Listen - get the cheese out of your ears, kids! This is big news for us. This is big news for everyone. Everything is different now. We’ve entered a new era – The Matt Cassel Era, which can only be written in capital letters. Seriously, spell checker won’t let me write era with a lower case e if I put Matt Cassel in front of it.
Everything is better now. In The Matt Cassel Era, our offensive line can block. Our defense can harass the quarterback. In The Matt Cassel Era, Bud light lime comes out of water fountains. There is more hair on my head than on my shoulders. In The Matt Cassel Era, we can win.
On Sunday morning, I awoke with a warm, fuzzy feeling in my stomach. I knew that we had entered The Matt Cassel Era. And this is what it looked like:
Before The Game
6 minutes to Start – The NFL wants to present the best of America to London, so they carefully select the most patriotic, the most articulate musician they can find to sing the national anthem. This happens to be Gene Simmons. Before Gene Simmons would wear crazy makeup. He would say something insane. But this is not before. This is The Matt Cassel Era. So, instead Simmons finishes his performance without incident. He does have something odd on his head. I’m not sure what it is, but it is certainly not hair. Not hair aside, he acts normal. I think he has been seeking treatment for his insanity. Maybe he is better now.
3 minutes to start – Wow, British people are really into their national anthem. They seem pretty excited for the game to start, but I’m afraid they will be sorely disappointed in about 3 minutes when they find out what we meant by football.
1 minute to start – The British commentators explain to their audience what a touchdown is. The English our both shocked and excited to learn that the game almost certainly won’t end in a tie.
14:53: The Matt Cassel Era begins with a quick slant to Jerome Simpson. Cassel is one for one. I start thinking that Cassel might go for the perfection here. After all, this is The Matt Cassel Era and everything is better now.
13:56: Cassel completes his second pass to Simpson again. His perfection continues. As superstition dictates, I cross my fingers and don’t wash my socks.
13:29: Cassel’s 3rd pass is incomplete. His flirtation with perfection is over, but I’m pretty sure it’s lasted longer than any of Ponder’s. Thankfully, I can wash my socks again. It was getting pretty bad.
12:58: Cassel lofts a perfectly thrown ball downfield. Unfortunately it’s perfectly thrown to Steelers CB Taylor, who almost makes the catch. But this is The Matt Cassel Era. Everything is different now. Everything is better now. Instead of an interception, Patterson breaks up the interception by knocking the ball out of Taylor’s hands. With those CB instincts, this guy should really play both sides of the ball. We can start him over Xavier Rhodes too.
12:08 - Blair Walsh sets the most coveted NFL record for a kicker – longest field goal at Wembley.
This guy just can’t miss!
12:02 – Commentators last for almost a full 3 minutes before they make the first Big Ben joke. Because Big Ben is the name of the Steelers quarterback and also the name of a clock in London. Get it?
11:53 – Big Ben sheds a Viking defender like my cat sheds hair on the couch and avoids the sack. I think he must have greased up before the game. Either that or the would be tackler was Erin Henderson.
11:52 – I realize that it was Henderson, which makes me feel better because it means I can stop imagining Ben Roethlisberger all greased up.
9:17 – Gene Simmons is interviewed by the sideline reporter. Nevermind what I said before, he is definitely still insane. But during his lunatic ramblings, he apologizes for the American revolution, which is a very classy move. I’m sure Londoners appreciate that very much.
8:55 – The guy wearing number 81 makes his third catch. I begin to wonder who this man is and what he’s done with Jerome Simpson.
8:06 – Jennings, who has looked his age in the first 3 games of the season, makes a catch that before would have gone for a small gain. But this is The Matt Cassel Era, so instead, Jennings reenacts his favorite youtube video, puts the team on his back, and scores.
7:52 – Commentators mention that the Vikings have now scored TDs in 8 consecutive first quarters. But that can’t be right. They are talking about the before. But then the only possible explanation hits me. It seems The Matt Cassel Era has bent time and space. This statistic cannot possibly be correct otherwise. Ponder was our quarterback in the before.
6:50 – The second and third Big Ben jokes come in quick succession, the third comes complete with a little infographic comparing the two. You can practically see the announcers holding back giggles as they read.
6:45 – Big Ben spins around Jared Allen to avoid another sack. Big Ben is like that wrestler that’s easy to get to the mat but impossible to pin because they keep wiggling one shoulder up and then the other.
3:05 – Commentators make the weekly reference to AP’s handshake and how strong his fingers are. You’d think by now all of the announcers would have shook Peterson’s hand and that they would stop talking about it. But some things are always the same, even in The Matt Cassel Era.
15:00 – The British announcers cut in and pretend like they know about American football for a little bit. This is an actual quote – "We know all about the NFC East. We know the Giants. We know the Redskins." I am impressed! Even if he was reading off of a cue card.
12:42 – Peterson sees a lane and scampers 60 yards for a touchdown. That actually brings his average down to 65 yards/carry every time he gets a lane.
11:42 – Jared Allen finally brings down Big Ben.
10:02 – There’s a commercial for a new TV show called The Millers. Their tagline is - The only thing worse than your parents split up is having them move in! And, of course, the only thing worse than having your parents move in is the Millers.
7:59 – Another Big Ben sack, his grease must be wearing off.
4:05 – Holy shit, the Steelers still have the ball? Whatever, Allen gets another sack because of good coverage downfield. It occurs to me that The Matt Cassel Era isn’t the only new era we’ve moved into. We’ve also entered The Sans Sanford Era and it seems to be every bit as glorious as The Matt Cassel Era.
2:31 – Cassel fumbles and before it would have been a turnover, maybe even returned for a touchdown. But this is The Matt Cassel Era and instead, the ball bounces forward straight into the outstretched arms of the guy wearing Jerome Simpson’s jersey.
1:10 – Another catch for the Simpson impostor. I am getting less and less worried about Simpson. He is probably tied up in a basement somewhere, struggling. But I am strangely okay with that.
10:16 – The guy posing as Jerome Simpson catches another pass for a first down. The guy does Simpson’s patented first down point, but it lacks enthusiasm. He looks tired, probably from so many first down points. The celebration was not designed to be efficient. Simpson never had to do it that many times.
7:56 – The offensive line opens up another hole for AD and he runs in for the 12 yard score untouched. This brings his average way down to 51 yards and a touchdown every time he has a lane.
7:00 – I decide to take a nap
13:56 – HELOOO! I am awakened by a very annoying side line reporter interviewing a British Olympic gold medalist. I am missing Tony Siragusa. Which should tell you a lot about this particular side line reporter.
12:47 – Ben Roethlisberger throws a TD and then limps off the field. That’s so Ben Ben Roethlisberger of him! Well, except for maybe the TD part.
10:16 – Big Tobes sighting!! Devotees of my posts will recall that he is my favorite Vikings player. He catches a short pass. The offensive line gives him milk, but he keeps churning his legs until he makes butter. 7-yard gain butter.
8:50 – Back to AP, who likes going over 100 yards rushing so much, he tries to lose enough yards so he can do it again. Before, he would have lost 13 yards. But this is The Matt Cassel Era and everything is different now. Everything is better. Peterson cuts his loses, dives forward and only loses 2 yards instead of 13.
6:53 – The Brits interview Randall McDaniel, who gives them the short version of the genesis of his strange stance. It takes 2 and a half minutes. I’m not sure what the long version entails. For some reason, I feel like I understand the story pretty well after the short version.
6:50 – Walsh misses a kick, for the first time this season. You guys, did anyone jinx him? Because I definitely didn’t. No? Let’s blame Ponder then.
6:45 – We’re up by ten in the 4th quarter, so why am I so nervous? Oh right, because we’re only up by 10 and it’s the 4th quarter.
4:32 – It occurs to me that this might be Ponder’s best game of the season. But then I realize it’s not over yet and I don’t want to jinx him.
3:30 –Steelers move pretty quickly down to the Vikings 11 and kick the field goal. Vikings up by 7.
1:43 – Steelers get the ball back and I become a Pre-Cog a la Minority Report. I’m seeing visions of a fade to the left corner of the endzone. But I can’t tell if it’s in the future or just in the past. Rr in the past that other time. But it looks like that’s going to happen again. It looks bad. But I forgot. I was living in the past. I was living in the before.
0:19 – Things are different now. This is The Matt Cassel Era. Instead of a Steelers touchdown, Griffen sacks Big Ben and the ball comes lose. We recover! Cassel takes a knee and time expires. We have more points than the Steelers. I’m not sure what happens now. My god, I think we just won!
0:00 – Wembley erupts. The British fans finally get to go home after pretending for so long to be interested in the American version of football.
The fans are screaming. Vikings win! Vikings win! I think we can leave now!! I hear a voice, louder than the others. Actually, it sounds like my mother’s. Get up, for school you’re going to be late! I wake with a start. Noooooo! The Matt Cassel Era was just a dream. We still live in the before. Everything is actually exactly the same. But if that’s true, if it was just a dream and not for real, then how’d I get a jersey with the name Cassel? Woah…