Or does Steve Smith? Nobody in their right mind would have thought that Carolina could almost single-handedly cover the line for last night's game, but I'm not the only one that thought my boys could go into Soldier Field and make them all look like buck privates. With the notable exception of a leaping, one-handed Urlacher interception, the vaunted Bears defense looked decidedly mediocre. A lot like the invincible Giants running game. Anyway. So my boys are going to Seattle for the NFC title game, and they're going without our #1 running back, Deshaun Foster, who got his ankle broken on a clean but unfortunate tackle late in the game. Nick Goings gets another chance to prove himself as a superior backup (like he did last year for almost 900 yards), and the o-line gets another chance to give Jake time to put it in the hands of the most explosive player left in the playoffs, #89.
Let's face it, Steve Smith starts every day with a chip on his shoulder. He's a little guy, and they're always feisty. At 5'9, Smith is barely taller than certain diminutive degenerates, but that guy moves faster than Pauly headed for the strip club (Welcome back, Doc). He's got Barry Sanders moves, that boy can absolutely juke you out of your shoes, and is just stubborn as hell when it comes to going up and getting the damn ball. Witness his jump ball strip of 6'3" Charles Tillman last night. Tillman had the ball, Smith wanted it. A lot. Panthers ball. End of story.
And can we Carolina fans send a game ball to the Soldier Field grounds crew for the worst maintenance of a field in the world? My sandlot baseball games didn't see that much bare earth when I was a kid, and the shitty field conditions contributed to at least 21 points, with coverage guys falling down on 3 TD receptions (2 for Panthers, 1 for Bears). Even John Kasay slipped, and I've watched 11 seasons of Panthers football to tell you that just doesn't happen.
Grossman played a helluva game, and a far better showing than most of his 1st-year playoff counterparts. When Lovie Smith needed to put the game in the hands of his quarterback he did, and it paid off, with Grossman marching downfield to end the 1st half and start the 2nd. Solid play by the kid with something like 25 minutes of actual NFL play under his belt.
And can we just for kicks come up with some kind of freak of nature athletic challenge to see who's better between Peppers and Urlacher? Those guys have extra genes that I've never even heard of.
Oh yeah, I played a little poker this weekend,too. We had folks over for movie afternoon on Saturday with poker to follow, and I introduced Omaha Hi to our mix, so after a few hours of Hold 'Em, we went into a mix game of HOP, Hold 'Em, Omahi Hi and Crazy Pineapple. All no limit. No action junkies here. I finished up about $60, which isn't bad for a $20 buy-in, but the real news of the night was when I taught the folks the advanced tilt move of the live straddle. This managed to tilt BlackMike super-quick, because he was the only one getting straddled for a while, until they managed to talk the Dear and Patient into live straddling my blind 3 hands in a row!
JJ, AK, AK. Not hands you want the BB to wake up with when you live straddle. After that 3 orbits I didn't get straddled again all night. In either idiom. Don't beat your wife in poker and then expect any other type of action later. But Suzy ended up even for the night, so that was nice, too.
I did channel the Luckbox (congrats, buddy!) repeatedly during the night, rivering the inside straight draw at least 5 times, and calling my overpair suckouts at least twice. I love J8 off suit. This philosophy of getting your money in when behind isn't as bad as one might think. And it guarantees action on every hand after that, too.
In other news, i-pokertable.com has agreed to become a sponsor of this humble scribbling, so here's their ad. I tried it, it's a Boss Media site, lots of European players and most of them suck, so take advantage. Also, Jordan has a cool deal worked out for their WPT qualifiers, so go see what he's got cooking.
Ahhh shit, work calls.
Later. Go Panthers!