Peaceful as a baby’s sigh

If you haven’t figured it out from stuff like the trivia question below, This Space loves the weird statistical stuff and funky coincidences. Today brought a doozy in the NFL: Tennessee and Cleveland went into the day tied for the sixth AFC playoff spot at 9-6, but unless one or the other played an unlikely tie, it didn’t matter whatsoever what Cleveland did against the 49ers. If both teams had lost, Cleveland would have made the playoffs on the second tiebreaker, conference record (7-5 for the Browns; 6-6 for the Titans after a loss to Indianapolis).

But they both won, and Tennessee wound up with a 7-5 conference record; that got the Titans in on the third tiebreaker, record against common opponents. Wild: Even though the teams had been tied, Titans-Colts was basically a playoff game for Tennessee, while the Browns had basically nothing in their hands.

Oh, speaking of clinching: Click below for the answers, at least as I had in mind…

1) The two scoreless ties were indeed March 6, 2004, against Hartford, and April 10, 2004, against Philadelphia.

The Hartford game was interesting because it came during the Rangers’ firesale, which had sent Petr Nedved to Edmonton for a package that included Dwight Helminen, a couple of draft picks and a goaltender named Stephen Valiquette. Big Steve that day made his first Harbor Yard appearance since he left as a free agent in the summer of 2003. That game is also notorious because Bridgeport should have led: With 9:45 to play in the third, Eric Manlow took a shot from the slot that went off the very top of the back-center support bar of the net, the one spot where it wasn’t padded, and zipped right back out. Dave Hansen called crossbar and waved it off.

The Philly game was interesting because it was the second-to-last day of the season. The Phantoms had 98 points with 45 wins; Bridgeport had 96 with 41 wins. The math is easy: Bridgeport had to win, one way or another, to stay alive in the division race. Bridgeport pulled Wade Dubielewicz in the last minute of overtime but couldn’t get the win it needed. The tie clinched the division for Philadelphia. Bridgeport got Wilkes-Barre/Scranton. And we all know what happened there.

2) The 1-0 overtime losses were indeed March 20, 2005, at Albany, and Jan. 29, 2006, at home against Syracuse. In common, as Andy said and CC just confirmed: The winning goals were scored on the power play; the slightly tricky part was that Hartigan’s goal was scored at 5-on-4 at the end of a major. Bonus points if you remembered that (a) Contrary to the Albany box, the Campoli penalty was for tripping (Suglobov fell), not throwing the stick, although the latter might have made more sense; (b) The teams combined for six two-man advantages in that Syracuse game, including one in overtime just before the goal; (c) both game-deciding calls bordered on atrocious.

Michael Fornabaio