“Falling on a Knife” must have been a real health concern in Oscar Hammerstein’s old neighborhood. Whenever the legendary librettist needed a quick character exit, but without implicating another, falling on a knife was the literary device of choice. Jud Fry? Billy Bigelow? Both dead by self-shiv.
The point being, as an NFL starting quarterback, JP Losman has a great future in musical theater.
The adjective doesn’t exist to truly describe the level of incompetence beheld in that one play Sunday, when Losman mindlessly fumbled the game away against the Jets when most any other option would give the Bills the win.
It was mind-boggling, incomprehensible, unbelievable, and yet so dramatic and so brutally idiotic, it felt predictable.
Right after the play, Pats fans expressed their disgust, collectively thinking we knew we couldn’t count on the Bills. And a Bills fan buddy told his wife moments before the play, “Watch. We’re still going to lose this game.”
There are these times in sports when we forget what we’re watching is live, and more prone to havoc than we realize. We watch football games with an expectation of order, that the game should go in an orderly fashion according to plan. Plays should be executed as drawn up, and any result outside of that plan – fumbles, interceptions, special teams touchdowns – are shocks to the system, even though we see these things in every game we watch. The irony is the unexpected is what keeps us watching every week.
Compound that with the sports movie glory collections in our heads (Jimmy Chitwood making the last-second shot, Roy Hobbs hitting the home run in the ninth – author Bernard Malamud had him striking out, incidentally), and it’s a wonder our synapses know at which points during a game they should fire.
The end product is a muddle where any result is one we saw coming.
So Losman’s fumble, then, was both a surprise and par for the course. Bill Belichick would probably describe it as a “football play.”
What’s more difficult is apportioning blame. Losman gets a lion’s share, of course. You don’t go that many years in the league with as much as experience as he’s had to blank out in execution.
Many want Bills coach Dick Jauron’s head on a platter as well, a sentiment emboldened with the news his contract was extended. But the call really wasn’t that bad. The two-minute warning was going to stop the clock anyway, so all Jauron was doing was trusting that the guy he had throw 32 times in the previous 58 minutes would know what to do in this situation.
The play has drawn comparisons to the notorious Joe Pisarcik fumble, except fans are clamoring that the Bills should have called the same play now that got Pisarcik in trouble in ’78. No play is 100 percent safe. Belichick probably would have described the Pisarcik gaffe as a “football play” as well.
This was nothing more than Jud Losman falling on his own knife. Unfortunately for the Patriots, it increased the chances the fat lady would soon be singing.
Dan Snapp’s ‘Direct Snapp’ appears weekly on Patriots Daily. He can be reached at email@example.com.