published Monday, December 19th, 2011

Wiedmer: The NFL's Grinch steals Week 15 with some amazing upsets

The 1972 Miami Dolphins can rest easy today. The 2008 Detroit Lions, not so much.

The Green Bay Packers' chase of the 1972 Dolphins' perfect season ended in the most unlikeliest of places Sunday afternoon. Who could have known that the Grinch lived in Kansas City and rooted for the Chiefs?

Of all the teams to end the Packers' perfect run at 13 games (19 dating back to last year), if you said you knew all along that it would be the Chiefs in Week 15, you're either a liar or you've got an arrowhead for your hood ornament and your dog's named Stenerud.

The Chiefs? The 6-8 Chiefs, who just fired their coach Todd Haley last week and moved Romeo Crennel into his spot for an interim basis?

Then again, is KC's 19-14 victory over the Pack any crazier than what the Colts pulled off against our Tennessee Titans?

Entering Sunday absolutely, positively needing to extend Indy's 13-game losing streak to 14, the Titans instead listlessly lost 27-13 to keep those 2008 Lions as the only team in NFL history to finish a season 0-16.

Beyond that, with the New York Jets losing, the Titans would have found themselves pretty much controlling their own destiny to reach the postseason.

Now they'll have to beat both Jacksonville on Christmas Eve at home, then win at Houston the following weekend to even have a chance at the playoffs. And even then they'll likely need considerable help from others.

"That really makes this game worse," said Tennessee fullback Ahmard Hall afterward. "To play a team that's oh-fer and we come out and lay an egg."

Especially when the Titans came within a single catch of upsetting the New Orleans Saints last weekend in Nashville.

Yet what is most disturbing is that on at least two occasions this year -- a home blowout loss to Houston and this -- the Titans have looked awful in games they should have played inspired football.

Both of those contests had huge playoff implications. Both looked entirely winnable on paper, and each were pretty mich a nightmare from start to finish, which rather fair or not, will surely have an impact on head coach Mike Munchak's honeymoon with the fans and the front office as he transitions from year one to year two this winter.

Still, the Titans have seemed to overachieve more than once this year, including that narrow loss to N'Awlins.

The Chiefs have been just the opposite, losing five of their last six entering Sunday, those five defeats coming by an average of 19.4 points. Over those same six games, the Packers had won by an average of 16.5 points.

Yet this may also be why the New England Patriots a few years ago remain the only team to go 16-0 and they lost to the New York Giants in the Super Bowl.

Winning 16 straight games during a 17-week NFL regular season is all but impossible. Just like finding three teams capable of going undefeated in a college regular season is all but impossible, which is why the Bowl Championship Series sort of, kind of works.

Thankfully, the NFL has no such frustrating formula. It has a 16-game regular season to determine who's in and out of the playoffs, then a postseason tournament of sorts to crown a champion.

Only once in NFL history -- those 1972 Dolphins -- has a team run the table, yet Miami only had to win 17 games total rather than 19.

That the Packers won't erase those Fins shouldn't concern the Cheesehead Nation as much as the fact that Green Bay lost to the reeling Chiefs.

"Everybody had marked this off as a win for the Packers," said Crennel. "But those guys in [our] locker room, they're football players. They decided they weren't going to lay down, they weren't going to give up."

That, of course, is the essence of sports, the life lesson that hopefully translates past a ball field or court.

It's one thing that's made Tim Tebow such a cult hero in Denver, even if the New England Patriots crushed him 41-23 on Sunday to prove once again that however a contemptible person he may be, Pats coach Bill Belichick is still the gold standard.

Tebow not only never gives up, but he never allows his teammates to quit, either.

Yet while Packers fans and Titans fans -- and even Lions fans -- may look at Sunday as the day the Gridiron Grinch wrecked their holidays, Chiefs and Colts fans finally have something to celebrate, if only for a week.

Besides, this time next year, it may be the Packers and Titans wrecking someone's Christmas vacation. Re-gifting's been alive and the well in the NFL for years. They've just always called it revenge.

about Mark Wiedmer...

Mark Wiedmer started work at the Chattanooga News-Free Press on Valentine’s Day of 1983. At the time, he had to get an advance from his boss to buy a Valentine gift for his wife. Mark was hired as a graphic artist but quickly moved to sports, where he oversaw prep football for a time, won the “Pick’ em” box in 1985 and took over the UTC basketball beat the following year. By 1990, he was ...

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