Sunday, December 29, 2013

Football 2013 - Week 18

by Bill Holmes

My recap of the only football games that matter

Although technically an NFL week 16 game, which was my week 17, I'm including this Monday night game in the week 18 recap. Is that all perfectly clear? Good. It is the battle between the Atlanta Falcons against the San Francisco 49ers. More memorable it is the last regular season game in Candlestick Park, AKA The Stick. It may also be the absolute last game depending on how San Francisco's post season goes. The park was originally built for the SF Giants baseball team. They played there from 1960 to 2000. The 49ers began playing at Candlestick in 1971. They move into a new stadium in Santa Clara next season. The Stick was a crappy baseball venue. It was cold, windy, damp and foggy. My personal highlight was a short pre-game interview with the great Willie Mays, my all time baseball favorite. Willie McCovey was on hand too.

On to the game. The 4-10 Falcons were pretty big underdogs to the at home 10-4 49ers. SF could clinch a playoff berth with a win and still have a chance for a division title and another home game at crappy Candlestick. Atlanta played well and held a 10-3 halftime lead. The 49ers came back to lead 27-17 with five minutes left in the game. Atlanta scored with two minutes remaining to get within three and then recovered the onside kick in SF territory. They were in field goal range for at least a tie with a little over a minute to go. That's when Matt Ryan, the Falcons QB, morphed into Tony Romo and threw an interception at the eleven yard line. 49er linebacker NaVorro Bowman ran the interception 89 yards for a TD. Falcons lose 34-24. It has been that kind of year for the now 4-11 Birds. They finish their season at home against the 11-4 Carolina Panthers.

On Saturday I finally saw part of a bowl game this silly season. I flipped through the channels and saw that the Louisville - Miami game was at 6-2 in the first quarter of the Russell Athletic Bowl in Orlando. I have at least minimal interest because one team is from Florida. Watched some other stuff and when I tuned back to the game it was 29-2. The game wound up Cardinals 36 Canes 9. A pitiful showing by Miami. 

There have now been 15 of the 35 bowl games played. Not even halfway there. A least coming up next week we have some interesting games as we count down to the big one on January 6th.

The final week of the NFL regular season held no surprises for my teams. Let's return to the Atlanta Falcons. They played the 11-4 Carolina Cougars. Amazingly it was a good game and the Falcons had a chance to win. They actually led 10-0 early in the second quarter but trailed 14-10 at halftime. They got the score to 21-20 halfway through the fourth quarter but that's how it ended. Atlanta had more total yardage and had possession nine more minutes than Carolina. One of their problems was that Matt Ryan was sacked nine times. The Falcons finish their terrible season with a 4-12 record. Hard to believe that many picked the Birds as a preseason Super Bowl contender. One last note. This was future hall of famer Tony Gonzalez last game. He is retiring as maybe the best tight end ever. Unfortunately he never won a Super Bowl.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers traveled to New Orleans to play the 10-5 Saints. This was not a close game. The Bucs never led and only scored three points in the second half. Final score Saints 42 Bucs 17. New Orleans outgained TB 468 to 290. This ends the Buccaneers season with a 4-12 record.

Another not close game was Jacksonville at Indianapolis. The Jaguars lost 30-10. It was almost 30-3 but Jax scored a TD with 16 seconds left in the game. The statistics were close but the Jags had two turnovers plus they just don't know how to score. They have to find some offense in the off season. This was Brad Meester's last game. He is retiring after 14 years, all with the Jaguars. It may also have been Maurice Jones-Drew's last game as a Jag too. He is now a free agent. Jones-Drew was once a top running back but he will be 29 years old next season and has had injury problems the last couple of years. The Jaguars finish their season at 4-12.

Are you seeing a pattern here? Falcons 4-12, Buccaneers 4-12 and Jaguars 4-12. That's a stunning 12-36 overall record. Couple that with the crappy seasons by the Gators, USF Bulls and TCU Horned Frogs and it's no wonder I drink. Oh wait, if they were all winners I'd drink to celebrate.

Next year has got to be better. Right? 

All my teams are done for the season. No playoffs and no bowl games. I'll probably write another football post or two this season to share my opinion about a bowl game or NFL playoff.


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