Season long on games, but not on excitement NFL PLAYOFFS

January 16, 1995|By PHIL JACKMAN

The TV Repairman:

The real Super Bowl, huh? Probably.

After all, the handling of the Cowboys by the 49ers yesterday, accomplished in -- what, the first 7:27 of the game? -- was in keeping with the way things have gone in the Supe nearly back to its infancy 28 years ago.

The margin of victory by the NFC representative during its recent 10-year winning streak has been more than three touchdowns. And that includes losers gathering up points near the end of games when the winners were dumping Gatorade on the sidelines and showing little regard for the final score.

Nearly as bad, though, is what the NFC title game has evolved into. Only two of the last 11 conference showdowns of the so-called Old Guard NFL teams have produced competitive contests.

What these facts and a few others would seem to suggest is, the longer the season goes, the worse the games get. It's understandable since rough-and-tumble football wasn't invented to be played over the course of seven months and with about as many games as what once constituted a basketball season, 20 to 24 games.

Therefore, and in the interest of extending careers and giving us Sunday shut-ins better games to watch, the motion has been made and seconded that the season and the playoffs be cut back to a reasonable length. Oh, and players and coaches have to score at least 700 on the SATs, too.

* Thankfully, one thing about ABC doing Super Bowl vingt-neuf in a couple of weeks is the long-awaited pasteurization of the Fox studio crew of Terry Bradshaw, Howie Long and Jimmy Johnson.

The guys, along with host James Brown, had their moments over the last 20 weeks, but they've been like an impacted wisdom tooth since about Thanksgiving. Then again, there are Dan Dierdorf and Brent Musburger doing a pre-game show.

* The early line of the Niners being favored by 17 1/2 points over the Chargers smacks of reality. Tomorrow, Las Vegas will release its line for the second quarter of the extravaganza in Joe Robbie Stadium 13 days hence.

* As usual, John Madden stood out among the network announcers yesterday, the "$8 Million Man" providing his own special brand of reasoning concerning the well-advertised bonding of the 49ers this season: "It might go back to the game they lost to Philadelphia [in week 5]. You know when a guy [Steve Young] yells at the coach [George Seifert], the other players like him? Maybe that's when Steve became one of the guys."

* Bob Trumpy, NBC's lead analyst and competition, established his usual beachhead doing the Chargers-Steelers AFC title game by pointing out "Neil O'Donnell called a very conservative route" for his first pass of the game.

It was just the second scrimmage play of the game and, on second down, the Pittsburgh quarterback was looking to pick up a first down for his run-oriented team while checking out what San Diego was doing defensively. Conservative? Obviously, Trumpy was looking for a "Hail Mary" heave into the Chargers' end zone.

Bob was there with his usual "trump" card, however. That's when he makes up quotes for the combatants such as a pressuring defensive lineman saying to San Diego quarterback Stan Humphries, "Son, it's going to be a lengthy afternoon if you're stuck in third-and-10 all day." Yeah, these people talk just like that during a game.

* The stat of the day had to be when Pat Summerall stated during the early going of the Frisco victory, "That's the first time in NFC history that a team got three touchdowns in the first period." Attention-getting, yes, but erroneous.

The immediate reaction was, what about the Bears when they laid that 73-0 hammering on the Redskins back in 1940? The "Monsters of the Midway" got a TD inside the first minute when Bill Osmanski swept 68 yards to a score, but then Sammy Baugh led the Skins on a long, fruitless drive that ate up clock. Sid Luckman plunged over from a yard out and Joe Maniaci lumbered 42 yards to the end zone and Chicago led 21-0 after a period. Asked afterward if the outcome would have been different had Washington scored early, Slingin' Sam drawled, "Yeah, it would have been 73-7."

* Back in the days when the NFL championship game was first starting to get noticed on the tube, two terrific teams, the Cleveland Browns and Detroit Lions, met for the title more often than not. A couple of times, their experiences were similar to Dallas' horrendous two fumbles and a pass interception start in the first six minutes or so.

Detroit was ultimately guilty of nine turnovers while losing to Cleveland, 56-10, in 1954 and trailed, 35-10, at halftime. Three years later, during a 57-14 shelling by the Lions, the Browns donated seven turnovers to the victor's cause and trailed 17-0 after one quarter.

In 1956, the Giants creamed the Bears, 47-7. Same thing, tons of mistakes (five) by the loser panicking and trying to get back in the game quickly after falling behind 10-0 in the first five minutes. In 1955, Norm Van Brocklin threw six interceptions, so you can probably guess who won, 38-14, between the Browns and Rams.

Heed the message, Chargers, or the expected trampling could be severe.

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