bad sports, good sports

Bad sports, good sports: NFL playoff games live up to the hype

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So often, it seems, big games fall short of the hype they receive. The age of social media and instantaneous reaction has led to a loss of perspective, I think. It seems like we have a new “Game of the Century” every week. Even with the century being relatively young, this level of hyperbole makes it hard to take any of this stuff seriously. The NFL is often the leader in this, driving a hype machine that is unmatched in sports. Occasionally, though, the product actually lives up to the expectations, and this weekend was a great example of that. The opening weekend of the NFL playoffs produced thrillingly close games in three out of the four contests.

The game that opened the weekend may have been the best of all, particularly if you don’t like defense. I can freely say that I almost always hate the kind of game that ends with a score of 45-44, the way the Kansas City Chiefs-Indianapolis Colts game did, but I am a fan of amazing comebacks, and this game certainly qualified as one of those. Early in the third quarter, the Chiefs scored a touchdown to take a 38-10 lead. Considering the way each team was playing, it seemed clear that that this game was essentially over. Andrew Luck, the talented young quarterback for the Colts, had looked awful in the first half, while the Chiefs appeared to have gotten their mojo back after a somewhat disappointing end to the season. From that point, the Colts scored five touchdowns, interrupted only by two Chiefs field goals, capped by a 64-yard touchdown pass from Luck to T.Y. Hilton with about four and a half minutes to play to take the lead. The Chiefs failed to score on their next drive, with an intentional grounding call on Alex Smith stalling them when it looked like they would reach field goal range and win the game.

Saturday’s second game pitted the Philadelphia Eagles against the New Orleans Saints. No one expected the Eagles to be in the playoffs when the season started, but here they were, hosting the Saints as the winners of the NFC East. The Saints were underdogs in the game, mostly due to their schizophrenic nature that produced a dominant team at home but a questionable one on the road. The weather seemed to be in the favor of the home team as well, as it was quite cold, which should have been a disadvantage for the warm-weather and dome-residing Saints. Once the game was underway, though, the teams appeared to be pretty evenly matched. The Eagles led 7-6 at the half. After falling behind, 20-7, they rallied and took a 24-23 lead with just under five minutes to play in the game. The defense couldn’t stop the Saints on the next drive, though, and the team from New Orleans drove all the way to the 14-yard-line of the Eagles, running the clock down in the process until there were only three seconds remaining. Shayne Graham, a kicker who had just signed with the Saints a few weeks ago, sent the 32-yarder through the uprights as time expired.

After the one laugher of the weekend was over and the San Diego Chargers had beaten the Cincinnati Bengals, 27-10, Sunday’s second game got underway. The San Francisco 49ers were in Green Bay to take on the Packers as well as the 2-degree temperature. This game was close all the way through, with neither team having a lead larger than six points. The Packers tied the game at 20 with a field goal with just over five minutes remaining. Like the Saints, the 49ers then went on a long drive that took all the remaining time, kicking the winning field goal as the clock showed zeroes.

I have no idea if the rest of this year’s playoffs will be any good, but the Wild Card Weekend was about as good as it gets.

Good Sports, continued:

2) I have no idea if he made a good decision or not, but Mike Munchak is certainly a loyal guy. He was offered a big raise and a contract extension to stay on as head coach of the Tennessee Titans, but he turned it down because it came with a catch: he had to fire or demote a large number of people on his staff. I am not sure if it was the fact that he didn’t want to do this or if he knew that he would have little control of his team going forward if he agreed to this kind of deal, but he definitely made a bold decision. I commend him for sticking to his principles.

Bad Sports:

1) A photographer for the Associated Press collapsed on the field after the Chik-Fil-A Bowl in Atlanta on Tuesday. Dave Martin was taking pictures when he had a heart attack. He later died at an area hospital.

2) Southern University played Champion Baptist College in basketball on Monday. Southern won the game, 116-12. That is not a typo. Who scheduled this game and why??

3) Chris Kluwe, a punter who spent six seasons with the Minnesota Vikings and was waived before this season, has accused the team of cutting him because of his outspoken advocacy for marriage equality. He also stated that a Vikings coach directed homophobic remarks at him.

4) I know I put the Chiefs-Colts game in my Good Sports story, but I have to include it here too. All season long, the national press has been trying to tell Philadelphians that we were wrong to have chased Chiefs coach and former Eagles coach Andy Reid out of town, pointing out the 9-0 start to which his new team sprinted out. I have to admit I enjoyed seeing his team blow a massive lead like that.

5) Green Bay may be a football mecca, but it is not exactly a metropolis. Nearby Appleton, Wisconsin, where the visiting 49ers stayed before the game, must be even less of one. Anthony Davis, an offensive lineman for the Niners, disparaged the town in a tweet on Saturday night, calling it a “shithole.” Nice.

Bad sports, good sports appears every Monday

Alan Spoll is a software quality assurance director from the suburbs of Philadelphia where he lives with his wonderful wife and children. He has spent his entire life as a passionate fan of the Eagles, Phillies, Sixers, Flyers, and Penn State. Recent Phillies success aside, you will understand his natural negativity. Follow me on Twitter - @DocAlan02
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