As Broad & Pattison Turns: Superbowl XLVIII Wrapup

We’ve been lucky for the last six years.

Along with the usual pomp and circumstance of a Superbowl party, consisting of wings, beer, pizza, nacho dip, crab dip, etc. (all of which can sometimes lead to certain individuals taking part in another “dip” that starts with “skinny”), we’ve been lucky to have an entertaining Superbowl which has gone down to the wire for the last six consecutive years.

Starting in 2008 when the Giants shocked the then 18-0 Patriots, and going all the way to last year, when the Ravens defeated the Niners in the “Power Outage” bowl (which should have been sponsored by the Energizer bunny), the 2nd-half suspense of the big game consisted of more than just looking at one’s Superbowl block pool to see if any money was coming your way.

But that all changed this year.

This year’s Superbowl was a flashback to the majority of the games that took place in the 1980’s, when the AFC Champion would claw its way to the top of its conference, only to become easy fodder for the 49ers, Redskins, or Giants, the big three who ruled the NFC back then.  The “big game” was big only in name and hype then, and never quite lived up to its billing once the action on the field actually commenced.

Fast forward to this year’s game, where the Broncos played as if they were on a drinking binge for the last two weeks and woke up with a major hangover just moments before the national anthem played.  The Seahawks, meanwhile, were sharp and played with a purpose, and being one of the youngest Superbowl winners ever, they will probably be near the top of the mountain for years to come.

Seattle went from 7-9 just two years back to Superbowl champion due to drafting well the last few years, including in the later rounds, a strategy that other teams would do well to emulate.   Of course, everyone has the desire to draft well, but having the right people in place to do so is another story.

The Eagles were 4-12 in 2012 mostly due to awful drafts in 2010 & 2011.  But surprisingly good drafts the last two seasons helped them rebound to a 10-6 record in 2013, and another year or two of solid drafts will be needed if the Birds hope to win the first Superbowl in the team’s history.

As for the Superbowl “extras”, my  favorite commercial was the Audi “Doberhuahua”, featuring a hybrid dog which was part doberman and part chihuahua.  Aside from the dog’s humorous antics, the “huahua” part somehow got me hungry for a Wawa hoagie…even though it was acting more like a “hotdog”.

Coming in 2nd was the Geico gecko “cheesesteak shuffle”, if only for the fact that it centered around Philadelphia.  In the commercial, the Geico gecko is doing his own cheesesteak shuffle to celebrate the fact that a cheesesteak is available just as readily as Geico insurance.

While I would still take the “Ickey Shuffle” (courtesy of former Bengals running back Ickey Woods) over the cheesesteak shuffle, my question is – since the gecko is doing the dance across from Geno’s, does that mean that he’s really a Pat’s Steaks fan??

These are the questions that go through my mind during a one-sided Superbowl.   That, along with my commentary that the 2013 Eagles would have given the Seahawks  a much better game than the Broncos did (even though, technically, the Birds can never play the Seahawks in the Superbowl being that they’re both in the same conference).

The Last Word:  The end of another football season is upon us, and with it, the winter of our discontent has begun.  Sundays in February leave a void that is not filled for me until April, when the Phillies start their season and a possible Flyers playoff run may commence.  Add to that, a colder and snowier winter than usual and April cannot come fast enough (I know there is March madness, but last time I watched, and was interested in, college basketball was during the Clinton Administration).

The end of football season also usually coincides with me going into writing hibernation and not coming out of my hole till Eagles preseason has begun.   However, this year, I do plan to write at least once a month about the various goings on in the Philadelphia sports scene, as Broad & Pattison is still occupied even when the Eagles are not one of the inhabitants.   Until then, stay warm everyone…pitchers and catchers report in just under two weeks.

As Broad & Pattison Turns: Superbowl XLVIII Edition

Broncos vs Seahawks  6:30 PM (FOX) – For this one, they should bring back the Kingdome and Mile High Stadium.

Bring back Dave Krieg, Jim Zorn and Steve Largent.  Bring John Elway out of the executive box and Tom Jackson out of the ESPN booth.

Bring back Chuck Knox and former Penn State great Curt Warner.  And while you’re at it,  bring back Karl Mecklenburg, the “Three Amigos”, and the “Barrel Man” (RIP Barrel Man).  And for a goof, bring back Brian Bosworth…

While the Seattle Seahawks played in the NFC west in their inaugural season of 1976 (and reside there now), they were actually in the AFC West from 1977 till the start of the 2002 season, where they faced the Broncos twice on an annual basis as division foes.

Ironically, their first ever playoff appearance came at home against the Broncos in the 1983 AFC wildcard game when, leading by 10-7 at halftime, the Seahawks exploded for 21 unanswered points, leading to the franchise’s first playoff victory.  Did I know that info. by researching the internet?  No…I actually remember watching that game in my parents’ family room as a little tyke growing up in Northeast Philadelphia (while I frequently struggled just to get a C grade in elementary school due to lack of interest, I can recite where I was watching random NFL games from childhood with relative ease….go figure).

With all of the history then, this is, in essence, a “Back to the Future” sort of Superbowl.   And while Peyton Manning would do an admirable job of playing “Biff” the bully, it would be his brother Eli, instead of Seattle QB Russell Wilson, that would be a better fit to play the role of “Marty McFly”.

While the main focus in the NFL usually centers on the quarterbacks, the conference championship games showed us that football is still a team sport, and losing one piece of the puzzle on your team can lead to devastating consequences.

In the AFC Championship game, New England seemed to keep Peyton Manning in check until Patriots cornerback Aqib Talib went out with a knee injury.  After that, it was as if the border patrol went out to lunch and never returned, as Broncos receiver Demaryius Thomas suddenly began to get open against a mismatched secondary, ending with seven receptions for 134 yards.

In the NFC title game, even with all the talk of Russell Wilson & Colin Kaepernick, it was Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman that made the defining play, followed by a defining rant that has gotten more played out than those annoying Progressive Insurance commercials with “Flo” (personally, I prefer “Jan” from the Toyota commercials).

So who wins this Sunday?  Peyton Manning was lucky to play in 63-degree weather at home in the AFC Championship, but it will most likely be much colder than that come kickoff Sunday night.   The Seahawks are used to playing in dreary weather in the Pacific Northwest so the conditions should suit them just fine.

The matchup pitting Broncos receiver Demaryius Thomas against Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman will be the most intriguing one to watch.  Unless the Broncos get lucky again by way of the opposing cornerback going out with an injury, think the Seahawks will take this one and win their first ever Superbowl.

Superbowl XLVIII will also be one of “firsts” – the first one where the price of admission gets you the sight of your own breath for three plus hours, plus a set of handwarmers and lip balm (as opposed to sunscreen given to attendees in Tampa a few years back).  Considering the price of the ticket, hope that it’s at least Chapstick brand…

The Last Word:   Superbowl XLVIII will be the first in 19 years featuring two teams that reside west of the Mississippi River, and the first in 14 years that will not have a participant from the Eastern Time Zone.

As Broad & Pattison Turns: Conference Championship edition

After a thrilling 1st round playoff weekend where three of the four games were still in doubt going into the final two minutes, the Divisional playoff round seemed to leave a lot to be desired.  Actually, it was, to paraphrase a 16-year old girl, “Like…BORING!”.

The Saints and Seahawks contest, which many thought could be a blowout, actually ended up being one of the more competitive games, with the Saints having a chance to at least throw a hail mary into the end zone on the last play of the game to possibly tie it.   That is, until Saints receiver Marques Colston had a brain freeze, lost track of time, or just decided to play hot potato with the football, resulting in a New Orleans penalty and the end of the game.

The Saturday nightcap between the Colts and the Patriots looked to be one which could go down to the end and go either way, but the Patriots had the game well in hand relatively early in the 4th quarter.  Luckily, due to the exciting life I lead,  yours truly was already snoozing on his couch by then.

Sunday brought us the Niners and the Panthers in what was billed as an intriguing defensive matchup, but Carolina was done in on three drives: Two 1st half drives in which they scored a total of only 3 points while having 1st and goal both times, and a 3rd quarter, 8-minute plus drive that yielded a big fat zero on the scoreboard.   The Niners took over the game in the 2nd half and never looked back, as they now head to the NFC Championship game for the 3rd consecutive year.

The Broncos and the Chargers finished up the Sunday playoff brackets, and for the 1st three quarters it looked like San Diego was ‘California dreamin’ as they looked fast asleep and lifeless in falling behind 17-0 after three quarters.  The Chargers also seemed to think that the word “Omaha” was a new synonym for “hike”, as they had a number of offside penalties caused by Peyton Manning’s signal calling (do Broncos fans play a drinking game where one drinks every time Manning says Omaha?).

So we are now down to the final four, and the teams that are still alive are who we thought they would be (to paraphrase former Vikings and Cardinals coach Dennis Green).

Conference Championship Sunday (all times in EST):

Patriots at Broncos 3:00 PM CBS – For the 15th time, future hall-of-famers Peyton Manning and Tom Brady will face off, and while it is the Broncos vs. the Patriots, there is no denying that Brady is Manning’s “daddy”, having won 10 of their 14 meetings.

While Peyton’s passing numbers are historically astronomical, the playoffs for Manning are like falling asleep in one of those old Freddy Krueger “Nightmare on Elm Street” movies – a nightmare.  He has a 10-11 career playoff record, and generally doesn’t play well in cold weather either.

The plus side for Peyton?  Sunday will be a balmy 60 degrees in Denver and the one time he beat Brady in the playoffs was playing at home for the Colts.

On the New England side, Bill Belichick continues to make weekly trips into his mad scientist laboratory to conjure up ways to win, and Tom Brady might as well be throwing to a CPA, an electrician, and a hot-dog vendor with all the injuries the Patriots have accumulated.

The Pats, like the Niners, will also be playing in their 3rd straight conference championship game, and I give Belichick and Brady a lot of credit for keeping the Foxboro machine going all these years (with the caveat that they haven’t won a Superbowl since Spygate was uncovered).  I’m not bitter or anything…really.

So who wins?  I was giving the nod to the Patriots initially, but Peyton Manning playing at home in spring like weather and I have a feeling he’ll manage not to choke this time.  Broncos advance…

Niners at Seahawks 6:30 PM CBS – These two teams match up so well that if this game was played on a neutral field, it could possibly go to double overtime (in which case, I vote that it be decided by Seahawks coach Pete Carroll and Niners coach Jim Harbaugh duking it out at midfield).

These two teams really do hate each other and for the last two seasons, the victor has been the one playing at home.  But while that does not bode well for San Francisco, trends are meant to be broken (for reference, see the Bengals losing at home in the wildcard round and the Saints winning outdoors in the cold against the Eagles).

Seattle didn’t play particularly well against New Orleans last week but managed to hold on for the win.  A similar game against San Francisco and the Seahawks will find themselves eating pizza and wings at home during the Super Bowl instead of actually playing in it.

While the 12th man gives Seattle a distinct advantage, Harbaugh will have the Niners ready to play and win.  Niners and Broncos in the Superbowl peeps…

The Last Word – Now that Chris Wheeler is no longer on the Phillies broadcast, I vote for the term “no doubles defense” to be banned from the broadcast as well.   On a serious note, with the removal of “Wheels”, the last link from the original 4-man Phillies broadcast team that many of us in the Delaware Valley grew up watching/listening to are either off the air or are no longer with us (Harry Kalas, Richie Ashburn, Andy Musser, and Wheeler).

As Broad & Pattison Turns Week #11: Redskins at Eagles

The Nick Foles “magic carpet ride” continued last Sunday, and while Foles did not match his record breaking performance from the previous week, he still went 12 for 18 on the day and threw three touchdown passes, as the Birds defeated the Aaron Rodgers-less Packers, 27-13.

On the season, Foles now has 16 touchdowns without an interception, which is tied for 2nd in NFL history when it comes to touchdowns thrown to start a season without throwing an interception (some guy named Milt Plum did it back in 1960) and only four behind Peyton Manning’s record of 20, accomplished last season.

But while Foles’ numbers have been eye-popping, Eagles fans still have their doubts as to whether he is the answer and the future at quarterback.  It’s almost as if we are waiting for the day when he comes crashing back to earth and has a serious of awful games similar to the Cowboys game at home.

Why is it that in “Foles we do NOT trust”?  Here are my five theories:

1. Michael Vick dazzled us for 11 games in 2010 until he came back down to earth for good.

2.  Donovan McNabb, while the best quarterback in modern Eagles history, generally fell short in conference championships and his one Super Bowl appearance.

3.  Bobby Hoying had three gangbuster games to start his NFL career in 1997 before he became just an “average Joe” and disappeared into the crowd of working stiffs.

4.  Randall Cunningham was a human highlight reel, but looked like Clark Kent in the playoffs, going 1-4 during his time with the Eagles.

5. Ron Jaworski, while a solid NFL quarterback with the Birds, chose Super Bowl XV against the Raiders to have one of his worst games, much to the delight of Raiders linebacker Rod Martin.

The quarterback in Philadelphia is like the woman whom you get a great vibe from when you’re being aloof.  But start showing interest in her and boom…you’ve got no shot.

So perhaps that’s it…perhaps, as Eagles fans, we find it hard to trust, to BELIEVE, that maybe, just maybe, Nick Foles is not just another quarterback riding the magic chariot before the stroke of midnight arrives, and he turns into a pumpkin (a.k.a clipboard holding backup).

Perhaps the thought of having a mid to late round draft pick who becomes the next Russell Wilson or even the next (gulp) Tom Brady is something that we feel is never meant to happen in Philadelphia?  Perhaps it’s our recent sports history that creates a lack of confidence in our teams?

We are usually the ones that give up on talent in error or can’t seem to get the lucky lottery pick.  There’s Nic Vucevic’s success with the Orlando Magic, the inability of the Flyers to draft Patrick Kane, or giving up on young players such as JVR, Jeff Carter or Mike Richards (in hindsight too early).  Surely, if anyone can screw it up, it’s our “four for four”( to borrow an Anthony Gargano phrase) sports teams right??

If only the Eagles had chosen to go 4-12 in 2011 instead of 2012, maybe we would have acquired Andrew Luck or RG3.  And if only the Phillies had never traded a guy named Ryne Sandberg…

Being sandwiched between New York and DC, we as Philadelphians already have an inferiority complex.  But add to that only one championship in a span of thirty years, while the New Englanders and their clam “chowda” have celebrated eight just in this decade doesn’t help matters any.

But maybe this time will be different.  Just as the curse of Billy Penn was broken in 2008 because of a six-week magic carpet ride by the Fightin’ Phils, perhaps Nick Foles will turn out to be a real “franchise” quarterback, and not just a quarterback who advertises for a franchise on Broad Street but can’t bring a parade down it.

But first things first, there is still the matter of the “elephant in the room” known as the Eagles losing streak at home, which must be overcome.

The Redskins come into Lincoln Financial Field this weekend at 3-6, which was exactly their record last year at this point before they ran off seven straight victories and won the NFC East (ironically, they started that streak by beating the Eagles at home).  Robert Griffin (RG3) is healthier than he was in the Monday night opener, but the Eagles defense is also an improved bunch from that first game as well.

If the Eagles are to make a run at the NFC East, the home losing streak has to end this week.   And it will – Birds finally prevail at home, 27-20, and Eagles chants once again prevail on the Broad Street line heading home…

Amit’s Marquee Matchups of the Week (all times in EST and on Sunday unless otherwise noted):

Niners at Saints  4:25 PM FOX – The Niners laid an egg last week at home against the upstart Carolina Panthers and must now travel to the Big Easy, where this game will be anything but.  The good news?   Po-Boy sandwiches and Hurricanes to wash them down are in walking distance…

Chiefs at Broncos  8:30 PM NBC – “Whoa Nelly…this one’s gonna be a dandy” (as former ABC college football announcer Keith Jackson used to say) as this game features two teams with a combined record of 17-1.  But while the Chiefs, at 9-0, are the only remaining undefeated team left, truth is, they haven’t beaten a single team with a winning record.   This game will be a good benchmark for “Big Red” and his squad, not only because of the quality of the opponent, but because of 80,000 screaming Broncos fans in the light air of Mile High.

Patriots at Panthers  8:40 PM  ESPN – What looked like a “dud” a few weeks back is now a Monday night marquee matchup, featuring the Panthers defense against a potent Patriots offense.  Anyone know the over/under on compliments that Jon Gruden will throw out to both teams?

The Last Word – They needed to go shopping for a monster at the plate and a cheetah on the basepaths.  Instead, the Phils brought home an aging Byrd???

 

As Broad & Pattison Turns Week #4: Eagles at Broncos

Last Thursday, a guy was talking to an attractive woman in a bar, and she was giving him every hint that she would gladly give him her number, and he never took the bait.

Did this really happen?  No (at least not last Thursday), but it’s the best analogy I could use to describe last week’s Eagles – Chiefs game, which resulted in a 26-16 Eagles loss, leaving the Birds at 1-2 on the young season.

The Chiefs were basically GIVING the Eagles the game, but the Birds just wouldn’t take the bait.  Early on, Kansas City couldn’t move the ball on offense, and the Eagles were moving it against a team with an above average defense.  Yet the Birds would constantly shoot themselves in the foot, be it a bad pass, center snaps hitting players’ body parts, or the inability to make a fair catch on a punt.

During the 1st two weeks of the season, it looked like Michael Vick had donned a red cape to play the role of Superman, but he was much more like Clark Kent against the Chiefs, as his ability to make accurate decisions was greatly diminished due to the unrelenting Chiefs pass rush and some bad decisions on his part.

Add to that the pomp and circumstance at halftime, when, instead of the fans having to wait in long lines in the stadium concourse for food, they were treated to a helping of extra value meal #5 – One D-Mac, a side order of pretentiousness, and one large ego…make that super-sized.

I have no argument that Donovan McNabb’s number should be retired – McNabb was the greatest quarterback in Eagles history in my opinion.  But after his “rousing” halftime speech when he was basically preaching to the crowd about how “#5 loves you”, I am now lobbying to change Whitney Houston’s 1992 hit song “I Will Always Love You” to “5 Will Always Love you”, (as mentioned by McNabb in the 3rd person, which was strange in itself).

At least for Donovan’s sake, he had Brian Dawkins as the MC, who is easily the most revered Eagle in modern history, and his presence helped to mask any boos that may have rained down from the crowd when McNabb was introduced.

As for the Birds, they now head to Denver, where Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning will be looking to zip passes past them in the thin, light air of Colorado without much interference.  The difficult job of covering Manning’s receivers will fall on the shoulders of the Eagles secondary and much-maligned safety Nate Allen, who couldn’t cover a hoagie tray with saran wrap.

Having said that, I don’t think it will be a blowout the way many are predicting.  The Eagles have played two straight sloppy games and still had the chance to win both in the 4th quarter.  And while the Broncos may be a superior opponent than both the Chargers and the Chiefs, their defense is very suspect.

The Eagles will put points on the board against the Denver defense, their defensive line will put enough pressure on Manning to mask the deficiencies of the secondary, and with ten days to prepare, they will SHOCK THE WORLD!   Birds win 37-34 in a nail-biter.

Amit’s Marquee Matchups of the Week (all times in EST and on Sunday unless otherwise noted):

Seahawks at Texans  1:00 PM FOX – If this game was played between utilities, it would be a clash of “gasoline against green energy”.  A possible Superbowl preview?

Bears at Lions  1:00 PM FOX – A showdown of two teams in the NFC “Snowbelt” division…pre-snowfall that is.

Jets at Titans  4:05 PM CBS – Hard to fathom that one of these teams will be 3-1 as of Sunday night, barring the ever popular overtime tie.

Dolphins at Saints  8:40 PM ESPN (Mon) – A showdown of two 3-0 teams as South Beach invades the French Quarter.

The Last Word – Speaking of Miami, am I the only person who thinks of “Miami Vice” (the TV show, not the movie) whenever a Phil Collins song from the ’80’s comes on?