A Heartbreaker

There was a lot to like about the Browns’ performance against the Jets today.

For the third game in a row, the Browns went toe-to-toe with one of the NFL’s elite teams and showed they belonged.  It was an excellent game between two evenly matched teams.  The defense played tough during the second half.  Colt McCoy capably directed the Browns’ two-minute offense and engineered a tying score with less than a minute to go.  He may well be the Browns’ quarterback of the present and the future.

And, yet, with the Browns within a whisker of an overtime win, a strip and fumble, and then a final defensive breakdown, meant the difference between a 4-5 record and a chance at the playoffs and a 3-6 record and a very difficult uphill climb.  The fact that the Browns are probably the best 3-6 team in the NFL means bupkis.

In the NFL, there are no moral victories.  A loss is a loss, and the Browns’ loss today was a tough one, indeed.

Two Halves Make A Happy Whole

Yesterday, Ohio State had its biggest-ever comeback by a Jim Tressel-coached team.  The Buckeyes overcame a 14-3 halftime deficit to crush Penn State with 35 unanswered second-half points and win, 38-14.

The two halves of yesterday’s game could not have been more different.  Penn State dominated the first half.  The Nittany Lions’ defense came up with big stops against a very lackluster Ohio State offense, and Penn State’s walk-on quarterback, Matt McGloin, sliced up the Buckeyes with pinpoint throws and two touchdown tosses.  (He also enraged Buckeye fans like me with his cocky strutting.)  If not for a big fourth-down stop by Jermale Hines and the Ohio State defense, the Buckeyes could easily have gone into halftime down 21-3.

The Buckeyes came out with more fire in the second half, and it showed.  After stopping the Penn State offense on their first series, the Buckeyes marched 96 yards for a score to close the margin to 14-10.  Boom Herron, who totaled 190 yards on the ground for the game, set the tone for a great second half in which he, Terrelle Pryor, Brandon Saine, Zach Boren,and the Ohio State offensive gutted the Penn State defense on the ground.  Then, McGloin went from looking like an apparent Heisman candidate to looking like a walk-on.  He threw an interception that Devon Torrence returned for a touchdown — the first of two pick sixes for the defense in the second half — and the game was off to the races.  McGloin completed only two passes in the second half and ended the game on the bench.

I wrote yesterday about trying to figure out whether this Ohio State team could be great.  Yesterday’s game teaches us, at least, that the team has some character and determination, sufficient to overcome poor play and then blow out a determined opponent that is a traditional power.  The ground game exhibition the Buckeyes put on during the second half also bodes well for the two remaining games, which could easily be played in bad weather.  Let’s hope, however, that yesterday’s game is the last time Ohio State plays a bad half of football.  Against Iowa and Michigan, and in any bowl game, two solid halves of football will be needed.

That Infuriating Washington, D.C. Feeling Of Entitlement

One issue to be addressed in the upcoming “lame duck” Congress is whether the Bush-era tax cuts should be extended.  Republicans say that the current tax rates should be extended because it makes no sense to raise taxes during a recession.  The position of many, but not all, Democrats is that some of the tax cuts should be extended, but the tax cuts on Americans who earn the most income should expire — thereby increasing their taxes.

So much of the political discussion in Washington, D.C. is vacuous jousting about language!  In this case, is the extension of tax rates that are about to expire a “tax cut,” or is allowing those rates to expire a “tax increase”?  (I think most Americans would conclude, reasonably, that if tax rates should go from 35% on December 31, 2010 to 39% on January 1, 2011, a “tax increase” has occurred.)  Even more exasperating are the arguments by President Obama and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, among others, that if an across-the-board extension occurs, the federal government would have to “borrow” money to “pay” for “tax cuts” for those Americans who earn the most.

It is worth deconstructing such statements, because they reveal a lot about the attitude of many leading Democrats.  In effect, they believe that the federal government is entitled to the money earned by every taxpayer.  If the government decides to let us keep some of it we should be grateful, because the government has to “pay” for that generosity.  In my view, this infuriating sense of entitlement is one reason that voters voted against so many Democratic candidates earlier this month.  If the government believes that it has a right to every penny we earn, it will never learn to live within its means — and that is what voters want.  If our government cannot get by on tax receipts that already exceed $2 trillion, the problem is spending, not taxes.