The 2005 NFL Season In Review

DETROIT – After tuning into another season of twenty-two raw and dizzying weeks of highly-anticipated professional football, gnawing at our brains, the majority of us football fans – who on a weekly basis find ourselves stuffing our respective gullets with gallons of untamed and brutal whiskeys, porters, ales, and other distilled delicacies, along with massive amounts of varying deep-fried, artery-clogging treats – are sitting in the comfort of our slothful nests, wondering what the hell went wrong with our beloved hometown favorites, and how we’re stuck here during the final week of the annual NFL experience watching yet another contest in which the victor of The Greatest Game Ever Played is one-hundred percent futile to all of us. Why must Tagliabue the Great torture us so madly?

I have to admit, however, that the 2005 NFL season – regardless of who you find yourself backing, or whatever bandwagon you’re maliciously humping, or whatever town you’re from, or live in, or whatever team you feel you should be a fan of, or otherwise – was without question one of the most entertaining us steadfast followers and die-hard watchers of Righteous Gridiron have seen in recent memory. But if you ask me how we’ve found ourselves standing here in Detroit, on Super Bowl Media Day, asking mundane and cliché questions to members of the (cough…excuse me…hairball) Pittsburgh Steelers and the latte-huffing, walrus-led Seattle Seahawks, I’d be at a loss for words. I suppose these are the two best teams in professional football, because my daddy told me so, and because they’ve reached the final game of the year and there isn’t anyone left for these fuckers to play. I’d like to figure this out.

The season began with numerous prominent story lines. The New England Patriots, who had won the last two Super Bowls, and three out of four, had cemented themselves as a legitimate dynasty and modern-day legends in the iron-cast bosom of NFL history, and were attempting to accomplish a feat that no other team in the league’s rich past has ever done: win three in a row, and with the great odds against them, after losing both coordinators – Charlie Weis to Notre Dame, and Romeo Crennel to the Cleveland Browns.

Though considered a front-runner, the Pats were obviously crippled. Most NFL insiders and enthusiasts felt the Indianapolis Colts, who during the previous two seasons had shown signs of possible greatness (only to fall short to the Pats in the playoffs both times), and their window of opportunity was so bright and open it was blinding the eyes of the rest of the league. Along with the Colts, the San Diego Chargers, the Kansas City Chiefs, the Pittsburgh Steelers, and the New York Jets all seemed poised to hold the Lamar Hunt Trophy and represent the AFC in Super Bowl XL in Detroit.

As every year, the unpredictable and wielding fist of salary-cap parody comes crashing down on all of our pre-conceived notions, and yet again ruins that finely carved and formulated idea we had created about who is the best.

The Jets proved to be one of the worst teams in football, though coached by one of the best in the profession in Herm Edwards. Their descent is at least well documented and can be understood by even the marginal football novice – after trading receiver Santana Moss they lost their speed and deep threat on offense, 33-year old running back Curtis Martin finally looked like he was 33, and after every quarterback on the roster fell to injury, the season was put in the hands of the former Wisconsin Badger great and future Canadian Football League MVP Brooks Bollinger. Case closed.

The Chargers and the Chiefs were plainly and simply screwed by each other, and all of the other marginally talented teams in the AFC. After both teams got off to a mediocre beginning, they eventually hit their strides of effectiveness only to be forced to play each other twice during the final eight weeks of the season, and with both teams winning only once, they knocked each other out of the playoffs. But with such a rich and storied historical rivalry, how could you have it any other way?

Of the bunch of marginal teams who hoped to contend with the Colts in the AFC was the Pittsburgh Steelers, who like the Chargers and the Chiefs, struggled through ups and downs during the season, playing four games without starting quarterback and Super Bowl sweetheart Ben Roethlisberger. Unlike the aforementioned, however, the Steelers found a way to make the playoffs as a sixth seed, the final wildcard seed, and emerged victorious over the top three teams during the AFC playoffs on their way to Detroit and Super Bowl XL:

In the first round – the third seed Cincinnati Bengals, who armed with third-year player Carson Palmer at quarterback (who was injured on the second play from scrimmage in the playoff game, mind you), became one of the biggest surprises in 2005 by winning the AFC North division. In the second round – the top seeded Indianapolis Colts, who became only the third team in NFL history to begin a season 13-0, and lost the game after a Mike Vanderjagt (who is the most accurate kicker in NFL history) field goal miss in the final minute of the game. And in the AFC Championship – the second seed Denver Broncos, who fought with fire and intensity, led by coaching veteran and Bill Walsh descendant Mike Shanahan, fell short due to the ineffectiveness and unstable play of quarterback Jake “The Snake” Plummer. And thus the road was clear for the annual clutch-choking extraordinaire Bill Cowher and his meat-headed ball-busting drones led by the recently swelled and always mediocre 2nd-year quarterback Big Ben. Someone rip my throat out so I can bleed all over the box score, please

The NFL is stupid and so is life so blah blah blah. Deadline is met. Hooray.

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