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Life is full of ups and downs... especially for fans of the NFL.

Both of my teams played squeakers today. The Giants pulled out an amazing win over a game Redskins squad in the last minute of play (Eli! Cruuuuuuuuz!!!), while the Jets lost a heartbreaker to Evil Little Bill and hated Patriots in overtime. The morning game left me flying incredibly high, the afternoon game felt like someone had kicked me in the balls. And all I was doing was sitting in my Chair o' Sloth in the TV room. It is kind of strange how these contests engage one's emotions, even if you have nothing personally at stake. But that's the life of a sports fan.

Even though the Giants won the Superbowl last season, they managed to lose both contests to the Redskins, a team that has been the perennial doormat of the NFC East ever since the franchise was purchased by Dan Snyder (read Jerry Jones, but shorter), so I sat down to watch today's game with a certain amount of trepidation. Well justified trepidation, as it turns out. Washington has added a pair of stellar rookies to their squad since last season. Their highly-drafted and much-touted rookie QB, Robert Griffin III, proved to be all that the talking heads claimed he was and more. He gave Big Blue's D fits all day, both with his running and his passing. And the Skin's sixth-round rookie RB, Alfred Morris, was if anything even more impressive. He looks to be just the kind of hard-nosed between-the-tackle cruncher that I love... when he is on my team. I have a feeling that Washington's days finishing fourth in the NFC East may be drawing to an end. Barring something unforeseen, I fear that RG3 and Morris will be giving my Giants fits for years to come.

Today, though... well, despite some great play from both of the Redskins rookies, Big Blue played solid football, and late in the fourth quarter had a lead. When RG3 fumbled with five minutes left to play, and the Giants recovered, the game seemed safely in hand. All the Giants had to do at that point was turn to their own running game, hammer the ball down the field with Brown and Bradshaw, burn up the clock, maybe add a clinching field goal.

Instead, inexplicably, the Giants called a pass on first down, and Eli threw a truly terrible interception, giving the ball right back to Washington. RG3 promptly took advantage by driving the Skins down the field for the FG to narrow the gap. The Giants got the ball back again, still with a lead, though a smaller one. "Okay," I think, "THIS time we'll pound them for sure, burn up that clock, ice the win." But no, we came out passing again on first down, and that turned into a three-and-out. By which point I was yelling at the screen. What the hell was Gilbride thinking? I still don't know. And sure enough, given the ball back once again, this time Griffin engineered a touchdown drive. Now the Skins were ahead, and I was sick to my stomach. We had blown the game with a mystifying series of play calls.

Griffin made one mistake, though. He scored too quickly, which meant Eli got the ball back again with a minute and a half left. That's way too much time to give Eli. I believe it took him all of four seconds to find a streaking Victor Cruz (CRUUUUUUZZZZZZZZ) and drop the ball into his hands for a game-winning seventy yard TD. Cruz is amazing. Eli is amazing.

Kevin Gilbride I'm not so sure about. I hope someone asks him, "What the hell were you thinking."

In conclusion... WHEW. Confusion, trepidation, fear, despair, elation... only the NFL.

The Giants are now 5-2, in sole possession of first in the NFC East.

But then came the afternoon, and the Jets game.


What can I say? It was the Patriots, our archenemies, led by the Great Satan himself. And this year's Jets are the walking wounded, with our best players on both sides of the ball gone for the season. I went into this one fearing a blowout. The game began promisingly enough. Gang Green's D stopped the Patriots, after which our O took over and drove downfield for a TD. Jets lead, 7-0. For a few seconds, till the Patriots broke the ensuing kickoff to tie it up, then took the lead with another TD, tacked on a safety when Marc Sanchez kicked the ball out of the endzone on a fumble, and...

The rest of the first half was pretty grim. The Patriots dominated, and the Jets O could not get anything going. Our D was playing well, though, stiffening up whenever the Pats got deep into our territory. And somehow the score stayed reasonably close. ANd then, come the fourth quarter, miracle of miracles, the Jets started coming back. Tough D stifled Brady, we got a few breaks, Sanchez started playing well... and holy hell... a FUMBLE, and suddenly we have the lead with barely a minute and a half left.

Alas. Too much time. The Jets made the same mistake the Skins did. You can't give Brady that much time... and if you do, you CERTAINLY can't start rushing three and falling back into a soft prevent defense. Brady, of course, shredded that scheme, took the Pats right down the field, and they kicked the tying FG with seconds left. Overtime.

We lost the coin toss. The rest... ah, the rest was painful. A Pats field goal and a Sanchez fumble ended it. Like a knife through the eye. A hideous way to lose a hard-fought game.

So there it is. Another Sunday in the National Football League.



Oct. 22nd, 2012 07:13 am (UTC)
Shame about the almost-miss with Northwestern, too...
Oct. 22nd, 2012 07:56 am (UTC)
Go 'Skins!
Oct. 22nd, 2012 10:23 am (UTC)
Not sure why so much hate for the pats. They have always been a classy organization.
Oct. 22nd, 2012 04:27 pm (UTC)
Not really. Quite the opposite, actually. They are a "win at any cost" organization, which is quite a different thing.
Oct. 22nd, 2012 07:05 pm (UTC)
Which is worse? An attitude of "win at any cost" or "promote at any cost"?
Oct. 22nd, 2012 07:10 pm (UTC)
Patriot's and class? Without a 'have no' between?
Being slightly bias as a Colt's fan. I still recognize the amazing achievements New England has consistently made since 2001.

Bill Belichick has most NFL fans respect of being a future Hall of Fame Head Coach. But the man has no sportsmanship what so ever. Several post game congratulatory meeting's with the opposing head coach have resulted in people wondering why Bill is such a jerk, or does he suffer from germaphobia?

Spygate (a cheating scandal that involved filming opposing team's during their practice to gain an edge) showed how far he will go to win. But for myself his lack of sportsmanship is what irritates me. Several team's have cheated to improve the outcome, (look at the recent S.D. accusation of using stickem) which doesn't make it right. But the list of head coaches who have cheated is a lot bigger than coaches who don't show respect to their opposition and fellow professional's. Belichick is on both of those lists.
Oct. 22nd, 2012 10:26 am (UTC)
Future Career possibly?
Wow George, if this writing hobby doesn't pan out for you, you might be able to make a decent living as a play by play or colour commentator. :P
Oct. 22nd, 2012 02:10 pm (UTC)
I hate it when teams try to get cute when they should just run the ball. "1st and Goal? Hey let's pass on first down!" NO, run the ball at least twice you idiot! Same thing with the Giants when they should just burn the clock. I feel like coaches sometimes just want to try to seem clever.
Oct. 22nd, 2012 05:00 pm (UTC)
Gilbride is a brilliant mind when it comes to offense, and after all these years his system and Eli are like PB&J. To me, the problem is that sometimes Gilbride overthinks stuff. He tries to get TOO clever. "Oh, they'll NEVER expect us to pass now." Sometimes that pays off, but occasionally it kills the team during critical moments.

But because Eli is so clutch, I can live with Gilbride's occasional nonsense. Also, Eli knows the system so well I feel like if anyone besides Gilbride was the offensive coordinator it would actually be a step backward for the offense. From everything I read, Eli knows the system so well he is almost a coach to the young wide receivers during meetings, which is a big reason why no matter which WR gets plugged into the system, he produces. So there are definite benefits to having "Killdrive."
Oct. 22nd, 2012 07:01 pm (UTC)
I wouldn't say that Gilbride was brilliant. He decent enough. What he happens to have is brilliant talent on the team to make up for his in game decisions. With almost any other QB, Gilbride and Tom Coughlin would probably have been fired by now.

I'd also give a lot of credit to Mike Sullivan..., and Jerry Reese for lighting the fire under his rear-end. If you didn't notice, after Gilbride stopped being the QB coach Eli started playing better. I know, that's a bit heavy handed, but you get the point. Josh Freeman was known as a guy who had a great arm who wouldn't keep his starting job for long. Now with Sullivan as his OC people are looking at his play and seeing someone who might make a decent QB.

To be fair to Gilbride, Eli has carte blanche to change the play at the line. It has often work to his detriment as he been known in the past to switch up a play into a loss or turnover. Thankfully, because he's worked and apparently continues to work at his craft he generally has a good understanding of what scheme the defense is trying to play.

I can agree with the idea of not upsetting the apple cart. Unless the team started losing because of the game plan and play calling or Gilbride did something truly horrible the Giants wouldn't fire him.
Lorenzo Moreno
Oct. 22nd, 2012 07:00 pm (UTC)
Now what?
Makes you wonder whether they should just let Tebow handle things for a half just to switch it up. Maybe he can make something happen with his mind.
Oct. 22nd, 2012 07:16 pm (UTC)
Slick balls.

Seriously, the batch of balls the NFL rolled out this week looked shiny and slickery. In almost every game or highlight of an interception or fumble the ball seemed extremely slippery. The only guys who didn't have any issues were receivers with those new gloves... and San Diego.

Both teams played with the same balls so I'm not going to overstate it's impact on the outcome, but it looked like Eli was far less accurate because he could seem to get a decent feel on his passes.

Because of RG3 it's hard to judge the defense's performance. They gave up a bunch of yardage, but it's always better to be lucky than good.

Once again Rex's defense lets a team march down the field at the end of the game. On a happier note, the game wasn't a walkover.
Michael Panique
Oct. 22nd, 2012 07:22 pm (UTC)
Re: Kevin Killdrive
After the way the Giants ran the ball the last few weeks, it completely mystified me that he didn't even pretend to give it a try in the 4th quarter with a lead.

Where's Buddy Ryan when you need him?
Oct. 22nd, 2012 08:11 pm (UTC)
Run the BALL!
The Giants decision to pass on a 3rd and 1 late in the game with the clock winding down shows just shows how far play calling has gotten out of whack in the days of Armball.

At the least you eat up time and give the other team clock management fits (always tough with a rookie QB - no matter how talented).

Perhaps the Giant coaches just wanted to give neutral fans (like me) another look at the spectacular RJ3 (who doesn't look a thing like C3PO for confused none football fans).

Why try to pick up a yard when we can let them score than drive the length of the field with a minute to go! Thats the strategy!

Well it was fun for the casual observer...

Oct. 23rd, 2012 03:03 am (UTC)
Just when I thought it couldn't get worse...
And here I thought my Chargers would make it through their bye week unscathed. A week after getting EMBARRASSED on MNF by the Broncos (and a week after getting merely embarrassed on Sunday Night Football by the Saints), the Bolts get caught up in a Stick Um scandal. Seriously?

Aside from maybe Cleveland, is there a more tortured sports city than San Diego?
Oct. 23rd, 2012 03:49 am (UTC)
From my Chair o Sloth we call him Killdrive.
Oct. 23rd, 2012 08:45 am (UTC)
I was on pins & needles during the Giants game! Everything went like I hoped in the end. I still needed a very strong drink after though.
Oct. 23rd, 2012 08:21 pm (UTC)
Completely disagree with you on playcalling
As a fellow Giants fan, I have to disagree with you on the playcalling. This idea that they could have ran the clock out with the power running game really isn't supported by the evidence.

They hadn't done much on the ground all day, which isn't surprising, since the Skins defense against the run is quite good (7th in the NFL in yardage, allowing less than 4 yards per carry). Its the Skins pass defense that is miserable, last in the NFL by many measures.

The strength of the Giants team is their passing offense - Eli and his receiving corps, while their running game has been inconsistent the last couple years, even though they had a good game or two lately.

It seems perfectly intelligent to try to make some first downs by playing to your strengths and the opponent's weaknesses, rather than predictably trying to 'go to the power running game'.

And this whole notion that Gilbride doesn't run enough is crazy - it's a meme with no evidence. The Giants run more than the league average, despite having a better passing game than running game.

This isn't 1986 any more. The Gmen's strength is in other areas.
Billy Donato
Oct. 24th, 2012 02:38 am (UTC)
talkin football with grrm while listening to the rains of cas...awesome
Does Romo strike any fear into your heart?....any? because he doesnt scare me the few times we get to see him. (im a titans fan)and also what did you think of JPP doing the gangnam style dance after he got a sack? i was very much entertained
Lawrence Collins
Oct. 24th, 2012 12:26 pm (UTC)
Just a simple question. You are obviously a huge football fan. I know more about the wins/losses of the Jets from your (not a) Blog than I do about any other team in the league.

So why on earth would you visit Texas A&M in March? Wouldn't it make more sense to get the real football experience with 85K screaming fans and visit in October/November?
Oct. 24th, 2012 11:58 pm (UTC)
Patriots! Patriots! Patriots! ;):D
Ken Burnside
Oct. 27th, 2012 04:05 am (UTC)
The Young Griffin
Clearly the NFL version of the Young Griff is less tormented than the Westeros version. Might be even more talented.

I hereby dub RGIII "The Young Griff."


George R.R. Martin
George R. R. Martin

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