Call it the Hater Nation Hedge. Apologies to those that thought the Hater Nation was being serious about an Indianapolis v. St. Louis Super Bowl. There was no way that it was going to happen, but that doesn't mean that we won't stoop low enough to jinx both teams.
It's a cheap ploy, but you just can't take any chances.
THIS WEEKS WINNER OF THE MIKE AWARD
The most surprising thing of the playoff weekend was that the biggest coaching blunder wasn't turned in by one of the "Mikes." Instead it was Jets coach Herman Edwards.
What game was Edwards watching last week when the Chargers ended its season by sitting on the ball and settling for the field goal? Did he not learn from the sins of Marty Schottenheimer?
How does an NFL head coach watch a team implode like the Chargers did last week and do the exact same thing at Pittsburgh? There is no explanation for what happened.
A CLOSE SECOND
Bill Cowher is going to blow a playoff game at Pittsburgh this season. Many fans might think that the Steelers dodged a bullet on Saturday. Instead, it was just fore shadowing about what is going to happen the Steelers play host to the Patriots this weekend.
But there is a way the Steelers could rise up and beat the defending champions. How, you ask? It's simple...
1. Run the ball effectively. The Patriots are not going to score a lot of points, as evidence by Sunday's game. The key is to...
Just kidding. The only way for the Steelers to win is to go with...
Yes, you all saw that coming, but the Hater Nation does not want to disappoint. Unlike the Colts.
MANNING IS REALLY A NAG
Peyton Manning, the modern day Dan Marino, may break every passing record in NFL history but he just can't seem to win the big game. It's a trait that haunts him all the way back to the University of Tennessee when he couldn't seem to get over the hump against the University of Florida.
Now the Patriots are his NFL Gators and it will not get any easier in the future. The pundits can point to the Colts defense and Tony Dungy, but it was Manning that killed the Colts on Sunday.
Nearly every NFL pundit tried to convince the masses that Manning was a different quarterback this season. This year would be different.
The Indianapolis defense held New England to only two field goals in the first half. But Manning could not punch the ball into the end zone. That is where the game ended. Manning threw a ball that should have been intercepted at the end of the first half, as the Colts blew their best opportunity to take the lead.
But that's Manning. A great fantasy quarterback, but not a good playoff quarterback. And it's almost unfair to even compare Manning to Marino at this point. Marino never had a running back like Edgerrin James and as many weapons as Peyton enjoys at this point in his career. You can talk about the Marks brothers, but they are pedestrian receivers compared to what the Colts have on offense right now.
And all Manning has to show for it is a meaningless record and a bad commercial.
Could you imagine John Facenda doing an NFL Films presentation on Mike Martz?
Martz... a certain magic still lingers in the very name. It speaks of disappointment in the show and name synonymous with mud.
How does Martz feel today being the first coach in NFL history to lose a playoff game to a member of the Mora family? That's quite a distinction to go from Super Bowl winning coordinator to that in only a handful of years.
And where is the media that was trumpeting his recent success? It's funny how Schottenheimer is called out for taking teams to the playoffs and losing, while Martz is applauded for it.
either that or they are making excuses for him.
St. Louis Post columnist Bernie Miklasz said that blame should lie with defensive coordinator Larry Marmie. That's it.
Forget the fact that Martz spends most of his time preparing for football games like most of us play Madden 2005. It's throw the ball first and see what happens. The team also allocates most of its salary cap money to offensive players, while the defensive line is in shambles.
And don't forget that St. Louis penny-pinched themselves out of the playoffs last season when it place Kim Herring on injured reserve and put Jason Sehorn in the defensive backfield.
The blame should start and end with Martz.
St. Louis was fortunate to be a member of the NFC West. It was another boon when the team drew Seattle in the playoffs. But don't kid yourselves into thinking that this was some great St. Louis team that is just a defensive coordinator away from making a big push to the Super Bowl.
Atlanta should have ended any of those dreams on Saturday night.
If it was any other team, the Hater Nation would call for a general overhaul of the organization starting with the head coach. But since it's St. Louis, the Hater Nation says, "Keep up the good work, Mike."
MOSS LEFT BEHIND
Was there any other way for the Vikings season to end?
HE'S NOT BIPOLAR, HE'S A DRUNK
Former Oakland Raiders center Barret Robbins was shot and critically wounded during a struggle with a police officer investigating a burglary at a South Beach office building.
Robbins, a former All-Pro known best for going AWOL during the 2003 Super Bowl and other erratic behavior, was hospitalized in critical condition.
The real sad part of this? Robbins would be getting the full support of the Raiders if he could still snap the football at an all-pro level. The fans would rally around him if he was clearing holes for Oakland running backs.
But he's no longer viable to the Raiders organization so he was hung out to dry by the God Father, Al Davis.
The big news in Southern California this week was the decision by Matt Leinart to remain for his fifth season at USC.
And it was the right call.
Leinart is basically the starting quarterback of Los Angeles' "NFL" team. His celebrity will never be higher than it is right now. He's going out with Jessica Simpson's friend for crying out loud.
What do you expect him to do, lose 14 games with the 49ers next season?
Leinart did the right thing. He has a chance to make NCAA history with three consecutive national championships. He can make another run at the Heisman Trophy. He can hang out with the "Newlyweds."
He's doing the right thing. The NFL money will be there next season, so what's the rush?