The text clicked in from Buffalo at 10:14 p.m. Sunday night.
“How wild was that hobs?”
Thanks to you Fitzy, it was wild. Not as wild as Harvard Beats Yale, 29-29. Not as wild as Frank Reich in the playoffs. But you’ve got your own niche in football history now, Fitz. Call it Harvard Sails, 14-17.
Take Sunday’s DVD of Buffalo’s 49-31 win over the Bengals and send it to every kid you care about. In the game’s first 20 minutes, Fitzpatrick threw the ball to everyone but Dean Wormer. He came off the field after throwing a pick-six to fall behind 28-7 and looking like some TSA agent had crawled into his bearded disguise.
Take note, kids. Fitzpatrick hit 14 of his last 17 passes to engineer the biggest comeback in NFL history. No one. Not Montana. Not Elway. Not Brady. No one before Sunday had been down by as much as 17 points at the half and ended up winning by 18.
If you ever feel down, take a look at Fitzy trailing, 28-7, and wondering if he had thrown a ball to Kate Middleton for an engagement gift. He never said never. He may not be blessed with all the talent. But kids, heart and brains go a long way.
Which is kind of ironic because there was a lot of Bengals ‘08 and ’09 in Fitzy’s comeback. There was a lot of Carson Palmer grit. It is head coach Marvin Lewis’ style and pitch. Never down, never out. That is one of the many surprising things about Sunday: a Lewis team rarely gets blown out. Win or lose, it always seems like a Lewis game is decided late either way. The big difference between last year and this year is a small number of plays. Last year they were third-down conversions and touchdowns. This year they are fumbles and interceptions.
The great debate continues. Are they underachievers this year or overachievers last year?
Did they give up Sunday?
No, the defense had nothing left, but the last four minutes or so looked bad enough that it sparked questions.
What will happen Thursday?
Lewis’ guys always seem to play hard. It is hard to see them not.
A few other thoughts:
» What a time to play the Jets. Just when their passing game is hitting all the notes. You’d have to say the only starting Bengals DB that looks probable is cornerback Leon Hall and it won’t be surprising if safety Chris Crocker goes on IR. You’ve got to believe they have to go get another cornerback for Thursday just to make sure they really don’t have to use wide receivers Jordan Shipley and Quan Cosby.
Don’t look now, the Jets not only throw it, they throw it in the clutch. They went 72 yards in the final 49 seconds Sunday to beat the Texans, 30-27. Quarterback Mark Sanchez (315 yards) threw a 42-yard bomb to Braylon Edwards to set up a six-yard fade to Santonio Holmes for the winning touchdown with 10 seconds left.
Both Edwards and Holmes tortured the Bengals as members of the Browns and Steelers, respectively. Holmes knocked the Bengals out of the playoffs in ’06 when he ended their season with a run-and-catch touchdown in overtime, and in the past few weeks Holmes had ended two OTs and caught Sunday’s winner, one of seven catches for 126 yards.
» There seems to a split opinion on Terrell Owens’ Howard-Cosell-Tell-It-Like-It-Is news conference after the game. Using the word “terrible” may not have been the best choice. Carson Palmer said he wouldn’t have used it, but he himself opted for “not very good.” But overall Owens sounded like a guy being honest and he had the always important “include mes” in there. And, basically, Palmer and right guard Bobbie Williams said the same thing about the Jets drilling them if they don’t bounce back quickly.
Guys who play as well as Owens is playing right now have a right to say some things. And he kept it above board by not pointing fingers.
» The most stunning thing on a stunning Sunday was how the Bengals’ best players couldn’t deliver a decisive blow in key points against a 1-8 team:
Palmer’s first red-zone interception of the season, a perfect spot to slow down the comeback.
Running back Cedric Benson’s fourth lost fumble of the season on their opening drive of the second half, just when they needed to keep the ball for five minutes or so to cool off the Bills.
Cornerback Leon Hall getting beat on a fade route for the go-ahead touchdown. As the only starter in the secondary on the field, they couldn’t afford that from their most reliable and steady guy on defense.
Punter Kevin Huber’s 23-yard shank right after the three-and-out that followed the Bills’ go-ahead touchdown.
All very good, very tough players, very proven players.
But then, this entire season has been one mystery after the other.
A text went back to Buffalo this morning. The joke two years ago had been to name his youngest kid “Geoff with a G.”
“You should name the next one ‘Stevie,’ ” the text said.
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