Tuesday, November 1

The Energizer Donnie

He keeps throwing, and throwing and throwing...

Let's get ahead of ourselves a little bit and jump right to the start of the fourth quarter. Eagles are driving, down 28-21. They have just dealt Denver their third straight three and out, running the ball on only three of their nine plays. It's starting to rain. At this point you would be crazy to think Denver could come out of this one alive. They had blown two straight fourth quarter leads, and we've got the ball at their 44. I proudly pronounce that the game is in Five's hands. And we keep throwing, and throwing, and throwing. The breaks start going our way, as Shanahan loses his first challenge of the game. And here's where it all falls apart.

Donovan drops back, sees man coverage over the middle, where Reggie Brown has gained position on rookie CB Domonique Foxworth. He puts it up, and it's complete, only to the wrong player. Three minutes later, touchdown. Another three minutes, touchdown. Six more minutes, touchdown. Game over.

The loss was tough, but this was a game we could afford to lose. Overall we went 3-1 against the AFC West, although it felt a lot closer to 1-3, and we were behind in fourth quarter against all four teams except KC, where we were down 11 at the half and square after 3. And I've always said that if you're gonna lose a game, this is the way to lose it. Get blown out. Get humiliated. Have something to prove. It's nice to squeak out a few wins where we get lucky, but I'll take a loss like this over a last second field goal any Sunday. Would you rather have a girl lead you on all night, ordering $8 cocktails, staying close by your side, and then skirting out when the bar closes in some dude’s Benz SL, or have her just throw a drink in your face at eleven, giving you three solid hours to rebound?

But the loss wasn’t the scary part. What got me was that Donnie looked good for a while. He danced a bit, hit a few guys in stride (don’t forget about Greg Lewis’ drop), and scampered for a first down to keep a drive alive. We all assumed that Donnie’s not himself right now, and he’s fighting through and trying to make the best of a ghastly situation. Well, what if he is himself? What if he’s gotten used to the pain, understands his slight limitations, and still just can’t get the job done? The last thing this team can afford is for 5 to lose the respect of his teammates. What was once unthinkable, is now looming on the horizon. These guys are not happy, and they are not battling the situation in a constructive manner. I know I don’t have much to go on, but shots of the bench show players sitting alone, or visibly complaining. How much longer can it go on?

Here’s the next scary part. One team from the NFC North and one from the West have to make the playoffs. It’s a rule. It’s terrible. If the Bears don’t come out of the North I won’t even know which way is up. And the thought of Seattle dropping passes all through the playoffs again is mortifying. What this means is that the top two teams in the East and South are in almost regardless of their record. And if we don’t get our act together, we’re in prime position to miss the boat to Detroit.

And here's the scariest part. Andy is moving closer and closer towards Martyland. Fanstatic Monday-Saturday coach, but watching him on Sunday is about as fun as trying to get an ocelot to mate with Cher. You couldn't ask for a better break than to have the best WR in the league matched up with a CB playing with a dislocated shoulder and a bum hammy. They finally made it happen, turning a quick hitch into a 91-yard trip to the endzone, but it was more of a "where was that play all game" than a "he's got it figured out now" situation. I guess the lesson is, if it looks like a stubborn guy with a mustache and a playbook, and it acts like a stubborn guy with a playbook....

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