Sports: How to Blow a Lead, NFL Championship Weekend

The Super Bowl is set, with the Cincinnati Bengal to go up against the L. A. Rams. Both games followed a similar pattern, with the Chiefs and the 49er’s blowing leads in both games. The Chiefs were ahead by 11 at the half, and the 49ers had a 10-point lead going into the 4th quarter. The Chiefs made one of the biggest bonehead plays in the history of the playoffs, and the 49ers had a total meltdown in the 4th quarter. Before we get to the specifics of the games, there was one thing that was very clear. The powers to be of the NFL made the decision to let the boys play, baby, let the boys play. These two games had more non calls than any two games this year. First of all, the most popular penalty in the NFL, holding, on plays from the line of scrimmage, was called only once in both games and it was declined. In the KC game, there were two pass interference penalties that weren’t called against the Chiefs. A solid hit out of bounds by the Bengals was not called. A couple of face masks calls were missed on both sides, and an intentional grounding by Mahomes was not called. Things got even worse in the SF game. Two helmet to helmet calls were ignored, a late hit on Samuels was ignored, and LA should have been flagged twice for delay of game, but instead was allowed to go ahead with the play. I think the non-calls were balanced, so I do not think any team got a major advantage, but it was obvious the NFL did not want these games to be penalty filled. I think this did contribute to the low number of sacks in each game. Burrows was sacked the most, 4 times but compared to last week’s number of 9 sacks, this had to be a walk in the park. The Rams did not even get a sack but did come up with a big pressure and game sealing interception in the end. These lack of calls in both games were not a coincidence, and I guess that is one way to run a game, just let the players beat the crap out of one another. So much for player safety.

The Bengal game boiled down to one of the biggest bonehead plays at the end of the first half by the KC Chiefs. With 5 secs to go in the half- and no-time outs, and the ball on the Bengals one yard line, the Chiefs elected to do one more play, rather than get the sure 3 points. The decision was ok, but the execution of the play, by one of the premier quarterbacks in game was horrendous and wound up costing the Chiefs the game. He did not throw the ball into the endzone but threw to Tyrek Hill at about the 2-yard line and he was immediately tackled in the field of play, which ended the first half and no score by the Chiefs. The lack of three points cost the Chiefs the game. If they had kicked that field goal, then the field goal at the end of the game would have won the game, rather than just send the game into overtime. Both head coach Andy Reid and Patrick Mahomes seem contrite about the play. Reid said he PROBABLY gave Mahomes the wrong play and Mahomes said he got greedy. Nobody mentioned the word stupid, brainless, or moronic, that kept the Chiefs from scoring any points at the end of the first half. It also had to give the Bengals a much-needed psychological lift. All the other plays that did affect the outcome of this game, seemed minor when compared with that bonehead play. The Bengal are Superbowl bound, and I have to admit, Joe Burrows is about as impressive as they come, in only his second NFL season.

The Ram-49er game came down to a monumental collapse by the 49er’s. The Rams came back but the 49ers handed it to them on a silver platter. After the Rams cut the lead to 17-14, the 49ers got the ball 3 more times. The first time, they moved the ball to the LA 45-yard line, where they had a 2nd and 1 for a first down. Like so many teams, they could not make that yard in two plays and then did not have enough guts to go for it on 4th down. The next time they got the ball the score was tied 17-17. This time the SF offense wound up getting a delay of game penalty, sandwiched around 3 terrible incomplete passes. Their last possession, they got the ball trailing 20-17 with 1:46 remaining in the game. Three plays later, after losing 3 yards on the first 2 plays, Jimmy Garoppolo threw the game ending interception, just trying to get rid of the ball. Before all of that, the 49ers caught a kick-off that would have either gone out of bounds or into the endzone, had a taunting penalty, an interception drop, that was more like catching a punt, and an obvious helmet to helmet hit, all of which, would ensure the Rams comeback would not be in vain. The Kansas City Chiefs and the San Franscisco 49ers turned blowing a lead into an art form. An art form that cost them both, a chance to play in the Super Bowl.

Meditation: Emotion

Emotion is a very complex feeling. It is something that has been hard to define. Looking at various dictionaries here are some of the attempts. Merriam-Webster defines emotion as a conscious mental reaction subjectively experienced as a strong feeling usually directed toward a specific object and typically accompanied by physiological and behavioral changes in the body. Freedictionary. com states that emotion is an affective state of consciousness in which joy, sorrow, fear, hate, or the like, is experienced, as distinguished from cognitive and volitional states of consciousness. Volitional means making a conscious choice, rather than an emotional choice. The Cambridge Dictionary simply states that it is a strong feeling like love or anger or any strong feeling in general. In most circles being “emotional” is considered a bad trait. People have a tendency to think that feelings and emotions are the same, but basically it is emotions, that lead to feelings. Emotions and feelings arise in different parts of the brain. Another way of putting it is that emotions are aroused before feelings. You could write a blog, or even a book on just trying to define and explain emotions. What is more interesting is how people and mental health experts feel about emotions.

There is a general consensus that we should try, and hide are emotions, most of the time. Crying, particularly by men, and even more so if the man is a leader, is considered a sign of weakness by some. Is there somewhere that we could see, where some part of our society has become more emotional over the last 20 to 30 years, and the effects that that may have had. You do not have to look very far to find that that has happened in the world of sports. Players today, show more emotion, than any time in history. It used to be, that teams and players would only show a lot of emotion when they scored a touchdown or even waited until the game was over. Now players are fist pumping, bat flipping, dancing, and going through extreme gyrations, just when they make a good play. It doesn’t seem to make any difference, when it takes place during the game, or what the score is, players will show their emotions when they make a good or great play. Even coaches on the sidelines are getting into the act by running up and down the field, clapping, fist pumping, exhorting the crowd, and showing every level of emotion during the game. The stoic, stone-faced coach is a dying breed. Has showing all this emotion been bad or good for all of these sports. You can find opinions on both sides of the question, on how all this emotional behavior has affected sports. If you google “being emotional” you will find sites that take a positive spin on being emotional and some trying to give advice on how to stop being so emotional. When people talk about the positive things of being so emotional, they feel that being emotional can help you be more aware of your own and other people’s feelings. The negative spin of being emotional, is that most of time, the emotional person becomes a big pain in the ass. There is no question in my mind, that people are showing more emotion in public, than they have in the past. I think it goes a long with people’s desire to discuss their dirty past, so to speak, in a public forum. Quite frankly I don’t see any good coming from that. Is there a best way of dealing with our emotions?

There is no question that emotions need to be acknowledged and treated kindly. Emotions should not be judged, or need to be justified. The feelings these emotions create need to be examined, and an attempt made to see what their root cause is. Emotions are just another sign, that the inward journey is the most important one you can take. Certain overwhelming, catastrophic, and unexpected events, may cause emotions that cannot or should not be repressed. In the normal, day to day events in life, we need to find a way to deal with the emotions, that could be detrimental to ourselves, and those around us. Relaxed deep breathing is an excellent method to deal with unwanted or detrimental emotions. This can allow you to get over the situation that is causing these emotions, and then you can express these emotions when you are alone, or with one other person. Expressing emotions when you are by yourself, should be just as effective and more positive, than expressing them in a situation where harm may be done. Caring and being emotional can seem to go hand in hand. Many times, the thing that you care about can be harmed if you become emotional in certain situations. You have to take the emotion out of the situation, if you want to make clear and precise decisions. Emotions never should be repressed. You must know when the proper time is to show them and express them. The inward journey can help.

Sports: Not So Home Sweet Home

The divisional playoff games more than made up for a not so wild card weekend, the week before. All four games ended with a field goal, winning the game in the first 3 games, and sending the 4th game into overtime. My game deciding factors went 4 for 4 in deciding who should win the game. I did not fare as well, thinking that the home team would win all four games. The home team in fact would have lost all 4 games, if the Buffalo Bills would have not blown the game in the last 13 seconds. Even though all four games ended similarly, each day’s games had their own identity. Saturday’s games were defensive struggles, and Sunday’s games were closer to offensive shootouts. Let’s delve into each game as they happened this weekend.

The Cincinnati Bengals defeated the No. 1 seed Tennessee Titans 19-16 with a field goal on the last play of the game. Tennessee had only 3 deciding points in the game. One I considered luck the interception that was held up by replay. I considered it luck because it could have gone either way. If it had been called an incomplete pass on the field, I am sure that it would have held up also. Cincinnati had two incompetent plays, the kick catch interference and one significant dropped pass. Cincinnati had 7 deciding points to help them win the game. Luck when a delay of game penalty nullified a sack. An officiating blunder when they missed a Cincinnati false start that the Bengals had a big gain on. Tennessee had 5 incompetent plays that aided in the Cincinnati win. Two critical dropped passes and the biggest in the 4 quarter when they could not make 1 yard, on two plays, around the Cincinnati 30-yard line. Then, there was what I called the bizarre double blunder, in the first half when Cincinnati had too many men on the field on the extra point, following Tennessee’s first touchdown, blunder number one. This moved the ball to the one-yard line. The Titans then decided to go for two points, which they did not make, blunder number 2. Assuming that they would have made the extra point, which would have given them the lead, this strange sequence actually contributed to Cincinnati winning the game.

The San Francisco 49’s beat the other no. 1 seed, the Green Bay Packers, 13 to 10 on a game ending field goal. The officials and luck had very little to do with the 49er win. This was all about the Green Bay Packer’s incompetence. They made 8 bonehead plays ranging from dropped balls, blocked field goals, false starts and the biggest, a blocked punt that led to the only SF touchdown. Then we are going to give a whole game incompetent award, to Green Bay head coach Matt LaFleur. He seems to be more interested in revving up the crowd, than paying attention to what is going on in the game. The early fumble by the Packers, that stopped their second drive, when it seemed like Green Bay was having their way with 49er defense, should have been challenged. It was a lot closer to being an incomplete pass than it looked, and it would not have hurt to challenge such a big play. They might have lost, but I have looked at that play over and over again, and the tight end barely got to the third step, and he was in the process of transferring the ball when he was hit. I am not saying that it would have been overturned, but it was worth a shot in my view. LaFleur was probably too busy thinking about when it would be a good time to try and fire up the crowd again. The 49ers only made 4 blunders which helped the Packers stay in a game, that the Packers had no intention of winning.

Speaking of having no intention of winning the Los Angeles Rams and Tampa Bay Bucs made that into an art form. The announcers gave the impression that the Rams did everything they could to lose the game, but in reality, the Bucs did more to make sure that they would lose. Some luck and the officials did play a role in this game, to some degree. Tampa Bay was recipient of a very close replay reversal that cost the Rams another first half touchdown, when they were dominating the game. L. A. was fortunate, when a late hit was barely after the play, which would have allowed Tampa Bay to keep the ball deep in L. A. territory. Tampa’s incompetent plays included 2 kickoffs out of bounds, 3 Un sportsman like conduct penalties, 2 dropped passes, and allowing the best receiver in football to run free downfield to set up the winning field goal. Besides all of that, Tampa Bay did not take advantage of all of the Ram’s miscues. In the game deciding plays, the Rams had an eleven to seven lead over the Buccaneers, which of course contributed mightily to their narrow 30-27 victory over Tampa Bay.

By far the best game of the weekend was the Kansas City Chief’s overtime victory over the Buffalo Bills 42-36. This was the lowest of the game deciding plays with Kansas City having a 5 to 3 edge over Buffalo. Both teams played well with very few incompetent plays until that fateful 13 secs at the end of the game. The first mistake that the Bills made, is they did not make the Chiefs field the kickoff. I would have kicked a ball high and hoped it would have come down around the 10-to-15-yard line. Any kind of return would have taken at least 4 to 5 secs off the clock. The Bills called a time out just before each play, that the Chiefs ran in that final 13 seconds. You have to wonder, what in hell, were they talking about. Were they getting ready for overtime? Did they not realize that a field goal would tie the game? They should have had much tighter coverage on the receivers and not allowed them to run, after the catch. The bottom line was, the Kansas City Chiefs went 49 yards, in about 10 seconds, to kick the tying field goal. Then they took the opening drive, in overtime, down the field to score the winning touchdown. Josh Allen threw a go-ahead touchdown pass with 13 seconds to go in the game and lost the game without ever taking the field again. It was one of the best football games of all time, but it was an ugly collapse of the Buffalo Bills defense and their brain trust.

Some final thoughts about the games, in general. If I am an offensive or defensive coordinator, I am going to work on these two things in the off season. Come up with a way to consistently make one yard. Tennessee could not do it 3 times and it cost them the football game. There were many other examples, this weekend of teams failing to make a yard. Find a way to stop the two-minute offense. Kansas City and Buffalo failed miserably at doing this, and they are not alone. Next week will be what I consider the final two football games of the year. The winners will go to the Super Bowl, but as you all know I do not consider the Super Bowl a football game, more of a 3-ring circus.

Sports: Not Such a Wild, Wild Card Weekend

I don’t watch a lot of pro football, but with snow everywhere, I decided to partake of all 6 Wild Card games this past weekend. After watching all 6 playoff games, I still find pro football a bit of a bore when compared with the college game. I am amazed at the low level of play, at the top of the sport. Of the 6 games only two would be called competitive. The Cincinnati-Oakland game although close, could have been considered a cure for insomnia. Cincinnati did everything they could to try and keep their playoff losing streak alive, but Oakland went above and beyond, to make sure that the Bengals would win the game. The other game that had some doubt in it until end, was the Dallas-San Franscisco game. Dak Prescott will time 14 seconds, 3 times a day every day, until the season begins in September. Dallas made all kind of excuses for why they called that play, but the bottom line is this, two shots from the 40-yard line are better than 0 shots. The other 4 games were blowouts with Tampa Bay’s 15-point win very misleading as they were in no danger of losing that game. We are down to 8 teams, and all the home teams are favored. These 4 games will be analyzed to death by numerous networks, so I am not going there. Despite these in depth over the top discussions of these games, I feel there will be three aspects of the games, that will not be discussed, and in my view will decide the games. The three things won’t be discussed because they make the game look bad on various levels, and the powers to be never like to talk about this.

First, is what I call the incompetent plays. In the wild card games, these plays were too numerous to count. In general, I call incompetent plays anything ranging from dropped balls, idiotic penalties, blown coverages, presnap penalties and just very bad plays. The worst of the weekend was Kyler Murray’s under handed heave from his own endzone that gave a touchdown to the L. A. Rams. Speaking of Kyler Murray and Baker Mayfield, if they ever want to get a championship ring, they better go up to Canada. They don’t have the physical tools to lead a team to the Super Bowl. You had better come to grips with that, Arizona and Cleveland. You will find these plays in high numbers in just about every game of professional football, more so than in any other professional sport. The team that makes the least of these plays will win the game.

Next, is just plain old-fashioned luck. I have discussed luck when it comes to sports in a previous blog. When a player makes an incompetent play, we are not going put that under the luck heading, because that is in the player’s control to make the catch. Luck is when the ball bounces in the right direction for one team and the wrong direction for the other team. Some fumbles recoveries or lack of recovery are a result of luck. A deflected pass that is intercepted has to be considered lucky. There are other examples of luck but again the team that gets the most breaks so to speak will most likely win the game.

Finally, is the officiating. Even with replay, the NFL by far, have the worst officials. No one, of course, is allowed to say a discouraging word about any of these buffoons. Where they are at their worse, is in calling penalties that don’t happen, and not calling penalties that do happen. What is really sad, is most of their calls are really straight forward. There are no decisions they have to be made in a blink of an eye, like in baseball and basketball. Instant replay bails them out in other aspects of the game, as they miss fumbles, players going out or staying in bounds, and where to spot the friggin ball. Their decisions have a major impact on the result of the game, and sometimes the wrong team wins because of their inadequacies.

How are we going to evaluate all of this, to see if this corresponds to who wins the game? When any of the above happens, we are going award one or two points to the team that benefits. If it is considered a big play resulting directly to a score for the benefitting team then they will be awarded 2 points. For all other plays 1 point will be awarded to the benefitting team. When it comes to presnap penalties, it will be decided if this affected the team’s ability to make a first down. The team with the most points should win the game. I will be watching all 4 Divisional Games and see how this system works with the “top 8” teams in football playing. In my view these are the things that determine who wins and who loses pro football games. I only have 14 seconds to finish this blog, so l think the most important factor in this weekend games will be

Sports: Things I Would Like to See Happen, but I Know Won’t

The 4 major professional team sports and the one individual sport, golf, are all looking fairly good right now, with everyone raking in a lot of cash. But the games themselves seemed to be bogged down in non-action, that are long drawn-out events. There are things I would like to see change in each and every one of them. I would like to see some big changes in some sports and some tweaks to other sports. These changes would streamline a lot of the games, and some would make the games more exciting. Some of these things will seem pretty bizarre at first, but at least give them some thought, before you write them off as some deranged old man’s delusions. One thing I am not delusional about is that none of these suggestions are going to happen. There would need to be a lot of desperation in a particular sport, for any of the things I am going to propose to come to pass. Let’s face it, the resistance to real change in any organization is extremely high. I am going to include hockey, which you know I don’t consider a sport, but I have to, in order to make the changes in the game I want. Let us begin.

I would like to see the foot removed from football. At least, 90% of the foot removed from football, anyway. I would eliminate the kickoff and the punt from the game. The start of the game would open from the teams own 30-yard line. They would have to make a first down in 4 downs or less and failure to do so would result in them having to give the ball over on downs, in other words, no punting. Let’s face it, the kick-off and the punt are the 2 most boring plays in today’s football game. Every once in a while, you will see a good return, or a blocked punt, but they are few a far between. The fear of injury has taken these plays out of the game. The best way to eliminate injuries from these plays, is to stop punting, and kicking off. We will still allow field goals, and extra points to be part of the game. Let’s change the timeout rules to 6 a game and not 3 a half. If a team preserves their time outs and scores with let’s say a minute to go, trails by one score, and has 5 timeouts, then the other team gets the ball at their own 30, and they have to make a first down, or the other team will get the ball back around the opponents 35-yard line. By eliminated the punt and kick-off, it puts a whole new light on the game, and trying to protect a lead. The game will become a lot more exciting with no punting. Now, a new way to eliminate ties, which has been a hot subject lately, with the way the NFL season just ended. If a team is trailing by 3 points and there is under 2 minutes to go, they must score a touchdown, no field goal allowed. If a team is trailing by 7 and scores a touchdown with less than 2 minutes to go, then they must go for a 2-point conversion. The only lead that would be vulnerable to a tie would be 6. A team could score a touchdown and then miss the extra point, which would result in a tie. Another way to help end the tie game, would be to continue the game if the score is tied. In other words, no clock would be used if the game is tied late. If a team is around the 50 late in the game the game would just continue until somebody scored. No more kneeling to send a game into overtime. All of these things would just about eliminate the tie game, and there would be no need for the traditional overtime game. Football without the punt or kick-off would be a much better game.

I have written about this before, but in baseball, something has to be done about the foul ball. There is nothing more boring or time consuming, than to see a batter foul off, pitch after pitch after pitch, with pitch counts reaching well over 10, on one batter. I feel the best thing is to simply say 3 fouls and you are out. I also feel that we only need 3 balls for a walk. That would limit all at bats to 7 pitches max. That, and using the pitch clock would speed the game up immensely. The game has slowed down to a snail’s pace. Another idea would be to not allow the batter to step out of the box between pitches. Also, why does the manager have to go out to make a pitching change. Just signal from the dugout and let the guy come in. I think we need to extend the rule to 5 batters that a pitcher must face when he enters the game, unless he gets the last out of the inning. The game needs to speed up, end of story.

Hockey the game I like but the sport I hate, could do one thing to make their game become Americanized. Simply eliminate the offside rule. This would increase goal scoring at an unbelievable rate and let’s face it the American sports fan loves scoring. The more points the merrier. Hockey games that would routinely reach double digits would fill arenas everywhere. What would the NBA look like, if that was a rule, where the player could not go past half court before the ball. It would look a little ridiculous just like hockey does now, with players having to race back out of the zone to get back on side. Let’s see a totally different look to that game on skates.

Pro basketball probably needs the least tinkering with, since it is a fast-paced exciting game already, with plenty of scoring, thanks to the 3-point shot and players that can make them often. The only thing I would suggest is to put in a 4-point line about 10 feet outside the 3-point line. The 4-point shot would make for even more exciting finishes. The only thing I wish about basketball is that the fast break would come back to the game. No one really pushes the ball up the court anymore, like they did in the 60’s, 70’s, and most of the 80’s. It was a thing of beauty, to watch those Celtic and Laker teams, run the break so well. We will probably never see that again.

Finally, we come to my beloved game of golf. There is no question golf needs an enforceable shot clock. The amount of time these players take to figure out a shot is pretty bizarre. This is another sport where the pace of play has slowed even more than baseball. Golf has never been that fast of a game to begin with. Jack Nicklaus was always being criticized for being a slow player, especially over the amount of time he stood over a ball or putt before he hit it. Today’s player, with the way they discuss each shot and look over the putts from every angle, make Jack Nicklaus look like a speed demon. The clock should start when the player reaches his ball and is his turn to hit. On putts the clock should start the second he puts his ball down after he marks it. The time should be set at about 60% of whatever the average time is now to hit a shot or putt. After much complaining, I am sure the players would get use to it. Failure to get the shot off in the proper time would result in a one stroke penalty.

There you have it, the changes I would make in games, that I watch and play. I think the games would be more entertaining with the changes I have suggested and would create a lot more interest in those games. There would be a lot more action rather than inaction. I know none of this will ever happen, but it is nice to dream about games that would be more streamline and entertaining to the fans that pay the big bucks, that contribute heavily to the success of all sports leagues.

Meditation: An Up and Down Holiday

I rarely write about my direct personal experiences, simply because they are personal and private. However, with the pandemic approaching 2 years, I finally was affected directly by that little corona bug. On December 30th I tested positive for Covid, who knows which kind. I probably contracted the disease while out in California, for the holidays. I am fully vaccinated with a booster in mid-October. My 14-year-old granddaughter tested positive late Christmas morning. She was not feeling well and did have a fever. At that point we all got tested and were negative. I flew out early the next morning just so I would not risk getting sick away from home. What is interesting and good news, is that none of my daughter’s other family members have shown any symptoms and all have remained negative. They are fully vaccinated. What is even more interesting, is on Christmas Eve, my granddaughter was around people that were not vaccinated, and they have not experienced any symptoms. She had a friend of hers come down with similar symptoms, but she tested negative for Covid. Later in the week, my granddaughter tested negative and has recovered. It makes me wonder if she could have had a rare false positive. Regardless, I started not feeling well on December 28, and of course, none of the at home tests could be found. I went to a mobile test area on the 30th, and it took 4 days to get the results on Jan. 3, which showed the test to be positive.

The best way I know how to describe how I felt during the illness, was it was just like having a bad cold. I did not ever run a fever. I have had much worse colds and really just had very low energy levels. I was never congested to the point where I could not breathe in the upper nasal passages. The only odd symptom was that for the first 2 nights I could not sleep, even though I had no trouble breathing. I also went through this odd vision, when I tried to sleep, that had numbers, that were above and below a certain line, and they would appear and disappear above and below this line. In my vision there was some significance to this, but I have no idea what it may have been. This only lasted for about two nights and now my sleep is now pretty much normal. This is my 10th day of illness and I still have some coughing and low energy levels, but overall, I am feeling pretty good. I feel very fortunate that this is all the symptoms I have had with this serious disease. I feel that my vaccination status has helped keep this illness at a fairly minor level. I am not completely better, but I am getting there.

Needless to say, this has gotten the New Year off to a slow start, for me. Hopefully I will continue to make progress, get into the swing of things, and start to write more. There will be lots of things happening. The college football championship game will be Monday between Alabama and Georgia which I have little interest in. The baseball lock out looks like it will head into February. The Steelers have a snowballs chance in hell of making the playoffs, but that is probably just as well. Golf is on the back burner, and we actually have had some golfing weather since I have been back. There is lots to write about and hopefully I will be raring to go by next week. Everybody stay safe, and Happy New Year.

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