Friday, February 10, 2012

5 comments Gregg Easterbrook Has Now Decided Luck is the Ultimate Decider of Many NFL Games

I won't deny there is a certain amount of luck involved in NFL games. There's no doubt about that. What I find interesting is Gregg Easterbrook has spent this season and much of his time writing TMQ over the past few years explaining why certain things happen on the field, criticizing players/coaches for a team's loss and he always presents a reason for the outcome of a game. I have criticized Gregg because he doesn't seem to realize that sometimes shit happens. Teams lose games because the other team made a few more great plays. He feels the need to drop blame on a coach for making the right call that just didn't work or a blame a defensive player for "freelancing" when he really was just following the defensive play call. Now, Gregg has decided luck plays a part in whether a team wins a game or not. I guess this is the conclusion he draws when he absolutely can't pin the blame on one certain coach or player for a team's loss. He can't blame Belichick for losing the Super Bowl, so for one week at least, Gregg believes luck plays a part in whether a team wins or loses.

Bill Belichick's New England Patriots have appeared in five Super Bowls, scoring 107 points while allowing 105 points. The Patriots have won the Super Bowl three times by three points on three occasions, lost by three points on one occasion and lost by four points on Sunday.

In a given year, the difference between a team making the playoffs and having a draft choice in the Top 10 can be 2-3 plays that went one way or another. A guy on your favorite team makes a kick, or if another player on an opposing team misses a kick, and your team makes the playoffs. Or your favorite team loses a couple of close games due to poorly timed fourth quarter turnovers and they are drafting in the Top 10 instead of being on the cusp of the playoffs. There's not a huge difference in the NFL between 9-7 and 6-10, it just happens a team made a few more plays when they needed to or got/didn't get a needed break in an important situation. This is pretty standard knowledge among NFL fans.

Whenever a football game ends with a margin of less than a touchdown, the contest might have gone either way based on a bounce of the ball.

Or if one team had gone for it on fourth down, used a little bit of motion on a short yardage play, if the coach had worn warmer weather clothing on the sidelines, if a team went for a field goal instead of a touchdown in a certain situation, or if a team had five tight ends on the roster. These are all reasons Gregg has given this year for why teams haven't won games. There's more, I just can't remember them right now. But now, Gregg says luck plays a huge part in whether a team wins a game or not. This coming from a guy who thinks if a team doesn't go for it on fourth down, then this makes the difference in a 28-3 game.

This is a complete change of position by Gregg. He hasn't ever chalked up a team's win or loss to least not that I can find. But now, all of a sudden Gregg doesn't see a lack of motion on a fourth down play as the reason for a team's loss. No, it is based on luck. It is a huge cop-out from Gregg. When he can't explain something with one of his lies or deceptive comments (like when he says a defensive player wasn't guarding an offensive player, but the defensive player may have been playing zone and was not responsible for that offensive player) then Gregg just chalks it all up to luck. So luck decides NFL games, except when Gregg can conveniently find someone to blame. I'm guessing this revelation of how important luck is will last for just over a week.

In New England's three Super Bowl victories, the critical bit of luck favored the Patriots. In New England's two Super Bowl loses, the critical bit of luck favored the Giants.

Luck got these teams into the Super Bowl as well. Don't forget that. the 49ers were lucky Kyle Williams made two big mistakes and the Patriots were lucky Lee Evans can't hold on to a touchdown pass and Billy Cundiff missed a chip shot. Let's also not forget the Giants and Patriots put themselves in a position where a little luck got them a win. So while these teams received some luck, they also put themselves in a position where a little luck could help them win a game. There is strategy and talent involved with putting yourself in the position to win with a little luck.


Now Gregg gives instances of luck that weren't actually luck. This man is a disaster when discussing the NFL.

In the 2002 Super Bowl against the St. Louis Rams, New England was outgained by 160 yards. But Rams quarterback Kurt Warner had an unblocked rusher in his face

Not luck, but a great defensive play call to get an unblocked rusher in Warner's face. Good defensive play calling isn't necessarily luck.

and short-armed a pass that Ty Law cut in front of and returned for a touchdown. New England went on to a three-point victory.

Notice the ball didn't go to Law, he was aware and cut in front of the intended receiver. Again, I wouldn't call this luck.

In the 2004 Super Bowl against the Carolina Panthers, the Panthers tied the score with 1:08 remaining. But the Panthers' place-kicker honked the kickoff, which went out of bounds. Taking possession on their 40, the Patriots moved into position for the winning field goal just ere the clock struck midnight.

This was a little lucky, but the Patriots still had to move into position for a field goal, which they did. So luck was combined with skill. Talking about this Super Bowl makes me sad.

In the 2008 Super Bowl versus the Giants, perhaps you have heard about a long catch a Jersey/A player made against his helmet. New England lost by three.

That was a lucky catch, but when I am talking about teams putting themselves in a position where luck wins the game for them, I am talking exactly about this. The Giants shut down the Patriots offense well enough to where a fortunate catch would help put them in a position to win the game. There wasn't luck involved in the Giants limiting the Patriots offense in the 2008 Super Bowl. So luck combined with skill was present.

And with four minutes remaining in Sunday's Super Bowl, Wes Welker, among the most reliable receivers in football annals, dropped a pass that would have put New England in position to ice the game. New England went on to lose by four.

That is Wes Welker UNWANTED AND UNDRAFTED PLAYER that dropped this ball. One of Gregg's favorite type of players dropped this crucial pass. Gregg, naturally, doesn't mention this little fact.

In many aspects of life, luck is a bigger factor than we care to admit.

Like right now, my ability to read English words on the Interwebs doesn't feel so lucky because I am reading TMQ.

We want to think some teams win and others lose because the winner "deserved" laurels. In a 20-point football win, the winner did deserve to win. In games that come down to the final snap, either team might have prevailed: luck calls the ultimate shot.

Let's remember Gregg is saying this right now. It pretty much flies in the face of every other type of logic he has ever used to describe why a team wins a game and why another team loses a game. Gregg has stated on multiple occasions a team that didn't go for a touchdown early in the game or punted early in a game could have won the game if the head coach has shown his team he wanted to win by going for it. Gregg has stated this concerning games decided by more than 20 points.

So Gregg doesn't necessarily think a team that won by 20 points deserved to win and believes this could have been prevented if the opposing coach had shown his team he wanted to win by being aggressive early in the game. This point of view doesn't account for how that team would make up the other 17-20 points required to win the game if that team converts a touchdown on fourth down instead of kicking a field goal.

It was just three weeks ago that Gregg named one of the last plays in a 36-32 game as the "Single Worst Play of the Season--So Far." He didn't attribute the loss to luck or anything other than the Saints playing poor defense. Lest Gregg forget, this flies directly in the face of his new "luck calls the ultimate shot" point of view. Let's recall Gregg's attitude concerning luck prior to this week's new change of heart.

Single Worst Play of the Season -- So Far:
New Orleans led 32-29 and had San Francisco pinned on its 15, down to one timeout, with 1:37 remaining. Using crazy big-blitz tactics, New Orleans allowed San Francisco to reach its 14-yard line.

Now it's third-and-4 on the New Orleans 14 with 14 seconds remaining, the Squared Sevens holding a timeout, down by three points. This snap is San Francisco's play to win. A short gain is meaningless for San Francisco, since the Niners would call the timeout, then kick to force overtime. In overtime, the high-flying New Orleans offense would have the advantage. So what New Orleans needs to do here is keep San Francisco out of the end zone. Any outcome in which San Francisco doesn't get a touchdown is a good outcome for the defense.

San Francisco sets with two tight ends split wide left. That's unusual. Are the Saints' defenders confused about who covers whom? Gregg Williams has a timeout, but doesn't call it. San Francisco's Vernon Davis is red hot -- 166 yards receiving to that point. Surely the Saints are aware of that!

Linebacker Scott Shanle lines up across from Davis. At the snap, Shanle does not jam Davis. All of the swagger by Williams about his supposed super-macho defense -- why don't the Saints jam receivers at the goal line? Davis runs a simple quick post -- and no one at all covers him. Shanle just stands like topiary, watching him blow by. It's easy to get open when no one covers you. On the winning touchdown, New Orleans defenders Shanle, Jon Vilma and Tracy Porter are near Davis -- all of them covering no one at all. Davis is hit an instant after the reception, but by then, San Francisco has won.

On the game-deciding snap, New Orleans defenders just stood around in a super-soft backed-off zone. New Orleans Saints, you are guilty of the single worst play of the season.

So luck didn't call the ultimate shot. At least that wasn't Gregg's point of view at the time. He thinks the Saints screwed up by playing bad defense. Granted, this wasn't the last play of the game, but it happened with 14 seconds remaining, so it may as well have been the last play of the game. It sure doesn't seem like Gregg decides luck played a factor here does it? That's because Gregg changes his theories around to fit whatever he is trying to prove this current week. He is consistent only in that we know he won't be consistent.

TMQ praises the "all-unwanted" NFL player who was undrafted or waived or both, yet never gives up. Eleven undrafted free agents started in the Super Bowl, versus 10 first-round draft choices.

I would look this up, because it sounds like bullshit, but it turns out with my quick research this is correct. Gregg thinks this one fact proves his entire premise as being correct. It doesn't.

Undrafted Victor Cruz from Division I-AA Massachusetts scored a touchdown, undrafted Danny Woodhead from Division II Chadron State scored a touchdown. No first-round draft choice scored a touchdown.

But a first round draft choice did win the MVP. Gregg doesn't mention this because it wouldn't help him prove what he wants to prove. Undrafted free agents scored touchdowns, but a first round draft choice was the most valuable player in the game. Lawyered.

If not Lady Luck, did the football gods determine Sunday's outcome?

No, the Patriots and Giants determined Sunday's outcome.

Before Spygate, Belichick's Patriots were 12-2 in the playoffs and 3-0 in the Super Bowl. Since the illegal taping scheme was revealed, they are 4-4 in the postseason and 0-2 in the Super Bowl.

So now Gregg has moved the date of Spygate again. In a previous TMQ, Gregg stated the Patriots haven't won a playoff game since Spygate broke. Now, in the statement above Gregg is admitting the Patriots have won a playoff game since Spygate broke. Gregg was originally saying Spygate happened after the Patriots actually got punished by the NFL and not counting their two victories in the 2008 playoffs as having happened after Spygate. This was a dumb line of thinking. So basically, Gregg knew he was wrong earlier this year about when Spygate began, but wouldn't admit it, and now he changes his opinion when Spygate began because he realized how stupid he sounded. I love it. I love how Gregg changes the date of when Spygate began from the date he used earlier in the year. He still won't say he was wrong about his earlier statement that Spygate began AFTER the Patriots got punished and he just casually throws this statistic in here which happens to contradict what he stated earlier in the year. This man and his ego are unbelievable.

Sports pundits and Gisele Bundchen have attributed the Super Bowl result either to Gronkowski playing hurt or receivers letting Brady down. But Gronkowski was plenty open on this play -- the pass was short.

I don't want to be a part of the "defend Brady" gang, but in a situation with a defender bearing down on him I can't entirely blame Brady for that throw. Blackburn made a great play and Gronkowski would normally make that play. So the pass was short, but it wasn't as bad of a throw as Gregg is making it out to be, and normally (or "10 times out of 10" as Cris Collinsworth would say) Gronkowski makes the play. Was it a bad pass? Perhaps, but I give Gronkowski the edge over Blackburn in that jump ball situation.

Then Gregg compliments Belichick for letting the Giants score, which was the best move to allow Brady time to come back. I don't see why more teams don't do this. Earlier this year the Vikings let the Broncos run the clock down and kick a chip shot field goal rather than let the Broncos score and then get the ball back. I like this strategy in certain situations and wish more teams would use it.

Two minutes before this, Mario Manningham caught his tiptoe pass to move the Giants from their 12 to midfield, setting in motion the fantastic Super Bowl finish. Belichick challenged, though the call on the field clearly was correct. The Lucas Oil crowd roared when the scoreboard showed the replay, no question a completed catch.

It was no question a completed catch once you see the replay a few times. In reality, Belichick had to challenge this call because it was such an important play and the Giants were going to snap the football to where it could not be challenged or reviewed. So Belichick made the right call to challenge and he would not have had the benefit of hearing the crowd roar if he had not challenged the call because the next play would have begun 40 seconds later and the replay may not have been shown on the scoreboard. So using the crowd cheering as proof Belichick shouldn't have challenged the call is faulty since he would rely more on what his replay booth sees and may not have had the chance to see the replay until the next play had already begun. Belichick had to challenge the call because it was a big play and it appeared to be such a close call.

The challenge cost the Patriots a timeout: a timeout they would sorely need when the Giants reached goal-to-go in the endgame.

But I think Belichick had to challenge this call. You can second-guess him based on information we know now all you want, but at the time it was a huge catch that needed to be challenged to ensure it was a correct call. Belichick wasn't aware he would need that timeout when the Giants reached goal-to-go at the end of the game. Belichick just knew this catch would give the Giants a first down and give them a better chance to win the game. Plus, Belichick may have allowed Bradshaw to score even if he had this extra timeout, so the timeout would have helped when the Patriots had the ball on offense at the end of the game.

Belichick, the Yoda of coaching tactics, on a hopeless challenge threw away a timeout at the endgame of a one-score game. Here's why this is really sour: Manningham made the catch directly in front on Belichick on the New England sideline.

If you look at the replays though, Belichick wasn't looking directly at the catch. In fact, Belichick was looking away from the action around the football, which ironically is what Gregg Easterbrook suggests people should do to learn what really goes on during a game.

Think about the coaching situation. New England had a two-point lead and faced second-and-11 on the Jersey/A 44 with 4:06, the Giants already down to one timeout. Two straight incompletions stopped the clock, keeping Jersey/A alive. On the downs that became the Welker and Branch incompletions, had New England simply rushed for no gain, Jersey/A would have gotten the ball back on its 12 with one timeout and less than three minutes. Maybe the Giants would have won anyway, but the situation on the Jersey/A sideline would have been more tense. Yes, the New England offense is good at completing passes. But Belichick's disdain for the rush hurt the team in a Super Bowl clock-killer situation. The Giants' defense had its linebackers backed off, expecting pass, on both downs.

What complete idiocy. Gregg is using knowledge he has now to criticize play calling during the game. If Belichick had just run the ball twice and the Patriots had lost Gregg would have criticized Belichick for being too conservative. We all know he would have. So I don't believe Gregg's bullshit here. He can second-guess Belichick's play calling, but I think it was good play calling. The Patriots have a Hall of Fame quarterback and a quality passing game. You don't run the clock out and you certainly don't criticize the Patriots for not just running the ball when that suggestion wouldn't have made a ton of sense at the time. Come on Gregg, no play caller in his right mind runs the clock out and gives the ball back to Eli Manning when Tom Brady is the quarterback of your team.

In the 1970s and '80s, TV crime drama featured private detectives -- lone outsiders bucking the system. Today's procedurals offer law enforcement officers almost exclusively. Post 9/11, Americans seem to prefer fictions about power.

Right, because "CHIPs" and "Cagney and Lacey" were reality-based looks at a police officer's day.

3. The cops are shocked to discover they have no leads. Next time you hear this phrase on a news report -- "police said they do not have a motive in the crime" -- bear in mind, of course the police don't have a motive. The police didn't do it.

Everybody knows this means the police don't have a motive that they believe caused the suspect to do it.

Then Gregg keeps on listing the traits of procedural shows. Because apparently TMQ isn't even about the NFL or any other government-related tangent Gregg wants to go off and chase anymore, but is actually about criticism of television shows and how they just aren't very realistic. Gregg knows these police procedurals aren't realistic from his not having ever been a cop or had any sort of job in law enforcement. His lack of experience makes him an expert.

Not content with imaginary technology, some procedurals give detectives superpowers. "Millennium" featured a cop who could read minds; the protagonist of "Life on Mars" was a detective who traveled in time; "Tru Calling" starred a medical examiner who could bring the dead back to life temporarily; "Unforgettable" centers on a detective who has total recall and extremely acute senses; "Person of Interest" offers detectives with a computer that predicts the future; "New Amsterdam," a 2008 crime show, was about an immortal detective. Immortal -- until the show was canceled.

Obviously, since most of these shows are canceled, the public didn't care very much for these shows. So criticize successful televisions shows all you want for accuracy, but a show that has gotten canceled probably has gotten canceled because the premise Gregg is mocking was rejected by the audience. So he's basically just taking on low hanging fruit here.

Now for some fine point on the formula:.

Now Gregg continues to talk about police procedurals. No kidding, this is half of TMQ not dedicated to football or the NFL, but to criticizing police procedurals. If you don't have enough material for an entire 10,000 word column then shorten it and save your audience the headache of reading about bullshit they don't care about.

For a guy who uses 30 bullet points about how terrible police procedurals are, Gregg sure knows a lot of information about these shows that allows him to complain. After all his complaining about these shows along with "unrealistic" science-fiction television shows, I wonder if he only watches television shows that he hates.

At least TV detectives have stopped holding their Glocks sideways. Producers thought this looked really cool. Holding a pistol sideways dramatically reduces accuracy.

I don't remember ever watching a television show where a detective holds the gun sideways. I remember a lot of shows where criminals hold their gun sideways, but not never the police holding a gun this way. Of course, these are all details to Gregg. He just wants to complain about television shows, damn the accuracy of all his complaints.

In procedurals, mutilated bodies of the innocent lie on the medical examiner's table as characters yuk it up about the local Italian restaurant. Victims are just "vics" -- "who's today's vic?" is a typical line of dialogue. Police officers and medical personnel never display moral outrage, as if being murdered were a lifestyle choice.

Because given Gregg's long history of not being a police officer nor being involved in any type of law enforcement he doesn't realize police officers and medical personnel are supposed to be as detached as possible in order to do their job in the best way possible. So moral outrage for every victim or patient isn't always advisable in these professions.

A numbing toward violence is promoted by much of Hollywood. One need not be Dr. Freud to wonder what it means that the major corporations behind most TV shows and movies want to depict the slaying of the helpless as entertainment.

Of course, procedurals are just Hollywood nonsense. But procedurals get it wrong both ways: making crime seem more common than it is, but also making crime seem never to pay.

So television shows should show less crime, but showing how awesome it is to commit a crime and get away with it? That's a better than showing violence perpetrated on a victim where the perpetrator is eventually caught? Does Gregg really believe television shows should show that crime pays? Since he's all about sending a message, what kind of message does this send?

On the first snap of the second half, New England put in offensive tackle Nate Solder as a tight end, sent him in motion, and he went downfield simulating a pass pattern. The Giants were flummoxed by this, giving up the Chad Ochocinco catch that was New England's longest play. Then the three tight end look vanished from the New England playbook, which was puzzling.

The three tight end look disappeared probably because the Patriots only have two tight ends on their depth chart and using their right tackle as a tight end isn't a winning long-term strategy. I know Solder used to be a tight end, but he is best used as a right tackle. I would say keeping your right tackle as the right tackle and not using him as a tight end isn't a puzzling strategy.

TMQ's MVP vote went to Jersey/A guard Chris Snee, who blocked efficiently and recovered a fourth-quarter fumble on one of the Lady Luck plays where, had the ball bounced slightly differently, Boston might be holding another victory parade.

Of course Gregg would choose Chris Snee as the MVP. Eli Manning, Jason Pierre-Paul and Justin Tuck didn't do shit to help the Giants win the Super Bowl.

After a couple seasons, it becomes clear Player X will not live up to expectations. Or Player X blows out his ACL. Worst, he does the unforgivable and tells the coach he has to miss practice for class. The coach simply yanks his scholarship, in order to bring in an additional high school prospect who might become a star, and in any case will be too cowed ever to talk back. With the year-to-year scholarship, nothing stops coaches from throwing players overboard.

While I don't agree with this policy, the student-athletes in the article linked did get a medical scholarship. So it wasn't like they were completely thrown overboard. I still don't agree with this policy.

Schools might try to weasel out by saying a player should lose his scholarship for a discipline problem, then use the "privacy" dodge to claim the school can't say what the violation was. Big-college use of the privacy dodge is getting out of hand, considering almost all college students are, legally, adults.

Fuck federal laws that protect a student's privacy and prevents others from learning about a student's disciplinary suspension or the details of their parent's income which can show how much financial aid a student may receive. Get rid of all these "privacy" acts and just let the college students act like adults, which has nothing to do of course with whether their privacy should be protected. I wonder if Gregg would like his children's financial aid to be publicized or any private incident that may have happened on campus involving his children be put in the newspaper for others to judge. I'm guessing he wouldn't want his income put out to the public. That's what these silly "privacy" laws help to protect. It's not about the students, it is about information concerning the student.

Madonna has spent much of her career striving to be naughty. Her 1992 picture book "Sex," which came in a sealed wrapper to prevent browsing, and included graphic images of her engaging in sadomasochistic and all-girl sex, was denounced by a range of pundits --

Including, most likely, Gregg Easterbrook.

Plus ca Change, Plus C'est la Meme Chose: Only 13 of the 44 starters were the same as when the Patriots and Giants met in the Super Bowl four years ago; three of the four coordinators had changed, too.


Had the Patriots gone the distance in the final minute, today Tom Coughlin would be under intense criticism for having his team even run a play rather than having Eli Manning kneel twice before a field-goal try.

Which is what I thought the Giants should have done at the time. It was close enough for an easy field goal try and would ensure the Giants could line up the kick in the center of the field, while also forcing the Patriots to use their timeouts. It worked out for the Giants, but I can't help but I think I kneel down, center the ball and try the field goal if I am the Giants...especially since the Patriots were doing a good job of stripping the ball from the Giants.

TMQ folds its tent and steals off into the desert till next season, though will resurface briefly around draft time.

I'm sad, yet very happy my blood pressure will not spike every Tuesday afternoon.

The Bad Predictions Review column that previously concluded the season had its series finale last year.

This is a good thing because this column was always stupid. Gregg never had the balls to really make any predictions, other than a team's record, yet he consistently judged other people's predictions like his own shit didn't stink.

That's TMQ for this year. You know he will be back with more irritating observations around the time of the NFL Draft.


rich said...

In many aspects of life, luck is a bigger factor than we care to admit.

Here's my biggest issue - what is luck?

Was it luck that the Panther's kicker shanked the kick off? Not really, it was a bad kick.

Was it luck that Warner underthrew a receiver because of an unblocked rusher? No, that was bad adjustments by the offensive line.

Was it luck that Welker missed a wide open catch? No, because Brady made a bad throw because of the pressure he faced.

The only play that can be listed as lucky would be the Tyree catch and even that I'd say it was just a really great play by Tyree and a piss poor job by the Patriots to rip the ball loose.

Two minutes before this, Mario Manningham caught his tiptoe pass to move the Giants from their 12 to midfield, setting in motion the fantastic Super Bowl finish.

Lets not forget that on the drive before, Manningham had a very similar play and couldn't keep his feet in bounds when he clearly could have.

Sure the fantastic throw and catch on the last Giants' drive set the TD in "motion," but they very well could have scored had Manningham made the easier catch on the drive before.

The challenge cost the Patriots a timeout: a timeout they would sorely need when the Giants reached goal-to-go in the endgame.

And had Bradshaw fallen down at the 1 it wouldn't have mattered how many time outs the Patriots had.

Here's why this is really sour: Manningham made the catch directly in front on Belichick on the New England sideline.

The play happened really fucking fast and since he was so close, the chances of him seeing:

a) When Manningham actually catches the ball


b) where his feet were at the time

is very slim.

Considering his proximity to the play, BB probably had a chance to see one or the other and not both.

Think about the coaching situation. New England had a two-point lead and faced second-and-11 on the Jersey/A 44 with 4:06, the Giants already down to one timeout.

a) The Giants scored with just under a minute left, so the extra time probably wouldn't have mattered much.

b) The Giants only needed a FG to win it anyway.

Had the Patriots gone the distance in the final minute, today Tom Coughlin would be under intense criticism for having his team even run a play rather than having Eli Manning kneel twice before a field-goal try.

Right because Tynes hadn't already hit the upright earlier in the game and also hasn't had a history of missing relatively important field goals (see: 2008 NFC Championship game).

According to reports, Coughlin and Eli both told Bradshaw to go down before scoring. So what's the difference between having your RB fall down at the 1 and taking a knee?

You bring up a legitimate argument about the Patriots stripping the ball, but two of the fumbles came at the hands of receivers who were trying to do too much with the ball, while I'm sure Coughlin told Bradshaw to go down as soon as he felt contact.

We're also talking about a RB who in 234 carries this season (regular and post) had 2 fumbles. The chances of a fumble in that situation are about on par with Eli fumbling the snap or Tynes missing the FG/the FG getting blocked.

Seeing the Giants not kneel the ball was kind of odd, but if the Giants lost, people would be more upset at the defense for allowing NE to go 80 yards in 57 seconds.

Murray said...

There was no luck the Giants players made plays Pats players didn't it suck ass and I really thought the Pats would win the game but they didn't. Welker makes that catch and Greg would just talk about some play the Giants didn't make a quarter earlier. That's what happens in champonship games with 2 good teams. It comes down to who made that one play and who didn't. I would say onto baseball but I have a feeling the Sox will farking blow

Murray said...


Justin Zeth said...

Gregg chose some truly strange examples to obscure his point, but the Giants really did luck their way into the title. Not just on the field, either. Consider:

If Mike Vick doesn't miss a month, the Giants probably miss the playoffs. (But we must acknowledge that Vick being injured his hardly major news and so we can't say it's THAT lucky.)

If Tony Romo doesn't break his hand, there's a fair chance the Giants miss the playoffs.

If Rob Gronkowski doesn't screw up his foot in the AFC Championship, the Giants almost certainly lose the Super Bowl.

And on the field, the Giants benefited from some almost absurd fumble luck. (Forcing fumbles is a skill, recovering them is luck.)

You know... here's an xkcd strip that made me laugh out loud AND made me a little uncomfortable:

Sometimes I almost think I was happier when I was young and ignorant and believed sports were a test of manhood, because that's what ESPN told me they were. As opposed to now, when I'm perfectly aware that sports are basically a weighted random number generator and can't lie to myself about it.

Older I get, the less I find myself caring who wins, and the more I just want to enjoy watching athletes do athletic things. (Which is why baseball frustrates me.)

Bengoodfella said...

Rich, I think luck for one team is poor execution for another. It was lucky for the Pats that John Kasay shanked the kickoff out of bounds. They probably would have won the game anyway, but it was still lucky that he executed poorly. I see what you are saying, but I think luck and bad execution go hand-in-hand.

I remember Cris Collinsworth saying before Manningham made that catch that on film he noticed Manningham had problems around the sidelines with keeping his feet in bounds.

That crap about Belichick not challenging the call is stupid. That play was happening so fast and it was such a big play he almost had to challenge it just to make sure the call was right. Plus, Belichick wasn't even looking when Manningham got his feet down. He was looking somewhere else. I know he lost a timeout, but that challenge was almost necessary given the importance around the catch.

That's true. At the time, I thought it would be best for Eli to kneel it down. Especially since there wasn't any wind or variable like that which would cause Tynes to miss the kick. Obviously it worked out.

Murray, that's very true. I think if the Patriots had won Gregg would be talking about the soft defense they played which caused the Pats to score on the final drive. He would probably also talk about how highly paid and highly drafted safeties lost Welker on that pass play, had Welker caught the ball.

Justin, I get what you are saying, but you could do that for nearly anything. The Patriots-Giants could have not even met in the Super Bowl. If Matt Schaub doesn't get injured then the Ravens-Texans game could very well take place in Texas instead of Baltimore with the Texans best quarterback on the field. So the Texans could very well have had a good shot to beat the Patriots in Foxboro to go to the Super Bowl.

Then in reality, the Patriots may not have even made the Super Bowl if it had not been for the dropped pass by Lee Evans in the end zone. So Gronk's injury could have been irrelevant anyway.

There are other examples, but most games can go either way based on one or two events. So luck can play a part in whether a team even gets to the Super Bowl or not. I will agree about the 3 fumbles and zero that were lost. That was pretty lucky, but the Super Bowl easily could have been the Texans v. 49ers.

I wish I didn't know how much certain events playing out one way or another affected the outcome of games, but that's just the way it is I guess. My lack of ignorance makes me realize how one play gone good or bad can change a season. I still don't think luck is the ultimate decider of games like Gregg does.