Out of the Mud, Into the Snow, And Away We Go
By Tony Kornheiser
No, Jerry, you can kiss my grits. What happened to your Red Gun? Was it 2 confused 2 cruise? Or did you just forget to waterproof it? Someone said that Hammer's writing a song about Saturday's game called, "U Can't Dry This."
One of The Detractors' recurrent bleats this season is about the remarkable luck the Redskins have had -- running into so many second-stringers along the way. (More about this in the Detroit portion of the column.) Consequently, Atlanta fans embraced the notion that their earlier 56-17 loss was totally bogus, since Chris Miller and Deion Sanders didn't play. Now what? Is anybody going to claim this game doesn't count either, because Tommy Nobis didn't play?
Here's what Atlanta scored with Deion returning punts and kicks, and Miller at the throttle: seven points. Deion amused everyone with his Gregory Hines vamping in the end zone before the game. Unfortunately, once the game started Deion was more like Duncan Hines. Miller, who was praised on CBS's pregame show by Terry Bradshaw for tossing such a tight spiral, slogged through one nightmarish patch where he completed just one of 10 passes to his guys -- and three to the Redskins! The Bandwagon appreciatively makes room for Miller, who ended up getting picked off four times -- one more than Billy Joe Tolliver and Brett Favre were in the 56-17 game that apparently never happened. Everyone agrees these new-look Falcons were a very loose team. Just not a very good team.
Not that the Redskins looked real keen either. The Bandwagon wasn't exactly purring like the Exxon tiger. "It was in the shop all last week, so it took a while to blow the carbon out," observed legendary wide receiver Russ "The Flea" Grimm. "But we got it going, and we're in overdrive now." Still, somebody might tell John Brandes that if he spent half as much time practicing his deep snaps as his Hammer-Time dance routine, Kelly Goodburn might not have to be Luis Aparicio to get a punt off. Here's the spot in the column where we usually give the weekly statistical review. But you won't find one this week. What would it say?
Most points scored? Hardly. Least points, actually, among remaining playoff teams. (I knew NASCAR's own Coach "Joe" Gibbs should've had the pit crew change to those Hog-approved mud tires earlier.)
Fewest points allowed? Not this time.
Biggest plus-minus? Nope.
Detroit's leading all those categories. Detroit is the 1927 Yankees now.
Excuse me, Tony, I've got a question here.
Yeah, but make it short, okay. I've got the flu. I'm playing nicked.
This incredibly powerful Detroit you're talking about, this wouldn't be the same overwhelming juggernaut Detroit the Redskins just squeaked by, 45-0, in the opener?
Let us address these Lions now. When last we saw them, they were face down with a toe-tag. I'm trying to think of a game where 45-0 isn't that big a deal. Skee-ball is all I can come up with. The Sept. 1 Detroit game inspired my first declaration that I was buying a parka for Minneapolis. To guard against getting carried away prematurely, I ended that column by warning: "It's only Detroit. It's only Detroit. It's only Detroit." Look, any bozo could have predicted that the Redskins would make it to the NFC championship game -- I did! But nobody in his right mind would have guessed their opponents would be the Lions. The Lions at the time were road kill. (Speaking of which, it's time for a Venturi Update: Rick "I've Got The World On A String" Venturi is still waiting for the Indianapolis Colts to rehire him. Good luck, Rick.)
Of course, these Lions are a completely different team. They have won seven in a row. They've got the official coach of the year. Who knew? Back then, some of us didn't think Wayne Fontes would last the month. (Fontes's secret seems to be unabashed emotions. He openly weeps. Maybe the Redskins should hire Dexter.) In retrospect, the 45-0 game must be totally bogus because -- like Atlanta -- Detroit played without its No. 1 quarterback and its Sanders. Barry Sanders felt soreness around his ribs during warmups, and scratched himself. Oh, the Lions didn't know they were without their No. 1 quarterback. Rodney Peete, who started, was the No. 1 quarterback. Peete, you'll recall, was the guy who they designed their run-and-shoot around. Erik "Tommy, Can You Hear Me?" Kramer was third string, behind Peete and Andre "There Is No There" Ware. But why quibble with a great storyline? What 45-0 game? Doesn't matter. Didn't happen. Senator, I have no recollection at the present time.
Like the Falcons with Evander Holyfield, the Lions have their own hometown sluggo mascot, Tommy Hearns. (Obviously, the Redskins have to drag Ray Leonard and/or Riddick Bowe to the sideline this week to stay au courant. We've fallen way behind in the celebrity department. Now that Houston is history -- who called the timeout on fourth and 10, Vinnie Barbarino? -- maybe The Bushman'll try to glom on to The Bandwagon. But how hip is it to have him, Dan Quayle, George Will and Carl "Get Your Hands Up, Pal" Rowan in The Squire's Box rapping, "We're 2 upper crust 2 bust.") Yep, the Silver Stretch is humming. Unbeaten at home. Unbeaten indoors. Check out the numbers Sanders put up all season. Check out the numbers Kramer put up last week.
But before we convene this week's meeting of the Coach "Joe" Gibbs Oh How I Hate Playing A Team For The Second Time When They're Hot, Emotional And They've Got Something To Prove Orchestra, featuring special vocal arrangements by Barry "My Ribs Are Fine, Thanks" Sanders, let's check out these numbers:
The Lions are 2-4 outdoors this season. The Redskins are 15-2. RFK, if you haven't noticed, is very, very outdoors.
This concludes the Detroit section of the column. Anybody who's still upset it's the Lions coming here and not the Cowboys, go to your room. Now.
Okay, you've been patient. The Bandwagon (copyright Anthony I. Kornheiser, U.S. Copyright Office 1922241015) warmly welcomes Alec Anders, John W. Farley, Bob Spoth, Nancy Cronin and Shari Natovitz, Marion's unnamed lady friend, Ari and Sarah Braun, Czechoslovakia's Jeremy Lang, Australia's Jon Courtney, former Redskinette and current O's hater Kimberleigh Flinchum, Elias Papasavvas, John Hiller, Sandie Jordan, who offers to cook for all Wagoneers, Sudeep Dutta, Lang and Phyllis Soo-Hoo, Mitchell McCracken, who says his wife, Marge, will be glad to tell us how to drive -- she's been telling him for 45 years, Sean Zachary Cudahy and Kathy Hassett (paid for by Kathy Hassett For Bandwagon Committee).
Oh, check out one last number:
The Magic Number. It's one.