for the team to line up before time ran out.

Steratore said umpire Jeff Rice did, in fact, spot the ball with 9 seconds left, and added that Bills players were not restricted from returning to the line of scrimmage.
And, at the end of it all, Lee Evans was left to try and explain why it all went so very wrong. "It's been a trying season. We weren't used to winning at the beginning of the season, so you can learn as much as you can from that. Learning how to win is key."

17 - herm
The Second Worst Coach in Pro Football.

Kansas City Chiefs: The Chiefs had the dishonor of duking it out with the Bengals on the final day of the regular season for the right to be named The Second Worst Team in Professional Football. True, losing "only" tied them with the Rams at 2-14, but finishing the season with a defeat to the (at the time) three-win Sad Tigers acted as a sort of 'bawful tie-breaker. Hail to the Chiefs! Only the Lions were worse than you in 2008!

Not-fo-fun facts: The Chiefs, who just suffered through the worst season in their 49-year history, have lost 23 of their last 25 games. Furthermore, they had one sack on the day, which means they finished the season with 10. Otherwise known as "the fewest by any team since the NFL made sacks an official statistic in 1981." Dude, I leave the grocery store with more sacks than they had this year.

Larry Johnson: Johnson, who rushed 10 times for 18 yards, could have just walked out quietly, dealt with his issues, then tried to calmly discuss an exit strategy with team management during the offseason. He chose, however, to do the opposite. The man who got arrested TWICE during the season for assaulting a woman said after the game: "Hopefully, my future is not with this organization. The things that have been going around, I'm not saying it's (all) their fault. Half of it is mine with off-the-field (stuff) and other things that go on. On the football field, my role definitely diminished once I got back. I felt like I wasn't getting as much (work) as I thought I could and helped as much as I could. They shifted their powers to other players on this team offensively. You kind of feel your time is up in this city and with this team. It's the environment. It's got everything to do with the environment. It's what everybody needs. The city is tired of me. The organization has kind of run its course (for him). It's time to move on regardless of what kind of changes they could make. I've been here when they made other changes. It's just time to let go." Larry Johnson: Proving once again there's a "Me, me, me!" in team. If you say "team" three times. And spit on a woman in a night club.

Cedric Benson: Ced "I hit the defensive line then take a dive" Benson -- who, prior to week 16, had managed three 100-yard game IN HIS CAREER -- finished with back-to-back centuries against the woeful Browns (171 yards on 38 carries) and the woefuler Chiefs (111 yards on 25 carries). And, hey, wouldn't you know it...he's a free agent after this season! Imagine my complete and total lack of surprise. Said Benson: "Of course there will be other organizations interested." I just can't wait to see what team gets suckered into signing Benson and then watching him sink contentedly back into sub-mediocrity. We have probably seen Ced's last 100 yard game.

17 - lions

The Detroit Lions: Well. It's official. The Lions Zeroes are the first 0-16 team in NFL history. That's not just "Worst Team This Season" matrerial. That's "Worst Team Ever" stuff. This season of woe was so bad, so gut-wrenchingly terrible, that even guys like Dan Orlovskey, who frankly is lucky to even be in the league, would rather retire and become a beet farmer than suffer through an encore performance of 0-16: "I don't ever want to be a part of this again. We haven't won since, November of '07, maybe? I don't even know the last time we won a game." It was December 23, 2007, actually. But it feels like much longer than that.

Coach Rod Mariwhatever, who's 10-38 in three seasons as the Zeroes' coach, said: "No competitor wants to go through something like this. This is not fun to go through, obviously. But there's people going through a lot worse than this." Oh, sure, Rod. People die of disease. Old ladies die and have their face eaten off by cats. But we're not discussing The Plight of the Command Man here. We're talkin' 'bout football. And no team in the history of your league has ever gone through something worse than this. Not even the Chiefs! (See above.)

Kevin Smith: Look, I can understand why Smith is frustrated, playing for the Zeroes and all, but with his team trying to rally late in the game and in Packers territory, Smith got called for a taunting penalty that moved the Zeroes back to midfield...after which Orlovsky tossed a pick. Game over. Said Smith: "It was a very bad, selfish decision. I let my emotions get the best of me. It was tough, but it is no excuse." And he couldn't even keep his head during a frantic, end-of-game, do-0r-die, we-must-win-or-be-winless situation. Doesn't that just kind of epitomize everything that's wrong with this team?

17 - bears

The Chicago Bears: Making the playoffs was never a certainty for the Bears, but, in the end, all they had to do was beat the sub-.500 Texans and they would have made it into the postseason as a Wild Card team. And, of course, it didn't happen. The Bears were once again skewered by the passing game -- Matt Schaub sliced them for 328 yards and 2 TDs while Andre Johnson diced them for 148 yards and 2 TDs -- and gave up 455 yards of total offense...which was a season-high for a Bears' opponent. And mind you, this was essentially a one-game mini-playoff. That's some serious defensive fail's what that is. Speaking of which...

Danieal Manning: The worst of Chicago's many bad defensive plays came in the second quarter when Manning botched his coverage, which led to a 43-yard touchdown for Andre Johnson. Said Manning: "I bit on the run and blew the coverage. [Coach Lovie Smith] just said, 'Stay deep, we really don't need you on the run support in cover-2. That was just me trying to play outside the defense. I should have been more patient than what I was. I thought I read run, it wasn't. It was a good play call by them, bad play by me."

If only that had been Manning's only mistake. On the ensuing kickoff, while he was fighting for extra yards, he fumbled it at the Bears' 38. Houston recovered and eight plays later scored another touchdown to take a 14-10 lead they would never surrender.

David Haugh: Yesterday, the front of the Chicago Tribune's sports section featured a story by Haugh titled Bears have big mental edge over Vikings. The subhead was "Bears' focused approach a stark contrast to Vikings." The article went on to infer that a Chicago victory was pretty near was a Minnesota loss. Instead, the Bears flopped while the Vikes pulled out a last-second win over the Giants' scrubs. Haugh also said: "But remember, the Bears' defense typically gets tougher where the Texans' offense stalls." Good calls, one and all, David. You're a regular Nostrodumbass. Thanks for stat cursing my team.

17 - vince
Getting knocked around? Oh yeah, that's
a great way to go into the playoffs...

The Tennesee Titans / Vince Young: Yes, they were resting their starters, but getting shut out is never a good thing. Put it this way, can you ever remember a team getting shut out in the final game of the regular season and then going on to win the Super Bowl. Yeah. Me neither. Of course, to hear Jeff Fisher tell it, that was all part of the plan. "They're playing very, very well, but there's a chance we may play them again, so we just lined up and played today." Well, I sure hope Jeff get a chance to show off all those fancy secret plays he's holding onto for that Colts-Titans playoff matchup that might never happen.

Vince Young: With Fisher resting the starters, Young -- who once was Tennessee's Man of Tomorrow -- got plenty of PT. His response: A 55-yard, zero touchdown performance in which he was badly outdueled by Jim Sorgi, Peyton Manning's never-used backup, who finished 22-of-30 for 178 yards.

More telling than his performance, however, was what people were saying about him after the game. Or, more accurately, what they weren't saying. When asked to evaluate Young's performance, Jeff Fisher said: "I'd have to watch the film." When asked the same question, Kerry Collins said: "It's hard to say without looking at film." Okay, so presumably, Fisher and Collins spent the day wearing a soundproof rubber BDSM hood. Anyway, I'm interested in what they'll have to say about Young after they get a chance to check the film...

17 - sean

The New Orleans Saints: Drew Brees fell 16 yards short of breaking Dan Marino's single-season NFL record of 5,084 yards passing and the Saints fell 2 points short of beating the Panthers and finishing with a winning record (even though they had already been eliminated from playoff contention). And that's just the kind of year it's been for the Saints: A season of falling just short. And you can pin the blame on the defense, which gave up 178 rushing yards to DeAngelo Williams and 134 receiving yards to Steve Smith had 134. Whenever the Saints needed a stop, they consistently failed to get it. Making them sort of the Chicago Bears of the deep south.

17 - romeo

The Cleveland Browns: Ben Roethlisberger got knocked out of the game with a concussion and the Browns STILL lost 31-0. And, thanks to the previous week's 13-0 defeat at the claws of the Sad Tigers, the Browns were shut out in successive games for the first time in franchise history.

But wait. There's more. The Browns offense ended the season by failing to score a touchdown for six games and 24 quarters. Which, in case you couldn't guess it, is an NFL record. Moreover, Cleveland threw for only 26 yards against the Steelers, which tied for the second-fewest in club history. Historic fail, my friends.

Said Romeo Crennel: "We're going to leave here, go back and have a final meeting tomorrow, but we'll go into the offseason seeing what we can do better and get more competitive." Step one, I would think, would be finding a new coach...

Bruce Gradkowski: The fourth and worst QB to start this season for the Browns, Gradkowski finished 5-for-16 for 18 yards, 2 interceptions and 3 sacks. He even had one stretch in which he didn't complete a pass for nearly 27 minutes. He ended up with a QB rating of 1.0.

17 - bucs

The Tampa Bay Buccanneers: Look, I hate to say I told ya so...but I so totally told ya so. I took some early-season heat for not believing in the Bills and Bucs, but my lack of faith, while disturbing to some, turned out to be completely, totally and in all other ways justified. Are we all good with that now? Okay then...

...all the Bucs had to do to make the playoffs, as it turns out, was win one of their final four games. They did not. And the final game, a 31-24 homefield flameout to the lowly Oakland Raiders in which Michael Bush rushed for a career-high 177 yards, was the big gulp of toilet water washing down the bitter pill of regrets. Regarding the biggest collapse in franchise history, Warrick Dunn said: "There's disbelief. There's shock. There's emotions, I'm sure, that I can't really describe. To be 9-3, and you lose four in a row when all you have to do is win one and you're in, it's tough to swallow. The guys in this locker room have prepared hard, played hard. Things haven't gone our way." Added Jeff Garcia: "I know we let down a lot of people...and we apologize for that. We, as a team, are better than what we have put on the field in the last four weeks." It's kind of easy to say that now that you don't have to prove it, Jeff. Maybe next year. Assuming you're still here.

The Jacksonville Jaguars: The team that was supposed to supplant the Colts as the power in the AFC South finished a 5-11 season by going out with a 27-7 whimper to the Baltimore Ravens. And it sure feels like their time as a rising power came and went already, doesn't it?

17 - Jets

The New York Jets: They cut Chad Pennington and went all-in on Brett Favre, only to watch Penninton play like a Pro Bowler, leading Miami from 1-15 to 11-5 and a division title, while old man Brett finished the season looking very much like an old man who should have stayed retired when he had the chance. Mind you, the Jets ended the season dropping four of their last five games -- including losses to the 49ers and Seahawks -- to plummet out of the playoff picture. And now they're looking toward an offseason of Favre (233 yards, 1 TD, 3 INTs) yanking them around as he tries to make up his mind whether or not to retire, unretire, stay retired, etc.

17 - Boys

The Dallas Cowboys: Tony Kornheiser's pick after Week 3 to not only reach but WIN the Super Bowl...didn't even make the playoffs. Now, all they had to do was wipe that dysfunction off their faces and win one of their final two games. But they did not. And the regular season finale, a 44-6 butt-whomping by the Eagles, was insult and injury to their insult and injury. Tony Romo, who threw for 183 yards and an interception, is now 5-8 in the month of December, otherwise known as "Money Time." Romo is all grins and giggles when things are going well, but he's rather grim-faced when they are not. After suffering a rib injury during the game and reportedly passing out in the shower afterward, Romo was asked how he deals with defeat. His answer: "I wake up tomorrow and I keep living." Awh. Don't you just wanna give him a cookie or something?

Not-so-fun-fact: The 'Boys have lost nine consecutive season finales.

17 - mcnabb
Who's a big, whining douchebag? This guy!

Donovan McNabb: I know I'm supposed to be impressed and amazed by his leadership and Philly's return from the playoff grave and all that...but seriously, I cannot stand Donovan McNabb. He's one of the biggest, whiniest crybabies when things aren't going his way, but he's all grins and giggles and flexing when they are. I feel sorry for whatever team ends up with his next season...

The AFC West: I think this nugget from the AP recap of the Broncos-Chargers game sums it up best: "The Chargers won their third straight division title by finishing 8-8, becoming the first team to go from 4-8 to the playoffs by routing the Denver Broncos 52-21 in the Ed Hochuli Bowl on Sunday night." Some additional not-so-fun facts: "The Chargers became the first team to win a division at 8-8 since the Cleveland Browns did it in 1985. They're the ninth team overall to make it to the playoffs at 8-8; only two of the previous teams to do it managed to win a game in the playoffs." The 2008 San Diego Chargers: Joining the ranks of the NFL's historically mediocre teams. Congrats!

17 - cutler
Awh. Don't feel bad, Jay. At least you have
a stronger arm than John Elway!

The Denver Broncos: They spent the first 16 weeks of the 2008 season in first place in the AFC West...and all they had to do to clinch the division was win one of their final three games...but they did not. And, much like the Cowboys, they bowed out in dramatically 'bawful fashion, losing by 31 to the suddenly playoff-bound Chargers. And Brandon Marshall kind of summed up the lackadaisical attitude of a team that wandered aimlessly through the season when he said: "It was kind of frustrating to see that three-game lead come down to this and see San Diego kind of take off on us. But, hey, that's football." Well, hey, I guess he's right!

Eric Mangini, Rod Marinelli and Romeo Crennel: RIP.

17 - coaches


Hey, kiddos!

The Blogger Formerly Known As futuremrsrickankiel here. Been a while and all that... I've had my hands full keeping you up-to-date on the Bruins' current gem of a season over att Mass Hysteria, and have let my making-fun-of-shitty-NFL-players duties fall by the wayside.

Tonight, though, is simply too good to pass up, as a team I loathe with every fiber of my being and a team I've been crushing on since Week 3 meet up for one of the biggest games of the season. Yes, it's the Panthers at the Giants, as two mighty 11-3 teams square off for guts, glory, and homefield advantage in the playoffs. My Patriots won, the Jets lost, Phil Kessel's point streak is at 18 games, and I'm feeling magnanimous despite my hangover. Let's liveglog this shiz, fools!

Join me as I take on the task of liveglogging this NFC barnburner while trying to restrain myself from putting my fist through my television during those insipid "He went to Jared!" ads. Die in a fire, you gold-digging harpies.

It's 7-3, Panthers, by the way. At some point, the Giants are going to realize they have to run triple coverage on Steve Smith. It doesn't look like we've reached that point yet.

4:15, 1st. Brandon Jacobs is a freaking monster. He's the only Giant I do not hold in utter contempt. Mostly because I'm kind of afraid of him. Here he is again at the 46, creating yards gained out of literally nothing. DAMN IT BOOOOOO!

2:45, 1st. Jacobs again. I'm sensing a theme. And AGAIN. 3rd and 3 for New York at the 31. Julius Peppers is looking unusually helpless. Argh John Madden talking is NOT helping my hangover.

We're at the end of the first quarter and it's still 7-3, Panthers. As a Patriots fan, I'm routinely starved for a running game, so I can't say I'm not a wee bit titillated by the Jacobs/Williams/Ward/Stewart mashup currently on the field tonight. Also, it's cold in New Jersey tonight, so we can play my favorite game: Watch Tom Coughlin's Face Turn Purple!

13:38, 2nd. BRANDON JACOBS TOUCHDOWN. The Giants' O-line appears to have tightened up after last week's sack party. Bummer. I love watching Eli get sacked. I'd embed a video of a Manning sack, but I just went to YouTube to look for one and all that came up when I looked for "eli manning sack" were Superbowl XLII highlights. FUCK YOU, INTERNET.

11:54, 2nd. J-Stew takes it to the 48 for the PANTHERS WOO! Did I mention I kinda dig the Panthers? Also, can we laugh about Tim Tebow being projected as a tight end in the NFL draft? Heh. Hehehehehehe. Wendy's commercials irritate me to the point where I think I'm secretly cheering for Type II diabetes. J-Stew appears to have gotten hurt on that last run, but walked off the field.

10:18, 2nd. DeAngelo Williams can run fast wooo.

8:50, 2nd. 2nd and goal for Carolina. Williams has it in for a TOUCHDOWN and the Panthers are back up 14-10... "much to the consternation and exasperation of Tom Coughlin." Thanks, Al Michaels! Coughlin's current facial hue: pomegranate. I have one of those stuffy noses where no matter how much I blow my nose it won't clear out. Bah.

8:07, 2nd. Wait, Eli Manning's in the Pro Bowl? How did I not hear about this? Oh, right. I did. A HUNDRED MILLION FUCKING TIMES. Wait, and he has a brother? Who also plays football? GUHH. Also, "empty patch of turf"? Ineligible receiver, Eli my dear. Madison Hedgecock has a carry, for some reason, and the Giants appear to be struggling to regain the offensive rhythm they displayed on their last drive... a speedy 3-and-out. Panthers have it at the 35. COUPLES IN HOLIDAY COMMERCIALS MAKE ME WANT TO PUNCH THINGS. "Oh, honey, you got me a Lexus? This totally makes up for your sexual inadequacies! I'M SO HAPPY!"

5:02, 2nd. HOLY SHITE. A yoooge high Jake Delhomme pass is nearly picked off by Aaron Ross, but Muhsin Muhammed is THERE to make the 60-yard catch and set the Panthers up for a 1st-and-goal, just like that. My god that was sexy. BOOM it's another Panthers TD and STEVE SMITH OWNS YOUR SOUL. Whee! Coughlin (current facial hue: maroon) is challenging the play, claiming that Smith was out of bounds before crossing the plane, which may actually be true I guess WHATEVER. I'm dying of sinus disgustingness and you don't see ME complaining. Or I guess you do, actually. Shit. Whatever. Still, that pass was pretty freaking excellent for a team that's got a mediocre passing game at best. The challenge is upheld, by the by, and the Panthers will take the ball at the half-yard line. Eff that noise, says DeAngelo Williams, who vaults over the Giants D for his third (motherfucking) touchdown of the game. 21-10, Panthers.

John Madden is on the verge of shedding sloppy, ranch dressing-flavored man tears of joy while reminiscing about Sammy Baugh. Gag me.

3:14, 2nd. ELI MANNING SACKED! You know what this means.

2:00, 2nd. The Giants have elected to start running coverage on Steve Smith. ZOMG someone must be reading my liveglog!

1:50, 2nd. Another almost-INT from Jakey. Carolina will punt. Ahmad Bradshaw drops the punt but recovers it to put the Jints at the 45 with a little over a minute to go in the half. Derrick Ward has a monster run to put New York at the 20 or so. Tom Coughlin facewatch: deep magenta. Eli tries to pass for some reason. Passes AGAIN (seriously, what the fuck is he doing?) only to have it knocked away by Julius Peppers and nearly intercepted. New York will settle for a field goal, and NBC will settle for another Old Timey Football Flashback(TM) rather than discuss anything pertaining to the considerable storylines surrounding this game. It's all so predictable.

0:45, 2nd. Williams is stuffed at the 35 as the Panthers appear to be running down the clock rather than risk a turnover. They'll go into the half with a 21-13 lead. To sum up: the Giants can run but cannot pass, I'm down almost an entire box of tissues, John Madden is old, and there's no fucking way I'm sitting through an NBC halftime show so I'll catch you kids on the flip side.

15:00, 3rd. Here we are! The Panthers will start with the ball on the 33. Justin Tuck has the flu, apparently, which is a big frowny face for the Giants. First down for the Panthers, as we learn that Jonathan Stewart apparently had a head injury in the first half but is now back on the field. I'm being boring, aren't I? Goddamn it. This is actually a good game, so there's only so much sarcasm and unnecessary hyperbole I can bring to the table. DAMN YOU, QUALITY FOOTBALL! You give me so little to work with.

12:42, 3rd. Yikes, there's ANOTHER Delhomme pass that was millimeters (what is this, the CFL?) away from being picked off. Carolina will punt on a 4th and 4. Also, I'm fully aware that I'm like the ONLY person in the world that likes those Coors Light ads where they splice in audio clips of NFL coaches, but I think they're awesome so put a sock in it.

11:22, 3rd. The Giants are running a shotgun offense, for some reason, and it's (not surprisingly) unsuccessful. Too bad about Plax, guys! It's pretty evident to me, with my vast wealth of finely-honed football knowledge, that both Delhomme and Manning would do well to take a back seat for the rest of this one and just let their star running backs carry the game. But what the fuck do I know? Tom Coughlin facewatch: eggplant.

9:42, 3rd. I hope someone buys me a Steve Smith jersey for Christmas. I need a boyfriend to buy me things. AHH FUCK! I've been watching too many holiday commercials! In other news, the Red Wings/Blackhawks game at Wrigley looks SO FREAKING COOL I kind of want to blow off my current New Year's plans (hipster kid parties in Brooklyn/avoiding Manhattan like the plague) and go.

8:06, 3rd. Our first flag of the game, as a struggling Eli Manning is called for "delay of game" to make it a 3rd-and-10 for the Giants... Kevin Boss makes the catch for a first down. Brandon Jacobs looks like he might be hurt, which I'd venture to say would probably mean curtains for the Giants. Here comes Ward, though, who has ANOTHER massive run for a 23-yard gain. New York has yet to make it to the red zone... but here's the oft-forgotten Amani Toomer with a catch.

3:00, 3rd. Am I missing something? Madison Hedgecock has a freaking catch to give the Giants a 1st-and-goal. GOD IT'S SO IRRITATING WHEN TEAMS I HATE ARE COMPETENT AND WELL-BALANCED. Carolina's Chris Harris smashes into Brandon Jacobs to prevent the TD... he'll be feeling that in the morning.

0:59, 3rd. TOUCHDOWN, GIANTS. They won't try to convert, and it's now 21-20, Carolina. This seriously is a great game, by the way. I hope you're watching, and not doing something lame like "spending time with your family" or "buying Christmas presents" or "enjoying the quiet majesty of a winter wonderland."

0:00, 3rd. Muhsin Muhammed catches it at the 50 to give the Panthers a first down as the clock runs out on the third quarter. I'm getting sleepy. I want tea and a Steve Smith touchdown.

13:25, 4th. The Panthers are still in the middle of this drive, but Delhomme has a beautiful completion to HOLY GOD DEANGELO WILLIAMS JUST SCORED ANOTHER FUCKING TOUCHDOWN. SWEET MERCIFUL HORSEDONG. 28-20, Panthers.

Does anyone else find the unintentional irony in these commercials about a baby investing money in the wake of the biggest investment scam in history kind of awesome?

11:20, 4th.The Giants line up in a pass formation, but will hand it off to Brandon Jacobs in what I can only assume is a nod to common sense. Here comes Derrick Ward to take it to the 33. There are 335 total rushing yards to only 287 total passing yards. Admit it: you're impressed by my ability to analyze football using "numbers" and stuff. The Giants fail to capitalize on Jacobs and Ward's hard work, and will wind up punting on a 4th-and-15. Jeff Feagles is a very good punter but you won't see me writing a fucking sonnet about it. Did I mention I don't like the Giants?

7:25, 4th. Current Tom Coughlin facial hue: Is "yelling at people" a color?

7:09, 4th. The Giants have it at the 48 but they're called for a false start (the game's 2nd flag). Nice Eli pass (bah!) for a first down. The tall-and-awkward Toomer comes up with a huge conversion to take the Giants to the 22, and I'd wager that a lot of fans in Giants Stadium are currently second-guessing Tom Coughlin's decision not to go for 2 after the last touchdown. 3rd and 5.

4:06, 4th. Boss for the first down. And here I was cherishing dreams of Giants fan dreams drowning in a sticky quagmire of field goals, tears, and failure. FUCK ME there's a pass interference in the end zone from Carolina, and Brandon Jacobs will stroll it in as nicely as you please for the touchdown. Will Tom Coughlin kick the extra point, or go for the conversion? OH IT'S ALL SO EXCITING.

3:21, 4th. Giants tie it up on the conversion. I guess that's a big deal and shit so here's an exclamation point: !

3:56, 4th. Mark Jones takes it to the Carolina 38 to kick off will HOPEFULLY be a successful scoring drive. My suggestion, Panthers? GIVE THE BALL TO DEANGELO WILLIAMS. Carolina is taking their time as we approach the two-minute warning. My sister is bringing me Nyquil. Everything's going to be ok, kids.

1:51, 4th. Hokay as awesome as Steve Smith is, he'd not doing shit with double coverage on him. Allow me to repeat, Carolina: GIVE THE BALL TO DEANGELO WILLIAMS.

1:25, 4th. Muhsin Muhammed for the first down. Delhomme DROPS the fucking ball but HERE COMES DEANGELO WILLIAMS OH MY GOD I HAVE SEE THE FACE OF OUR LORD AND HIS NAME IS DEANGELO. Guhh, a sloppy holding penalty on Steve Smith (seriously, boo, WHAT is your deal tonight) will cost the Panthers yards, but they've still got the first down. Justin Tuck looks like I feel. I'd feel sorry for him if he weren't a fucking Giant.

0:54, 4th. DeAngelo's in on the Wildcat formation... 3rd-and-6, Panthers. AHH DAMMIT Williams is down, and here comes a 50-yard field goal attempt from Carolina. What a superb game this has been... plus, I've learned more about K balls and the apparently really interesting and complex methodology for storing them than I ever wanted to know. Thanks, Al and John!


The Panthers lose the coin toss... damn you, Delhomme, you are just ANTS AT A MOTHERFUCKING PICNIC today.

14:07, OT. THREE AND OUT FROM THE JINTS. HerewegoPanthers! Tom Coughlin facewatch: The Masque of the Red Death.

12:31, OT. Well goddamn it. There's a 3-and-out from Carolina, too. Oh, but R.W. McQuarters DROPS it! He'll recover it at around the New York 19. Brutal! Also, I'm really glad I took out my nose ring because my nose is currently a mess and a half. ACK WHAT WHAT WHAT here comes Derrick Ward with ANOTHER beastly beast of a run to carry it all the way out to around the Carolina 40. Hot damn! That's 184 freaking yards on the night for Ward. Here comes another incomplete Eli pass. WHY IS ANYBODY BOTHERING TO PASS IN THIS GAME?

11:01, OT. Once again, the Giants line up in the shotgun but give it to Ward, who gets the first down. WOO RUNNING GAME! No thanks to you, Steve Smith, whom my good pal Grimey has honored with the following:

10:24, OT. 216 yards for Ward as he takes it in to give the Jints a 1st-and -goal... GODDAMN IT THERE'S BRANDON JACOBS IN TO WIN IT FOR THE GIANTS.

Giants win, 34-28. That was a pretty freaking phenomenal game, I SUPPOSE. Guhh. Time to go upstairs and try to fall asleep despite not being able to breathe through my nose. If the Giants win the goddamn Superbowl again I will never watch another minute of NFL football.