Every week of the NFL season tells a story. GIFs -- pronounced "gifs", "jifs" or "gee-oafs" -- can do the same thing. So let's tell the story of Week 15 through GIFs.
The Oakland Raiders have already earned their spot on 2017's Mount Rushmore of Disappointment, so consider it fortuitous the skilled camera operators of Sunday Night Football provided rock artists the perfect image to work off. Here's Derek Carr and Jack Del Rio looking at a Jumbotron replay showing us definitively that Carr fumbled the ball out of the end zone late in the fourth quarter against the Cowboys, a cruel turnover that ended Oakland's season in fitting fashion.
Also fitting? Game play on a weird NFL Sunday ended with the proper enforcement of a flawed rule. Count me amongst the army of football fans who believe a fumble through the end zone does not warrant a change in possession. Back in October, we saw the same rule squelch a Jets' comeback bid against the Patriots at the Meadowlands. Having possession stripped away when you're that close to the end zone is akin to getting life in prison for a speeding ticket. The punishment simply does not fit the crime.
Not everything was terrible for the Steelers on Sunday. Before Antonio Browninjured his leg, before Jesse James got robbed of the biggest touchdown of his life, before Big Ben showed us the soft underbelly of the fake spike play, there was injured linebacker Ryan Shazier waving a Terrible Towel to the joy and delight of 80,000 Steelers fans at Heinz Field.
"That's as loud as I've heard it in a beginning of a game, Jim," said CBS color man Tony Romo, who was subject to plenty of noise during a high-profile 13-year playing career. "That was rocking before that play from Brady. He had to turn around and look what was going on."
And while we're here, this is the look of a man dying just a little bit on the inside after his quarterback made an ill-fated decision to throw the football at the goal line. It reminded me of the face Pete Carroll made at the end of Super Bowl XLIX. Does anyone else find it the least bit strange that the Patriots were the incredibly fortunate beneficiaries of stunning unforced errors in both cases?
This may end up being the Gronk game we remember most. It was his Bo-Jackson-in-Tecmo-Bowl moment, a 3.5-hour saga of domination where the only way to stop him was to tackle him before the ball got there (and sometimes that didn't even work). Of course, the Steelers would have benefitted from a better game plan against the best tight end ever (seriously, single coverage with the game on the line in the fourth quarter?), but it's doubtful it would have mattered.
Gronk was in the zone and he was never going to be denied.
It's Monday morning, let's cut to a live shot at CenturyLink Field.
And now it's time for another edition of (everybody together now!) That's ... Somebody's ... Dad!!!
Aaron Rodgers wasn't able to save the day for the Packers (boo), but Green Bay can take solace in winning our weekly Celebration of the Week Award for Week 16. I enjoy when a touchdown celebration delves into the surreal, and watching a bunch of football players speed-walking like grannies at the mall at 7 a.m. on a Tuesday is just sublime.
And much respect to our runner-up this week, the Detroit Lions, who came close to securing the hardware after their Rockettes homage Saturday afternoon:
Guys. Who green-lit this?
This is the man two NFL franchises might want as their head coach in 2018. In Hue's defense, I would lose my red challenge flag all the time. When it's time to layer up in December, it's a virtual needle-in-a-haystack scenario.
On balance, I come down as neutral on the idea of mascots. If the kiddies like it, no one wants crotchety, embittered ol' sportswriter dad spitting hot takes from behind a MacBook. But I do tend to cringe when mascots actively insert themselves into the touchdown celebrations of the teams they represent. Football is hard work. The players lay it out there every Sunday, and when they score a touchdown, it's both the payoff and a release. It's safe to say the guy in the furry costume has not made the same sacrifices.
Then again, Kareem Hunt appears to engage with our friend K.C. Wolf, so maybe I'm way off on this issue. I also like how I refer to it as an "issue," insinuating that there is anyone else in the world -- literally anyone -- who has ever given this topic any thought whatsoever. Aw hell, let's cut back to another live look at CenturyLink Field.
Until next week.