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Games of the decades

Join Senior Editor Vic Ketchman as he tackles the fans' tough questions.

Tyler from Dundee, FL:
We were allies with the French back when Jefferson gave them all that money. They had just saved us in the Revolutionary War and we didn't want to take the land and make another enemy. England still didn't like us and in a few years we would fight the war of 1812, in which France helps us again. I know this isn't a question but I figured I'd inform you on why we paid all that money.

Vic: I received several e-mails such as yours, all of which make me the very proud owner of a column read by educated and well-read sports fans. "Ask Vic" is not for idiots. It's not for people whose minds are shut. This is a place for people who want to learn. I just did.

Anthony from Jacksonville:
A radio analyst recently said the key to winning basketball games is to make your jump shots. Earth-shattering, I know. What's the key to winning football games?

Vic: In that simple statement, however, there is much to be learned. How is it that Butler is in the Final Four and Kentucky, Kansas and Syracuse are not? It's because all of the things in basketball that require great physical ability, which is to say dominating the interior action, can be nullified with a made shot. You don't have to rebound the shots you make, right? The power programs grab all of the power forwards, leaving for the less-powerful programs the gym rats that can do little more than shoot the eyes out of the hoop, and they are a dime a dozen. Then, come tournament time, the gym rats get hot and the power forwards on the power teams are left to stand under the hoop and watch the ball go through the nets. Frankly, basketball is a rather easy game to master. Football never has been. Power has always defeated finesse, but that's changing. Nick Saban has brought it back to power on the college level, but the Colts and Saints clearly moved the dial toward finesse in the pro game. If you're the guy who decides the direction of your football team, you have a big decision to make: Do you go with power or finesse? I've always been a power guy, but I'm not so sure that's the way to go these days. Football may be in the process of becoming basketball.

Brandon from Jacksonville:
I know you are sick of questions about overtime, but I was curious and couldn't find the answer anywhere: In the new rules, if the first team does not score and the second team scores a field goal, would the first team get the ball back?

Vic: No, they would not. If you hold, you only have to score once.

Lou from Apollo, PA:
Starting in the 1960's, what is, in your opinion, the best game of each decade?

Vic: Why start in the '60's? Let's start in the '50's. Let's start with the 1958 NFL title game, "The Greatest Game Ever Played." In my opinion, there are two categories of such games: 1.) The game that defines each decade. 2.) The most exciting game of each decade. The '58 title game is all things. It's the defining game and the most exciting game of its decade, and the defining game and the most exciting game in NFL history. Now let's move on to the '60's, for which the "Ice Bowl" is, in my opinion, the decade's most exciting game and Super Bowl III is the defining game. In the '70's, the "Immaculate Reception" was the defining game and the 1974 AFC playoff game between the Raiders and Dolphins is the most exciting game. In the '80's, the 49ers' win in "The Catch" is the defining game and the Broncos' win in "The Drive" is the most exciting game. The '90's were dominated by the Cowboys, therefore, I think it has to be one of their wins that stands as the defining game, so I'll pick the Cowboys' win at San Francisco in the 1992 NFC title game as the decade's defining game. It was a changing of the guard, so to speak. The '90's most exciting game is the '95 AFC title game between the Steelers and Colts, which featured Ernie Mills' toe drag along the sideline and the Colts' Hail Mary pass that came so close to being caught. The first decade of this century has a lot of candidates. The Patriots and Colts have played so many great games that I think one of them has to be regarded as the decade's defining game. I'll go with the Patriots' win over the Colts in the 2003 AFC title game as the decade's defining game. The most exciting game is Super Bowl XLIII, which featured James Harrison's 102-yard touchdown return of an interception on the final play of the first half, and Ben Roethlisberger's touchdown pass to Santonio Holmes with 35 seconds to play.

Quentin from Amsterdam:
You can't narrow the uprights for just the overtime period, so they will have to be smaller the whole game. That would result in more misses and fewer points and that's not what the league wants. The question is will it result in more punts or more going for it on fourth down, which would be more exciting, right?

Vic: I like the idea of narrowing the goal posts. If kicking field goals has become too easy, and it has, then make it more difficult. I think it'll result in more go-for-it's and touchdowns.

Andy from Daytona Beach, FL:
I've heard my dad say a few times that David Garrard is just a really good back up quarterback. What's your opinion?

Vic: I don't agree with your dad. Garrard was the 17th-ranked quarterback in the league's passer rankings last year, which would technically mean he'd have to fall 16 more places to reach back up status.

Dan from London, ON:
You said you would rather have a sixth-round compensatory pick than two sevens. Is this because you could easily just target the players you'd get in round seven in undrafted free agency?

Vic: Yep, that's it. Those compensatory picks are at the bottom of the round, which means they're only a few picks away from being undrafted players. Frankly, I view the compensatory seventh-round picks as the start of undrafted free agency.

Dave from Jacksonville:
What happens to time in the new overtime format? If a team wins the coin toss and runs 10:50 off the clock before kicking a field goal, does the opponent only get 4:10 to score or are they allotted an equal 10:50?

Vic: They get 4:10. Dave, please don't take offense to this, but I'm amazed by your question. It is the perfect example of why the overtime format shouldn't have been changed. Life's not fair and sometimes you have to overcome adversity. That's always been the greatest lesson football has taught us. What's next? Give everybody a trophy so the losers don't feel bad?

Andrew from Bloomington, MN:
Do you think the Jags should go after Brandon Marshall?

Vic: No.

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