Monday, February 4, 2008

And then the Football Gods said no

One of my favorite columnists, Gregg Easterbrook, writes a weekly sports column for ESPN in which he regals in how the Football Gods reward or punish teams for the folly and hubris. My favorite is when he comments on how a team is punished when the cheerleaders fail to show professionalism. The man has a good eye, that's all I can say. I've appropriated his term for this update to describe my opinion of what happened in the oddly named University of Phoenix Stadium where the Rasputin-like Giants faced the unstoppable Patriots in their quest for football immortality.

A few days before the game in DC, a Senator (an Eagles fan) asked the question I've been asking all season. "Hey Goodell, what was on the damn tapes? And if you stonewall me, I might take away your anti-trust exemption." To me, this was the first crack in the wall that the NFL had whitewashed after the boys from Foxboro got caught. And cracks tend to spread, even onto the field.

"The champ is groggy. The champ is down."

I enjoyed the Superbowl at an acquaintence's party in Buckhead, chock full of women looking all sexy and guys being guys, with a fresh cup of Sprite in one hand and a girl on lap for most of the second half. I had another party in mind, but found out the brother was charging $30 a head (dudes) to get in. Now it was supposed to pay for catering, but for $30 I would have expected free drinks as well. And I'm not even drinking right now. So, I didn't attend.

At the party I did run up to, a three story town house, the crowd was mixed, although the girls I was sitting next to complained that there weren't enough men there. Enough tall men, who looked rich. I wish I was joking, but that's how she preferenced it. The women though, were off the chain. (And for the record, the girl in the yellow jersey and black stretch pants was reee-diculously fine. I didn't get her on my lap though.)

Enough of the ambiance..onto the game. The thing that impressed me most was how often the Giants got to Brady. At one point I think he had 17 dropbacks and was either hurried or knocked down on 10 of them, and was 5 for 11. What the NY has that a lot of teams don't is a strength coach from the 1950s and four legit speed rushers, and getting to Brady is the key to stopping the Pats. That and shutting down that way to obvious straight forward pass lane that nobody in 18 games seems to realize is there.

The wings by the way, were slamming. Old girl in the black top that she was bursting out of was even better. Sorry, the game.

Then, with his brother looking like someone's accountant, Eli Manning grew a pair. With two minutes to play I watched as he channeled Favre, Montana, and in a scramble that saw him dance out of the arms a defender and toss the long ball, Tarkenton. (Yes, I'm a Cowboy fan and I could have said Staubauch or Romo, but they're still the Giants, geez). But even as he floated out the go ahead touchdown pass, I looked at the clock and wondered if they'd struck too soon. As the room around me erupted in jubliation that the Pats weren't going to go undefeated (You'd be surprised how many folks hate the Pats now) I realized that they'd left Brady and Moss with 35 seconds and three timeouts. That's like 4 minutes in real time. And by NFL rules, the defensive coach would play prevent. Okay it's not a rule, but it they way they stick the mantra it may as well be.

So held my breath and waited for the English Miracle. Or Brady's March. Or whatever nickname they'd give it when Moss made a circus catch in the endzone with zero seconds left on the clock, because in the NFL you trust your DBs to cover and not your linebackers to blitz with the game on the line. Do the Giants know who there DBs are? Send in the linebackers!

Somebody listened, as whooosh!, they hit Brady so hard you could feel the impact in Atlanta. What's that? A coach who sends in the funk with less than minuted to play? Unthinkable!

And somewhere in Miami, the champange bottles popped. The Football Gods had made it right.

Barkeep....shots all around! Make my shot that Voss water though.

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