Monday, December 29, 2008
The Jewish festival of Chanukah commemorates two significant miracles in the people's history. One is historical; a celebration of a dramatic, against-all-odds military victory that ensured the survival of the Jews despite the intentions of a tyrannical foe. The second is the stuff of legends; that when the victorious band of brothers went to re-dedicate the Temple they'd won back, there was only enough oil to light the lamps for one day. Yet somehow this oil lasted for eight.
And as Jews all over the world lit their menorahs for the eighth and final time in 2008, Philadelphians were celebrating a miracle all their own.
Somehow, some way, with the deck heavily stacked against them, the Eagles made the playoffs. Call it the Miracle at the Linc.
I could have seen the Bears losing to the Texans. But the 5-10 Raiders going into Tampa Bay and holding off a determined Bucs team? That was the stunner. Knocking Dallas out of playoff contention would have been motivation enough. But the Tampa and Chicago losses set up a showdown where the winner was headed to the playoffs, and the loser was going home.
And it wasn't even close.
When the smoke and rubble cleared, the final tally was an incredible 44-6. (Just typing that is fun. Can I do it again? 44-6! Over Dallas!) The Birds embarrassed the team--and the player (and the owner)--they love to embarrass the most. And our holiday gift to the people of Dallas is a miserably long offseason of wondering how all of that talent couldn't even crack the playoffs. I kinda feel bad for them. Oh wait. No I don't.
It was nice to see the run game return, especially without relying so heavily on Brian Westbrook. It was nice to see Donovan making nice passes into tight spots, like DeSean Jackson's inside the 10, and the touchdown pass to suddenly-stud tight end Brent Celek in the back corner of the end zone. It was nice to see touchdowns coming from red zone possessions early on rather than disappointing field goals. It was really nice to see karma in action, with TO dropping a ball in his chest and Pacman Jones fumbling a kickoff with just seconds remaining in the first half. And it was nice to be able to make jokes like, "We missed the field goal and they made it. Should be 47-3 and it's 44-6. What a difference."
And the defense. What can you say about this defense, that came to work every down of every game all season, winning a couple of games on their own, and keeping them in games they probably should have fallen out of. Four fumbles forced, two returned for touchdowns, one against the toughest running back in the league to bring down, and an interception. Who knew Chris Clemons was a) that fast and b) had such a stiffarm! Damn! Tashard Choice got schooled!
What a day. Everything that could have gone our way, did. The other games. The Akers field goal sneaking inside the corner of the uprights for that extra boost before halftime. The bounce of the first Romo fumble right into Clemons' hands. The way the Barber fumble stayed in bounds for Jozelio to scoop it up and go 96 yards. The word "unbelievable" was invented for days like yesterday.
Ed Werder said on ESPN, "When it was over, the Eagles were going for the playoffs, and the Cowboys were going for the smelling salts."
My friend Shwa texted me, in perhaps the understatement of the year:
"Didn't see that one coming."
But Brian Dawkins couldn't have said it any better than he did to his squad after his second forced fumble.
Bring on the Vikings.
Special year-end Other Musings:
Pekka Lintu, Finland's ambassador to the United States, officially recognized the Flyers as the "most Finnish team in the National Hockey League." (Antero Niittymaki, Kimmo Timonen, Lasse Kukkonen, and Ossi Vaananen.)
I love Riley Cote, Flyers resident toughguy since Donald Brashear left. But against the Capitals two Saturdays ago, Brashear reminded Cote--and the rest of us--who's still the man. Check this out.
The winner for worst sign ever at a sporting event goes to a kid at last week's 6-4 win over the Senators, which read, "We're hot, you're not." Oooh, BUSTED! Are you kidding? How does anyone even know who he's talking to?
Have you seen the Billy Mays commercial (you know, the screaming infomercial guy) for ESPN 360? I get the concept; it's supposed to be funny. But all I can think of is Happy Gilmore saying, "Ya know, I know what you're doing right now. And I don't like it. So why don't you shut your trap. Before I put my foot in it."
I don't know about you, but when they turn it over to Marcellus Wiley on ESPN, I laugh to myself, thinking of the Ving Rhames character Marcellus Wallace in Pulp Fiction. I just want someone to ask him about a quarterback and have him say, "In the third, his ass goes down."
Shakira was on while I was at the gym the other day. Shakira, your hips may not lie, but your voice sounds like Kermit the Frog on acid.
In the past I'd been excited about Toyotathons. But now? Now is the Toyotathon of Toyotathons. So I don't know what to do with myself.
Just what the hell is a "rib-sticking meal?" Does that mean it has greater eatability?
There aren't too many commercials that have me laughing out loud for several minutes after I've viewed them. But this one did.
Happy 2009 everyone. Go Birds!