Monday, October 09, 2006

semi-rational exuberance

Yes, it was an extremely important win.

Yes, the D-line (and blitzing LBs who often freed up some of the DTs and DEs) played out of their minds.

Yes, Donovan played incredibly and really seems to be the best and most consistent in the NFL right now.

And yes, it was immensely satisfying to see T.O. have another borderline meltdown on the sidelines, pull a Pinkston and miss a ball because he heard Michael Lewis' footsteps fast approaching, and angrily unsnap his chin strap after each underthrown -- or undercaught -- Bledsoe pass.

But despite the warmth and fuzziness, and despite all of the Monday morning headlines characterizing the win as decisive, I can't help but recall the way I felt at halftime . . . .

I was thinking how we were losing 17-21, with the cowgirls' last TD coming with just 3:23 left in the half -- the result of a hard-nosed 75 yard drive down the field. We looked tired and vulnerable, and they looked relatively in control.

I also kept thinking back to our first TD drive, which was a marathon 12 yards, and the result of a rare flubbed punt snap. (By that I mean that it is rare in the NFL -- but it was certainly not rare when I was long snapping in high school). Similarly, our next scoring drive started within spitting distance from the goal line at the 'girls 14, courtesy of Cole's fumble recovery. We drove hard and long -- a total of 5 yards in 3 plays -- before we settled for a FG.

And I was thinking about how our other TD in the half was mostly the result of the one long pass to LJ (the one he actually caught).

What stuck out in my mind was that except for the Ware fumble return for their 2nd TD, the cowgirls' points came from two long, sustained drives (the first TD was from a drive of 57 yards on 10 plays, and the third TD was from a drive of 75 yards in 12 plays).

So all of that was swirling around in the soup between my ears going into the third quarter. We obviously turned it up and ultimately came out with a huge win, but it damn sure wasn't as easy as it is now reported and portrayed.

It wasn't a dominating 14 point win, but was an extremely hard-fought, dangeroursly close battle that really could've gone either way. For christ sakes, our time of possession was 23:01 and theirs was 36:01; our third down conversions were 2-12 and theirs was 7-18, and we only had 16 first downs to their 23. Sure, there are some fun stats in our favor, but the game was far from one-sided.

My point? We need to be realistic about the win. (As Leeks said, "we have a lot of plugs to hole.") So as great of a victory as it was in many respects, I'm still far from satisfied.

The feelings of exuberance from Lito's nail-in-the-coffin TD still do not ease the feelings of the trepidation, fear and portent that I felt at halftime. The feeling that even if we played well we would still find some way to fold. The feeling that I have during every game, up until the final second ticks off the clock.

Funny, you'd think I'd be used to those feelings by now. Maybe it's the winning I will never fully get used to -- but hey, I'm still interested in trying.


Blogger Paulomon Grundy said...

Well, the Giants game didn't do you any good in feeling comfortable. I too felt really nervous at halftime (hell, I was sitting next to you so you should know) and was cursing some stupid mistakes we made in the first half, but at the same time I was glad we were hanging in the game still and things were going as predicted - this WAS a close game, but it was supposed to be...the only question I need to ask you to make you feel a lot more confident right now is: how would you feel if the Birds came out on the losing end of that 38-24 final score? I know I'd feel that we got our asses handed to us, and plus we'd be sitting at 0-8 in the division over the last 2 seasons. We needed this win and we got it - that's a lot to cheer about.

Let's not forget where we've come from this season: Most "analysts" predicted either the Cowboys or Giants, or in some cases the Skins, to win the division - no one really looked at the Birds this year, except for a couple legit analysts out there. But we obviously can hang with any of these teams, and I'll go a step further and say that there's no reason why any of them should beat us IF we play our game. We're at 4-1 right now (could easily be 5-0); our Offense is top-ranked; McNabb is playing perfectly; and our D is banged up but still playing pretty well - we're sacking the crap out of everyone. All in all, I'm waaay more positive about this team than I was in Week One. At the same time, I recall that I felt that a 10-6 record this season would be a good finish for us - so, we're exceeding my expectations right now. I don't think this is a Super Bowl year for us - the Bears and a couple others are looking like teams of destiny (btw, every year there's a team of destiny and notice that it never seems to be the Birds?), but we're building a strong foundation to come back next year ready to roll. We just need a stronger running game IMO.

10/10/2006 9:57 AM  

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