Special bonus section: this weekend in hateration.
So of course the one Sunday this season that I'm front and center in the living room, ready to watch every minute of Patriots football action, I remember that they're actually playing Monday night—and realize that because I have to get up at the crusty ass-crack of dawn Tuesday to go on yet another business trip, I won't be able to watch most of the game after all.
I did watch four other games on Sunday—more on that in a minute.
As Murphy's law would have it, I then proceeded to miss the best Patriots game of the season. The headlines I saw while sitting at my gate at Logan this morning were bursting with superlatives about the Patriots and in particular about Tommy, who threw for 372 beautiful yards and four fantastic touchdowns.
He was intercepted once, according to the highlights I saw (God bless JetBlue), but the Pats defense turned that turnover back around thanks to a goal-line interception by Rodney Harrison.
Meanwhile, Vikes QB Brad Johnson was sacked, hurried, harried, mashed, fried and fricasseed, and called it afterwards the most embarrassing game he's ever been a part of. A Minnesota crowd that was whipped into a highly un-Lutheran frenzy at kickoff was drifting for the exits in the fourth quarter as the Pats took the 31-7 lead.
Today Sportscenter is showing a veritable Bradyfest, including highlights of all his wins (ten of them, with no losses) in domes, including Super Bowl XXXVI, and the announcers are slavering over his "virtuoso performance." This is as it should be, dammit. Formal acknowledgement of Brady's utter superiority is always welcome in my world—and the more I see No 12 on the screen instead of No 18 or No. 7, the better. Let's hope this continues.
But I still missed the stupid game. Lovely. Of course, I am also taking a perverse kind of superstitious credit for the dominance—maybe I should miss more games if that's how they play when I do.
Then again, if my fiancée had to physically tear me away from the TV and push me into bed last night at 9 pm (an hour after I really should have been in bed), he'd probably need a cattle prod, a whip, a chair and a hot poker to keep me away from the Colts game next weekend. No chance of me missing that. None. I am also hoping the weather is crappy, so our ticket connection wants to give up his seats. But that's getting ahead of myself.
Sunday, I kicked off an afternoon and evening of solid football with the Eagles-Jacksonville game. Now, I know that Jacksonville is much improved, and the Eagles did lose to the Saints recently (who are also much improved), and I like the Eagles generally, but damn. It wasn't that big a point spread in the end, but if you watched the game, it was clear they got their asses handed to them. It was a stinker.
After that, it was time for the main event for the Sunday schedule—Indianapolis at Denver. My dad had taken Denver and the points in his football pool, which told me with virtual certainty it would be a close game and Indianapolis would win. Nonetheless, I was queasily rooting for Denver, though they have historically owned the Patriots, because I cannot let go of my completely irrational, yet fiery, hatred for all things Indianapolis and Manning.
Sadly, my dad's gambling jinx came through again, and in the worst way—Denver kept me hoping right until the end, after Mike Bell sliced and diced the Colts defense, finally scoring standing up to go ahead 28-23. A truly glorious instance of the Peyton Manning Face was shown on the sideline—he looked just like an oversized Calvin, tossing a football around and scowling in a blue and white baseball cap:
The fact that his face wasn't obscured by a helmet just made it all the more enjoyable.
But then, before he'd even trotted back out on the field to commence more infinite audibles, the predictable ball-washing started: there's still a lot of football left to play. You can't give Peyton Manning this much time. Peyton Manning is the best thing since sliced bread. Peyton Manning still makes the best cappuccino I've ever tasted. Et cetera. I will never understand the fascination.
But then, those assholes on the Denver defense couldn't deal with the Colts offense any better than the Colts d-line had dealt with Bell. There was just no defense in this game on either side. Back and forth, up and down the field they went. The Colts scored again. They traded field goals. Manning ended up with the ball with a minute and change to go, and Adam Vinatieri was warming up on the sidelines.
I cringed, anticipating the inevitable comparisons, and naturally, they followed. Peyton was driving down the field to set up for Vinatieri, and the announcers were wetting themselves with triumphant comparisons to Brady at the end of the Super Bowl(s) and Adam Vinatieri's clutch kicks with the Patriots and then I ripped out my own eyeballs and threw them at the screen.
Okay, I actually gave the screen the double middle finger as Adam's kick sailed through the goalposts and told the smirking Peyton Manning on the sideline to "Kiss my ass," but eh, close enough.
I cannot wait for that game next week. I hope it snows. I hope it's 40 below zero. I hope Peyton Manning gets sacked 12 times and intercepted all the times he's not eating turf. I hope the Colts have to play the rest of their season with at least one in the loss column, and I hope every time they look at that record they have to remember a wet, cold, windy humiliation (again) at the hands of the Patriots.
Anyway, after that, FOX showed the end of the Raiders-Steelers game. No sooner had they switched over than Ben Roethlisberger, with a clear lane to run in for a touchdown, instead through a terrible incompletion and the Steelers turned the ball over on downs to end the ballgame with a devastating loss to one of the worst teams in the league.
So that helped.
Finally, there was the Dallas-Carolina game, which I didn't see the end of, but I did see Drew Bledsoe on the sideline in a stadium jacket and a visor, applauding for his backup, who has now taken over his job. That's twice, now, at least, that he's found himself in that position, twice when he's had the opportunity to make everyone in his organization totally miserable, and twice when he's swallowed his pride, picked up a clipboard, and applauded on the sideline for his usurper. I may be glad he's not our QB anymore, but he will always have my respect and admiration for that.