So first there was Trent Green. Then there was Chris Simms. Then this past Sunday, I watched as Kyle Losman made a desperate bid for yardage late in the fourth quarter of the Pats-New England game. There was 3:32 left on the clock and the Patriots were trampling the Bills, 28 to 6--seeing no open receivers (or perhaps panicking), Losman took matters into his own hands, literally, tucking the ball and running right up the middle for seven yards, to the Buffalo 45.
At first I was alarmed at the Patriots' defense for not stopping Losman...but then they did. CRUNCH. So focused was Losman on gaining as many yards as possible that he did not slide. It also didn't help that he was in the process of dropping the ball and attempting to recover it when he was hit from all sides by white jerseys, disappearing under approximately 600 pounds of Patriot.
When the dust settled, Losman was inert on the turf for a few moments. He was helped off the field. On the sidelines, he was slackjawed as a trainer attempted to assess whether or not he had been rendered a vegetable.
Later on, we got the news that Ben Roethlisberger had been hit even harder than Losman. We saw the footage of him crumpling to the ground under a swarm of Atlanta Falcons defenders--and when they got up off him, Roethlisberger lay like a rag doll on his face, clearly, visibly knocked out cold. He would later return after medical evaluation to the sideline in street clothes. At least he was wearing a helmet during this high-speed accident...
It still didn't end there. Watching the Colts-Redskins game later on, we saw Peyton Manning escape not one but two savage pile-ups similar to those that had disabled Losman and Roethlisberger. On the first, several Redskins clustered around his feet, and several more hit him up high. It was my father's repeated assessment that pure luck alone had kept that hit from breaking Manning's back, or blowing out his knees, as one defender's shoulder pads collided with the backs of both his legs. But it wasn't over, either--once again in that first half, Manning was hit from all angles, this time hard enough that his helmet was ripped off his head before he disappeared into the fray.
I understand that football is a tough game, and by tough I do mean, "bone-crunching, barbaric, and often leading to shocking injuries." And there were several other quarterbacks who suffered what I guess you could call routine injuries--bumps and tweaks to a knee or a hamstring, which I don't mean to minimize.
But it also seems from where I sit to be a particularly dangerous time to be a quarterback this year. The hits we've seen put on quarterbacks--and so many of them--have seemed to go beyond what's typical or expected in a given season. Ben Roethlisberger, for all the junk I talk about him, is not a flimsy fellow. And he was totally obliterated in that game yesterday. Manning has certainly been sacked, but it's not like he's Drew Bledsoe--and having his helmet ripped off and being bent in half backwards...I'm not saying I like the guy, but that's a little over the top, even for me.
I guess what's weird about it isn't the vicious hits alone--it's been their frequency this year and their concentration on quarterbacks.
*lights joss stick on desk*
*chants prayers to Jobu over bobblehead doll of Tom Brady*
Anyway, probably the most memorable moment of yesterday's game other than when Losman got pummeled was the final touchdown scored by the Patriots in the fourth quarter--a five-yarder from Brady into the end zone, where approximately 12 defensive backs for the Bills suddenly appeared, along with a mascot, a line judge and a random fan--basically everyone but a Patriots receiver. And there went the ball right into the middle of that mess. Across New England, portly men sprang screaming from their Barcaloungers, BBQ potato chips spraying from their lips and down the front of their No. 12 jerseys. For a brief second, terror spread over the land. Women miscarried. Cows gave soured milk. The sun turned blood red as the ball floated toward the reaching hands of not one but several salivating Buffalo defensive backs, and visions of Champ Bailey motoring the wrong way down the field at the mile-high stadium danced in New England fans' heads.
And then, out of nowhere, between two Buffalo players, Doug Gabriel just...materialized. I mean he just appeared there as if teleported, darted between them, and somehow, his were the hands that caught the ball, out of the estimated 48,000 pairs waving like anemones on a reef in that end zone at that moment.
Okay. I exaggerate a bit. But only a bit. Witness, for example, Brady's reaction after the miracle catch--clapping a hand on his helmet, hanging and shaking his head in disbelief, grinning sheepishly at Gabriel. "You had no business not being intercepted there, Tommy," my dad said to the TV affectionately. "That was crazy."
Much has been made of Brady's luck, at times, I think, too much when it's reported over his very real hard work and determination. But sometimes, he's an undeniably fortunate son.
*knocks on wood*
*clutches rabbit's foot*
P.S. So I didn't get the World Series matchup I was hoping for--damn Cardinals beat out the Mets and are in there with the Tigers. Although, if you ascribe to the mascot theory of World Series prediction, a cardinal bodes well against a tiger--whereas cities ("Mets" is short for "Metropolitans", and the only tangible object I can think of to associate that with is a city) are not generally good for tigers.
Anyway, for more incisive commentary than this on the World Series, check out Sam's Tigers blog. I had a crazy weekend and didn't watch either of the games (though I caught the highlights / scores later and know the series is tied), but I should actually start paying attention this week. Maybe I'll even write something. Although these days with me, you never know.
P.P.S. Oh, and the Miami Dolphins? Your Sports Illustrated pick to win the AFC East this season over the Patriots? Are now 1-6 this season after a loss yesterday to the Packers, who now have exactly one more win than the Dolphins this season (and that was against the Lions). I hope it's understood out there that I'm not going to stop harping on that SI prediction. Like, for the whole season. Just so you're all aware.