Peyton Manning-- the NFL's Napoleon Bonaparte
Even with the score 6-3 at halftime you knew the Pats-Colts game was over. Because we'd seen this all before. The Colts fast-break offense cannot thrive on grass in cold weather, and the Patriots were able to disrupt Manning's timing by three-quarters-of-a-smidge and render him a spent force. There may be no QB in NFL history better than Manning at identifying defenses, adjusting to them, and throwing a perfect timing route. But watching him try to improvise, watching him try to scramble around and buy time for his receivers? It's painful. I tried to think back over the season and tried to remember how many big plays Manning made when he was flushed out of the pocket and freelancing. I couldn't think of one. Give him any kind of resistance and he's totally ineffective.
It was painful to watch, as I'd rather watch my Steelers play the Colts than the Patriots. Watching the game reminded me of what the Duke of Wellington said after he defeated Napoleon at Waterloo. Modestly explaining how he won the battle, the Iron Duke said, "They came at us in the same old way, and we beat them, in the same old way". As always the French attacked in column, as always the British defended in line, and as always the line beat the column. The Colts flayed teams with their quick-hitting offense and overwhelmed defenses who couldn't get pressure on Manning. But on an icy grass field and snow blowing in the wind, the Colts WR played with hearts three sizes too small and the Patriots were constantly in Manning's face. It didn't take a defensive genius to think up that game plan.
So the Patriots come to Pittsburgh, and all the football pundits are saying, "The Steelers can't play like they did against the Jets and expect to win". Gee, you think so? Brilliant insight, that! I went to the Pats-Steeler game in October and saw the Steelers dominate the line on both sides of the ball. True, New England didn't have Corey Dillon, and he is a great player, but he'll be going up against the #1 run defense in the league, not the Colts D. So the idea that Dillon alone turns this game into a foregone conclusion somewhat escapes me.
Everyone, including myself, says that Ben Roethlisberger has to play better for the Steelers to win. Again, no duh. A local columnist damned our rookie QB with the ultimate dig--he said that Big Ben played like Kordell Stewart...on one of Kordell's bad days. That stings. But let's not forget that a few weeks ago Tom Brady had an atrocious game against the Dolphins yet did not go into the tank for the rest of the year. I think Roethlisberger will play much, much, MUCH better this week, if only because he can't possibly play worse. Wait...I said that a few times about Kordell, too. (Shudder).
So who knows who's gonna win the game? I'm not going to worry about it till kickoff. Steelers got lucky to beat the Jets, but didn't the Pats get lucky to beat the Raiders in 2001? Play the game and see what happens.
I played me some poker this weekend and did rather well. Played 3 SNGs and won a gold, silver, and bronze medal, adding nicely to the bankroll. Made a few adjustments in my play. Early on I kept pots small and didn't do a lot of goofy raising that wouldn't chase anyone anyhow, and took the opportunities that presented themselves. I'm finally over my bankroll-induced gunshyness and playing much more aggressively, to good effect. I'm certainly not playing my A-game yet (like I have an "A" game) but I'm up to a solid B-minus now. I'm up to "godawful" from "rancid". A marked improvement.
A review of Matthew Hilger's book I think comes next (been reading the damn thing for a month, it's finally penetrating). Lots of people seem to like the new look, which is good to hear. Having a new design, one that doesn't resemble anyone elses, is important to me for some reason. I'm not one who values style over substance, but, dammit, some style is nice once in awhile. It's inspired me to write more, and I hope to branch out and write about more than just poker in the weeks and months and years to follow. Still gotta add some links...maybe I'll do that now.