I’m running a bit late again this week, which I suppose is a byproduct of the Chargers being a 45-man traveling parade of failure. They’re the worst kind of team to support late in the season: stuck between the worlds of playoff contention and young, improving and exciting. The Chargers are none of those things. You know what I’m talking about, Eagles fans.

This handy stat from CBS updates me on what I’ve missed, though: Six of nine plays run in this game so far have gone for 0 yards.


While it’s not a barrel of monkeys for me today, though, it’s the biggest bar crowd of the year. I think the biggest factor is that the Steelers/Chargers game is on local TV, pre-empting Ravens vs. Redskins, two teams that also have good-sized local fanbases. So Buffalo Wild Wings is the place to be today. I guess, sometimes, it doesn’t matter how poorly a place is run, it’s going to do business.


The Jets have decided to take on the Jaguars today with Greg McElroy completely inactive. The quarterbacking options for the Jets will be Mark Sanchez, who was benched last week, and Tim Tebow, who probably couldn’t nail down a starting quarterback job in the Canadian league.


I know it’s just the Jaguars, but you don’t even want to give yourselves the option of playing McElroy? My only theory here is that Rex Ryan is saying to the Jets brass, “I want you to get an eyeful of how bad Mark Sanchez really is so you’ll finally understand that he needs to be replaced.”


A guy walks up to the bar by himself and orders a Leinenkugel’s. The bartender says, “Oh, we only have the Lemon Barry Shandy.” The guy says, “That’s the one.” The bartender disdainfully says, “You like that stuff?” With that tone and look on his face, he might as well have said to the guy, “Yeah, sure. Lemon Berry Shandy coming right up, FAGGOT.”


You know what I’d really love? For Philip Rivers to show some kind of acknowledgment that he’s not playing like an All Pro right now. He walks around like he just plowed six Victoria’s Secret models regardless of whether or not he’s just thrown a 30-yard bullet for a touchdown or pegged a defensive back in the chest. Maybe that’s good from a competitive standpoint, but … I know the rest of you hate him, and I get it.


Oh, and fair warning: During the early session, I’ll probably only be paying attention to the Chargers and Steelers. If you haven’t seen a Cowboys/Bengals score yet, this probably won’t be the place to get it.


The guy finishes his Lemon Barry Shandy, puts money down on the bar and leaves. The bartender looks at the rest of us and says, “Did he just come in, have one girl beer and leave?” Jesus, man. Now I’m afraid to order anything but a cocktail of Everclear and a female truck driver’s crotch sweat.


On some CBS crime show this week, LL Cool J finds a dead clown in a dumpster. I really just wanted to type, “LL Cool J finds a dead clown in a dumpster.”


The Chargers/Steelers game has settled into a groove almost completely devoid of entertainment value. Right now, it’s pretty much indistinguishable from Jets/Jaguars, which is not good.


I guess I should be happy for the display of defensive competence, though. The Chargers defense has been, overall, good ‒ I’ve been guilty of lumping them together with an offense that’s underperformed in every possible capacity, and that’s not fair to them. I’m sorry, Chargers defense.


That said, though ‒ they haven’t been playing this well, and I swear, if you fuckers rally to win out and it saves Norv’s job, I will have a nervous breakdown.


Curtis Brown, the man replacing Ike Taylor in the Steelers’ secondary, gets abused by Danario Alexander on a stop-and-go. Thirty-nine yard touchdown, San Diego. Philip Rivers gets in Brown’s face and tells him about it, because … well, I don’t know why. It’s just what Philip Rivers does.


On a 3rd and 1, the Steelers pound it into the line for no gain. On 4th and 1, they do it again, and the Chargers defense holds. I mention it because it pisses Mike Tomlin off. Not in the usual Mike Tomlin style, either, where he’ll be seething but retain a calm and rational exterior. He’s visibly pissed off now. I’m not sure I’ve seen this before.


Fox is going pretty heavy on the Cotton Bowl advertising today. It’s probably not a coincidence that Johnny Manziel, who won the Heisman on Saturday, is featured heavily in these ads. Coupled with Texas A&M buying a Johnny Manziel billboard in Times Square, it feels like the Heisman isn’t a prestigious award  so much as it’s a way for already-rich people to make even more money from unpaid labor. I hate to be cynical about college football, but that’s only because I don’t like to be exactly like everyone else.


The Steelers get three points before halftime, leaving the Chargers with a 13-3 lead at the break. I’ve been dabbling in statistical equations to accurately predict the outcomes of football games, so let me run this through the Chargers’ formula: Size of Lead * Impending Crippling Phil Rivers Interceptions ÷ (Time Remaining + √Norv Turner’s Digestive Regularity) – ∑Amount of Pain It Causes MJD / { Upper Deckers Ryan Leaf Left in Qualcomm Toilets } … and no. The lead’s not big enough. We’re going to lose.


Rob Ryan, Cowboys defensive coordinator, is talking shit to Andre Smith of the Bengals. Why, I have no idea, but it ends in a hearty “FUCK YOU” from Ryan. It’s an unfathomable accomplishment, but Rob is becoming the dickhead in the family. The dickhead in the Ryan family. Let that sink in for a minute.


My attitude toward Philip Rivers is generally sour at the moment, but I have to tip my cap to him for his play on third downs today. He’s been nails. He’s only 14-of-31 total, but on third down, where a quarterback really earns his paycheck, he’s been excellent. So there’s that.


And it’s a touchdown to Malcom Floyd! 20-3, San Diego. Man, it’s going to hurt when we lose this one.


Oooooh. A pretty, unaccompanied lady has sat down beside me. It might be worth noting that this was the only available seat at the bar. It’s not like this happens regularly.


I overhear this bizarre conversation. The last line might be the best thing that anyone’s ever said.

Nearby Dude: Bartender! I need a shot. I gotta keep up with that guy over there (points to a gentleman on the other side of the bar).
Bartender: He’s pretty far ahead of you, man.
Nearby Dude: Ah, he’s Mexican.
Bartender: Is he Mexican?
Nearby Dude: I don’t know what he is (shrug). He’s got a mustache.


Ever since this girl sat down, everyone in the vicinity has been cheering for the Redskins and showering her with attention. Man. Life must be so great for cute girls.


Ben Roethlisberger throws a backwards pass off of someone’s ass, and then Quentin Jammer falls on it for a touchdown, pushing the Charger lead to 27-3. Let me re-run that equation, factoring in the spherical volume of one of Quenin Jammer’s massive balls … and yes. It holds this time. The lead will stand.


60 Minutes usually advertises specifically to the football audience on Sundays. For example, if they’ve got something sports-related or something military, they’ll plug the hell out of that during the football games. This week? It’s Hugh Jackman working out. Mmm, mmm, mmm.


Rivers floats a jump ball to the corner of the endzone, and Danario Alexander goes up and gets it. 34-10, Chargers. Question: Bolts’ GM AJ Smith fucked the dog in the offseason when he signed Robert Meacham and Eddie Royal. However, Danario Alexander has turned into a beast, and our second leading receiver today is Michael Spurlock, and both of those guys, he pulled off of someone else’s shit heap. How do you balance those? Is AJ Smith on the good or bad side of the ledger for receiver acquisitions?


The lights above me keep going off and on. It’s happening continually. The bartender explains that the dimmer switch is right next to the stack of napkins, and any time a server reaches for napkins, they inadvertently hit the dimmer. I don’t want to suggest anything crazy here, but … move the napkins, maybe? Or just kind of, you know, pay attention?


It’s remarkable how the presence of one female has changed the atmosphere here. The bartender is fawning all over her, Nearby Dude is buying her drinks. If you’re a cute girl, and your life isn’t just 100% cream cheese, then you’re doing something wrong. It’s so easy to manipulate men into whatever you want. You don’t even have to have sex with anyone ‒ just make us think there’s a 1% chance that you someday might. If I was an attractive broad, I’d be so good at this.


Uh oh. RGIII has suffered a leg injury in the midst of a Redskins comeback attempt. Nearby Dude is all over it: “OH, HE’S DONE! That’s a knee. That’s an ACL. I’ve seen it before. He’s done for the year.” Doctors are tending to Griffin, but I don’t know why they’re bothering. It’s an ACL. The human MRI over here has seen it before.


Kirk Cousins takes the next snap (for some reason, everyone here thinks his name is Chad Cousins). Then RGIII is right back in. HOW CAN THIS BE, DOCTOR? The good news for RGIII, though, is that Nearby Dude does give him “mad props” for toughing it out. Probably the highest honor of RGIII’s career.


A few plays later, Griffin is carried off the field. We’re now back to the ACL diagnosis. I don’t know if the mad props still apply. Medicine is so tricky these days.


Things are getting tense for the pretty Redskins fan next to me, as her favorite player, RGIII, is now on the bench. Kirk Cousins is in. And Kirk Cousins is THROWING A TOUCHDOWN PASS! Alright. Way to go, Kirk Cousins. Nearby Dude is celebrating hard, despite never having previously shown any interest in the Redskins. He high-fives the lady, and then lifts his sweatshirt up over his chest, demonstrating to her the proper way to celebrate. That’s … alright, that’s pretty funny, Nearby Dude. Well done.


A two-point conversion would send this one to overtime, and it’s Kirk Cousins on the draw play! Excellent call, Mike Shanahan.


I’m not sure how we got here, but Nearby Dude and pretty Redskins girl are talking about whether or not RGIII likes white women. If you’re into crude racial stereotypes, this conversation might be better than the last one.

Nearby Dude: Yeah, but he doesn’t like white women.
Redskins Girl: He does, too!
Nearby Dude: Well … he likes the big white women.


Trailing by 17 points with 3:45 to play and battling for a playoff spot, the Steelers punt. Normally, I’d question this decision, but given his performance over the past couple of weeks, putting the ball in Philip Rivers’ hands is probably their best chance to score. I’m not even kidding about that. It’s the correct tactical decision.


You know what, Greg Hardy? There are a lot of people you can invite to polish your knob this week.


This is unreal. The pretty Redskins girl is about to leave, but not before the bartender knocks two beers off her tab, and Nearby Dude picks up the rest of her check. I realize that it’s not breaking news that pretty girls get some breaks, but I’ve never seen it so over the top like this. People are paying homage to her like she’s Clara goddamn Barton. It’s amazing. Before she goes, two different people insist to her that she comes back, and she gets one more free shot for the road. I think there’s also someone funneling money into a Cayman Islands bank account for her.


You ever see those commercials and wonder, “Come on, who gets a Lexus for Christmas?” Her. Girls like her can get a Lexus for Christmas, because we, as a gender, are hopelessly dumb and horny.


Speaking of horny: I’m probably going to see “Django Unchained”, and I’ll probably enjoy it, but I’m also convinced that Quentin Tarantino has a room in his house covered with posters of muscular, angry black men, and that room is where he goes to masturbate. I’m not saying that isn’t cool ‒ knock yourself out, and like I said, I’ll still see “Django” ‒ but I’m worried it could turn into something unhealthy for him.


I’ll probably get back to watching football at some point.


Fox is showing a big equipment cart on the Seattle sideline. The point is to show a bag of Skittles in there for Marshawn Lynch, but also on the cart are drawers labeled “Lip Balm”, “Pepto” and “Antacids”. I just found that interesting.


There’s one channel in here right now that’s showing Celebrity Downhill Skiing. Ever wonder what happened to Joe Hackett while Brian Hackett, Antonio Scarpacci and Lowell Mather went on to (varying degrees of) successful acting careers? He’s a celebrity downhill skiier, so you can shove “Sideways” up your fucking ass, Lowell.


Also, because I just Googled her, and because it exists, here’s a website dedicated to Helen Chapel’s feet.


John Skelton, Arizona’s quarterback/huckleberry this week, gets pick-sixed (can that be a verb now? I think it can be a verb now) by Seattle, making it 24-0. I may be projecting here, but I think I’ve noticed Seattle pass rushers actually taking it easy on Skelton a couple of times. Not to the point where they’d pass up a sack or anything, but they’re helping him up and maybe not pummeling him quite as hard as they could be.


Nearby Dude is leaving, and before he does, he walks past me, pats me on the back and says, “Hey, keep our names off your blog.” No problem, buddy. I don’t even know your name. I did offer to e-mail him a link to what I’d end up writing, but he declined.


Hey, remember when the Cardinals were 4-0, and everyone was like, “Hey, are the Cardinals for real? I wonder if they can keep this up!” I can’t wait to see which way that one goes.


This is nice to see: Montell Owens, Jaguars special teamer, had a really nice day filling in as the starting running back for the Jags. Montell, how do you and the team do it? Oh, that’s how. Thank you, Montell.


After a fumble, John Skelton and newly-signed center Scott Wedige are on the sidelines practicing the center/quarterback exchange … and they’re still fucking it up. That’s just embarrassing. It makes me so sad that I don’t even feel like pointing out how his last name is so close to being “Wedgie.”


It gets worse ‒ Patrick Peterson muffs a punt badly, and Seattle takes it in for a score. He was under no particular pressure, and he fumbled the ball back towards the endzone, as if to encourage the Seahawks to go in that direction. That can’t even be called a muff. That’s a giant, overgrown, thigh-encompassing, lice-infected fur pie.


Jared Odrick of the Dolphins gets a sack and celebrates with the Pee-Wee Herman dance. This, I mean. Not publicly masturbating. I’d imagine that would draw quite a fine.


On the subject of celebrations, I believe I’ve seen enough of the “Shoveling Things Into My Mouth With a Spoon” gesture. On a given football weekend, you’ll see it roughly 43,213 times. How many people have to do it before it’s played out and meaningless? Because I think that happened months ago.


Richard Sherman gets the next John Skelton interception, at which point he and Kam Chancellor break into a synchronized dance. They did it right in front of the official, too. They knew that flag was coming, and they decided that they had to dance anyway. I liked it. “Fuck it, it’s the Cardinals. Let’s dance.”


Jesus. Patrick Peterson fumbles another punt return. I’m thinking the Seahawks can get to 50 today. It doesn’t happen often in the NFL, because these are professionals and there are no pollsters to impress, but I can see it happening here. There’s just no resistance coming from the Cardinals. They won’t be able to help but score 50.


Meanwhile, I’m getting bored. The place has cleared out pretty well, and I think I’m the only one here actually watching a football game. I’m getting jealous of the lady at the other end of the bar who’s playing the bar trivia. I’m fighting the urge to look over and scream, “IT’S SHENANDOAH NATIONAL PARK, YOU STUPID BITCH.”


Which probably means it’s time for me to go, because that’s not good. The 4 o’clock letdown is sometimes too much to overcome. I’ll see you next week, everybody.


Matthew J. Darnell can be reached here. He’s probably lonely and would love to hear from you.