That right there was the ending to the most epic Australian Punt Off since Ben Graham and Sav Rocca went head to head in the 2008 NFC Championship Game.
Quite literally stopped an inch short.
The plan going forward for the Reviews, Part 789
The daily posting will wind back next decade, after tomorrow’s Big Bash Review, and it appears Thursday will mean the end of a glorious 318 day streak.
Damn, I was only 2,314 more days short of Cal Ripken Jnr’s consecutive games record.
People still ask me what I’m doing in the future, and I tell them I don’t know, since I don’t have 2020 vision.
The start of the ATP Cup
It’s funny to think that this ATP Cup is only 3 days away – Obviously we’ve become so used to the Brisbane International and the Hopman Cup kicking off right about now, but I suppose this is the new norm.
This week we’ve seen a couple more withdrawals from the Australian summer – Andy Murray has confirmed his withdrawal due to a pelvic injury, which is obviously the result of a shag with Kim gone wrong.
Perennial Top 10 player Kei Nishikori, beaten Quarter Finalist in 2019 is now out with another elbow problem, continuing the recurring theme of his career – His body has never been 100% o-kei.
And another one that kind of slipped under the radar is that last year’s beaten AO Semi Finalists Lucas Pouille won’t be featuring in Australia this summer, suffering from the same injury as Nishikori.
I admire Margaret’s resolve – Even after Tennis Australia gave her a backhanded compliment about her views, she just keeps the hands at 10 & 2 and keeps on firing away.
I can only think she’s reached a point in life where even Satan wouldn’t take her in.
So in between her latest claims of 7 & 8 year old children asking to change their sex, Court went after transgender athletes.
And you know with that LGBT, they’ll wish they never put the T on the end of it because, particularly in women’s sports, they’re going to have so many problems.
The funny thing about that statement, which was ignored by the stock standard condemnation of her bigotry and homophobia – Martina Navratilova had a similar view about allowing transgender women to compete against biological women, a view which has since softened after she took part in a BBC Documentary on trans women in sports.
The other possible facet to Navaratilova’s argument is that she was coached by Renée Richards, who was a pioneer for transgender women in sports after transitioning in 1975 (At the age of 41), and attempting to join the professional tour, which eventually came to fruition when she won a discrimination court case in 1977 against the USOC, USTA and the WTA for introducing Barr body tests after she had her reassignment surgery.
Despite being 43 when she joined the tour in ’77, Richards was able to make it to No.20 on the WTA Tour in 1979 (Which might be saying something), although her age meant she was never truly a threat at the majors until she retired in 1981 at the age of 47, and later coached Martina to 2 of her 45,000,000 Wimbledon titles.
It led to some hypothetical claims that younger men could transition to identifying as women just to make a healthy living on the WTA – Despite the advances in sports science, it hasn’t happened since Richards.
Ultimately, Richards would later believe that her past as a man gave her a physical advantage over her competitors, and in hindsight, probably shouldn’t have been allowed to compete.
Having lived for the past 30 years, I know if I’d had surgery at the age of 22, and then at 24 went on the tour, no genetic woman in the world would have been able to come close to me.
And so I’ve reconsidered my opinion.From a Slate article on Jewish Jocks: An Unorthodox Hall of Fame (2012)
Anyway, I’m in too deep.
The Aron Baynes Fan Club
This was a really nice moment this morning.
For context, the Phoenix Suns were giving away a signed Aron Baynes jersey on Twitter as part of the festive season.
Instead of putting in their own submissions, basically everyone who took part suggested the Aron Baynes Fan Club be the recipient, for all the work he’s done this year supporting our beloved Boomers representative.
Long story short – The Suns answered!
20 Years Ago Today
A certain 18-year-old in Navy Blue known only as Fev, after a preparation of McChickens and Jack Daniels, kicked 12 goals against the lowly wooden spoon winning Collingwood, in the most pointless exhibition match of all time.
THE MILLENNIUM MATCH.
In one last 20th century clash between the Grand Finalists and the 1999 Wooden Spooners, Carlton won a lazy 20.17 (137) to 7.7 (49).
Somewhere on YouTube there’s an old Footy Show clip of Trevor Marmalade talking about when the idea first surfaced – He suggested the AFL and the MCC lock 80,000 Collingwood and Carlton supporters inside the MCG as soon as the game started (It ended up barely being 20,000 strong), and then as soon as the final siren sounded, send 1 cab.
Australians in the NFL: Week 17
So it appears we’ll have 3 Aussies punting in the playoffs, all of them in the NFC – Mitch with the 49ers, Michael with the Seahawks, and Cam Johnston with Philly.
Two of them faced each other this week… Two of them will face each other on Sunday/Monday morning!
Lachie Edwards (Jets) defeated the Buffalo Bills 13-6 @ Ralph Wilson Stadium
In a positive but largely negative stat (More damning of the Jets offense), Lachie Edwards led the league in punts this year – Being brought out a grand total of 87 times, 6 more than New England’s Jake Bailey.
In a sedate end to the year between the team from New Jersey vs the team from New York, the Bills were already welded on to the 5th seed in the playoffs, and with nothing to play for, they rested a few starters.
It explains how the Jets won, enabling them to finish the year at 7-9, despite resembling a tyre fire for 60% of the season.
The more interesting story this week involving the Jets was that their head coach Adam Gase was potentially caught using a burner Twitter account named after his son Wyatt.
Although, an investigation by the intrepid journalist KFC at Barstool Sports has shed more light on the matter – If it isn’t Gase…. It’s got to be none other than the A-Grade dickwad from The Daily News, Manish Mehta.
Seriously have a look, it’s one giant laugh after the other.
Jordan Berry (Steelers) lost to the Balitmore Ravens 28-10 @ Camden Yards
In the pissing rain, despite the Ravens resting everyone, the Steelers’ season was pretty much over the moment the Titans got given the mother of all free kicks when the Texans rested their starters during the week.
Long story short, even if the Steelers had beaten the Ravens (Which they were no chance of doing with Duck Hodges at the helm), the Titans gave the Texans a 35-14 tubthumping, securing the last wildcard in the AFC, and ending the Steelers’ season without a playoff appearance for the second year running.
An 8-8 season for the Black & Gold, which was a pretty fair effort considering the almighty pains they suffered on offense without basically everyone.
Cam Johnston (Eagles) defeated the New York Giants 34-17 @ Metlife Stadium
With the Cowboys playing the Redskins simultaneously to the Giants-Eagles game, ESPN Australia decided to broadcast both NFC East games simultaneously, which if you ask me was giving us what they want – Either the Eagles lost, or the Cowboys missed the playoffs.
Personally I would have loved to have seen the Giants and Redskins win – Mainly because the Eagles would lose, and the Cowboys would suffer the ultimate form of humiliation.
Riddled by injuries, the Eagles had suffered a supposed hammer blow when they lost star TE Zach Ertz days before the game, and then during a tough contest against a dogged age old rival, they lost Miles Sanders to another supposed knee problem, just as he was dominating on the ground.
But the Eagles found a new strategy to win – Shippin’ Up To Boston Scott.
3 touchdowns to Boston, and the Eagles dominance over the Giants continued, helping them secure the NFC East, making it 15 years running without a repeat division champion, and they’ll be facing off against the losers of the epic NFC West showdown… who just also happen to have an Australian!
The Ultimate Aussie Bowl
Mitch Wishnowsky (49ers) defeated Michael Dickson (Seahawks) 26-21 @ Centurylink Field
The unofficial NFC West Championship game in primetime was the last NFL game of the decade, and with the NFC West being professional football’s answer to College Football’s Pac 12 After Dark, it was a superb choice.
The stakes were enormous – The winner would claim the NFC West and a home playoff game (Although the Seahawks at 11-4 couldn’t claim a bye), and the loser would have to go to Philadelphia, which is notorious for being full of Eagles and Flyers fans.
Thanks to their crippling running back shortage, 420 legend Marshawn Lynch came out of retirement for the Seahawks, and unlike that OT loss to the Seahawks a month ago, the Niners regained George Kittle and Emmanuel Sanders, giving them a huge advantage.
After the Niners defence came out fired up against Russell Wilson after facing a Murderers’ Row of QBs, and Dickson punted on the Seahawks opening 3 possessions, and as fate would have it, didn’t have to punt again.
By contrast, the Niners scored on their opening 3 possessions to race out to a 13-0 lead at the half, but with Russell Wilson and his weird Jesus powers, the game was far from done.
That said, it was the first time the Seahawks had been shut out in the 1st half at home since Week 15 of 2017.
After the Seahawks came out fired up and forced a 3 and out, Wilson led a 7 minute drive downfield and found Tyler Lockett for the touchdown, cutting the lead to 13-7.
That began the great battle of anything you can do, I can do better.
On the first player of the Niners’ drive, they sent the fullback Kyle ‘Juice’ Juszczyk downfield, and Jimmy Garoppolo hit him in stride for a massive 49 yard gain, on which the Seahawks picked up another key injury – Mychal Hendricks tore his ACL on the tackle a bad blow, especially considering he’s on his way to the Big House for insider trading.
Raheem Motsert punched in the TD, but the Niners failed on the 2 point attempt, making it 19-6.
As the 4th Quarter began, Seahawks marched downfield again, and gave Marshawn a happy homecoming by letting him slam home the TD from the 1, leading to a Skittles shower.
But rising to the challenge again, Jimmy G spread the field, used Kittle and Mostert as a pair of maces to belt the Seahawks with, and the RB would score his 2nd touchdown of the half to make the score 26-14.
Mitch unfortunately shanked the kickoff out of bounds (A veeeeery bad mistake) giving the Seahawks good field position at their own 40.
Having spanked the Niners’ defence on both drives in the 2nd Half, Wilson had no problems stretching them again, and found DK Metcalf in the endzone to cut the lead again to 5.
Attempting to ice the game, the Niners were killed by a personal foul call on the centre Garland, which led to a 3rd and 17 on their own 14, but unlike they did multiple times last week, the Niners couldn’t convert this time, falling a yard short, and they had to bring Wishnowsky out for his only punt of the quarter, giving the Seahawks the ball with 2:34 remaining.
After methodically driving down the field, the Niners manage to force a 4th down in the Redzone, but Wilson hit Tyler Lockett just short of the goal-line, but enough to give the Seahawks a 1st Down on the 1, setting up another heartstopping finish to a 49ers game.
Good thing most people in the Bay Area are rich enough to afford health care.
With no timeouts, the Seahawks spiked the ball, and then sent out Marshawn to punch in the game-winning touchdown from the 1 and complete the ultimate redemption arc from Super Bowl XLIV, where they famously didn’t run the ball and got picked off by Malcolm Butler in the dying seconds.
Only problem was, they got so caught in the hype that they failed to notice the play clock had expired – 5 yard penalty, and they were backed up to the 6 with 3 plays remaining.
2nd down was a floater that was almost picked but ultimately incomplete, as was 3rd down, after the Niners escaped what appeared to be pass interference by LB Fred Warner on Jacob Hollister, although the league did review the play, and rightly saw that Hollister had run in to Warner, who simply braced for contact.
Classic stuff – Even when the New Orleans Saints aren’t playing, they still get screwed on a non-PI call, although if anything, it was an OPI on Hollister.
On the decisive 4th down, in an ending almost resembling the Niners loss to the Falcons, Wilson hit Hollister close to the goal line, but Keaundre Greenlaw smashed the tight end and brought him down what was adjudged half a yard short with an epic tackle, turning the ball over on downs, effectively ending the game.
The league office reviewed the play, and Hollister was remarkably short by inches – The left shoulder hit the ground (The play ends right there) milliseconds before the ball crossed the plain.
It just isn’t a 49ers game if you’re not writhing in pain due to a heart attack by the 2 minute warning.
Getting the ball on the half yard line, the Niners either had to kill a few seconds and take a safety, or just run a QB sneak up the middle and get past the line of scrimmage.
Jimmy G was once Tom Brady’s back-up, so a sneak was the natural option, and they got through it error free to ‘Sea’ it out.
The Niners won in Seattle for the first time since 2011, they claimed their first NFC West title since 2012, they get a bye, and they also crucially claim homefield in the NFC for the first time since 1997, while the Seahawks also get a bye.
It just happens to be in Philadelphia.
Famous last words.
Happy New Year once again, I’ll be back next decade!