I roll into the bar at about 2 p.m., and it’s already pretty full. There’s a little sign that says for fire code reasons or something, there aren’t supposed to be more than 99 people in here. By kickoff, it’ll be over 200. I might start a fire just to see what happens.
And the atmosphere is already pretty charged, too. This is an excited group of bargoers. I get there just in time to see Notre Dame’s starting douchebag, Chris Falls, hit a bullshit, off-balance, miracle three pointer to take a 1-point lead over Georgetown with like 4 seconds left. But the Hoyas aren’t playin’. Some little guy goes the length of the court in 3.5, dishes to a big man, who dunks it with no time left. G’Town by 1. I hate Notre Dame. Bitch-ass clover-wearing cocksuckers.
For some reason, I am currently listening to Vanilla Ice’s “Ice Ice Baby.” Interesting choice by the sports bar people, but I have to say… I gain a deeper appreciation for this song every time I hear it. The craftsmanship of the bassline, and the subtle intricacies and brilliant introspection in the lyrics… Vanilla had a special gift, my friends.
I wanna send out a shout-out to my homie Danks who won’t be joining us today. As you know, he’s a Patriots fan… and the rest of us, with me and one other guy being the only exceptions, are Steelers fans. The Steelers fans also have a tendency towards drunken rage, so… perhaps it’s best that Danks enjoys the games at home today.
This is cool. Every waitress in the place today is wearing a white road Ben Roethlisberger jersey.
This is not cool. The wing and beer specials that have existed every football Sunday to this point, are not in effect today. To me, those represent two major food groups, so this is a big deal. My health is at stake. Championship Sunday, the last day of real football, and they’re trying to break my pockets. I guess they gotta pay for those jerseys somehow.
I’m somewhat torn on who to root for in the early game. Actually, that’s not really accurate. I want with every fiber of my being to root against the Eagles, and try to relive last year’s glorious day of Eagle-hating. But my man Dirty is here today, and he’s an Eagles fan, and I want to respect that somewhat.
Eagles cheerleaders… are just inordinately hot. It doesn’t even make sense… there aren’t ten attractive women in the entire Philadelphia/South Jersey area, and if there are, they’re married to Camaro owners who won’t let them have jobs of their own. So I don’t get it. These women have to be imported.
There are Eagles fans here that remember us from last year. That’s awesome.
Dear general public: Please get tired of American Idol. If you’re still chuckling at the commercials that show someone butchering a song, and then someone reacting disapprovingly… please seek help. There have been about 827 different incarnations of those, and you haven’t gotten tired of them yet… you are not currently a worthwhile human being.
This place is loud, and I didn’t hear any explanation… but what was the deal with that kid who sang the national anthem in Philadelphia? He wasn’t a real good singer, and I was making fun of him… but then everyone started to cry. I have a feeling I’m going to feel like a huge asshole when someone fills me in.
But before I find out, just let me say this… If I was organizing the pregame festivities for the Eagles, I’d try to avoid things that would make my starting middle linebacker cry like a little girl right before kick-off.
The Falcons have an early 3rd and 7, and still, the Eagles have eight guys right up on the line of scrimmage. It’s clear that they want the arm of Michael Vick to be the focal point today.
It bothers the hell out of me when a football fan continually yells, “GET ‘EM!” It’s the primal call of the football fan who has no ability to really follow the game. For this fan, football boils down to the simple action of someone running, and someone chasing him. That’s it. Redskin fans are famous for it. And considering the style of play of the two quarterbacks and the large amount of Eagles fans (and thus, low level of football acumen) in the house today… I’m predicting that we’re going to hear the words, “GET ‘EM” quite a bit a lot today.
A Falcon gets called for illegal contact when he hits Todd Pinkston in the face. Chris says, “Is there any point to punching Todd Pinkston in the face? Punching him in the arm would probably hurt more.”
There’s this guy sitting at himself at the table next to us… and I hate him. I don’t even have a reason to. He’s lonely, and he’s talking AJ’s ear off… he’s like a lame version of Crazy Fish Guy. There is only supposed to be one sad middle-aged loner in here, and that’s my man CFG. This guy doesn’t have pit stains, an immutable goofy smile, a tight t-shirt, or a gambling problem… I want to punch him in the face.
The Eagles get on the scoreboard first when Dorsey Levens get pushed into the endzone by an offensive lineman, which, by the way, is illegal. Says my man Dirty, the Eagles fan… “We were up last year, too.” Someone’s scared.
Some fan at The Linc has a Freddie Mitchell UCLA jersey. Man, I hope that guy is related to Freddie Mitchell. What kind of a loser goes out of their way to buy a Freddie Mitchell college jersey? I just can’t imagine. Does this same guy also have a Mike Mamula Boston College jersey?
The Eagle linebackers are playing excellent football. The Falcons offensive line is controlling the Eagles defensive line… but the linebackers are playing disciplined, filling their gaps, and always, always, always, making the tackle. It’s a very good unit.
Close-up of Freddie Mitchell with the stat underneath: 0 catches. Fox is acting as if this is a surprise. What’s next, a shot of Donovan McNabb, with “WEARING THE COLOR GREEN” flashing underneath?
Alge Crumpler hauls in about a 30-yarder near the goal line. Brian Dawkins hit him hard. Eagles fans react as if Lenny Dykstra just had Dr. J’s lovechild, and that child led the Flyers to a Stanley Cup victory. Whatever… if it looks pretty on TV, cheer for it, I guess.
Warrick Dunn waltzes into the endzone for the Falcons. Nate stands up, puts his hands around his mouth like a megaphone and starts screaming, “SUCK A DICK! SUCK A DICK!” to all the Eagles fans in the room.
It’s 14-10 at halftime. The Eagles offense is moving well. The Falcons seem like they can move the ball a little bit, too. I think the onus is on the Falcons D to get something done in the second half. If Philadelphia comes out and scores first, and makes it 21-10… playing defense for the Eagles gets a lot easier.
The Fox Skycam is really great for kickoffs, especially if you have no interest in knowing where the ball carrier is, or at what yard-line the tackle is made.
And this is bad. For the Eagles, Brian Westbrook is hitting the corners like Pinky’s chauffer in Next Friday. He’s picking up massive chunks of yardage.
My man Dirty, Eagles superfan… is actually leaving the bar to go… well, do something illegal that involves greenery. And no, he’s not holding up a greenhouse. It’s a 10-point game, the Eagles are on the verge of finally accomplishing what they’ve choked on for the past three seasons… and he’s taking off. I can’t respect that.
And a fan gets on the field… nice. The security makes a textbook hit on him. I think he even wrapped up. Fox, of course, quickly pans away from the action, and I feel ripped-off. I want to see things like that. Showing it doesn’t encourage anyone to do it in the future… people have been doing that since sporting events have existed, and will continue to do it forever. Just let us see the drunk guy get the billy club.
As the fourth quarter starts, I see no indication that the Falcons can do what is necessary to win this game. The defense can’t get them the stops they need. Offensively, they can run the ball, but not well enough that 8-in-the-box can’t stop it. And Michael Vick can’t take advantage of the 8-in-the-box. If the Falcons are going to win this game, it will have to be because of a Michael Vick miracle. Two of them, in fact.
11:29 on the clock, Falcons take possession, down 14. Last chance.
And that sack by Burgess will end the game. Amazing play by Derrick Burgess.
And that caps a cool, efficient, confident performance by the Eagles. I’m impressed. I didn’t think they could stop the Falcons running game, but they did. Of course, Michael Vick made it pretty easy for them… but still, Jeremiah Trotter and company played an outstanding game. The Eagles are better than I’ve given them credit for.
There’s this girl sitting in front who’s been a loud Eagles fan all day. As the game clock winds down, she starts doing the E-A-G-L-E-S fan that Eagles fans do, to prove that they can spell at least one word. Nate yells at her, “GO BACK TO JERSEY, YOU DIRTY SLUT.” I’m fearing trouble from the guys she’s sitting with, but they do nothing except laugh and start calling her a dirty slut, too. Probably a wise move… a drunken Nate, a half hour before the Steelers play in an AFC Championship game, isn’t losing a fight to too many people on the planet.
Freddie Mitchell’s hair… man, he’ll do anything for attention. He’s like a more obnoxious Terrell Owens, except, you know… without all the skill and physical ability.
Jim Mora flips out towards the end of the game, rips his microphone thing off, spikes it to the ground, and stomps on it.
Dirty: He’s going to have to pay for that.
Chris: Good to see he’s got a little bit of his dad in him.
Well, congratulations, Eagles fans. I mean, fuck you… But congratulations.
So now, all the Steelers have to do is go through the Patriots and Eagles in consecutive weeks. Fortunately, they have some experience with that… it worked out pretty well for them in Weeks 7 and 8.
This place is full of Steelers fans… it’s exciting. It feels like the preliminary fights are over, and we’re about to see Tyson/Holyfield. It’s what everyone has been waiting for.
And an epic national anthem performance by… whoever that girl was. She was about 11 or 12 years old, but man, she could wail. With the fireworks, and the atmosphere… that was an electric performance. Says Doug, “She looks like Jason Williams.”
Hey, it’s my girlfriend. The new one, from this year… I haven’t seen her forever. I don’t think she’s been working Sundays. I don’t know WHAT that crazy bitch has been up to… I think it’s time to cut her loose. So I see her, and I lay one of these on her… courtesy of my man Ice Cube. MJD is once again available, ladies.
And Ben Roethlisberger opens the game with an interception on just a terrible, terrible throw. If I’m a Steelers fan… that has me very very concerned.
Fortunately, they escape having given up just a field goal. They’re down, sure, but the good news is that it didn’t look right there like Corey Dillon was going to have a lot of success today.
The Steelers go for it on a fourth down, and don’t get it… and wham. Brady deep to Deion Branch… and just like that, it’s 10-0. Being able to play with the lead is a huge advantage for the Patriots. Now they can stack the line and make the Steelers throw until they prove they can do it.
That going-for-it on 4th call will be questioned because of how things turned out… but I think it was the right call by Bill Cowher. I didn’t like the playcall itself, but going for it, I don’t think was a bad decision. That deep ball to Branch on the next play was a killer… but the Patriots were going to take that shot at some point anyway.
And suddenly, the mood in here is a bit… melacholy, I suppose. No one’s panicking, but no one’s having too much fucking fun, either.
It’s a duvet cover. It’s a decorative sham, that also protects…
Corey Dillon has 7 carries for 12 yards, and Jim Nantz and Phil Simms talk about him as if broken the NFL’s career record for rushing yards in the playoffs in one quarter of football. I don’t get it.
So the place is pretty quiet, considering the plight the Steelers find themselves in… CBS has a promo for the Pro Bowl, and I yell, “YEAH, BABY. PRO BOWL TIME. THE AFC WEARS THE RED.” No one laughs. I guess some people just don’t want to be cheered up.
Phil Simms: “The Patriots change their game plan according to who they’re going to play.” Wow, that Bill Belichick really is a genius. That’s fucking amazing. I hope other teams don’t catch on to that.
And while we’re on the subject… Bill Belichick is not a genius, OK? He’s a football coach. That pretty much disqualifies him. I mean, it’s not impossible that he’s an actual genius, but no matter what great things he accomplishes in football… his life’s work is still to win football games. In the grand scheme of things, it’s not that worthwhile, noble, or meaningful. I mean… Miles Davis was a genius. Einstein was a genius. DaVinci was a genius. Dude coaches football… so let’s calm down. And never, ever ever ever… have I seen or read someone calling him a genius, who then explained exactly what intricacy of his game plan was the genius part. I guess what I’m saying is, that of all the groups of people in the world qualified to decide who is and isn’t a genius… well, the football fans of America are not one of them.
The score is 17-3. Either Ben Roethlisberger needs to get better, or the Steelers can’t throw the football again. Actually… that’s not even going to work. Down 14, with the Patriots daring them to throw… either Ben Roethsliberger needs to get better, or Tommy Maddox needs to take the field.
Disaster for the Steelers. Rodney Harrison with the interception, and it goes 87 yards to the house. This game is over. I mean it’s not over… but it’s over. The Patriots can just line-up and tee off on the running game and the short passing game. They do not have to respect Ben Roethlisberger’s ability to go downfield.
Y’know, this new CBS show NUMB3RS… I think it’s going to be a huge hit. If my experience in life has taught me nothing else, it’s that the American public loves math.
The Steelers fans surrounding me are talking about comeback scenarios.
Chris: Tom Brady dying would help us.
Nate: I have a knife in my car, and I can be in Pittsburgh in an hour.
The Patriots get a replay call to go their way. AJ, in frustration, pounds the table. Dirty’s beer goes flying. The guys next to us have donated their napkins and have it all cleaned up before AJ even has any idea what he did.
And Corey Dillon breaks off a 25-yard TD run, which is unfortunate, really… if only because I don’t want anyone to say, “Hey, I told you it would be different when we had Corey Dillon,” when he really had no impact on the game. That touchdown was not really an impact score, and even with that one 25-yarder… he had 24 carries for 73 yards.
In regards to Ben Roethlisberger, and I don’t know why I didn’t realize this earlier… but all the talk about him not being impacted by last week’s poor performance, about him being unflappable, about him not feeling any additional pressure… well, that was all bullshit. I’m not knocking Ben Roethlisberger, but expecting him to be the same person this week as he was in Week 8 or 9, for example… that’s just not realistic. Do you know how many human beings there are on earth who could be a rookie quarterback right now, in this situation, having gone through those highs, and those recent lows, and not be affected by it? There’s one. His name is Marc Bulger, and the part of his brain that produces intensity and mood swings was removed when he was an infant.
Hines Ward gets in the endzone. I guess it’s still not really over, but… it’s still over. To win this game, the Steelers will have to be perfect from here out. I’ve seen no indication that they’re capable of being perfect today.
At the two-yard line, down 14… Bill Cowher kicks the field goal, shrinking the Steelers margin of error from “extremely slim” right down to “infinitesimal.” I don’t get it… Bill Cowher, at this point, is coaching scared. I guess he really is a protÃ©gÃ© of Marty Schottenheimer.
Bonnie Bernstein mentions that Jerome Bettis is considering retirement.
Tom Brady will be fellated by the media this week… and he deserves it. Incredible performance today. I have a feeling he saw something in Troy Polamalu in particular that he thought he could take advantage of, and he did. He made smart throws, he took shots downfield, and most of his throws were absolutely precise. Incredible performance.
Best case scenario for MJD having fun today was a humiliating Eagles loss, followed by a Steelers win. Fuck.
Towards the end of the game, a girl is standing in front of the TV, putting on her coat and gloves. There are two TVs right next to this one, showing the same exact thing, but that doesn’t stop Nate from screaming at the girl, “SIT… THE FUCK… DOWN.” Nate then looks at the girl and gives her a “thank you,” as sweet and sincere as any you’ll ever see. That’s just Nate. That’s what he does.
The guys sitting next to us laugh their asses off at this. They look over and ask, “Do you know her?” No. He sure doesn’t.
And that’ll do it for the last enjoyable day of football this year. I’m out. Take it easy.