There are maybe a handful of games during an NFL season that will provide so much drama it makes movie and television writers jealous. Jealous because they aren’t capable of creating the poltergeist like feel that makes everyone who watches football, love the fact that they watch football.
Sure sometimes a game can drag on (especially with the replacement officials), but nothing tops the feeling of “wow, I’m watching something that I may never see again”. It’s impossible turn away because you can’t believe what you’re seeing.
The New York Giants and Tampa Bay Buccaneers played that type of game on Sunday.
The thin air of Metlife Stadium was pierced by the arms of Eli Manning and Josh Freeman, but mostly by Eli Manning.
Manning finished with a ridiculous line of: 31/51, 510 yds (510!). 3 TDs-3 INTs.
All three of those interceptions came in the first half and all three of those interceptions resulted in Buccaneers touchdowns (including an unbelievable pick six by Eric Wright). At halftime the score: Bucs 24 Giants 13. The defending Super Bowl champs appeared to be well on their way to the dreaded 0-2 start.
Then Eli channeled the waves of his older brother and went off in the fourth quarter.
The younger Manning found Victor Cruz on an 80 yard bomb that deserved a little extra salsa on the side (Cruz provided it in the end zone).
On the next drive Manning floated a beauty down the right sidelines to his new favorite tight end Martellus “I’m going to make the most of this because I’m going to be somewhere else next season” Bennett, who made an outstanding catch for a 33 yard touchdown. Bennett made up for two awful drops that should have been touchdowns earlier on.
If you’re counting at home that’s 147 yards from Manning that resulted in 14 points in just 2:37. Then something unexpected happened.
Josh Freeman and Mike Williams put on their big boy pants.
Freeman floated a 41 yard pass to Williams, who made a beautiful grab with Justin Tryon covering him like a curtain on a window. Tied game at 34.
On the ensuing drive Manning found Hakeem Nicks for another 50 yards and then Andre Brown capped off the drive two plays later with a two yard touchdown. 41-34 Giants.
Freeman would then be intercepted (after a completed pass to Mike Williams on the 17 yard line was overturned by the booth) and the game was locked up, but the fireworks weren’t over.
As Eli went to take a final knee a Bucs player reached through the pile of players and knocked Manning down. Tom Coughlin exchanged words with Greg Schiano on the field after the game was over.
Isn’t it funny that something happens between coaches on the day of handshake bowl II?
I personally had no problem with the play. You play until there are three zeros on the clock and you have to remember that Schiano has carried a college style mentality into the Bucs organization so for something like this to happen isn’t surprising.
Look out Dallas, Josh Freeman and Vincent Jackson are coming for you next week.
Flying above a tight wire with a Kevlar flak jacket. Yet again Michael Vick found himself in the same situation as last week. He had turned the ball over twice (two interceptions) and his teammate in the backfield LeSean McCoy had fumbled twice. Yet there was Vick staring up at the scoreboard; it read Ravens 23 Eagles 17, 4:43 left in the fourth quarter, 1st and 10 on PHI 20.
The reason why Vick was in that situation? An impressive second half performance by the eleven men on the other side of the football:
Demeco Ryans played like the leader the Eagles front office was hoping he would be. By my count he had three really important tackles down the stretch, including a key sack of Joe Flacco. He also made a very athletic play on an interception; Vick converted that Ravens turnover into a key six points on a sick falling out of bounds 30 yard throw to Jeremy Maclin.
Dominique Rodgers-Cromarte played a really strong game. He did get burned on a 46 yard bomb to Torrey Smith in the third quarter, but other than that he made Flacco have to progress in his reads throughout the day.
The entire defensive line made Flacco’s job tougher than the camera men who have to follow the Kardashians around on a weekly basis. In the second half Wacco Flacco was constantly making quick decisions, which resulted in incompletion after incompletion. Ray Rice didn’t have the same holes to run through as he did in the first half (partially because Cam Cameron went away from running the football. Did Andy Reid start calling the plays for the Ravens?).
Thanks to the defense Vick was able to do this on the last drive of the game:
- Short pass to Jackson for 14 yards.
- Pass over the middle to Brent Celek for 24 yards. (Celek had a great game 8/158)
- Vick scramble for eight yards.
- Another pass to Celek for 13.
- Short pass to the hero from last week Clay Harbor for 19 yards, Baltimore was then hit with a roughing the passer penalty.
- Vick dives to the one yard line.
- Vick gets tackled by Ngata, he throws the ball while going down, it’s initially ruled a fumbled (it CLEARLY was not), the fumble was then overturned. (I was on the phone with my Dad yelling during the point about how bad the replacement refs are even though Ed Hochuli would have probably made the same call.)
- Vick dives into the endzone for the touchdown.
One more defensive stop and the Eagles moved to 2-0 for the first time since the beginning of the Terrell Owens and Donovan McNabb era in 2004.
Even though the win was in doubt for most of the game at the end of the day the only stat that matters is the numbers under the word score and on Sunday the scoreboard read Eagles 24 Ravens 23.
Karma works in mysterious ways, last year the Eagles would have lost that game, this year Vick leads his team to victory in crunch time. As I sit here and type this wearing my number 7 Eagles jersey I just can’t help but wonder what will happen if this team stops turning the ball over and stops taking stupid penalties.
No Patriots jerseys? My girlfriend spent the weekend in Boston visiting her best friend. Throughout the day they bar hopped and she would send me updates of the different places they were at. She kept mentioning how few Patriots jerseys there were, which I found to be shocking.
Apparently Bills and Eagles nation took over bean town today. I’m wondering how many Patriots jerseys there will be out and about tomorrow, the over/under is 1 (I’m taking the under).
Who would possibly want to be seen a Brady jersey tomorrow? Or a Gronkowski jersey? You can be damn sure that there are no Gostkowski jerseys after what happened today. (It’s doubtful that there were any to begin with, but after today I’m certain that there aren’t because they’ve all been burned.)
Here’s an alternate headline for what happened in Foxboro today: Suicide pool killer.
This was one of the few games today that seemed to provide a matchup between two teams who are on different tiers of the NFL hierarchy, which is why this was such a popular pick amongst people who spend money each year on the new fad amongst gamblers aka the suicide pool.
They can all say bye-bye to their money.
Just like Wes Welker can say bye-bye to a long term contract with the Patriots.
Just like Patriots fans can say bye-bye to Aaron Hernandez for a little while.
Welker was benched for Julian Eldelman to start the game and Hernandez went down with an ankle injury that is feared by many to be a high ankle sprain (Rotowire is reporting that he could be out for up to six weeks). Welker did finish with 5 catches for 95 yards, why didn’t he start?
Without those two key pieces Tom Brady had a Blane Gabbert like line of 76 yards and an INT in the first half and yet the game was tied at 6 because after all they were playing the Arizona f’n Cardinals. Everything was going to be ok? Right Bill Simmons?
Kevin Kolb (can I start calling him Kevin Farve?) proved two touchdowns in the second half, but the Patriots still found themselves with a chance (so you’re saying there’s a chance!). 42 yards separated the Patriots from escaping their home turf with a win that was supposed to be easy.
Quick segway to my stat of the day!
In the 14 games played between Thursday night and Sunday afternoon kickers were 46-48 (95.8%) and 71-71 on XPs. The two field goals that were missed?
A 62 yard attempt by Billy Cundiff that wasn’t even close (thanks to an awful penalty by Josh Morgan, who ruined the chance for RG3’s first ever comeback drive). The other?
The 42 yard field goal attempt by Gostkowski. He missed it so bad that it didn’t even hit the net. It was worse than Mike Vanderjagt’s FG attempt in the AFC title game from ’05.
I think it’s safe to say that overreaction Monday is going to make its way into the New England area tomorrow morning.
San Fran takes a bite out of the Lions. In just a season and two weeks Jim Harbaugh has turned the 49ers from a team that looked destined for the bottom of NFC West to the undisputed best team in football.
Going into the Sunday night contest against the Lions I thought the Niners were a clear lock to win the game. The Lions do one thing well, throw the football and throw it to Calvin Johnson. He was going to get his yards (8 rec 94 yds), but those yards didn’t have any meaning to them. San Fran’s secondary never let Johnson get loose.
The reason why the Niners are the best team in football is: they do exactly what you think they’re going to do. They play smash mouth football on defense, they run the ball down your throat. Their quarterback doesn’t make mistakes. The team doesn’t turn the ball over.
The Lions are one dimensional on offense, the Niners locked down the Lions receivers (besides Megatron). The Lions don’t run the ball well, Kevin Smith finished with 53 yards on 16 carries, which was actually more than I thought he would get.
The Lions secondary is suspect (besides Chris Houston), Alex Smith played a smart game 20/31, 226 yds, 2 TDs-0 INTs. The Lions have trouble stopping running backs, Frank Gore again looked like he was five years younger (17 carries 89 yards 1 TD).
I’m very, very curious to see what type of game plan actually works against this 49ers defense. Will some random underdog beat them (Chiefs last year against the Packers) or will a team put their foot in the door before San Fran closes it on the rest of the NFC.
DO YOUR JOB! The Saints defense did not do their job on Sunday and Cam Newton, along with a buffet of running options, made them pay for it.
The Panthers rushed for 219 yards on a combined 41 carries (a 5.3 ypa, see I do the math here, use the stats the next time you’re at the bar). Newton led the way with 71 yards on 13 carries; DeAngelo Williams was right behind him with 69 yards on 14 carries. Both had a touchdown. Cam (not Scam this week) chipped in 253 yards and a touchdown through the air.
If it wasn’t obvious last week it is now, Drew Brees has sent Sean Payton an “I miss you card”. Brees doesn’t look as confident, he’s forcing throws that he normally wouldn’t attempt to make. He needs Payton back for this team to go anywhere, so basically what I’m trying to tell you is that either the Buccaneers or the Panthers are going to finish with a better record than the Saints this season.
Quotes of the Day
“They play dirty. They take shots after the play, lot of dirty stuff. We weren’t going to back down, we weren’t going to take that.”
– Ray Rice after the Ravens lost to the Eagles 24-23
The game became chippy early on, but besides DeSean Jackson throwing punches (I don’t understand why you would throw a head punch to a person wearing a helmet) both teams were throwing cheap shots. Rice happened to be one of those players; he was whistled for an unsportsmanlike penalty for ramming his helmet into the back of an Eagles player.
So you counter their dirty stuff with dirty stuff of your own?
“They’re affecting the integrity of the game.”
-Joe Flacco on the replacement officials.
I’d love to know what Roger Goodell thought during the second week of his experiment with replacement zebras. There were many missed calls throughout the day, so many in fact that Mike Pereira let loose on twitter today. It gave me an idea for a new segment in the column entitled:
The Mike Pereira tweet of the day!
“I agree with Dan Fouts, it was a foul and they should get the original officials back on the field.”
There were plenty more:
The Mike Pereira tweet of the day part two!
Here comes my personal favorite:
The Mike Pereria tweet of the day part three!
The replacement officials will be the main topic of conversation in the sports talk world for the next couple of days and deservedly so. Still I don’t think there wasn’t a big enough fault to occur for the comish to cave on his stance.
“Obviously I think it’s a little bit of a cheap shot. We’re taking a knee, we’re in a friendly way and they’re firing off and that’s a way to get someone hurt.”
-Eli Manning on the Buccaneers last ditch effort to try and get the ball with 5 seconds left.
Here’s the thing, the last time I checked taking a knee is still a play in a football game. There is still time on the clock. Greg Schiano is trying to change the culture of the Bucs (and appears to be doing a damn good job of it) and part of that is telling his team that you play until your lifeline runs out. There was still a chance for his team to get the ball back, so he’s going to try and get it back.
How would we have looked at that decision if it would have worked? Would Schiano have been looked at as a genius?
Looks like it’s time to go into the…
- Gostkowski bailed out Ryan Williams.
- Gostkowski did not bail out Rob Gronkowski.
- Did Gronk spike Gostkowski after the game?
- Carson Palmers’ 373 yards = hollow.
- Hakeem Nicks and Victor Cruz combined yards = 378.
- Every catch was vital.
- I wonder what percentage Hakeem’s ankle/foot was at the end of the game.
- My guess is about 62%.
- Who is a better running back Arian Foster or Ben Tate?
- If Tate was starting anywhere else would he be a top 7 running back?
- Would he have been picked in the first round of fantasy drafts?
- I started Jay Cutler over Stafford this week…
- I still would have lost if I started Stafford.
- My fantasy baseball team just got eliminated from the playoffs.
- I might have to stop playing fantasy sports.
- There’s no question that the Niners have the best defense in football.
- Everyone tackles well.
- Everyone on offense blocks.
- Here’s a secret: fundamentals win championships.
- Brandon Weeden had over 300 yards.
- Does anyone care?
- Ryan Tannehill threw his first career touchdown today to Anthony Fasano.
- Reggie Bush stole the show (197 total yards 2 touchdowns).
- Congrats on your first win Andrew Luck.
- You’ll have plenty more.
- Dante Rosario had 3 TDs.
- Is this the end of Antonio Gates?
- I’ve been waiting all day for you Faith Hill.
- Is Sanchez back under the microscope?
- Was he ever not?
- I wish Tebow would have completed a touchdown pass in the third quarter.
- There would have been chaos in New York tomorrow.
- I know this is obvious, but Big Ben is incredibly agile for being the size of a tight end.
- When will teams learn that they can’t let him scramble to the right?
- Can Monday Night Countdown please bring back Jacked Up?
- Ryan Clark’s hit today would have led the segment.
- Patrick Peterson is going to be a star defender.
Monday Night Prediction
Broncos 35 Falcons 24
My favorite stat from this week:
Jake Locker: 2 carries, 21 yards
Chris Johnson: 8 carries, 17 yards
I can’t remember a player losing their mojo the way Chris Johnson has. Sure the offensive line isn’t what it once was and Jake Locker isn’t making defenses fear their passing game the way Matt Hasselbeck did a couple years ago, but CJ2yards looks like a shell of what appeared to be a hall of fame back.
He isn’t breaking tackles, he isn’t hitting holes the way he used to, he looks indecicive on where to run, he falls down immediately when he’s touched. It just doesn’t make any sense.
Johnson practiced the most he’s ever practiced this offseason. He got himself into better shape than he was in when he broke the 2,000 yard mark in ’09-’10.
His downfall has some major effect on my fantasy team. I now cannot trade him for anything but a bag of chips in return and they probably won’t even be good chips at this point.
If you guys have any questions or comments for me feel free to email: Scottdargis18@gmail.com
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JOSH MORGAN SHOULD BE CUT!!!