Greetings from Columbus. Sorry I missed you last week, but it was holiday travel season, and I was too busy feasting upon roasted Ratbird. No, wait, that was the Browns. Rather, I was too busy feasting upon turkey, which is preferable to Ratbird because turkeys are full of stuffing and not full of s***.
The aftermath to The Baltimore Bankshot was one of the most enjoyable aspects to this exceptionally joyous season. When the referees conferred and correctly called Phil Dawson's cartoonish boot a valid field goal, and then the Browns carved up the Ravens' overrated defense for the winning score in overtime, it set up a daily string of Brian Billick blubberings and Ratfan meltdowns that had the whole nation laughing at them and telling them to either shut up or drown themselves in the harbor.
You have surely discussed the Ravens game ad nauseum by now, but there's one thing that still sticks with me. When Dawson's overtime field goal sailed perfectly between all bounceable yellow objects, Romeo Crennel simply took off his headset and walked toward the middle of the field. He did not raise his hands in the air. He did not high-five players. He did not even smile.
Romeo was determined to show humility in victory, because he knew the Ravens were going to be stung by this defeat after assuming (incorrectly) that they had won the game. His team won fair and square, but he was not about to rub Baltimore's face in it. No matter how many people, myself included, crack on Romeo, I think the one thing that 100% of Browns fans can agree on is that Romeo is a class act.
Romeo's reaction to the winning field goal in Baltimore served as another testament to his character. Fittingly, Sooper Genius Billick's repeated bleats of blame-shifting victimization in the days that followed served as another testament to his own.
After three consecutive weeks of last-second drama, the Browns wrote a new chapter in their inexorable march toward becoming The Worst 12-4 Team In NFL History by offering their fans a relaxing and comfortable 27-17 victory over the suddenly-respectable Houston Texans. It's a good thing too. After all that turkey and pumpkin pie, our bellies were too full to chew on our fingernails.
Some thoughts on the game…
* Now that teams are focusing on Braylon Edwards and his 74.8 yards per catch average, Kellen Winslow has become and indestructible force underneath. I read the reports about how he hobbles around like old Yoda the other six days of the week, but come Sunday, he's too quick to be covered and too strong to be tackled. It's to the point that I'd be willing to wager on Winslow winning a demolition derby without the benefit of a car.
* Football can be full of chicken-an-egg conundrums. In past weeks, did the Browns' offense score so quickly because they knew they had to put points on the board to outlast the defense? Or did the defense give up so many points because they were always on the field after the Browns scored so quickly?
And against Houston, did the Browns run the ball and throw underneath and bleed the clock because they knew the defense was going to hold Houston to well under 30 points? Or did the defense hold Houston to 17 points because they were well-rested due to the offense's long drives to control the game?
Everyone's been hard on the defense this year, but maybe it's true that if you give the guys on the defense a chance to sit down, rehydrate, and scan the crowd for hot chicks to impress, they play better.
* Is it just me, or is Jamal Lewis one of those Jake Westbrook guys who, on any given day, either has it or he doesn't? Some weeks, Lewis seems slow to the hole and never really gets going, but then other weeks, he zips past the linemen and spends his afternoon knocking linebackers on their asses. I'm sure injuries have played a part in that, but just like when Westbrook has his A-game going on the mound, I get excited when Jamal looks like he has it. I'm sure the Houston defense wasn't nearly as excited as I was on Sunday.
* How about that Brandon McDonald kid at cornerback? What a game he had against Houston's top receiver, Andre Johnson. He knocked down four passes, intercepted a ball, and held Johnson to the Northcuttian totals of just 3 catches for 37 yards.
That performance shocked a lot of casual (and not-so-casual) observers and put Brandon McDonald on the map. We can examine how much McDonald's life has changed recently by examining the results of the following polls, which asked 1,964 Cleveland-area sports fans, "Who is Brandon McDonald?"
Poll results from November 24, 2007:
- Left winger for the Lake Erie Monsters---0.1%.
- Anderson Varejao's delusional agent---1.5%
- That guy who used to back up Omar Vizquel---98.4%
Poll results from November 26, 2007:
- The f***in' MAN! ---100.0%
* We have already gone over my obsession with sports uniforms before, and I am still livid that the Browns keep wearing brown socks with their classic white unis, but Sunday's game reminded me of something else--- the Browns need to go back to their traditionally thinner pants stripes. Al and Carmen gave us those fat, Chicago Bears stripes upon our return to the NFL, but those thinner stripes are vintage Cleveland Browns. And so are the sock stripes for that matter. Why do people keep messing with our classic look?
Don't get me wrong, the stripe thickness issue is nowhere near as bad as the brown-socks-with-the-white-unis issue, or those two years when the pants stripes were in the completely opposite order, or even the Indians' current use of some funky shade of semi-dark blue instead of their traditional navy. But going from Bears thickness to Browns thickness on the pants stripes would be another improvement in terms of getting back to Cleveland Browns basics.
Every time I consider buying a plane ticket to England to talk this over with Randy Lerner, I have to remind myself that the misdemeanors committed in relation to the Browns uniforms are mild compared to the felonious ocular assaults perpetrated against the Bills, Seahawks, and Broncos, whose classic identities were mercilessly whisked away and replaced with revolting, eye-melting crap.
I mean, all in all, we have it pretty good. We haven't gone down the brown helmets, brown jerseys, brown pants, brown socks route or anything like that.
Okay, I'll shut up now. If someone at NFL HQ reads this letter, they might
start leaning on Randy to make some "modern" updates, including a
"revolutionary" new hybrid jersey color called "browrange."
Art Modell once again failed to make the cut for the Pro Football Hall of Fame. No matter what I may attempt to write on this subject, it would be doomed to forever pale in comparison to these words from my friend Bill Archer:
That's OK, Art. Up here in NE Ohio, our revenge is knowing that we're the ones keeping you out of the HOF. There's nothing the league would like better than to enshrine your old ass before you croak, but they know that 100,000 people will descend on the ceremony and heckle, boo and throw things (beer cans, police cars, whatever) and create a huge embarrassment for the league.
In fact, it would not be at all surprising if it turned into a riot. There's nothing of value in Canton anyway, so nobody would mind much, but having the Pro Football Hall of Fame burned to the ground in a week-long orgy of hatred for one man is more than the NFL's PR flacks want to have to spin.
And if they were ever able to quietly get your bust into the Hall, they'd have to buy them by the truckload as NE Ohio Browns fans made sacred pilgrimages to Canton to spit on, deface, and damage it with baseball bats. It would become a rite of passage, like going to Mecca once in your life. Fathers would take their sons once a year to observe the honored "throw paint at the Modell bust" ritual.
So you're never going in, Art. Rot in hell.
I'll be the first to admit that I can't compete with that. I think you'd agree that it was best that I just stepped aside and let Bill have his say.
The office Stiller fans are trying not to sound nervous, but with each Browns victory, they know they are one step closer to finishing behind The Worst 12-4 Team In NFL History. They like to point out that they own the tie-breaker by virtue of sweeping the Browns, but I am fond of pointing out that their tie-breaker does them no good since we own the REAL tie-breaker: The Browns have already lost to New England. The Stillers still have another loss coming, so they cannot afford to lose another game this year, or they will finish 11-5, and in second place.
They scoff at this, and suggest that their team might be the one to knock off the Patriots. I simply remind them that they only scored 3 points against the worst team in the league. Then they say the only reason the Dolphins game was close was because of the field. Then I say that if that's the case, maybe the Stillers shouldn't let Cousin Eddie empty his RV sh**ter into their stadium. ‘Round and ‘round the arguments go.
Barry, it has long been our mission to tell people The Truth about Pittsburgh. We have often described it as a craphole, and on Monday Night Football, the rest of the country finally got to see that craphole with their own eyes. Watching the Stillers flop around in the overflow of the Three Sewers was the most fitting visual in a prime time football telecast since that time the Ravens had their power turned off because Art Modell forgot to pay the light bill.
For those who missed it, here are some photographs from the Stillers' dramatic 3-0 victory over the Miami Dolphins this past Monday night at Ketchup Koliseum.
At halftime, the Stillers' Unwed Teenaged Incest Mother "Fan of the Year" was
honored on the field, along with her baby daughter-cousin:
Also at halftime, the Stillers' cheerleaders gamely attempted to look sexy while braving the elements at midfield:
Looking at the condition of the parking lot, it was quite apparent that some Yinzers were going to have trouble getting out…
….and sure enough, some did.
And those Yinzers who did manage to make it out of the parking lot and onto the highway found it tough to drive in traffic after drinking kidney-killing quantities of Arn City.
Okay, so last Monday night was a mess. What's done is done. The important thing is that, as you read these words, the Stillers' grounds crew is hard at work preparing to re-sod the field for this week's nationally-televised Sunday Night Football game against Cincinnati.
Well, that's all for now, Barry. Before I go, I should also mention that my Ohio Bobcats bounced Miami of Ohio 38-29 last week. That's two in a row against the vile RedHawks!
Frank Solich: Oxford :: Jim Tressel: Ann Arbor.
Anyway, we have a big weekend ahead of us. The Browns have a showdown with Arizona, who I have learned not only still have a football team, but they "have real uniforms and everything."
Then on Sunday night, the Bengals have entered the Marvin Lewis Special part of the season, where they win games now that it doesn't matter. So look for them to possibly upset the Stillers on a freshly-laid bed of liquefied elephant feces.
And then on Monday night, the Ratbirds are 56-point underdogs to the Patriots, to whom I will give a one-week grace period on running up the score, just so I can see how Sooper Genius Billick reacts to it.
I am sure it will be something condescending and YouTube-able like, "This comes back on me. When you sit down with your team in training camp, you try to go over every scenario, but I never thought to go over a scenario whereby we were down 73-3 with 14 minutes to play, and a Super Bowl MVP was still heaving long passes toward Randy Moss on first through fourth downs. So that's my fault. And for the record, the ‘heave the ball down the field and let Randy Moss jump up and catch it' play was first diagrammed on my laptop in 1998, so it's my fault for conceiving such a play, and the Patriots' fault for stealing my laptop and learning about it. That theft allowed the Patriots to use my own brilliance against not just me, but those men in my locker room. Now I have to apologize to them for inventing such a great play."
Until next week,
Steve Sirk, once Art Bietz's co-conspirator at the TruthCenter, has taken to sending a weekly letter to "home base" about life as a Browns fan struggling in the NFL mixing pot of Central Ohio. At some point in life, Sirk determined that suffering through the nexus, dips, valleys, and various low points of being a Cleveland sports fan within geographic proximity of Cleveland itself did not create sufficient emotional pain. Sneeringly dismissive of even basic survival instincts, Sirk elected to reside in Columbus, Ohio, so that he could better be surrounded by fans of winning franchises who could mock his very existence. If you wish to contact an individual of such clearly questionable judgment, you may do so at email@example.com