Baseball might be America’s pastime, but football has become its favorite sport in recent years. The reason for the sport’s ascension through the ranks of America’s culture is usually attributed to the unique gladiator-esque action. Although sometimes, as we saw this past weekend, football can provide us with some real stinkers just like every other sport.
The weekend of ugly football began in our own backyard with Athens High School. The Bulldogs took on Vinton County and the outcome was apparent quickly. Athens scored the first three touchdowns of the game, and it never got much better from there. The 63-14 final was mercifully expedited by a running clock in the second half. It can be fun to watch a great team hit its stride, but when the sides are as mismatched as they were Friday night, the line between impressive and ugly gets thinner the longer the game goes on.
Fans who watched LSU play Auburn Saturday night may have wondered if they were watching the right kind of football. Eight field goals were kicked in the game, including the six that made up the entirety of Auburn’s 18 points. There were no “act like you’ve been there before” type comments in this game because, well, these teams didn’t get “there.” This game was so ugly that the losing coach got fired the next day, and the most exciting part of the game was the play that didn’t count.
This was the classic “neither team wants to win this one” game. The Ravens and Jaguars combined for 5 interceptions, two fumbles, a blocked kick, and three touchdowns as opposed to five field goals (and one missed field goal). Someone had to win this game, but the 3-0 Ravens didn’t look too superior to the 0-3 Jaguars.
While this game also had a hint of “neither team wants to win this one” it was ugly for all sorts of other reasons. For one, the Browns were playing. The same Browns that inspired someone at Bleacher Report to write an article legitimately asking if they were the least talented team of all time. If that wasn’t enough, the Browns started their third-string quarterback and were missing their two best wide receivers due to suspension and injury. The worst part is, the game was still close. The Dolphins couldn’t even beat down a depleted version of one of the most depleted teams in NFL history. Oh, and the only reason they won was because the Browns new kicker shanked three field goals, including one that would have won the game as time expired in regulation.
This one is a little more personal for me. Yes, the score was lopsided. Yes, the Steelers scored three points. But it was my connection to them that hurt the most. Growing up in LA without an NFL team and a father from Pittsburgh, I adopted the Steelers as my favorite team. This year’s iteration of the team is supposed to be one of the best versions in quite some time. The defense looked improved during the first two weeks of the season and the Steelers looked like a Super Bowl contender. I don’t want to overreact, but the lack of tackling ability in the secondary and the concept of a head-scratching loss to a less talented team brought my infinite optimism back down to earth. This team is super talented but still falls back into the same mistakes that can make them so frustrating to watch sometimes.
Maybe football can be more fun again next week.