The last time that an NFL game was played on a Tuesday night, the New York Giants blanked the Boston Yanks, 17-0. That was sixty four years ago. Last night, amidst controversy as to whether the game should have been postponed on Sunday due to a blizzard in the northeast, the NFL held its twenty third Tuesday night contest.
The game between the Vikings and the Eagles had a number of storylines, but the one that took center stage was the comments made by Pennsylvania Governor, Ed Rendell, who was outraged that the NFL postponed the Sunday night game. According to Rendell, “we’ve become a nation of wusses.” He continued his diatribe by saying that “the Chinese are kicking our butt in everything. If this was China, do you think the Chinese people would have called off the game? People would have been marching down to the stadium. They would have walked, and they would have been doing calculus on the way down.”
While I agree that the game could have been played on Sunday, and the fans would have found a way to get there, I do understand why the NFL put the safety of the fans ahead of the desires of a Governor who clearly is not concerned with being politically correct. In his feeble attempt to mock the people of the United States, he stereotyped the entire Chinese population with his marching and calculus remarks.
In spite of Rendell’s attention-grabbing antics, there really were some great storylines in the first Tuesday night game to be played in the lifetime of many NFL fans…
- Would Michael Vick continue to impress and upstage Tom Brady to win the MVP award?
- Would the Philadelphia Eagles continue their push towards a first-round bye in the playoffs?
- Would rookie quarterback, Joe Webb, be overwhelmed in his first NFL start in front of a national audience?
- Would the Vikings play well enough to help Leslie Frazier become Minnesota’s next head coach?
- Most importantly, did postponing the game favor one team over the other?
Conspiracy theorists claimed that the game was postponed because the league wanted Michael Vick and the high-flying Eagles offense to play on a fast track. Others wondered aloud if the extra days would allow Brett Favre to take the field, or give Adrian Peterson more time to heal so that he could play in the game. No one knows for sure how the game would have turned out if it was played in blizzard conditions on Sunday night. Because the Vikings won the game, it is very likely that the media and fans will say that the delay hurt the Eagles…but that is not the case.
The fact of the matter is that the Vikings came in with an outstanding game plan to contain Michael Vick. Blitzing with regularity, the Vikings sacked Vick six times, and hit him many more times than that, so much so that Vick had a noticeable limp as he left the field. The signature big-plays that have defined the Eagles and Vick were nowhere to be found as the heavily favored Eagles lost to the Vikings by a score of 24-14, taking away any chance for Philadelphia to secure a first-round bye in the playoffs. And unless Tom Brady falters badly in the final game of the season, Michael Vick’s shot at winning the MVP was seemingly lost as well.
On Tuesday night, the Vikings were simply the better team, and no star shone brighter than rookie quarterback, Joe Webb. The sixth round draft pick out of UAB was actually drafted as a wide receiver, even though he played quarterback in college. If not for Brett Favre’s concussion, and the season-ending injury to Tavaris Jackson, Joe Webb may not have even gotten the opportunity to play quarterback for the Vikings.
There is no more hostile environment in the NFL than Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia. The fans are amongst the rowdiest in sports. And yet, Joe Webb performed with the poise of a seasoned veteran in front of a national television audience. When asked after the game about being a rookie and playing in front of the boisterous Eagles fans, Joe Webb calmly smiled and talked about how the fans aren’t allowed on the field, and that even though he was a rookie, he has been playing football all of his life.
It was only one game, but if Joe Webb’s performance against the Eagles is any indication of his potential, we may look back someday at the 2010 NFL draft and wonder how ten other quarterbacks were drafted ahead of him. On a night where all eyes were on Michael Vick, Joe Webb stole the show with a big arm, fast feet and elusive moves. Some might say that he “out-Vicked” Michael Vick.
With three inches and ten pounds on Michael Vick, Joe Webb is more of the prototypical-sized quarterback. His blazing speed in unmatched by most quarterbacks in the NFL not named Vick. I seriously doubt that Webb is going to start 296 more games in a row to match Brett Favre’s record, but the Vikings may very well have stumbled onto their quarterback of the future in a rare Tuesday night football game.
Stranger things have happened, but after a game like this, it would be very surprising if anyone other than Leslie Frazier is named the head coach of the Vikings going forward.