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The Pro Game

Packers on a broomstick

About the Author

Tom Danyluk
Contributing writer

Recent posts by Tom Danyluk

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Posted Dec. 07, 2011 @ 6:36 p.m. ET
By Tom Danyluk

The feel-good TV shot is of Eli Manning and Co. grinning and backslapping for tying up the Packers late. A big scoring drive. Hats and hooters for everybody.

Then, poof — Aaron Rodgers twitches his beard and goes racing the other way for the go-ahead field goal. Ho hum, the Pack does it again. So calm, so cold-blooded. What does it take to freak these guys out anymore? Lock them in the basement and throw on The Exorcist?

"Those are the champs," said Justin Tuck, the Giants' struggling pass rusher. "You have to knock the champs out. You can't let them linger around."

No Packer team has ever visited 12-0. The fastest Lombardi start, the great gentleman himself, was 10-0. After Green Bay's 38-35 win at MetLife Stadium, OLB Clay Matthews slipped into civilian gear and revealed the Packers' internal strategy on winning them all.

"We understand that in order to get to the 16-0 mark, you have to make it to 12-0 [first]," Matthews said. "So we focus on the team that's at hand, and it's been talked about since Week Seven or Eight, so we just continue to move along and progress as the season progresses and get to the playoffs and keep our nice little streak going."

A long time ago, Larry Csonka said it a little cleaner. He was an unbeaten Miami Dolphin, and after his club finished cracking the Redskins in Super VII they asked him to describe the mind science behind their glorious 17-and-O humpbuster.

"Riding an unbeaten streak all season is like a witch riding a broomstick," he said. "The minute you look back, you crash."



I chuckled over this one, a swat at Tim Tebow from Mike Francesca of WFAN radio in New York — "His passes are so bad nobody can even intercept them!"

He said this a few weeks back, after another night of Tebow flutterballs — and a win — against the Jets in Denver in Week 11.

But the Tebow wins keep coming, don't they? Like some kind of .230 guy on a wild hitting streak. For the first time in the study of drop-back football, flutterballs ain't so funny anymore.



Handing any quarterback a short field is like playing around a viper den. Give a short one to a character like Rodgers or Drew Brees or Tom Brady and you're sticking your face in the front door.

That's why I was stunned at Lions head coach Jim Schwartz's move to try the long field goal the other night in New Orleans. There was a full quarter of football to go. He's behind by only seven. The imminent danger? If they blow the 55-yarder, then Brees is handed the ball at his own 45.  

Detroit, naturally, blows the kick. Three minutes later, New Orleans sticks it in the endzone and the now Lions are gasping and spasming and out of anti-venom. Jim Schwartz, the amateur snake charmer.

Probably the biggest viper-den backfire I ever saw came in that USC-Texas Rose Bowl a few years back — Matt Leinart and Reggie Bush and Pete Carroll against Vince Young. USC had a late lead but Carroll still took the gamble — a power run on 4th-and-2 — and Texas stonewalled it. Young got the ball at his own 44, and two minutes later … well, you have the idea.



Boise State's Broncos — the "official" BCS ratings formula has them cranked way up to No. 7. But the 2011 postseason has them down in Las Vegas, stuck in something called the MAACO Bowl, playing a shlub Arizona State team that just booted its coach for coming up 6-6.

Dollar considerations: Payout for the 2011 MAACO Bowl is $1.1 million. Payout for a bowl where the No. 7 team in the country should be headed, something sugary or orangey — $17 million. The difference, according to my supercomputer's calculation, is $15.9M.

Question to the BCS cartel, to the BCS conmen — if the No. 7 team in your ratings isn't invited to a bowl that's worthy of the No. 7-rated team, then what good are your damn ratings? What good is the system? Why should anybody pay attention to it?

This is the second consecutive year the Broncos have been stiffed. A season ago, they also were 11-1 and ended up getting MAACO-ed, put off in the dunce corner. "Now be a good boy, Boise, and shut your mouth …"

Here's a laugher from BCS executive director Bill Hancock, released back in June, on his antitrust discussions with the Department of Justice:

"Before the BCS, teams from conferences that did not have guaranteed participation in the top tier of bowl games seldom played in those games — in fact, it happened only six times in 54 years. Thanks to the BCS, it has happened seven times in the past seven years. The BCS has undeniably expanded access like never before. For example, without the BCS arrangement, TCU would not have played in the Rose Bowl."

Expanded access, version 2011: West Virginia (9-3) gets $17M and an Orange Bowl shot for its season of "excellence." Thanks to the BCS, of course.

Thanks to the BCS, Virginia Tech, blowout losers in the ACC finale, also is rewarded with a $17M booty, this one courtesy of the Sugar Bowl. Expanded access means that Michigan, another lowly equal-opportunity candidate (BCS No. 13), will meet them there.

Expanded access. What a con.

Chris Petersen and the fabulous Boise boys have no problem getting their football team together. But after another "expanded access" stiffing from the BCS, I wonder if it's now time they get their legal team together.


Tom Danyluk is an award-winning freelance writer based in Chicago. His book on pro football, "The Super '70s," is available at You can contact Tom at

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