Today is my birthday. Yes. Today I am eleventy-one years old.
(Well, no, not actually, though some days it feels like that).
I got some wonderful gifts to mark the day… from the New York Jets, the New York Giants, and Tony Romo of the Dallas Cowboys.
In the morning game, the Jets defeated the New England Patriots, long the bullies of the AFC East, who had been pushing Gang Green around on their own field for more games than I care to remember. But not today. A win is always swell, but a win over Evil Little Bill and his minions is especially sweet, since they have been so scarce this past decade. The game did not begin well for the Jets, who came out, looked terrible, and shot themselves in both feet in the first couple of series. But after that they settled down, and before long they were actually dominating.
The defense was amazing. Blitz, blitz, blitz. The last time I have seen so much pressure on a QB was when the Giants beat the Patriots in the SuperBowl, but these were the Jets. Tom Brady will usually eat you alive if you blitz too often, but not today. He looked dazed and lost by the final series. And Darryl Revis just OWNED Randy Moss. (Though once again Vernon Gholston’s name was never mentioned. Did he even play? I’m not certain).
My brother in law was at the game. He’s been a Jets season ticket holder for years, and he tells me he has never heard a Meadowlands crowd make so much noise. Rex Ryan gets credit for that as well. All hail Rex!
The defense won this game, but the offense also performed well, especially Mark Sanchez. I know, I know, he’s only played two games, but right now trading up to grab him in the draft is looking like the best move the Jets have made since drafting Joe Namath.
As for the evening game… what can I say? Aside from the fact that I sufferered several heart attacks during the closing minutes. It was not, by any measure, an especially well-played game, but it sure was an exciting one… and how sweet it is to be able to open the Jerry Jones Palace of Excess by handing the hated Cowboys a loss!
It had to be one of the weirdest games I have ever watched, though. There were times I thought these must be teams from the Bizarro world. For most of the game the Cowboys stifled the vaunted two-headed Giants running attack by stuffing Brandon Jacobs and Ahmad Bradshaw again and again. That’s not supposed to happen. On the other side of the ball, they gashed the Giants D with their own ground game. Felix Jones and Marion Barber kept breaking free for long runs. That’s not supposed to happen either. The huge, slow, ponderous Cowboys offensive line kept the Giant pass-rushers at bay through the whole game. We failed to record a single sack, and Tony Romo always seemed to have plenty of time. That’s DEFINITELY not supposed to happen. The Giants red zone offense sucked too, just as it did last week. We had first and goal on three or four occasions, and came away with field goals every time. We had one interception TD taken away by the ref’s whistle, and our field goal kicker missed a gimme kick at one point, so a good drive ended with nothing.
With all these calamities, you would have to figure the game was a Dallas blowout. And, hey, maybe it should have been. But thankfully, we had Eli Manning and they had Tony Romo. Tony must have known that it was my birthday, since he kept giving the Giants gifts. Three interceptions, I think. (There was a fumble too, so there were four Cowboy turnovers). Two of the picks were just awful throws. The third was a freakish thing where the ball bounced off the back of Jason Witten’s ankle right into the hands of Kenny Phillips, who ran it back for the TD that the refs took away.
And that wasn’t even the most freakish play in the game. That had to be Eli’s long TD pass to Mario Manningham, which MM dropped, juggled, and somehow managed to catch again while sliding on his butt through the endzone. Not exactly classic form, but hey, it counted for six points just the same. Manningham had nine other catches, for ten total, and The Other Steve Smith had ten as well, the first time in the long and storied history of the Giants that they have ever had two receivers both catch ten balls in a game. Plaxico who? I think the Giants have found their starting tandem… and when Hakeem Nicks comes back from his injury and Ramses Barden gets a bit more seasoning, we could have one of the most dangerous receiving corps in the league.
The other great thing in the game was Eli Manning. With the running game shut down, it all fell on his shoulders, and he came through magnificently, especially in the fourth quarter.
In the end, though, it all came down to a field goal try with four seconds left. The Scottish Kicker (theater folk always refer to Macbeth as the Scottish Play, since it is thought to be bad luck to mention the actual name, and I have decided the same rule should apply to the Giants kicker) had missed a field goal earlier, so it was no sure thing. And sure enough, his kick only cleared the goal post by inches, stopping my heart for a second before the refs raised their arms to signal it was good… and then he had to do it all over again, since Wade Phillips had called a timeout a split second before the kick, a bush league move that has become popular with some coaches these last couple of years. Wade deserved to lose for that alone. And thankfully he did: the Scottish Kicker’s second attempt was dead straight down the middle. Giants win, 33-31!
Life IS magical and full of joy. At least today.
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