After weeks--months really--the unthinkable finally came true. Even the hardest of the hardcore fans started to think that it could never happen again. Many fans had hope in their hearts but the nagging doubt of past failures still nestled in the back of their minds.
But on one glorious Sunday, it finally happened. And now everybody can celebrate and remember where they were when...
the Raiders finally scored a first quarter touchdown.
In a year where the Boston Red Sox win the World Series, it only makes sense that the Raiders would finally punch one into the endzone before Pharaoh Raider's buzz dwindled.
Why, what did you think we were talking about?
SAN DIEGO CHARGERS: 2004 AFC WEST CHAMPS
The Chargers had an honest-to-goodness chance to run the table this season. An 0-16 record could have been very possible. But there was one important thing that the team did to turn this franchise around.
Was it the hiring of Wade Phillips? Close. Phillips deserves a share of the credit. He isn't a good head coach, but as a defensive coordinator he will make any defense a winner.
Is it the brand new offensive line? Again, it's close. It's unprecedented for a team to overhaul and entire offensive line and have the success the Chargers have enjoyed this season.
The top reason?
The trading of Eli Messiah. If the Chargers are handing out playoff shares, Eli Messiah deserves to be at the top of the list. Put him down for two shares. Nobody has done more the change the image of the Chargers and put some karma in their favor than Eli Messiah and his meddling father, Archie.
The Chargers were the joke of the NFL last season as they finished 4-12 and had not reached the playoffs since 1995. Fans were offering to help move the team to Los Angeles. The franchise continued to make bad public relations decisions and it appeared that the Chargers were destined to mark another losing season.
But then the Messiah turned his back on San Diego and the Chargers went from laughing stock to sympathetic underdog on one April afternoon. Nonpartisan fans are likely just as tickled by the Chargers return to the playoffs and the Messiah saddled with an 0-5 record in New York.
Wow, Eli really is a miracle worker. The only problem is that he didn't mean to turn around the Chargers by not playing for them. Could you imagine where the Chargers would be if the Messiah had decided to play in San Diego?
Eli would have likely signed his contract early and the team would have put him in at starting quarterback. Then the Messiah, and his 46.0 passer rating, would be leading the club to another losing season.
Chargers fans should now be thanking Messiah for requesting the trade and lifting the black cloud off of the Chargers franchise.
It's fitting that the Chargers clinched in Cleveland, where coach Marty Schottenheimer could never quite nudge the Browns into the Super Bowl. The cynics will point out that the ol' ball coach does a great job of getting his team to the playoffs, but can't win the big one.
But remember, in a year where the Raiders finally scored in the first quarter, anything is possible.
WHO IS THE TRUE GENIUS OF THE NFC WEST?
Have two teams done less to win a division than St. Louis and Seattle? As hard as it is to pick between Mike Holmgren and Mike Martz, the duo have nothing on Cardinals coach Dennis Green.
Do you know what an accomplishment it is to be the biggest coaching dope in this division?
The Birds would own the division right now if they hadn't benched starting quarterback Josh McCown or lost to San Francisco twice this season. That's right, the 49ers two wins this season have come against the Birds. That's like being the only guy in town not to score with the town floozie.
But the Birds, believe it or not, are still in contention to win the division as Sunday's game at Seattle could be the showdown for the division title. This must happen. The NFL deserves to have one division winner with a sub .500 record.
QUOTE OF THE WEEK
"We didn't see this coming," St. Louis receiver Torry Holt said. "If there was one game on the schedule where we felt confident coming in and winning, it's Arizona."
When you play for St. Louis and Mike Martz, you should never disrespect any team.
And especially if you fumbled a sure-touchdown on the one-yard line (as pictured above).
MARTZ QUOTE OF THE WEEK
Martz on quarterback Chris Chandler:
"It's tragic for this football team, for that position to hold the whole football team hostage," Martz said. "But that's where we are."
Couldn't any of the players say that about the coach?
ST. LOUIS FANS
A St. Louis fan, on a road trip to Arizona, told us that he once rooted for the Cardinals, but was now happy that he had a quality owner like Georgia Frontiere. What's the over/under on that marriage today?
GOAT OF THE WEEK
How bad do you feel for that guy?
The good news is the Vikings still have a chance to finish out of the playoffs.
NEWS AND NOTES AROUND THE NFL
Philadelphia clinches home-field advantage with a 12-7 victory over the Cowboys, but loses Terrell Owens for the rest of the regular season. Donovan McNabb will break Danny White's record for consecutive NFC Championship Game loses if Owens is not healthy for the playoffs.
And seriously, does this surprise anybody with all of the bad karma that Owens has built up this season?
The Raiders celebrate like it's the Super Bowl after meaningless victory over Tennessee. No wonder the fans are deluded if the players keep this up.
Kansas City rips Denver, 45-17. Who has fallen farther, faster? The Broncos, Sammy Sosa, or Kobe Bryant? Denver went from division contender to out of the playoffs. If only if was the NFC West.
Colts to keep trio together as they prepare to franchise tag Edge. But to call this group the "Triplets" is a disservice to the real Triplets that actually won three Super Bowls.
Where the hell was the Hater Nation last week? Las Vegas. Look for that story in the mid-week edition.
The Panthers lose at Atlanta Still do not count out the Panthers. And how in the world did Mike Vick not put his knee down on that touchdown dive? How?
The Titans won its franchise best sixth game ever on Sunday, beating the Bears. Yeah, but Houston coach Dom Capers had the Panthers in the NFC Championship Game by the second season. Just saying is all.
Alright Chargers fans, it's time to get excited.