Seriously, who is the NFL kidding when they say the Thursday night football games are not putting more significant risk on the players? The horrific product on the field tells another story, as once again both teams looked gravely unprepared to play a football game.
The primetime game last night saw the Cincinnati Bengals remain in the AFC wildcard hunt by outlasting the comatose Philadelphia Eagles 34-13. The game was filled with plays that you will likely never even see in Pop Warner. And I am not even talking about the numerous turnovers, poor playcalling, shoddy execution and relentless penalties totaling twenty for both teams.
I mean, when was the last time you saw a player blocking on a punt and being pushed into his own punter, creating a blocked punt? Or how about a punt returner fielding a kick on his own one yard line daydreaming of a 99 yard return (he only got nine)? If these guys were not wearing NFL uniforms, one would think they sneaked into Lincoln Financial Field and were playing a hastily arranged pickup game. By the beginning of the fourth quarter, even family and close friends of the players were booking for the nearest exits.
Within 71 seconds starting late in the third quarter, the Eagles hit the self-destruct button and coughed up three fumbles, one of which was returned for a touchdown and the other to the Eagle 13. In just a few minutes, the Eagles managed to turn a three point lead into a twenty-one point deficit. And it gets worse: the Eagles turned the ball over four times in five plays.
With yet another stinker of a game, maybe it is the NFL’s turn to hit the self-destruct button on the Thursday night primetime series experiment. One of the best games Thursday night games of the season was between the Miami Dolphins and the the Buffalo Bills several weeks back. Enough said.
Just with yesterday’s game alone, the miscues formed enough material for an entire NFL films football follies lowlight reel. Is this what the NFL had in mind when they inundated viewers with these lousy match-ups?
Prior to the NFL initiating the Monday Night Football series, they worried about overexposing the game to the American public. These worries were soon quashed because of the decent quality of many games which made the game an institution. Unlike the short preparation week provided by the Thursday game, the Monday game provides teams with one extra day off. And even then, you get your share of lemons due to poor picks from the schedule.
Back in February, Fox announcer Troy Aikman said that one of the biggest threats to the game is overexposure. As last night’s game clearly displayed, that may be the understatement of the year for the league’s Thursday night folly.