FOXBORO, Mass. -- Musings, observations, and the occasional insight as I watch the snowballs fly at freezing Gillette Stadium ...
• It appears their magic has just about run out when it comes to protecting the singular legacy of their undefeated season, but the 1972 Dolphins on Sunday still had enough juice to end one more team's perfect season.
No, not the 14-0 Patriots. But you can give the old guys in Miami a big assist in helping ensure that this year's Dolphins squad isn't the first 0-16 club in NFL history. Miami's 22-16 overtime win at home against Baltimore on Sunday came after
As a lover of symmetry, I have to admit a certain amount of disappointment that Miami at New England next week won't be 0-14 versus 14-0. But hey, the Patriots march to perfection is probably enough history for one NFL season, and there's another part of me that's happy to see the legacy of the bumbling 1976 Bucs live on in infamy.
• How you neglect to cover the always-dangerous Dolphins receiver
I had a hard time even typing that sentence with a straight face.
• You just had to know that
That's how badly the pressure was on Baltimore (and every other team that has played Miami lately) to not become the Dolphins' first victim. Going up against a winless team this late in the season is a no-win situation; because if you win, you're supposed to ... and if you lose, ignominy is your fate.
I know it was reported last week that Billick was told by Ravens owner
• I probably should have learned my lesson on the Saints after both talking them up and then prematurely burying them this season. But the more I size up the NFC wild-card race, they're in pretty good position after clawing their way back to 7-7 with a 31-24 defeat of Arizona at the Superdome.
New Orleans trails the 7-6 Vikings by one-half game for the second and final NFC wild-card berth; and if the Saints can get a little help from
Minnesota is 5-5 in the NFC before the Bears game. Washington (6-7) is 4-5 in the conference entering its Sunday-nighter at the Giants. Detroit (6-8) is 4-7 in the NFC. The Saints close with a home game next week against the struggling Eagles, then travel to Chicago in a Week 17 rematch of last year's NFC title game. By comparison, Minnesota has Washington at home in Week 16, before a Week 17 trip to Denver.
Don't forget about the Saints. Somehow, some way, they're not done yet.
• For a team I accused two weeks ago of never winning a truly big game, that was a pretty large showing by the warm-weather Jaguars in snowy Pittsburgh, where the Steelers had been unbeaten this season at Heinz Field.
Jacksonville really has never played like a soft, Sun Belt team at any point under head coach
• As for the supposedly tough-minded Steelers,
• I just may be able to die in peace now. The Bucs have returned a kickoff for a touchdown. Big deal? Yeah, considering that Tampa Bay is in its 32nd season as a franchise, and
Ironically enough, the Bucs had two kickoff return touchdown in their very first preseason of 1976.
• Every time I saw some highlights from that wonderful Bills-Browns snow-fest in Cleveland, I thought I was watching the 1948 NFL Championship Game in Philadelphia, with
The league is so smart to schedule a handful of those snow games every year. The NFL, it thinks of everything.
• San Francisco's upset home win over Cincinnati on Saturday night makes you wonder about the judgment of the 49ers offensive coaching staff, doesn't it? If Niners third-string quarterback
• And speaking of quarterbacks who maybe should have been playing this season, I'll ask it once again: Is
• I've been waiting most of the season to see the Panthers give rookie quarterback
• This might be the most astounding statistic I've heard all season: When Hill led the 49ers on a 76-yard touchdown drive on their opening possession, it marked San Francisco's first lead at home since a Week 1 victory over Arizona. Put another way, 49ers fans didn't enjoy the sight of their team in the lead at Monster Park for 97 days, a day shy of 14 weeks.
• How pathetic has the Bengals defense been once again this season? The 49ers, protecting a seven-point lead with a little more than two minutes remaining Saturday night, ran
And did we mention that San Francisco's offense is ranked dead last in the NFL in points, total yards, and passing, with a No. 27-ranked rushing game? Now that Cincinnati head coach
• While the Falcons players, to a man last week, seemed to support the naming of
Atlanta's 37-3 surrender to the Bucs wasn't the way Thomas probably dreamt his first game as an NFL head coach would unfold.
• Though they seemed inspired by the change, I'm not too sure about the Texans' red-on-red uniform combination Thursday night against Denver. I just think it's always tough to pull off the giant blood clot look with any sense of style.
• When Dolphins owner
• I can't get over how much lighter