Okay, no point beating around the bush here. The NFC East is an embarrassment. All four teams lost on Sunday, but that’s only the rancid icing on a steaming dog turd of a cake. Let’s begin in Big D–as in DUMP, as in DEBACLE, as in DEPLORABLE, DYSFUNCTIONAL and DOWNRIGHT DISASTEROUS. The Cowboys had a golden opportunity on Sunday. They could take over the division lead with a victory over the Green Bay Packers, a team that hadn’t won a game since Pro Bowl quarterback Aaron Rodgers went down with a broken collarbone. The Cowboys played tough and took care of business for a full thirty minutes. NFL games are sixty minutes, and Dallas stunningly, incredibly, and entirely predictably squandered a 23 point halftime lead. It was the biggest comeback in Packers franchise history, and the first time the Cowboys blew a lead that big. Many will blame Tony Romo but it truly was a team effort. Despite the latest disaster, Dallas does continue to control their own destiny. If they win their next two games they likewise win the East. Romo and Co. are one for their last six in must win games, and no quarterback in the league has thrown more crunch time interceptions. I could continue to wax alliterative about all Dallas’s demoralizing December defeats, but why give them a hard time when the rest of the division is equally inept?
We go from Big D to Big Blue, where Giants head coach Tom Coughlin is likely still cursing a blue streak following Sunday’s humbling loss to the Seattle Seahawks. My daughter learns new words every time the Giants do something stupid and the camera immediately zooms in on Coughlin’s face. No one really expected New York to win that game, but they could have at least showed up to play. Now 5 – 9, the G-Men were the only team in the NFL that failed to score a single point in Week 15. In addition, quarterback Eli Manning threw five more interceptions. That brings his season total to twenty-five, which is by far the worst in the league. Remember that brief debate about which Manning brother was better? I think we know.
Riding a five-game win streak, the Philadelphia Eagles had established themselves as the cream of an admittedly bad crop. A gimmie win over the abysmal Vikings would have all but assured them a division title. Philly was flying high. And Minnesota, entrenched in last place in the NFC North, would take the field without their starting quarterback, without their top three cornerbacks, and without Adrian Peterson. Matt Asiata, Peterson’s replacement, had only three previous carries in his pro career. Against the Eagles, he rushed the ball thirty times and scored three touchdowns as Minnesota rolled to a huge upset win. Eagles receiver DeSean Jackson took the loss like a man, giving up on a play when a ball intended for him was intercepted and then berating teammates on the sideline. Not to be outdone in the classless category, Cowboys receiver Dez Bryant abandoned his teammates while the Packers were still running out the clock. The odds of Dallas getting the ball back were somewhere between slim and none but you still don’t head for the locker room until the game is over.
I wish I could put this off a bit longer but we have finally reached the bottom of this disgusting barrel, or should I say dumpster? Prior to the start of the season, the Washington Redskins and Atlanta Falcons were both playoff favorites. They’ve fulfilled those high expectations with a combined record of 7 – 21. At this point, they’re playing for pride, and the Redskins have none. Washington turned the ball over seven times on Sunday. Amazingly, they could have still won the game. Trailing by 7, they scored what should have been a tying touchdown with seconds to go. Then, instead of kicking the extra point and sending the game into overtime, the Redskins went for 2… and got stuffed. Early reports indicate that embattled head coach Mike Shanahan will be back with the Redskins in 2014. This is the same guy that, a season ago, was so convinced he was fired that he’d gone ahead and cleaned out his office. He kept his job then and is evidently keeping it now. A couple questions immediately spring to mind. Why? And why? There are two sides to every Redskins’ catastrophe so let’s look at both. First, why would Shanahan want to come back? That one’s easy. They owe him $7 million. Who’s going to leave that much money on the table? But why would Washington still want him? That’s a little tougher to explain. Mike Shanahan and Redskins owner, Dan Snyder, have been at odds since the team emptied their piggy bank to acquire Robert Griffin III in the 2012 draft. Griffin began his NFL career by losing six of his first nine starts. Washington still ended up winning the NFC East, partly because they were playing better, partly because the division stinks, but mostly because the Cowboys fell on their faces at the critical time, as they are known to do (see above). Griffin suffered a bad knee injury but still took the field for the Redskins’ first playoff game. He was hobbled and ineffective. They left him in until he tore his ACL. The Redskins deservedly lost. RG III was back for Week 1 of the 2013 season. The Skins were trailing 26 to 7 by the end of the first half of the first game. That, we now know, was a sign of things to come. Griffin is completely healthy now, and on the bench. You’ve got to admit; it is an interesting strategy. Play your guys when they’re hurt and sit them when they’re healthy. I guess they’re applying the same logic to their coaching staff, otherwise Shanahan would surely be gone by now.