In case you spent the afternoon watching Halloween reruns on AMC or were too inexplicably enthralled with one of the worst World Series in recent history: another NFL Sunday has come and gone, and like the seven before it, this week’s version of football funday was as wacky and wild as the iconic holiday on which it was played. Perhaps it was something in the candy, or maybe the Four Loko-induced hangover was working its magic, but Week Eight felt like a Stephen King novel on steroids –– and Shawne Merriman wasn’t even in uniform.
In the weekend’s journalistic gem, Brett Favre, Randy Moss and the Minnesota Vikings traveled to New England to take on the Patriots. While the scariest thing on the field was undoubtedly Tom Brady’s flowing brown locks, it was Moss’ homecoming that stole the show. In his return to New England, Moss displayed his Patriotism in traditional fashion; dogging it on the field, saluting his former coach after the loss and anointing himself as his very own media representative for the remainder of the season all while not even breaking a sweat. And in the M. Night Shymalan twist –– gasp! –– that everyone but Brad Childress could have seen coming from a mile away, Moss’ off the field antics and on the field apathy landed him a spot among the millions of other unemployed Americans throughout the country. Perhaps Randy didn’t get the memo that Mischief Night comes the day before Halloween, but then again I get the feeling that Randy Moss doesn’t read memos; instead he writes his own, and then reads them to himself, while asking himself questions, which he then answers by himself ... for himself. Make sense? No, but nothing about the Freak makes sense.
While a perfect storm of sorts was brewing in the Northeast, a hurricane was ravaging the South on Sunday night. At what was officially declared the World’s Largest Halloween Party by the Guinness Book of World Records, over 70,000 costume-dawning, binge-boozing fans gathered at the Superdome in New Orleans to cheer on Drew Brees and the world champion Saints. Hurricane Drew did the rest, tossing two fourth quarter touchdowns to push the Saints past the Steelers and send a terrifying message to the rest of the NFL: the champs are back. Somewhere in his billion-dollar stadium –– which has yet to witness a home victory this season –– Jerry Jones just shuddered. A Thanksgiving Day date with the reborn Saints is no longer the football feast it had long ago appeared to be.
Speaking of Mr. Jones, perhaps the best “feel good” moment of the weekend (unless you’re a Cowboys fan) was seeing the mega-owner take complete blame for his team’s demise. After all, Jerry Jones is the Dr. Frankenstein behind Wade Philips, who when you take into account his apparent inability to convey emotion and his sheer football stupidity, largely resembles the big, green monster. With a couple more losses, which should not be too long considering their upcoming schedule, Philips will likely face the same fate as Frankenstein’s creation. No, he will not be trapped in a burning barn never to be seen or heard from again, but another interpretation of “fire” may be in order.
On the topic of monsters, what is scarier than a showdown between a rabies-infected St. Bernard and an increasingly frustrated Mike Shanahan in Washington? Okay, okay, Cujo did not invade D.C. on the pre-election weekend, but Donovan McNabb sure found himself in Shanahan’s doghouse on Sunday. After a couple of dumbfounding decisions and ill-executed throws, the six-time pro bowler was benched by his coach for his team’s final, potentially game winning drive against the Detroit Lions. Instead, Shanahan unleashed his secret weapon: Rex Grossman. Grossman delivered –– for the Lions –– taking a sack, fumbling and watching Ndamukong Suh record his first career touchdown on the Redskins’ first play from scrimmage. What, you thought it would be a happy ending? This is Halloween, not Christmas.
And then there was my beloved New York Jets, who, coming off a five-game winning streak and a weeklong vacation, dropped the ball (literally) against an injury-ravaged Green Bay Packers squad. As if countless Fox Sports Halloween puns failed to get the message across, the Jets celebrated All Hollow’s Eve in unrivaled fashion on Sunday. Mark Sanchez did his best Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde impersonation, removing any thoughts of a sophomore breakout season as he regressed into the terribly inaccurate and immature passer from a year ago. Not to be outdone, the entire Jets’ receiving corps pulled off the old fake hand trick, failing to realize that plastic props are not conducive for catching wide-open touchdown passes. Yes, I’m looking at you Santonio Holmes. At least one member of Gang Green was impressed by his team’s scary shenanigans, as the usually reliable Nick Folk looked as if he had seen a ghost in missing a potential game-tying 37-yard field goal attempt in the third quarter.
So what does all of this mean and what can we expect as an encore performance this coming weekend? The beauty of the NFL is its unpredictability, so we will just have to wait and see. I’m just glad football is played on Sundays. You think Halloween was scary? Imagine a full slate of NFL action on Friday the 13th. Now that is a concept that would have even Freddy Krueger shaking in his sleep.