January 19, 2009
Honorable mention: Limas Sweed. My favorite image from the day will be the close-up CBS had of Limas' terrified face as the ball got nearer and nearer to him on the bomb Ben Roethlisberger threw. The Hines Ward injury thrust him into the spotlight, and on the first chance he had to make a play, you could almost see him thinking, "Oh sweet Lord, Ben threw it to me, and I'm wide open, and if I don't catch this, Hines is going to kill me, and ... oh, man. I could not have responded worse in this situation. I think I'm just going to lay here for a while and hope no one notices that I've soiled myself."
5. NFL officials. Despite the tragic events of Week 2 in Denver, I've been content to sit back and let everyone else complain about how it's been a terrible season for officiating. I don't necessarily believe it's been any worse than any other season, I just think more camera angles and hi-def television have put more of a spotlight on it, and I also think that we, as a people, are whinier than we've ever been.
But for a Championship Sunday, when we're supposed to be seeing some of the best officials the NFL has to offer, it seemed like there were an awful lot of iffy calls crammed into just two games. I'm glad it didn't work out that way, but I'd have had a real problem with it if a team advanced to the Super Bowl after 100 percent of the points it generated in the championship game were the result of debatable pass interference calls in the end zone.
4. Donovan McNabb. Can we call that the worst 375-yard, three-touchdown performance ever? I hate to list McNabb here, as he was the one individual player I most wanted to see win a championship, but he missed an awful lot of throws against the Cardinals. He made some very good throws, too, as his numbers attest, but he wasn't near as sharp as he can be. He left a lot of completions and a lot of yards out there, and was a big part of the reason the Eagles were in a huge early hole. In a game that big, a superstar quarterback is not allowed to have a half that bad. He just isn't.
3. The truck owners of America. You made the list last week, too, and I hate to repeat myself, but since the American auto industry has no problem repeating itself 85 billion times, I'm going to allow myself this one. I almost feel bad for you, American truck owners. It's like the industry won't stop with its advertisements until everyone else in the world believes that you're a knuckle-dragging, troglodyte meathead whose self-esteem is entirely dependent on Howie Long's opinion of your method of getting in and out of the bed of your truck.
2. Anquan Boldin. It's not because of your lackluster 4-for-34 output Sunday. That's going to happen when Kurt Warner only throws 28 times and Larry Fitzgerald catches everything that comes within 20 yards of him. But what possible excuse could you have for screaming at offensive coordinator Todd Haley in the fourth quarter of that game? Everyone gained a ton of respect for Anquan this season, coming back after the injury he sustained, but he owes an explanation and apology for whatever went on with Haley late in that game.
1. Joe Flacco. Dan Dierdorf may have convinced you otherwise last week, but Joe Flacco was indeed still very much a rookie against the Steelers. Both Ben Roethlisberger and Flacco played against great defenses, and one guy looked like a veteran who would take what he could get and make a play here or there, and the other guy looked like a rookie in a championship game against a fierce defense. I don't blame Flacco -- rookies are going to be rookies -- but 13-of-30 for 141 yards and three interceptions gets you the top spot here every time.
See also: Sunday's five most valuable people
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