Allow Gregg Easterbrook to Explain Comebacks to You, Wontcha?
When we last left ESPN’s haughtiest (for a company that employs Bill Simmons and Skip Bayless this is a major accomplishment) football commentator Gregg Easterbrook, he was using cliched analogies to describe the Detroit Lions, proving conclusively that blitzing has never ever worked (except when it does), and exalting those cheap, cheap Buffalo Bills.
So what’s stuck in Gregg’s vagina this week? Comebacks of course! Behold, as Gregg manages to discuss these phenomena in the most condescending and definitive tone ever, only to be wrong!
Comebacks are sheer excitement. But please don’t say they happen because the vanquished team “blew the lead.” A football game lasts 60 minutes. Who’s ahead early, and by how much, is irrelevant to the outcome. All that matters is who’s ahead on the final play.
I’ll take faulty logic followed by sports cliches for $1000, Trebek! Let’s see… Gregg is right about how all that matters is who’s ahead on the final play, that is after all, how we determine who has won or lost a football game. However, is it really irrelevant how far ahead a team is early on? Could a 21-point halftime lead have some impact on the probability of one team winning a game? I’m not a mathematician, but I have enough basic reasoning skill to figure out that a team that gets ahead big, early, has a better chance of winning than a team that gets behind early. But to Gregg? Irrelevant!
Saying a team that lost after mounting a nice margin “blew the lead” is among the dumbest clichés in sports, failing to grant fair notice to the comeback side. Just because you’re ahead early, even if by 20 points, does not confer some kind of mystical right to victory. Being ahead by a big margin certainly doesn’t mean you are the better team! The assumption seems to be that if a team jumps to a big lead, then it deserves to win. The team that plays the best overall deserves to win.
Does anyone make this assumption? Usually when a team blows a lead, people say, “Well, they deserved to lose,” not, “They totally deserved to win if only they didn’t suck monkey nuts in the fourth quarter.”
In every one of these recent NFL instances — or many other cases, such as Alabama losing to Auburn last season after taking a 24-0 lead — the team that “blew” the lead was outplayed, and outcoached, overall by the victor. The loser didn’t blow the game, the victor won.
Wait is that what victors do? Win games? I need to completely reevaluate the way I look at the world.
Plus bear in mind — often when a team jumps to a big lead, the opponent has just as much time available to reply. In the Detroit-Minnesota contest in Week 3, it took the Minnesota Vikings the first 30 minutes to build a 20-0 lead: meaning the Lions had 30 minutes to do something about it. Alabama was ahead 24-0 late in the second quarter; Auburn had as much time to come back as Alabama used to get ahead. Leads are not blown: victories are earned.
Sure, that’s how clocks work. Minnesota also had 30 minutes to bury the Lions, which should have been easier because they HAD A 20 POINT LEAD. You’re not making anything resembling a valid argument here. I’m not really even sure what you’re trying to prove.
On Sunday, Dallas surged ahead of Detroit 27-3, and then the Cowboys performed poorly for the remainder of the game while the Lions performed well. That Detroit played well at the end means just as much as Dallas playing well early. Tony Romo threw three interceptions after the Cowboys built their big lead, two returned for touchdowns. And just why was he heave-hoeing the ball in the first place, with Dallas leading big and needing to grind the clock?
Because Dallas blew the game with poor play-calling? Or did Detroit earn Tony Romo throwing the ball to Bobby Carpenter and Chris Houston?
As for the Eagles, they fumbled at the San Francisco 1-yard line, allowed a field-goal attempt to be blocked, and missed another field goal. In the second half, Philadelphia played poorly on defense.
Sounds like they made it easy for San Fransisco to earn a victory… couldn’t that be construed as blowing a lead??
Tuesday Morning Quarterback would be happy if every football game was a last-second comeback win, there’s nothing more exciting in sports. Just don’t say the loser “blew the lead.”
How about this? GO F*CK YOURSELF AND I’LL SAY WHATEVER I DAMN WELL PLEASE.
The New England coach is nothing if not analytical, and realized — especially with the past decade of rule changes intended to favor offense — that defense-oriented teams sometimes win but high-scoring teams almost always win.
Except in playoff games. HAHAHA
There are coaches who strategize to come out ahead in a low-scoring defensive struggle. For the past five years, Belichick has been strategizing to spin the scoreboard. The Patriots under Belichick are now 62-3 when scoring at least 30 points. A high-scoring team almost always wins, so Belichick has undergone a religious conversion, from defense to offense.
But, but, I thought that big leads were irrelevant to the outcome of games?
Leading 21-17 just before intermission, Green Bay had the ball on the Denver 17. The Packers lined up with double slots: two wide receivers on each side. Both slot men were fast players. Both slot men ran verticals straight to the end zone. Greg Jennings was uncovered, touchdown, and the defending champs never looked back. Sweet.
But, this early lead was irrelevant do the outcome. Anyone else sensing a pattern here? Gregg Easterbrook might be the least self-aware man in the world.
Reader Steve Seiferheld of Haddonfield, N.J., writes, “I drink Lactaid brand milk, whose formula is good for we who are lactose intolerant. On the packaging it says, ‘Allergen warning: contains milk.’ The name of the product is milk!”
This is an example where a warning actually makes sense. People who drink lactaid may assume that because it is designed for those who can’t drink regular milk, that it has no milk in it at all. You know, like dozens of milk substitutes that do not have milk in them, but have milk in their names, like soy milk. But, hurr hurr, look how stupid this label is.
As someone who touts undrafted, low-drafted or waived players, TMQ loved Monday Night Football’s 59-yard touchdown screen pass from sixth-round choice Curtis Painter to sixth-round choice Pierre Garcon of Division III Mount Union, with undrafted tackle Jeffrey Linkenbach making the key pull block.
No one loses quite like those low to undrafted Colts.
Adam Raper of Park City, Utah, writes,
Sorry about your name bro.
Some plucky adventurers use the time machine to travel 85 million years into the past to “restart civilization.” Why they would go so very far back is never explained.
Actually, it is, the premise is that a rift opens in time that people can exploit, not that someone invents a time machine.
TMQ has been noting that despite being in Texas, the stronghold of football culture, the current Cowboys exhibit low football IQ.
That’s because being in Texas for extended periods of time make people stupid. FACT.
On the Jets’ first snap against Baltimore on primetime national television, Mark Sanchez was hit from his blindside and fumbled. As five Ravens scrambled madly for the ball a few feet from Sanchez, he just laid on the ground, watching. As Baltimore ran the fumble back for a touchdown, Sanchez never got up, simply reclining, watching. And he wasn’t injured, he just couldn’t be bothered getting up. Glam-boy magazine-cover megabucks toast-of-New-York quarterback Mark Sanchez, you are guilty of the single worst play of the season. So far.
Maybe he was just tired of getting hit by men twice his size?
Next Week: Is there a link between more football and fewer boys being admitted to college?