For the group or person who played with, gained, or displayed some dignity on Sunday ...
The Sinner: Norv Turner
You're 8 point underdogs, your quarterback has been shaky, and you're going on the road to play the defending Super Bowl champions in maybe the league's most hostile environment. In addition, your tight end and biggest receiving threat is severely hobbled, and you're going to lose the league's best running back and your starting quarterback for much of the second half.
Name a coach who's going to go in there and get that win. Name a coach with the pants prunes to go into that Lion's Den, and come out with the lion's still-beating, blood-dripping heart in his triumphant, fearless hand.
Who do you want? Lombardi? Noll? Belichick? Walsh?
You want Norv.
Morv Motherflipping Turner.
Norv has been widely mocked since ... well, since he first took the head coaching job with the Redskins, and the public first saw the permanent "someone murders my dog every single day of my life" look on his face. The mockery has only intensified since.
Norv became a punchline as he went 9-23 with the Raiders, and the mockery only grew louder when he was inexplicably hired by San Diego to replace Marty Schottenheimer, who had just gone 14-2 and had won more NFL games than all but five people in the history of the universe. The mockery was positively deafening when the Chargers started the season 1-3. Everyone was laughing at Norv.
On this Monday, though, it's impossible to mock Norv Turner. The Colts only lost 4 times this year ... once, to the Patriots and the afore-mentioned Bill Belichick, once when they threw the last game of the regular season, and now, twice to Norv Turner.
Norv got a hand from a pretty good collection of talent, of course. Philip Rivers, before getting hurt, had his best game of the year ... the Chargers offensive line had a phenomenal day ... and the Bolts also have a defense that's good enough, not to stop Peyton Manning, but to force him and/or his receivers into the occasional mistake. Manning threw for 402 yards and 3 touchdowns, but the Chargers got a fumble out of Marvin Harrison, they got a couple of interceptions off of deflections, and they forced 9 incompletions on Manning's last 11 throws.
But if Norv was helped by the Chargers talent, then the Chargers talent was helped along by Norv. They won in Indianapolis because they were well-prepared, they had an outstanding gameplan, they believed in themselves even when they weren't close to full-strength, and everyone on the roster was ready to handle their business.
Say what you want about Norv's career to this point, but poorly-coached teams don't do what the Chargers did yesterday.
For the player or team who unleashed their hellish fury on Sunday ...
The Sinner: Ryan Grant and the Packers
It's hard to imagine anything getting overlooked on a weekend where only four games are played, but when you've got a team chasing perfection, a mammoth upset, and the drama of a returning star wide receiver and his man-whore quarterback, something's bound to get relegated to the back pages of the sports section.
And that something is this: The Green Bay Packers played the most impressive football of the weekend.
Last week's sinner for Wrath was the Seattle defense ... and seven short days later, the Packers took that defense that looked so dominant against Washington, and they beat them like Red asked them for his bike back (potty mouth alert). Ryan Grant spotted them 14 points, and then the Packers went on a little 42-6 run.
At no point during that run would you have ever confused the Seahawks for a team that could compete with the Packers. Grant tore holes in them on the ground, and Favre finished them off through the air. Not that he needed to, but Favre even did vintage things like this:
Favre and Grant chopped up a defense that was impenetrable last week ... and not only did they outgain them 408-200 in total offense, but the Packers attack didn't miss a beat in a damn Siberian blizzard. The snow was coming down so hard that you can't tell the difference between Greg Jennings and Mark Tauscher from two feet away, and I think it even helped the Pack ... it was like it was raining cocaine into the Packers bench, firing them up and focusing them with every bump.
And that's to say nothing of the Green Bay defense, which brought Shaun Alexander back his normal output (9 carries, 20 yards), and didn't give up a whole lot to Matt Hasselbeck in the air, either. The Giants have a lot to think about this week.
For those who were left in a position to be jealous on Sunday ...
The Sinner: Peyton Manning
While I don't believe that Peyton Manning is actually envious of his brother this morning, it has to feel a little weird that Eli's moving on in the playoffs, and he's not.
Imagine how Jose Canseco would feel is brother Ozzie beat him at arm wrestling and media whoring ... or if Stephen Baldwin was asked instead of brother Alec to star Glengarry Glen Ross II ... or if Bryant Gumbel called an NFL game better than his brother Greg ... or if Nintendo announced that all future marketing campaigns will be based on Luigi, and not Mario.
On some level (a small and unimportant one), I'm a little disappointed for Peyton, too. Seeing another round of Brady vs. Manning could have been awe-inspiring. There's a tendency -- more here in the blogosphere than anywhere else -- to quickly grow tired of things, and a lot of people would have probably bitched about a week of non-stop Manning vs. Brady hype. But when Manning came out against the Chargers and completed 9 straight, and was looking every bit as unstoppable as Brady did the night before ... I starting thinking Bird vs. Magic, Ali vs. Frazier, Nicklaus vs. Palmer, Chamberlain vs. Russell.
It would have been the two best quarterbacks of a generation, at or near their primes, putting on a phenomenal show on the biggest stage possible. It would have been epic. It would have been historic.
For those who were unable to overcome their own slovenly inertia ...
The Sinner: Tony Romo
Romo's really the only choice, unless you want to pile on Shaun Alexander ... but I have a strict policy here in The Debriefing about not making fun of the elderly.
The timing's just unfortunate for Romo. Because it happened directly after that mini-vacation he took in Cabo, there will be a tendency to put the blame there. But if you're looking to correlate Romo's performance yesterday with something else that Romo did recently ... how about his quarterbacking performances over the last three weeks of the regular season?
His average rating over his last three games was 46.1. The 64.7 he put up yesterday actually represented a grand improvement. When you look at it that way, maybe the little getaway with Jessica Simpson actually helped him. Maybe if he continues to rub his masculine parts up against her every day between now and the start of next season, he'll keep getting better and better.
Listen, Romo's not the only guy who got away from football and engaged in sexual congress with a young strumpet during his off-week. If you want to blame him for where he chose to park his pigskin in the offweek, I think you're off a little bit.
In fact, let's go ahead and merge this item with the next one:
I feel you, Terrell ... and I think this is really sweet, I do. But if he really wanted to help Romo out, he could have gone into detail (made up or not) about how he spent his off-week. Something like ...
"You guys can point the finger at him. You can talk about the vacation, and if you do that ... it's really unfair. And you know why? Because that's nothing compared to what I did.
"Last Friday, me and three hookers broke into the Dallas Zoo and did it in the Tiger cage. The danger excites me ... and yeah, it's true, one of the hookers didn't make it out, and the other lost an arm, but sometimes, that's how I feel like gettin' down. And then on Saturday, I took an ex-publicist out to dinner, and when she got up to go to the bathroom, I tossed an empty pill bottle on the table, and when she came back, I pretended I was passed out. You know why? Because I wanted to do her in an ambulance, and I did. And then on Sunday, I caught a flight down to Florida to try to get Martina Navratilova to swing my way ... and it took nine hours and three different Power Point presentations to talk her into it, but I promise you, the next seven minutes were worth it.
"I did all that. And you all wanna blame Tony for going to Mexico to spend some alone time with his girlfriend? That's crazy."
For those who gorged themselves on big, beautiful numbers yesterday ...
The Sinner: Tom Brady: 26-of-28, 262 yards, 3 TDs, 0 INTs. What can you say? I almost wish the guy hadn't set the bar so high, so we could be a little bit more dazzled when he does something as crazy as he did the other night. He's too good.
Granted, the Jacksonville defense is not among the league's best, but there were times on Saturday night when I felt like I was watching Michael Jordan, thinking, "What are you going to do, defense? What exactly is your plan here? Where are your answers? There is nothing you can do to even limit this man. You're just here to witness his greatness."
Brett Favre: 18-of-23, 173 yards, 3 TDs, 0 INTs.
Philip Rivers: 14-of-19, 264 yards, 3 TDs, 1 INT.
Eli Manning: 12-of-18, 163 yards, 2 TDs, 0 INTs.
David Garrard: 22-of-33, 278 yards, 2 TDs, 0 INTs.
Peyton Manning: 33-of-48, 402 yards, 3 TDs, 2 INTs.
Ryan Grant: 27 carries, 201 yards, 3 TDs.
Marion Barber: 27 carries, 129 yards, 1 TD.
Laurence Maroney: 22 carries, 122 yards, 1 TD.
Dallas Clark: 6 receptions, 95 yards, 1 TD.
Vincent Jackson: 7 receptions, 93 yards, 1 TD.
Jason Witten: 7 receptions, 81 yards.
Amani Toomer: 4 receptions, 80 yards.
Greg Jennings: 6 receptions, 71 yards, 2 TDs.
Anthony Gonzalez: 4 receptions, 79 yards, 1 TD.
Reggie Wayne: 7 receptions, 76 yards, 1 TD.
Bobby Engram: 6 receptions, 67 yards, 2 TD.
Wes Welker: 9 receptions, 54 yards, 1 TD.
For those who just couldn't stop burying themselves in hopelessness ...
The Sinner: Randy Moss: 1 reception, 14 yards. You can't even say anything bad about the Patriots when they have the sinner for Gluttony. The fact that they won with almost no output from Moss is a testament to their creativity, their depth, their coaching, and their patience.
Tony Romo: 18-of-36, 201 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT.
Maurice Jones-Drew: 6 carries, 19 yards.
Shaun Alexander: 9 carries, 20 yards, 1 TD.
Maurice Morris: 3 carries, -1 yards.
Plaxico Burress: 1 reception, 5 yards.
Marvin Harrison: 2 receptions, 27 yards.
Donald Driver: 3 receptions, 18 yards.
The best in photos from Sunday's NFL action, which will not focus on cheerleaders this week, because the Getty people don't like girls ...
|Chargers tackle Marcus McNeil, on his dancing, and the Chargers loose attitude on the field against the Colts:
"That's how it's supposed to be. It doesn't make no sense to be at crunch time and your butthole is all tight."Marcus McNeil has a long career ahead of him, but when he does decide to retire, I think he has a bright future as a Butthole Tightness Coach.
|Sign in Texas Stadium:
"Jessica can have Tony. I ♥ Wade Phillips."Is it really that hard to find men in Texas? Wade, you really might want to consider acting on that ... it wouldn't hurt the world if you made another hot daughter.
|Peyton Manning, announcing the "second sport" he's pursuing with his brother Eli in a commercial:
"We've joined the league of the future. The DSRL."I give a lot of credit to the Oreo advertising people ... they sat down, came up with a clever campaign, and came to the undisputable truth that there's nothing that the American public wants to see more than Peyton and Eli Manning, on television, cream on their chins, licking things for an extended period of time. It was Chesneylicious.
Also, don't miss your chance to win a chance here to "LICK RACE AGAINST THE MANNINGS!"
|Giants RB Brandon Jacobs getting in a little jab at Patrick Crayton, who did a little bit of minor trash-talking before the game:
"The Cowboys are a great football team. They might have had a chance to win if Patrick Crayton didn't drop the two key passes."Sneaky and mean, Brandon Jacobs. To the winner go the spoils.
|Jaguars safety Reggie Nelson on Tom Brady's performance:
"It was a dump-down game. Anybody can go 26-of-28 in a dump-down game."Maybe so ... but Tom's 26-of-28 performance in "dump-down" mode buried you, Reggie Nelson. It's like a boxer getting pounded in the face for 12 rounds, and then saying, "All he did was throw jabs all night." Fine, all he did was throw jabs ... but they were connecting, they were effective, and they beat you.
Stop the jab. Make him do something else. The fact that you got to dictate the manner in which he beat you doesn't make it any less true that he beat you.