The Patriots rose to prominence on the wings of a "tuck rule," as they turned a controversial call against the Raiders into three Super Bowls. Could the Chargers do the same with Vincent Jackson's illegal forward pass? You really have to hand it to referee Mike Carey, whose strict interpretation of the rules was as baffling as it was rewarding to the Chargers. Like he went to the Greg Brady "exact words," card. A forward pass? Even Vince Young's throwing motion isn't that bad. And really, if you are going to be that literal with the rules, shouldn't Jackson have been flagged for intentional grounding?
While it was great to screw the Raiders, the call really let Jackson off the hook when he shouldn't have been. You would think that being around LaDainian Tomlinson day after day would give you a little humility, but you would be wrong in Jackson's case. LT is closing in on the all-time single-season scoring record, but he doesn't celebrate after touchdowns. And here’s Jackson, spiking the ball, err, illegally passing forward, after a 13-yard reception. Against the Raiders. Not only are you taunting after a first down, you are doing it against one of the worst teams in the league. Stay classy, Jackson.
Look for the national media to jump off the Chargers bandwagon after that performance. But this was a perfect letdown game for the Chargers, who won tough come-from-behind games at Cincinnati and Denver. Playing down to the Raiders level was inevitable. Especially since the team had benched Marlon McCree, Luis Castillo and Keenan McCardell. It was like the Chargers just had another bye week. Which games against the Raiders generally are.
IT COULD BE WORSE, YOU COULD BE THE GIANTS
Tiki Barber, Jeremy Shockey, et al, have taken their shots at Giants coach Tom Coughlin this season. It was refreshing to see Coughlin throw the Messiah under the bus following the Giants 21-point meltdown against the Titans. The (expletive) Titans. Coughlin questioned Eli Messiah for his game-crippling interception deep inside Titans territory that set up the game-winning field goal.
Maybe it is time to question whether the Messiah is really Rick Mirer reborn.
Coughlin, of course, is not going to survive the season because nobody questions the Messiah and gets away with it. Look for Archie Manning to be installed as the Giants coach for 2007.
THE BCS MESS
USC moved into the No. 2 spot in the BCS, where they belonged. Michigan might be the second-best team in the country, and it is understandable that they would be pissed not to be in the championship game. Is Michigan better than USC? We don't know. But know what is certain? Michigan is not better than Ohio State. So somebody other than Michigan should get a shot at Ohio State.
Any hey, maybe Michigan will get that shot if USC is upset by UCLA. Try saying that with a straight face.
- Before Raiders fans start, the tuck rule was interpreted correctly. Is the rule stupid? Absolutely. But the NFL told the 2001 playoff teams that the tuck rule was going to be enforced. Bad rule, correct call.
- You knew the Raiders were going to find a way to lose the game. At least the bad call gives them something to complain about during the offseason. Yes Raiders fans, you were this close to beating a playoff team. Congratulations. Art Shell has restored the greatness of the Raiders.
- Boise State had better win the Fiesta Bowl appearance or your college football expert is going to be might chagrined.
- It looks like Mike Vick has taken some Jake Plummer etiquette lessons, after flipping the bird to the Georgia Dome crowd. And like Plummer, Vick will soon likely find himself out of a job. A lot of the blame should be on the Falcons receivers. But they see so many errant passes, they can’t handle it when one actually hits them in the hands.
- The Chicago Bears are the NFC version of the Denver Broncos. Rex Grossman makes Plummer seem credible by comparison. You think the Raiders offense is bad, the Bears are just playing three-flies-up, waiting for a pass interference call.
- (Expletive) the Panthers.
- Are we ready to live in a world where J.P. Losman is considered clutch?
Arizona State fired coach Dirk Koetter and it was the right move. The Sun Devils have been too inconsistent and unable to beat ranked teams. There is no excuse for this. ASU should be one of the top programs in the country, based on facilities, weather, no academic standards, etc. And Koetter's failures at ASU should be a warning to coaches such as Bobby Petrino and Rutgers Greg Schiano who have been rumored to take more high-profile jobs.