The winner of the Rush’s alternate uniform debate: mostly black! The winner of this picture: the guy in the beige shirt who looks more bemused than excited. “I am obligated to raise my arms in triumph, but we’re so far ahead, that it’s almost a chore,” he seems to be saying. The winner of the game:
CHICAGO 72, Los Angeles 28
Well, the good news is, this didn’t distract from the Spurs/Hornets game, though Chicago nearly outscored the Hornets. And less-nearly outscored the Spurs. Chicago came off their bye week angry, apparently, and decided to lock up a first-round bye in convincing fashion, obliterating the maybe-frisky-in-previous-weeks Los Angeles Avengers. 4 defensive touchdowns made Ditka and the ISF staff positively giddy, though we were content to wait until this morning to see what the final score was. Russ Michna continues to make me look dumb for ever referring to him as “merely adequate,” as he barely broke a sweat in this one.
The rest of the week is after the jump:
Tampa Bay 58, GRAND RAPIDS 50
James MacPherson: more of an answer than Adrian McPherson (remember him?), but a 6-4 TD/INT ratio is, how you say, not so good? Brett Deitz kept his stat line at or above its usual, and Tampa won, which is big news for the now 5-6 Storm. An 11-total-point final quarter was a bit of a stumbly finish, but the Storm’s 28-7 2nd quarter gave them enough of a buffer to survive. (Hint: Don’t just sit on your lead, nimrods, no matter how large. See also: Philadelphia, last week.) Oh, and the well-educated Brian Gowins hit the scoreboard with a kickoff, which is 3 kinds of cool: liminal, subliminal, and superliminal.
PHILADELPHIA 51, Columbus 43
Were you aware that the Soul locker room is now essentially a triage unit? They’ve just set up the 4077th in Wachovia Center. That being said, it’s clearly a good thing they met up with the DaVinci’s Helicopter Thing that is Columbus. “Boy does that look interesting on paper… Is that really going to work? No? You’re going to go over the cliff in it anyway?” Matt D’Orazio and his Piercing Gaze turned an iffy first half around with a 16-0 run. Columbus is now 2-9 and the Matt Nagy Crankypants Alert Level is at Burnt Umber (elevated, simmering).
Arizona 55, DALLAS 54
I’m sorry, but I can’t live in a world where this is allowed to happen. Oh, well, at least LANG CAMPBELL [dramatic chord, petering out in that way where the trombones keep playing, and then hilariously glissando to ‘brrrraappphh…’] It’s… no… it can’t be… It’s not… That’s JEFF SMOKER’S MUSIC!! So, yeah. He turned in what various sources are calling “another solid outing” and “29-of-45 for 350 yards,” and “not complete bat guano.” So, Jeff Smoker won a game against arguably (hi, Soul and Rush fans! I assume we’ll be doing the arguing) the best team in the league, by engineering a 41-yard, 18-second drive as time expired. Then got slapped with unsportsmanlike conduct and delay of game. And then failed on the ensuing 2-point conversion that they went for because… I don’t know why. And then I had to sit down for a second, as I was feeling quite lightheaded. Why does everything feel funny? There’s a bit of a clusterfuck at the bottom of the conference, but Arizona has to feel good about likely coming through on their pledge to make the playoffs (especially as they face Utah and Kansas City again before it’s all over).
Cleveland 50, COLORADO 46
Bernie Kosar and John Elway split their season series! Now they will have to wrestle for ultimate supremacy in the Norris Stone Cirlcles of Death and Blood Near the Frozen Yogurt Stand. Ben “Joestill likes me” Nelson had another quietly sturdy game, catching 11 for 125 yards in a losing effort. Raymond Sillyname continues to have a Rejuvenation Season, making (a) the Gladiators semi-to-wholly relevant and (b) himself look pretty good in the process. Cleveland pretty much put this away with over 3 minutes left to go, and Colorado closed the gap a bit to make the final score presentable.
SAN JOSE 74, Utah 64
Utah lost a game where there were almost than 140 combined points? NO WAY. San Jose beat up on a division opponent? I am equally incredulous! Several sacks, and enough general stoutness on defense, as usual, was a Blaze opponent’s recipe for success. Blah blah blah, the American Conference is a huge pile of mediocrity and the playoffs’ll be a glorious clusterfuck. HOORAY.
Orlando 58, KANSAS CITY 51
Well, Shane Stafford, we meet again. And this time you’re eking out a win against the leprous Brigade. Oh, Lesser Gruden: you had to score to win with time expiring here, and while delightful for you, as you’re a 1/2 game up on New Orleans, let’s think about the situation. You’re playing Kansas City, a team with no line on defense or offense, and your team had to really make serious plays to avoid going down 38-21 at the half. Instead, a fumble recovery made it 35-31, Predators. And then you still let them back into it, to snatch victory from the gums of defeat. I wouldn’t be shocked if Orlando loses out, or go 1-3 over your last 4. I’m just saying. This was not reassuring. (Now watch them kick the crap out of the Desperados next week.)
Georgia 72, NEW YORK 67
In the battle of “Who’s more rejuvenated,” the Force edged the Dragons in their second comeback victory in a week. While less impressive numerically than their 22-0 run against Philadelphia, they nevertheless overcame a 40-48, 389 yard, 10 TD performance by Aaron Garcia, who, when healthy, is scaaaaary. Tiger Jones has really stepped up for Georgia in the last couple weeks, becoming the rookie threat that everyone expected. (A team record 224 yards receiving will get you noticed around these parts, Mr. Jones.) New York kicker Steve Azar had a chance to tie the game in the waning seconds, but his field goal was blocked through the end zone. Oops.