The Jets lost and the Giants won, which normally would have triggered one of my "life is full of ups and downs" posts. The afternoon victory by Big Blue should have washed out the pain of the morning loss by Gang Green. Not today, though.
The Jets game... what can I say about the Jets game? They lost to the Miami Dolphins, at home. They are supposed to be a better team than the Fins. They beat the Fins earlier in the year in Miami. But okay, this is the NFL, upsets happen. This wasn't just a loss, though, this was a drubbing, a humiliation. The Dolphins spanked the Jets in every aspect of the game. Offense, defense, coaching, special teams... oh my god, special teams. The Jets have Mike Westhoff, one of the best special teams coaches in the NFL, but today they got owned. A blocked punt leading to a TD, a blocked field goal, an onsides kick that took the Jets completely by surprise, big runbacks... it was one punch in the gut after another.
Mark Sanchez's stat line will not look awful tomorrow, but only because he racked up some cheap yards and a cheap TD in garbage time. When it was still a game, he was awful. He held the ball too long, and when he threw it, it went high, it went low, it went awry. Not that it mattered, because the Jets don't seem to have any wideouts who can catch it anyway. I have been a supporter of Sanchez in this whole Tebow mess, but I have to admit, I am losing faith. He seems to be getting worse, not better. Not that I believe Tebow is the answer either. Yes, maybe Rex should put him in next game. Hell, he should have put him in THIS game, Mark wasn't getting it done. But Tebow is fool's gold, he won't save anything. We need another QB. What the hell is Chad Pennington doing these days?
So that was awful, but then the afternoon arrived, and with it the Giants. Surely they would defeat the hated Dallas Cowboys to avenge the opening day loss, I figured.
Well, they did. Kinda sorta. They won. Counts in the standings. Helps to solidify their grasp on first place in the NFL East. The Gmen are now 6-2 (actually, they seem to end up 6-2 every year, it is always the second half of the season that's the problem), with the Eagles and Cowboys at 3-4 and the Redskins at 3-5. So that's good. And the game was incredibly exciting as well. A great game, if you like suspense and don't especially care who won... but for a Giants fan, it was agonizing, and I cannot even imagine how painful it was for any Dallas Cowboys fan (vile hellspawn that they are ).
It was not, however, by any stretch of the imagination a well-played game by the Giants. And I LIKE to see my team play well, whether in victory or defeat. This victory was a gift of the gods... them, and Tony Romo.
It began well enough, admittedly. Romo threw an INT, and then another, and then a third, and by the time we were a couple minutes into the second quarter, the Giants were up 23-0 and the talking heads (one of whom was Troy Aikman, an awful commentator, especially on Cowboys games) were nattering about blowouts. Even then, though, I felt disquieted. Romo and the 'Boys were doing all they could to hand the game to New York, but the Giants were not driving the nails into the coffin. Aside from JPP's pick-six (a great play), they were turning all these Dallas turnovers into field goals, not touchdowns. Settling for three points when you should be getting seven will always get you into trouble in the NFL. I have watched enough games to know that sooner or later the gifts will stop, and then the game can turn. NFL teams are like zombies: not enough to put them down, you have to FINISH them, shoot them in the head. Always double-tap, or they will rise again.
And so it was. Up 23-0, the Giants were driving when Ahmed Bradshaw fumbled... the first mistake that Big Blue made, and one that ultimately led to no points, yet somehow that changed everything. You could almost HEAR the momentum shift. And all of a sudden Romo was throwing the ball to the guys in the white uniforms instead of the guys in blue, and shredding Big Blue's vaunted defense. From 23-0 it went to 23-7, then 23-10 at the half. After intermission, Dallas came out and drove right down the field to make it 23-17, and all of a sudden the blowout had become a game again (Even Troy noticed). Every Romo completion felt like a punch in the gut.
"I cannot BELIEVE this is happening," I kept saying, but happen it did. When the Giants got the ball back, their offense did nothing. Way too many three-and-outs. The running game was not clicking, and Eli's receivers started dropping the ball again, just as they had in the opener against Dallas. (What is it with Victor Cruz? He's all-pro against every other team in the league, but both times we've faced Dallas this season he has a sudden case of the dropsy). Late in the third quarter, Romo engineered yet another drive, ending with the same bloody rollout play he'd used to score a 4th down TD on his last drive. That time he ran, this time he threw, but the result was the same, and suddenly Dallas was WINNING 24-23.
It was the biggest comeback in the history of the Dallas Cowboys, and I felt sick.
Fortunately, they play four quarters in the NFL, not just three. And the fourth quarter belongs to Eli Manning. Usually. Tonight? Not so much. Yes, the Giants "came back" to win the game... but truthfully, Dallas gave it to them with two more huge mistakes. First Felix Jones runs right into his own man's ass, and puts the ball on the ground. The Giants recover the fumble, and Eli turns it into another field goal. Now it's Gmen 26-24. But their offense still can't score touchdowns, and the way the Dallas O was moving, with Witten and Austin, I had ZERO faith in that two point lead holding up. I felt marginally better later in the quarter, when the Giants tacked on another field goal and made it 29-24. A five point lead at least meant that Dallas would need to score a TD. But I still felt uneasy.
And with good reason. Sure enough, here comes Romo again, and down the field they come, and.... YES! Another INT!!! Four on the day! That should have ended it. Really. Truly. That should have written FINIS.
It didn't. All the Giants needed was one first down. Ten yards. So they ran the ball, and ran the ball, and ran the ball, and got nine-and-a-half yards. Dallas burned all its timeouts, but still got the ball back. And yet another drive. Clock ticking, Cowboys driving, my heart in my throat... it looked at one point as if the Giants had stopped them with a sack, but a crappy bogus holding call gave Dallas a reprieve... they were still at midfield, but there were only seconds left, so Romo heaves this Hail Mary to the endzone...
And seven bloody hells, Dez Bryant CAUGHT it, and fell on his ass in the endzone with what looked to be the winning TD.
It wasn't. Thank the gods, but Bryant has a big big hand, and as he landed the tips of his fingers touched the white beyond the endzone a split second before his butt thumped down. A bigger butt, or a smaller hand, and Dallas would have won the game. Instead the TD call was reversed, the pass was incomplete. Romo still got off three more passes (with TEN seconds left! how did we let THAT happen!!), but the last sailed high, and the Giants won.
Or rather, the Cowboys lost.
We'll take the win, but really, this was not a victory to take pride in. Game ball should have gone to our Scottish Kicker, whose field goals counted for most of the New York points. The rest was Tony Romo. I am SO glad Tony is on Dallas, and not my team. The guy would drive me crazy. You never know which Tony you're going to get. This game, Bad Tony showed up for the first quarter, but in the second and third Good Tony took his place, and was basically unstoppable. Fourth quarter the two of them alternated, with Bad Tony throwing the last pick, and Good Tony leading the final drive and lofting that bomb to Bryant.
It was incomplete, yeah, the refs made the right call when they reversed it... but there was no sense in which the Giants can take credit for that. They did not pressure Romo enough, and the coverage broke down in the endzone. It was pure luck that Dez's fingers touched the white before his butt landed on the green.
The Giants had this game not once, but twice... and twice they gave it away. Only the Cowboys would not take it. Good thing, too. Blowing a 23-0 lead would have been horrible. And coming back, retaking the lead, getting that final INT, and then STILL losing on a six-seconds-left Hail Mary would have been even worse.
One of these days, one of my football teams is going to stop my heart. The Giants almost did it today. We really need to get that home defibrillator, I swear...