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.