The cosmos can often times throw a person into a situation that they want no part of. Remember that time you got roped into going to watching that “Care Bears” movie with your five-year-old cousin after the babysitter cancelled?
After the movie you spent the next few hours arguing with the kid about the merit of whether Good Luck Bear was a better leader than Tenderheart Bear.
Ok, so maybe that was just me. But it turns out I’ve got nothing on Dennis Dixon.
The third-string Steelers quarterback was thrust into the spotlight on Sunday night when Ben Roethlisburger and Charlie Batch were both unable to play against the Ravens in Baltimore.
Dixon ’s only NFL completion was a 3-yarder to Hines Ward last year. The guy wasn’t even a traditional quarterback in college, as he ran the spread offense and kept many plays alive via his feet and yet here he is starting in a nationally televised game against one of the world’s scariest defenses.
The poor guy can’t catch a break. In 2006, Dixon had Oregon within a couple of games of a national championship appearance and had almost assuredly wrapped up the Heisman Trophy when he suffered an ACL tear and was sidelined for the season. The Ducks would lose out and Dixon would never be considered among the great Pac-10 quarterbacks of the era.
Somehow he plays well enough to guide the Steelers into overtime where he eventually makes the mistake people were waiting for, throwing an interception that leads to Baltimore ’s winning score.
The fans jump all over him, and he is proclaimed to be a bust. It was sad to see the Steelers show no faith in him, constantly running on first and second down while allowing the Ravens to gear up for a 3rd-and-7 situation that could only mean a pass.
And sometimes even in those situations the Steelers would run.
If you’re going to send him out there, don’t send him out there with an unloaded weapon.
But chances are, Big Ben will be back next week, especially after Ward called him out in a pregame interview, so Steelers fans can file this memory away like many other fans have had to do with third-string quarterbacks who somehow starts a game.
How many fourth downs in a fourth quarter two-minute drill can one quarterback convert in a single game?
Three if you’re Vince Young.
The self-proclaimed future hall of famer certainly looked like one when it mattered on Sunday. Young looked more like Joe Montana as he drove the Titans 99 yards in two minutes for the game-winning touchdown pass as the clock expired.
Young was 9-of-16 passing for 94 yards on the final drive alone. Compare that to Derek Anderson’s entire game-winning line against Buffalo earlier this year — 2 of 17 for 23 yards.
Some backup quarterbacks don’t even get 16 pass attempts in a career, let alone on one drive.
The whole Young versus Leinart thing was completely played out in the media, but how ironic was it that Young this time won the game with his arm, rather than his legs. The maturation process is almost complete.
The Perfect Storm
With five games to go in the regular season, the New Orleans Saints and Indianapolis Colts are closing in on twin 16-0 seasons.
In a league that proclaims to be all about parity, the NFL is on its way to having two perfect teams to go along with a 15-1 team in Minnesota.
The Saints close out the season with road games against Washington, Atlanta (who may be without Matt Ryan) and Carolina and with home games against Dallas and Tampa Bay.
Those teams have a combined record of 22-33.
Meanwhile Indianapolis has a slightly tougher road. The Colts host Tennessee, Denver and the Jets while traveling to play Jacksonville and Buffalo for a combined record of 27-28.
Pretty much everyone thought that if the Saints were going to lose, it would be on Monday night against the Patriots.
Not only did they win, they dominated New England. The Saints made Tom Brady looked more like Jay Cutler than himself.
Even Bill Belichick imploded again, going for another extremely questionable fourth down late in the third quarter in a desperate attempt to keep up with the Saints offense.
Indianapolis has won four straight games while trailing at some point in the fourth quarter. Teams continue to give Peyton Manning too much respect and he makes them pay dearly.
The question is, can a team like the Saints win consistently in the playoffs? They did make a run to the NFC Championship Game a couple years ago, but can that defense continue to play at a high level for three consecutive weeks.
We already know the Colts can.
Lost in all of this are the Vikings, who seem to have either a future hall of famer, or at least a perennial pro-bowler at every position. Minnesota easily has the most talent in the NFL. They could potentially be the most talented team in NFL history. But can head coach Brad Childress actually coach? The guy was on the verge of being fired before Brett Favre came in. He’s always had the talent to make the Vikings a contender. He just hasn’t made the right choices. We’ll find out what he can do in the playoffs this year, finally facing a Superbowl or bust mentality.