It's the third play of the game between the forlorn Cleveland Browns and high-flying Indianapolis Colts. Peyton Manning has already moved his team across midfield when Stalin Colinet jumps offsides on a hard count. And wouldn't you know it, it happens again. The line judge--a former minor league fastballer--lets fly his little yellow heater and strikes Manning right in the eye socket.
Manning crumples to the ground in agony before staggering toward the sideline. Ever the polite youngster, the injured quarterback works his way back to the ref and apologizes for getting in the way of the flag. But Peyton's agent, Tom Condon, has seen enough. For the second consecutive week, he's lost a client to an errant flag. Enraged, Condon rushes onto the field, picks up the offending rag, and beats the official over the head with it so severely that he spends the next week on a respirator. In the ensuing scuffle, Edgerrin James accidentally bumps another zebra and draws an immediate ejection, which causes Indy coach Jim Mora to fly into a Ditka-esque rage. Mora gets the hook when he tries to choke an umpire with his Motorola headset.
The Dawg Pound goes absolutely bananas. A hail of dog bones and D-cell batteries darkens the sky over the end zone and sends a pair of striped shirts scampering for midfield. Grown men urinate in the aisles and women chug from 40-ounce bottles of Colt .45 Malt Liquor as National Guard helicopters hover overhead. It's just like old times--which is to say, the fans are out of control and the Colts just stink. Amidst the chaos, Art Bietz does his best Dick Vermeil imitation, openly weeping with joy--though he'll later claim the tear gas prompted the outburst.
Did I say the Colts stink? Backup QB Steve Walsh throws his first pass right into the waiting arms of LB John Thierry, who rumbles past a surprised Marvin Harrison for a quick Browns TD. The Browns offense holds up its end, as Darrin Chiaverini has a monster day over short-stuff CB Tyrone Poole. Chivvy sets Browns rookie records for catches, yardage, and TDs in a game, while the all-but-forgotten Madre Hill flummoxes a Colts' D depleted by the loss of DE Shawn King to suspension.
Things really get ugly when Walsh goes down in the third with cracked ribs after a vicious hit from speed-rushing DE Anthony Miller. Third-string QB Kelly Holcomb, late of Middle Tennessee State, has exactly zero pass attempts and zero completions in the past two seasons. And the only passes he completes this day are a trifecta of picks to the Browns defensive backfield. Between that and his four fumbles, Holcomb pretty much buries the Colts and leads them to a humiliating season finale.
Final score? Browns 66, Colts -23
And that's the way I see it. GMD