Curses! Flutie has last laugh on Phillips
Cold, Hard Football Facts for Nov 07, 2010
By Kerry J. Byrne
Cold, Hard Football Facts voodoo child
Cowboys owner Jerry Jones fired head coach Wade Phillips Monday after a humiliating 45-7 loss at Green Bay Sunday night and a 1-7 start to this season of promise for Dallas.
Some people are surprised it all ended so badly.
Not the almighty and all-knowing Cold, Hard Football Facts. We told you it would end ugly like this years ago. We told you the Phillips Era in Dallas would end badly because we were the very first outlet on Planet Pigskin to alert you of the most powerful force in the football universe today:
The Curse of Doug Flutie!
As we said years ago, only a flake would doubt the Curse of Flutie.
In fact, we told you it would end ugly in Dallas right from the very start of the Phillips Era. Here are our exact words from the start of the 2007 season, the first with Phillips as head coach in Dallas:
"(Phillips has) never been a great head coach (48-39, .552) with four different teams. Plus, he brings to Dallas the Curse of Doug Flutie ... We don't believe in voodoo or anything, but we do believe in the omnipotent power of the Flutie Curse. Sorry, Dallas."
Sorry indeed, Dallas. Don't say we didn't warn you.
The Cowboys might be the sorriest outfit in football today, a pathetic organization made all the more sad by the fact that they should have known it was going to end this way. They should have studied their Cold, Hard Football Facts. They should have studied the Curse of Flutie before they made the horrible mistake of hiring Phillips as their head coach.
For those of you sadly devoid of the nourishing nectar of the Cold, Hard Football Facts, the Curse of Flutie is this: Wade Phillips is the architect of the Curse and anyone associated with the Curse is doomed to failure. Not only are they doomed to failure, they're doomed to failure immediately on the heels of unreasonable expectations of success.
The Curse of Flutie, in other words, is a cold and vindictive bitch. It sets up its victims – anyone associated with Phillips – for just the type of downfall we saw out of the Cowboys this year. They were Super Bowl favorites in many corners in August. They're fighting the Bills and Panthers for the No. 1 draft pick in the 2011 draft here in November.
We laugh at the predictable beauty of it all.
Here's the Brief History of the Curse of Doug Flutie and the events that led to this joyous moment in time for the Cold, Hard Football Facts and all True Believers.
The Birth of the Curse
The Curse of Flutie was born back in the 1999 playoffs when, as Buffalo's head coach, Phillips poured all the ingredients for this pigskin pestilence into his steaming brew kettle of bad decisions.
Phillips benched Flutie, Buffalo's starting quarterback, just before the last game of the season, allegedly to give back-up Rob Johnson some reps. But then Phillips gave Johnson the starting nod over Flutie n a wildcard playoff game against Tennessee, too, despite the fact that the pint-sized passer had led the Bills to a 10-5 record.
Forget for a moment that Johnson was a second-rate quarterback who enjoyed little more than a cup of coffee in the NFL. Forget for a moment that Flutie was one of the most prolific passers and great winners in the history of football. All you need to know is that Phillips chose the former over the latter in the biggest game of the year: a wildcard playoff game at Tennessee.
The Curse of Flutie wasted no time casting its tragic web of humiliating defeat upon Buffalo and anyone associated with Phillips.
The Bills held a late 16-15 lead over Tennessee. But you know how it ended: the Titans used some controversial razzle-dazzle to score the game-winning TD on a kick return with no time left, in a play so unfathomable it's known only as "The Music City Miracle."
(Contrary to pop-culture convention, Johnson did not play well that day: he completed just 10 of 22 passes for 131 yards with 0 TD, 0 INT and a 64.8 passer rating.)
How strong is the Curse?
Not only did the Bills lose a playoff game in miraculous fashion that day, they have never been back to the playoffs in the more than decade since! And they've never matched the 10 wins Flutie produced for the team back in 1999. The 2010 season will be no different: Buffalo is 0-8 and, like the Cowboys, one of the worst teams in football.
That's right: two of the primary victims of the Curse of Flutie (the Bills and Cowboys) are a combined 1-15 here in 2010, more than a decade after the Curse was cast.
Tragic defeat has haunted the Buffalo organization since the day that Phillips benched Our Hero. Just look at this year alone: the Bills have suffered three straight nut-kicking three-point losses to potential playoff teams, two of them in overtime.
And here's the statistical signature from the Gridiron Gods to affirm the Curse: In Flutie's last game in a Bills uniform in 2000, he pitched the proverbial perfect game, completing 20 of 25 passes (80%) for 366 yards, 14.6 YPA, 3 TD, 0 INT, and a perfect 158.3 passer rating.
It was the only proverbial perfect passing game in the history of the Buffalo franchise. Jack Kemp never posted a perfect passer rating for the Bills. Joe Ferguson never posted a perfect passer rating for the Bills. Jim Kelly never posted a perfect passer rating for the Bills. Only Flutie has accomplished this feat ... and then he never played another down in a Buffalo uniform.
We can't make this stuff up, folks.
The Continuation of the Curse
You might think the Curse ended in western New York, with the organization that stupidly benched their 10-win quarterback for the playoffs.
It did not. The Curse thrives around the country.
The Chargers made the mistake of employing Phillips as their defensive coordinator from 2004 to 2006 – and they suffered a pair of stunning falls from grace during that time. Twice the Chargers entered the playoffs as big home favorites and with two of the most powerful clubs in franchise history.
Twice they failed to win even a single playoff game, with painful defeats at home to inferior foes both times.
The 2004 Chargers went 12-4, matching the franchise record for victories in a season at the time. The best team in franchise history got an easy draw in the playoffs: a home game against the middling 10-6 Jets who had to travel 3,000 miles cross country – always a difficult chore in the NFL.
It ended ugly: Chargers kicker Nate Kaeding missed an easy 39-yard field goal in overtime, allowing the underdog Jets to pull out a shocking 20-17 playoff victory in San Diego.
The 2006 Chargers were even better: they went 14-2, setting a franchise record for victories that still stands today. They were the AFC's No. 1 seed and undefeated at home when they suffered an improbable 24-21 loss to a 12-4 New England team that did everything in its power to lose (including three picks thrown by Tom Brady).
Phillips left San Diego in 2007. But has as been the case in Buffalo, the Curse has continued to haunt an organization even after it rid itself of the Architect of the Curse:
The 2007 Chargers actually made it to the AFC title game for just the second time in more than a quarter century. It was their fate to draw the only 16-0 team in history and play them 3,000 miles across the country. San Diego suffered a hard-luck loss to the unbeaten Patriots.
The 2008 Chargers actually made the playoffs after an 8-8 season, the Curse's vindictive little way of filling the organization with false hopes. Naturally, the Chargers didn't last very long in the postseason.
The 2009 Chargers went 13-3, enjoying the second most wins in franchise history. They failed to win a single playoff game, once again losing to an inferior team (in this case the 9-7 Jets), who traveled cross country to upset San Diego at home.
The 2010 Chargers, as we've noted throughtout the year, are one of the great underachieving teams in NFL history.
The Chargers are 4-5 here in a year in which many pegged them as a Super Bowl favorite. That record means that the three primary victims of the Curse this year are a combined 5-20!
San Diego has been a classic victim of the Curse of Flutie: high expectations followed by humiliating and unexpected defeats.
Bet they regret hiring Phillips today.
The Curse Moves to Dallas
Dallas, meanwhile, made the mistake of hiring Phillips as its head coach in 2007 – unknowingly placing the organization at the mercy of a force more powerful than Jerry Jones: the Curse of Flutie.
Naturally, painful, unexpected defeat immediately scarred the organization.
They 2007 Cowboys ruled the NFC from wire to wire and entered the playoffs as the senior circuit's No. 1 seed. Along the way Dallas – like the Chargers before them – matched a franchise record with 13 regular-season victories. But they, too, failed to win a single playoff game, suffering a home loss to the No. 5 seed Giants, a team that Dallas beat twice in the regular season.
The Curse likes to taunt teams that way.
Since the NFL went to a 12-team playoff format in 1990, the NFC's No. 1 seed had never lost a divisional playoff game – an awesome streak of 17 straight victories. But the Curse of Flutie quickly ended that historic stretch of dominance by the NFC's No. 1 seeds, with Phillips as its figurehead.
It was the second year in a row that Phillips worked for a team that entered the playoffs as a No. 1 seed and failed to win a single postseason game.
Notice a trend here, folks?
The 2009 Cowboys went 11-5, edged out the Eagles for the NFC East title and along the way toppled the 13-0 Saints in the regular season, setting up the expectation that the 2009 postseason would be different in Dallas.
And it was different in Dallas – at least for one week. The Cowboys actually won a playoff game. It was the franchise's first postseason victory in 13 years and the very first postseason victory for Phillips in 10 years as an NFL head coach.
The Curse was over!
Or not. Dallas folded like a lawn chair the very next week, a humiliating 34-3 loss to the Vikings in the divisional round of the playoffs. The Cowboys couldn't even beat BrettFavre in a playoff game!
The Curse has haunted Phillips and the Cowboys into the 2010 season. Dallas was a huge preseason favorite to win it all in many circles back in August. Dallas is the biggest laughingstock in football here in November.
Falls from grace have rarely been greater than the one we've seen out of the 2010 Cowboys. And these falls from grace have become commonplace for any team that employs the architect of the Curse.
If Phillips had simply done the right thing and played Flutie during that Tennessee game back in 1999 it all would have unfolded quite differently.
Hell, if the Cowboys had been smart enough not to hire Phillips back in 2007, it would have unfolded quite differently, too.
As far as we can tell, the Cowboys, and Phillips, deserve their collective fate: Phillips made the worst coaching decision of the past 50 years when he benched Flutie before the 1999 playoffs. And hiring bad decision makers is a bad decision in and of itself.
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