SportsBytes #2.5

Rant off the bat...

This might have been one of the most wild weeks in football ever, considering the combiation of college and pro games and the finality of all of them.

First, there was the Fiesta Bowl on Friday, which deserves a column in of itself, and gets it in my ramblings section. Still, let me say one thing here: if there ever was a use for the Instant Classic designation on ESPN Classic, this game was it. A double-overtime national championship game that came down to fourth-and-goal for the defending champs.

Then the weekend went into overdrive with the NFL Wild Card playoffs. Usually the wild card round is the worst round, because it involves the worst playoff teams. But this year's No. 6 seeds weren't traditional No. 6 seeds. Atlanta, the NFC No. 6, featured Michael Vick, the most exciting player in football, and Cleveland, the six-seed in the AFC, was constantly playing close games.

Saturday's games were nuts, with the Jets destroying the Colts (and props to Bill Simmons for pointing out that the combination of playoff-chokers Tony Dungy and Peyton Manning for Indy made the Jets an easy choice) and the Falcons making supreme history against the Packers.

If the opening day's two blowouts weren't enough, Sunday featured two of the top six comebacks in NFL playoff history. There's no way the Steelers should have been able to come back on the Browns, not with Jerome Bettis running like he has been. And the Giants, well, they probably shouldn't have been in the playoffs, but blowing a lead like that is just ridiculous.

Now the only question, besides who will win the Super Bowl (and I'm still thinking Steelers over Falcons), is can the rest of the playoffs possibly top this weekend?


• LeBron James has been on ESPN2 twice now, and both times he's had off games, but his team has won. This time, Dick Vitale wasn't around to go crazy over James's play, but the hype does seem to be getting a little out of control. As much as I enjoy watching James play, I'd be willing to not see him on national TV again until the NBA Draft.

• The idea of having ABC broadcast playoff games is a very good thing. First off, it means the Sunday games for the wild card round get announced by FOX and CBS's top teams. Second, it means we get to experience two games of the best production work on TV. So much attention is given to the announcing teams, but there's a lot more that goes into making a football game look good on TV. ABC has all of it.

Tiger Tracks

• A little off topic, but still Towson related this week. The Eagles play the Falcons in the divisional playoffs this week in what could be Sean Landeta's last game in the NFL. To be more precise, it would be his last game as a member of an NFL team, but he won't play. He's on injured reserve, and it seems unliekly that he's going to be back for another season. For a few years now, Landeta has been the Tigers' only link to the NFL, and unless Jamal White manages to latch on with a team, he could be the last link for awhile. He's the NFL's all time punts leader, and a stand-up representative for Towson University. Now if he could just get that degree...

eBay Item of the Week

• Along those lines, a Sean Landeta autographed card. Starting Bid: $2.99. Ends Jan. 11, 2003, 2:15 p.m. PST.

Random Prediction

• Well, last week I predicted that a football championship game would go to double-overtime. I just got it wrong by a few weeks. So what's my slightly-off prediction for this week? UConn will go into the NCAA Tournament undefeated. Men or women? That's your call.