First-response: contenders fizzle faster than Milli Vanilli
- 46.5 points through their first two games
- 39.7 points through their first six games
- 37.0 points through their first 11 games
- 20.6 points in their last five games
- 14.7 points in their last three games
- 10 points in their last game, a season low.
We understand they had the division and the first-round bye sewn up early. But girl you know it's true: that's a bad trend. (C'mon guys, you know we can't let this moment of cheesy 1980s pop to pass. It would go against our Troll code of ethics.) show video here Yup, folks, those were the sounds of Spring Break '89, back in the day, as they say. By the way, if you just so happen to be one of those two girls who drove us back to the condo after we fixed your car outside the club that night, or if you happen to know those girls, a certain web site publisher wants to apologize for the way things went down. Suffice it to say, it involved a few Andrew Dice Clay pick-up lines that did not go over very well. Bottom line? He's just a dick.) The Taco Bell diet Have you seen these commercials over the past few weeks with the girl who says she lost 54 pounds on the f*cking Taco Bell diet? Can we call bullshit?
Bullshit. Bullshit. Bullshit. Believe you us, we eat at Taco Bell as much as the next guy and all we've lost is some change in between the rolls of flab that pass for our abdomens. Fighter or quitter There's something noble to be said for the teams that have little to play for but that keep fighting to the bitter end. Conversely, quitters should be executed in the town square so that the blood runs through the nooks and niches of the cobblestone streets and then the rodents and vultures come to drink it up in a gruesome, medieval feeding frenzy. But we'll settle for a verbal condemnation in the court of public opinion. Fighter – Cleveland. Nobody produced a bigger reversal at the end of the year than the Browns. They were 1-11 at one point and it looked surely like the Eric Mangini reign along the Cuyahoga would be much like an Indy playoff apperance: one and done. But the Browns rallied to win four straight to close out the season, including a win over the Steelers to spark the streak and Sunday's 23-17 win over the Jaguars. Mangini looked dazed and confused in November. But the performance down the stretch tells us that he never lost his team. Quitter – Indianapolis. We're still disgusted. This team deserves all the boils and lesions and hideous, disfiguring diseases that come its way. The no-show effort in the snow Sunday – a 30-7 loss to a bad Bills team – reminds us of why this team has so often underachieved when the going gets tough. We don't care how many back-ups you're playing or how bad the weather is, you shouldn't lose by 23 to Buffalo. The snow certainly didn't stop the Bills from racking up plenty of points. Bottom line: the Colts quit for the second week in a row. Fighter – Tampa Bay. The Bucs lost 20-10 to the Falcons in the season finale. But a pair of wins in December, including a 20-17 victory over the mighty Saints in OT, tells us that there was a lot of fight in this club. Quitter – N.Y. Giants. Outscored 85-16 in their last two games. The 41-9 home loss to the Panthers last week was the worst of the two beatings, even more quitter-esque than Sunday's 44-7 loss at Minnesota. The Giants still had a shot at the playoffs heading into the Carolina game. This team had no hahhtt. Fighter – Carolina. The Panthers were eliminated from contention weeks ago but went 3-0 in their last three games and 4-1 in December and January, including wins over the playoff-bound Vikings and Saints. Matt Moore played very well in the place of Jake Delhomme and looks like a QB you can win with. Jonathan Stewart (1,133) and DeAngelo Williams (1,117) , meanwhile, become the first tandem in history to each top 1,100 yards on the ground. It's infuriating that this team can't piece together back-to-back good seasons. But based on the swinging pendulum of Panthers fortunes, the 2010 season should be a very good one. Quitter – New Orleans. From 13-0 to 13-3. No team in history has lost its last three games and gone on to win the Super Bowl. Fighter – Kansas City. A long, dreadful year for the 4-12 Chiefs ended on a bright note. Kansas City dominated the Broncos in Denver, 44-24, avenging a 44-13 loss to the Broncos just a month ago. The best part for KC? The Broncos actually had something to play for: they would have been in the playoffs with a win Sunday and losses by the Ravens and Jets. The chances were slim. But they were chances just the same. Quitter – Jacksonville. The Jaguars were 7-5 and in control of their own destiny following a 23-18 win over the Texans on Dec. 6. They closed out the season with losses to the Dolphins, Colts, Patriots and Browns and head into the off-season with serious needs in many areas, especially at quarterback and perhaps at head coach. Fighter – Tennessee. From 0-8 and a humiliating 59-0 loss at New England to 8-8 at year's end, including Sunday's 17-13 win at Seattle. Chris Johnson fell shy of the all-time rushing record, but his 134 yards against the Seahawks gives him 2,006 for the season. He jumps past O.J. Simpson (2,003 yards in 14 games) for the fifth-highest rushing output in a season in NFL history. And with 154 yards from scrimmage on Sunday, he ends the season with 2,509, smashing Marshall Faulk's single-season record of 2,429 (set in 1999). If you had one half of Rudy's heart All of life's most important lessons were found in "Rudy," a movie that all true red-blooded, football-loving Americans know as the artistic achievement of our generation. At one point early in the movie, Rudy's high school buddy Pete gets up in the face of Rudy's dick-head brother, Frank: "You know what Coach Gillespie said? He said if you had one half of Rudy's heart, you could have been All Conference. He said you were afraid to take a hit." A big bar fight ensues, which always reminds us of home with the family for the holiday and of Ma Byrne's crabbies. Later in the movie, Notre Dame coach Ara Parseghian gets in the face of one of his talented but underachieving players, Jamie O'Hara: "If you had a tenth of the heart of Ruettiger, you'd have made All-American by now!" We're reminded of these scenes when he look at how the talentless Bucs and the talent-laden Colts played through the end of the season. If the Colts had half the heart of the Buccaneers, they'd be heading into the postseason with a 16-0 record and they'd be the toast of the nation right now. Loose ends in Chicago ... Jay Cutler ended what must have felt like the longest season of his life on a big upswing. He torched the Vikings last week, with just the second four-TD day of his career, including the game-winner in overtime. He followed up with another four-TD day against the hapless Lions defense, in Chicago's 37-23 win. In his final two games, Cutler put up these numbers:
- 42 of 71 (59.2%), 549 yards, 7.7 YPA, 8 TD, 1 INT, 115.3 passer rating
The completion percentage, yards per attempt and passer rating are underwhelming when you consider the piss-poor quality of the two opposing pass defenses he faced and the fact that these are two of the best games he's ever produced. But for a guy who was mostly inept for large portions of the year, it's some signs of a brighter future ahead. ... and looser ends in St. Louis The 1-15 Rams of 2009 might be remembered as the worst team of the 16-game era. We chronicled their dreadful barrel-bottom place on the stat sheet last week in our Power Rankings. The one thing that jumps out is the offense: only a few teams in modern history have been as dreadful as the Rams of 2009: the heirs to "Greatest Show on Turf" crown at the start of the decade turned into one of the most embarrassing acts anywhere by the end of the decade. St. Louis scored just 175 points this year, a mark that's truly abysmal in this day and age. Sixteen teams this year – that's half the league – scored at least TWICE as many points as the Rams. Here's how the 2009 Rams go down in history when compared with the worst offenses of the 16-game era (since 1978):
- 1992 Seahawks (2-14) – 140 PF, 312 PA (-172)
- 1991 Colts (1-15) – 143 PF, 318 PA (-175)
- 1998 Eagles (3-13) – 161 PF, 344 PA (-183)
- 2000 Browns (3-13) – 161 PF, 419 PA (-258)
- 2006 Raiders (2-14) – 168 PF, 332 PA (-164)
- 2009 Rams (1-15) – 175 PF, 436 PA (-261)
(Just five other teams, so 11 total, have failed to score 200 points in a 16-game season.) Even among this lowly group of the worst offenses of the last 32 seasons, the Rams are tied for the worst record and stand alone with the worst point differential (among this group). So 2009 Rams couldn't score points on offense, but they made up for it by not stopping anybody on defense, either.
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