Driving down Murworth to the media lot on Sunday morning at around 10 a.m., if it weren't for signs directing us to various colored lots and a few orange cones, you'd have barely known there was anything going on at Reliant that day, let alone an NFL football game.
The parking lots were about 90 percent empty, a sign that the new tailgate policy was perhaps overly effective in snuffing out the interlopers. In the process of making sure those who had no tickets stayed away, either the Texans drove away some of the ones who did, or people just didn't really see the Giants game as a big deal.
Or maybe I'm all wet. I don't know. I just know that what had the vibe of a lazy day, turned into a boring day, and the loudest cheer was for Brian Cushing returning from a suspension for PED use.
This weekend, there were winners, there were losers. Here they were...
1. Fear. You all remember the movie Rocky V, don't you? (Admit it, you do. Despite denying its existence, you remember it.) This was the chapter of the Rocky saga where Stallone was so punch drunk that his diction was reminiscent of a young, Italian Moses Malone. Good stuff. Well, in that movie he imparts the wisdom onto Tommy Gunn (played by Tommy Morrison, pre-HIV) that fear ("Frankie Fear" Balboa calls it) is actually an athlete's best friend.
Texan fans probably beg to differ. For the first time since opening weekend of the 2008 season, Matt Schaub looked like he was playing scared. When he wasn't turning the ball over in flashback-inducing fashion, he was having the ball batted back in his face by defensive linemen. When he wasn't looking overly nervous and giving up on plays too soon, he was gazing downfield oblivious to the pocket collapsing around him. Schaub had a "deer in the headlights" look. The lack of a running game didn't help, but he dealt with that dynamic fine last season. Sunday was a trip down memory lane that none of us wanted to make.
2. Boredom. I've never been in a more bored press box nor received more texts from friends of mine at Reliant Stadium that were ready to pull out blankets and pillows than I did this Sunday. Even got a text from one friend of mine who prides herself on staying until the end of every game (She was the last one to leave her section during the Dallas game), and midway through the fourth quarter she had left to go see Social Network. I tried to help get people through the boredom by tweeting a link to "30 Hornets vs 30,000 Bees" on YouTube, but sadly it was probably more a reminder as to what was transpiring in front of them.
Go ahead. Put Giants jerseys on the hornets and Texans jerseys on the bees. It applies....
3. Les Miles. There's nothing left to say. Les Miles is the luckiest man in America. One week after a game that everyone thought was so over that CBS had already posted a final score of "Tennessee 14, LSU 10" before replay gave LSU life, Miles....well, it's easier just to watch the video....
4. Roger Goodell. Reports are that the NFL commish has fast-tracked the investigation into Brett Favre's slinging o' the gun via text with former Jets employee and internet legend, Jenn Sterger. Given the fact that Favre's trangressions are something that would have most companies in corporate America firing him and changing the locks, Goodell almost has to do something. And in terms of establishing his authority, it doesn't get any bigger than throwing the book at Favre. It would be like David Stern laying down the law on Michael Jordan. (Keep an eye on Favre this summer. If he winds up playing minor league baseball in Birmingham...I'm not sayin, I'm just sayin'.)
5. Mercury Morris and the '72 Dolphins. With Kansas City finally going down this weekend, this is the earliest I can remember this pack of old pub hounds getting to crack open their champagne celebrating the only undefeated NFL season. Do we even know if they're awake yet?
1. Kareem Jackson's dental records. Sunday was ugly if you're Kareem Jackson. If it wasn't Hakeem Nicks outmuscling Jackson near the goal line, it was Steve Smith running simple "go" routes right by him to close out the game. Griddle marks, dental records, smoldering skin, whatever "burn" jokes you can come up with. By the second half, the Texans had replaced Jackson with Brice McCain, which is a little like having your taxes done by Ron Zook and deciding to replace him with Les Miles. Bad day, but at least Jackson can take solace in the fact that he's not....
2. Brooks Conrad. I'll be honest, I had no idea who Brooks Conrad was until I saw his name yesterday as a trending topic. From what I can gather, the Braves had him playing third base then after he butchered that, they moved him to second base. How soon until Bobby Cox "hides" him in right field like a little league coach does with the worst player on the team?
3. Washington athletics. I've been pretty clear in my views on Washington quarterback Jake Locker -- great athlete, overrated quarterback, has accomplished nothing other than a couple wins over the two worst iterations of USC football since 2001. Well, the UW athletics department started the season off by sending a promotional card to each FWAA member (I am one of them.) outlining Locker's accomplishments each week. Then came Nebraska. Locker completed a total of four passes in the game and I figured that would be the end of the promotional material. Then the week after the USC game, I got a card from UW athletics pumping up Locker's stellar performance against the Trojans.
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I placed a call to the UW football media relations office and asked if I missed the card the week after Nebraska. I was told they didn't send one out that weekend, that they "play it by ear" as to when they send one out. And "by ear" they mean "when Locker doesn't shit the bed." Oh, by the way, Arizona State came into Seattle and whacked the Huskies 24-14 this weekend. Anxious to see what direction the "ear" leads the media relations folks in Washington.
4. Polls. Word has it that Boise State would be atop the first BCS poll if it were to come out this week. I have no problem with this. Boise, thus far into the season, has two wins which I think will be viewed as high-quality wins when it's all said and done (Virginia Tech, Oregon State) and they've handily taken care of business in the rest of their games. Now come the problems -- in the coach's poll, Alabama is 8th and South Carolina is 12th. South Carolina's only loss is a late loss to still undefeated Auburn; Alabama's only loss is to...SOUTH FREAKING CAROLINA. Also, Iowa is 14th and Arizona is 20th. Both have one loss. Arizona lost to Oregon State (a 3-2 team with losses to two top 5 teams); Iowa lost to....wait for it...wait for it...ARIZONA! Seriously, so they even look at this stuff when they fill out?
5. Tampa Bay Rays fans. Seriously, if it's a news item that your franchise gets to remove tarps off of usually uninhabited seats for a decisive Game 5, do you really deserve a decisive Game 5?
Listen to Sean Pendergast on 1560 The Game from 3-7 p.m. weekdays on the "Sean & John Show" and follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/SeanCablinasian.