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December 30, 2003
As The Ball Bounces: Week 17
BY: Bob George/BosSports.net

It was his last game as a national football broadcaster. It was perhaps the second time in his forty-plus years of broadcasting that he had ever called the Patriots. You perhaps thought, like Super Bowl XXXI, he knew as much about the Patriots as John Madden does about the quality of food on Delta Air Lines. But you've listened to him for literally all your football life, and grew up with him alongside Jack Whitaker, Ray Scott and Tom Brookshier. He was arguably the defining voice of the NFL on TV (like the late John Facenda defines the league on NFL Films). Now an occasional Fox broadcaster for Cowboys games (like Keith Jackson, he cannot get away from this great game), Pat Summerall, the former field goal kicker for the Giants, can always say that his last game was the biggest win in Patriot history. He kicks one, straight on, of course, and it sails out of the end zone. (Well, we're pretending that he booted one in and around 1958…)

Oh, to be a Viking fan right now. Anger therapists and suicide counselors, you'll be busy.

Hats off to Baltimore kicker Matt Stover, the last of the real Cleveland Browns.

And good riddance to that owner who moved the Browns to Baltimore, the most dastardly act of an NFL owner in history.

And that includes Al Davis.

The only thing the CBS pregame show crew hates worse than the AFC itself are the Patriots. It's loud and clear in their disappointment when Patriot opponents fare poorly, and their disbelief when the Patriots win.

Marvin Lewis, great job. Now let go of Corey Dillon and get yourself a quarterback.

Let's see if Mike Shanahan rests Clinton Portis next week at Indianapolis.

Most dangerous NFC team: Green Bay.

Most dangerous AFC team: New England.

Most susceptible NFC team: St. Louis.

Most susceptible AFC team: Indianapolis.

Many Patriot fans fear Denver in the playoffs. From this corner of the Nation, let's hope Baltimore doesn't darken the Gates of Gillette.

Geek of the week: That Minnesota-Arizona game should never have come down to the final play. Offensive coordinator Scott Linehan blew that game with some of the worst play calling on the planet.

Sorry, Ed Reed, but you're no Rodney Harrison.

Okay, Brett Favre, we thought we knew what you were made of, but I guess we know now.

Which is why, if the Patriots do win their next two games, they want someone like the Eagles and not the Packers on the other side of the Reliant Stadium field.

How can you be mad at Buffalo for blanking the Patriots in Week 1? They probably gave the Patriots the biggest favor any team could offer.

And on Saturday, the Patriots told them "Thanks!"

Interview season has already hit Charlie Weis and Romeo Crennel. Keep your fingers crossed, everyone.

Back to school: Here's to this writer's masters degree alma mater -- hey, beat USC, and LSU and Oklahoma have a close tussle, maybe the Wolverines could steal one. Tom Brady and Ty Law will be yelling "Go Blue" as loud as ol' Bob G will.

Tell Dolphin Land to sit down and be quiet. The Patriots know what it's like to win 10 games and miss the postseason (1980).

Detroit cannot be praised enough for their sublime effort on Sunday.

Credit Brian Billick for going for the win in OT instead of Jamal Lewis' record.

And credit the Steelers for not allowing Lewis to get the record.

How goofy is Arizona? On the day after their thrilling win over Minnesota, they fire their coach, and the Phoenix papers are complaining that Arizona has blown the 2004 draft (by winning, the Cardinals slipped to the third pick behind San Diego and Oakland).

It's really a riot. Eli Manning and Ben Roethlisberger must be thrilled that they won't be Cardinals.

Back to Dave McGinnis. Too bad he can't fire Bill Bidwill, the man who really needs to take a hike in the Valley Of The Sun.

Jacksonville finished 5-11? Are you sure?

Dick Jauron got fired as Bears head coach on Monday. Wasn't this the guy who got coach of the year over Bill Belichick two years ago?

The Patriots will respect their opponents, but they won't fear them. Huge difference.

Remember him: You may still hate him for how he left the Patriots in 1978, leading to the only home playoff loss in franchise history. But what were the Patriots like before Chuck Fairbanks took over as head coach and GM in 1973? But for Ben Dreith's total idiocy, the Patriots would have won maybe two Super Bowls, if not more, between 1976 and 1981. And though Bill Parcells advanced the franchise further in the 1990s, you cannot ignore the impact Fairbanks had on the Patriots in the glory days of the 1970s.

Peter King of Sports Illustrated installed Dan Koppen as his top center in the league. Ditto for Tedy Bruschi, Rodney Harrison and the two guys who actually will go to Honolulu. Ssssh, Peter, not too much adulation on these boys, please.

Mike Martz said following Sunday's odious loss at Detroit, "This is not okay…not acceptable…This team wasn\'t prepared…That\'s my responsibility. We weren\'t focused - not like we needed to be. We felt like maybe the first half was good enough.\" Any further proof needed as to who won the coaching battle in Super Bowl XXXVI?

Okay, let's break out our poetic look at next week's playoff tilts.

Dallas was never as good as they looked.

Tuna and the Cowboys all get hooked.

Mike versus Brett, ‘Hawks versus the Pack.

With Dad as inspiration, Seattle will be sent back.

A Titanic battle awaits at M&T Bank.

Without McNair, Titans go in the tank.

They say, "Twice burned, shame on me".

But Manning will prevail this time, you'll see.

Nothing like home cooking, we always say.

That's why the Patriots will take it all the way.


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