Stalking the pigskin chameleon
Like most of the lifeless losers who inhabit football America, the angry trolls at Cold, Hard Football Facts.com are enamored with the pigskin chameleon that resides in Foxboro, Mass.
As the "pundits" have noted, New England can change its colors to blend in with any environment. Even more impressively, this most exotic species has shown a remarkable ability to dictate the terms of battle to the sleekest or brawniest of foes.
But here's something you may not know: the pigskin chameleon is an exceedingly rare species. In fact, we skimmed through the Audobon Field Guide to Gridiron Greatness, published by the Cold, Hard Football Facts. We discovered that, in the entire history of the NFL, only one other pigskin chameleon has ever been found. It shared many of the hallmarks of the lizard king that currently lords over the NFL.
Note these observations from our field studies of the pigskin chameleon:
In the divisional round of the playoffs, the "pundits" foretold of a wild-west shootout between New England and Indy, a team that boasted the league's No. 1 scoring offense and the fifth-best scoring offense in league history.
The Patriots turned it into a textbook primer in smashmouth football, buckling the knees of both the Indy offense and defense while grinding out a 20-3 victory. The Colts were held to their lowest point total in two years (a 41-0 loss to the N.Y. Jets in the 2002 playoffs).
In the AFC title game, the "pundits" foretold of a heavyweight bloodbath between New England and Pittsburgh, a team that ran the ball more often than any other club in the NFL and boasted the league's No. 1 scoring defense.
The Patriots turned it into an offensive tour de force that the Steelers were ill-equipped to handle. New England won, 41-27, and scored by run, short pass, long pass, end around and interception return. It was the most points stuffed down Pittsburgh's throat since a 41-20 loss to Kansas City on Sept. 14, 2003.
Impressive, yes. But not as impressive as this: Only one other team in the entire history of the NFL – since day one – went into the postseason and beat the No. 1 scoring offense in one game and the No. 1 scoring defense in another.
Hall of Fame coach Bill Walsh and the 1988 49ers faced Chicago and the league's stingiest scoring defense in the NFC title game. San Francisco won, 28-3. In Super Bowl XXIII, Hall of Fame quarterback Joe Montana led a legend-sealing touchdown drive in the game's final minutes to top Cincinnati and the league's No. 1 scoring offense, 20-16.
While only two pigskin chameleons have ever been found, it's worth noting that they have a pair of close relatives.
Twice in NFL history a single team boasted the top scoring offense and top scoring defense in football but lost in the playoffs. In both instances, these teams were stifled by legendary coaches, quarterbacks and teams littered with Hall of Fame performers.
The 1967 L.A. Rams topped the league in scoring offense and defense. But they lost 28-7 in the Western Conference championship game to Green Bay, its Hall of Fame coach Vince Lombardi and an all-star cast of seven Hall of Fame players led by quarterback Bart Starr. The Packers went on to beat Dallas in the "Ice Bowl" and Oakland in Super Bowl II.
The 1969 Vikings also topped the NFL in scoring offense and defense. They were beat up, 23-7, by Kansas City in Super Bowl IV, the last game played before the AFL-NFL merger. The Chiefs were led by an all-star cast of six Hall of Famers, including coach Hank Stram and quarterback Len Dawson.
The 2004 Patriots, in other words, find themselves in the company of the most rare and most elite species ever to roam the pigskin jungle.
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