Can a pinch topple an NFL franchise? In a word, yes. It was Monday morning, and red-hot, former Arena League QB Kurt Warner was licking his chops at the prospect of lighting up the Browns' woeful pass defense. "I must be dreaming," says Kurt to his wife over breakfast. "Pinch me."
And just like that, the Rams wake up from their happy dream season. Kurt spends the entire week of practice in a funk. All of a sudden, the QB who could do no wrong can't make reads, overthrows receivers, and catches a bad case of the dropsies. The curse spreads like a virus. Tony Horne is already gone with substance abuse suspension. All-world LT Orlando Pace twists his knee during routine warm-ups on Friday, and resurgent WR Isaac Bruce dislocates a shoulder while rearranging living room furniture.
Meanwhile, Mr. Easy Living himself, Dick Vermeil, returns to his Iggles form. Desperate to fix Warner's woes, he's up nights, eating dinner in the office, and drinking gallons of high-test coffee. By Sunday, Vermeil is a certifiable wreck. His hands shake so hard during the game that he drops his notebook several times, causing three delay of game penalties and a botched 4th-and-1 attempt.
As for Warner, he wants to take that pinch back. With Pace gone, the swinging gate is open for monster-back Jamir Miller, and Warner's first two passes are batted down. The third lands in the hands of a surprised Rahim Abdullah. Sitting pretty on the Rams' 31 yard line, Couch throws a TD strike to KJ on the Browns' first offensive play.
Before it's over, the St. Louis unfaithful are booing heartily. The Browns' offense doesn't do much against the Rams' strong D, but then, they don't have to. Warner throws five--count 'em--interceptions and completes only 3 of 21 passes before he's yanked for Paul Justin in the third quarter. Justin tosses a pair of picks himself and is yanked for Joe Germaine. By the fourth quarter, a sobbing Vermeil is seen on the sidelines talking to his therapist on a cell phone. Two weeks later, he's out of football entirely.
Score: Browns 34, Rams -13
And that's the way I see it. GMD