By: Bob George/
December 22, 2004

Filling the Patriots' needs: No. 2 Linebackers
Rob Gronkowski says he'll be back with Patriots
Buckley: Perfect celebration of Gil Santos’ life
Plenty of option plays for Patriots
Rob Gronkowski tells Patriots he will play this season

Nice rule we made up last week. Another division rival. Let the current guy kick off. Doug Brien boots it. Comes up at the 7-yard line. Jet fans still miss John Hall. Some may still miss Pat Leahy.

Some NFL schedule maker still thinks he's in the 1980s. Washington at San Francisco on a Saturday special? Heck, Joe Gibbs was there, and he won.

That was his first ever win at San Francisco. Hard to believe, but true.

Terrell Owens is out with an injury until the Super Bowl. His team won't be there without him. Even in that horrid NFC.

You can be forgiven if you shed no tears for T.O.

Miami fans ought to thank their lucky stars Ricky Williams didquit.

I mean, have you ever heard the ultra-professional Mike Wallace say "Bull-(expletive)!”? That right there sums up that interview succinctly.

And yes, Al Davis will knock on his door someday.

Even better, let John Matuszak's ghost pay him a visit. After smoking a few bones, he may actually see the Tooz.

Geek of the week: Who else?

Were the Detroit Lions actually shooting a remake of North Dallas Forty? Haven't seen a botched conversion lose a game since that legendary sports flick.

Terry Robiskie had a terrific post game speech for the press. "This football is your livelihood! You must protect this ball at all costs!”

Try as he might, he has San Diego at home during a blizzard, and his team loses by shutout instead of the Bolts. The Chargers are usually crap in that kind of weather. Guess some guys are impervious to such messages at this time of year, to say nothing of the prevailing situation in Cleveland.

Did Joe Montana ever have a bad game? Tom Brady is not perfect.

Congratulations, Pittsburgh Steelers. See you at Heinz Field. Don't choke this time.

Signed, fans of New England, San Diego and Indianapolis. Yikes. Three of your last four AFC Championship Game opponents.

Looks like Bill Cowher is a huge Colts fan right now. No more bad memories.

Al Michaels told everyone Monday night that it is "mathematically certain” that an 8-8 or a 7-9 team will qualify for the playoffs in the woebegone NFC.

And one of those teams could make it to the Big Show unless the Eagles figure out how to score points without their home run hitter.

You the Patriot fan might want to spend next Sunday night celebrating a second night of Christmas. Watching football might not make you very merry.

Remember once upon a time when the Seattle Seahawks scared you?

Back to school: Looks like Nick Saban will go fishing in 2005. Bill Belichick's former assistant will finally hit it big in the NFL.

Coach of the year: Jim Mora.

This may be a repeat entry. Who cares. Nice job, Falcons.

And we appreciate his lack of temper tantrums, unlike his pappy.

Not only Patriot fans despise Peyton Manning. In Pittsburgh, try and find one Steeler fan who doesn't think Ben Roethlisberger should be MVP along with Rookie of the Year.

Geez. Now two weeks to go, and Dan Marino's touchdown record is still in the books.

That was one lousy game at Soldier Field on Sunday between Houston and Da Bears.

Let's hope that, come playoffs, Troy Brown is back to just a one-position player.

Unless his second position is that of punt returner.

While we're on that subject, let's get real nasty and bring Ty Law back for his final year at his contracted salary. Bring it on, Carl and Kevin.

But at $12.5 million against the cap? After a year of Earthwind Moreland, Randall Gay and Troy Brown covering Eddie Kennison, Chad Johnson and Derrius Thompson this year, damn straight.

Oh, and let's trade up for a cornerback.

The writers think they know everything and like to dictate what you think? Nice to see that a Boston Globe Internet poll "contest” found that Boston fans think Super Bowl XXXVI is the top moment in Boston sports history, by a thin edge over the 2004 World Series win by the Red Sox. Poor Dan Shaughnessy.

Remember him: Love those "Ooooh” names. Nick WeatherSPOON. Tedy BRUschi. LOU Piniella. The Jets had a beauty some 20 years ago in wide receiver Al TOON. Toon played for eight seasons with the Jets, and had two 1,000-yard seasons and one 93-catch season (1988, led the league). But his flashy name seemed to escalate his game to higher levels. O'Brien drops back, fires deep, and it's TOON!!! Touchdown, Jets!

Brett Favre: "If we make the playoffs, it doesn't speak well for the rest of the NFC.” Candor duly noted.

How low have the Rams sunk? You lose 31-7 to Arizona, go bury your collective heads in the sand.

Nah, don't bother. You're battling Seattle for the division lead. You're good.

Dear Santa: Make Ty Law's foot heal by this Sunday night.

Dear readers: The warmest possible holiday wishes to you all.