Monday, November 29, 2004
I watched three football games today. The first was the Eagles versus the Giants in ManningMarkII Fest the Second. The highlight was the postgame interview, which featured Eli Manning in a truly hideous shirt with mussed hair that made him look drunk. Delight.
The actual highlights were as follows. MMII made a couple of sick nasty throws to Jamaar Taylor. Of course, one was followed immediately by an interception, but the throws in and of themselves were pretty damn impressive. Donovan McNabb moonwalking after his touchdown run was a fine sight. All the shots of Tiki Barber with his helmet off were highlights. Uh. Yeah. Not that that has anything to do with the game, really, but the guy is attractive. And the fact that there are two of them (his twin brother Ronde plays cornerback for the Bucs) just makes it that much more awesome.
The first half was a bit slow for both teams. TO was shut down, and McNabb seemed to have lots of time in the pocket but no one to throw it to. MMII kept doing things like throwing interceptions when he was trying to throw it away, or having the ball slide out of the hands of his running back on a simple hand-off. He was also sacked quite often, but that didn't change in the second half. I find it ironic that he's gotten slapped around like a baseball in the vicinity of ARod's limp wrist in his two starts with the Giants, but he didn't want to play for the Chargers (who initially drafted him and then traded him) because he was afraid that their offensive line wasn't good enough to protect him.
With this victory the Eagles become the first team in the NFL this season to secure a playoff berth, by winning the NFC East. Because the NFC East is a crappy division, and Philly is the only 10-1 team in the entire NFC (the Patriots and Steelers are both 10-1 in the AFC).
Your Former Wolverines of the Game are Amani Tommer (Giants), Dhani Jones (Eagles), and Jon Runyan (Eagles).
The second game I watched was the Patriots/Ravens mud-slinger. It started up with a montage of Pats fans in ponchos and Pats players jumping around in the precipitation, with 'I'm only happy when it rains' playing in the background. It was ace. Props to the CBS crew, they did good.
I have some scrawled notes here that I jotted down during the game. They say things like 'Randall Gay interception (!!)', 'OMG they called Brady a running threat!', 'loud in Gillette, how come Ford couldn't do that?', 'Dillon strongarms w/ best of them', 'muddy field, muddy ball, muddy everyone', 'Vinatieri has golden foot again tonight', 'Pats doing typical rxnary thing', and 'Pats get record'.
Those should all be pretty self-explanatory except for, perhaps, the last two. The 'typical rxnary thing' is referring to the fact that the first half was almost all defense, with a score of 3-3 going into halftime. The Patriots don't play 'preemptive' football, where they go out and score a ridiculous number of points and blow out their opponents. They play reactionary football, where they match their opponent step for step and do just what they have to do to win. This is why so many of their games are won by small margins, and this is also why they keep on winning. It doesn't matter who they're playing, because, as a reactionary team, they change their tactics for each opponent.
The Ravens play a mean defense, so the Patriots matched their defense. They didn't really open up the offense until the second half, where they saw that they needed to start securing the game.
The second one (Pats get record) is referring to the fact that the Patriots scored first today, and have now scored first in their last 16 regular season games, which is the NFL record. They were previously tied at 15 with the Dolphins. It seems like everything with the Patriots is a record these days.
Tedy Bruschi had two huge plays: one big, key tackle and the play where he sacked Kyle Boller and knocked the ball loose for an eventual Patriots pickup and touchdown. I love Tedy Bruschi. This is something that cannot be said enough, like saying 'Boston Red Sox-- 2004 World Champions'. The more you say it the more true and sweet it gets.
Your Former Wolverines of the Game are Tom Brady (Patriots) and Ty Law (Patriots). The Ravens don't have any former Michigan players on their team, and therefore truly did deserve to lose.
The third game was the Raiders/Broncos snow-fest. You know it's winter when they're playing football in the snow at Mile High Stadium. I was actually getting cold just from watching the game. One of the Denver fans was holding up a sign that said 'Brrrrrrr-oncos', and that looked pretty accurate.
The Raiders had 5,624 penalties in the first half, which was in keeping with their reputation as a generally mean, lawless team. There were a lot of interceptions, including one series in the second half where Kerry Collins threw an interception, and on the very next play Jake Plummer inexplicably aired out the ball for another interception that gave the ball right back to the Raiders. It was impossible to tell if this was just universal quarterback ineptitude or if it was a result of the cold and the snow.
Champ Bailey, despite being a very good player, was inexplicably lit up by the Raiders for a couple of big completions and some points. This is unconnected to anything, so it gets its own paragraph. I just thought it warranted mentioning.
The game was pretty close, with both teams making ridiculous runs at the endzone in the end of the game, and the Raiders won by virtue of being the last team to score. It was essentially a grudge match for Oakland, since with a 4-7 record in the AFC they're pretty much not going to the playoffs, but they hate the Broncos with the fiery passion of a hundred thousand terrifyingly costumed fans.
This could end up being a spoiler for Denver, though, because it drops them to 7-4 behind the 8-3 Chargers, whom they play next week. If they had won this they would have been right in the thick of things, while this loss makes next week's game a definite must-win for them.
Your Former Wolverines of the Game are Tyrone Wheatley (Raiders), Charles Woodson (Raiders), and Jeremy LeSueur (Broncos-he was on the injured reserve for this game).
The Dolphins have achieved the dubious distinction of being 'the best of the worst' teams in the NFL, by beating the 1-9 San Francisco 49ers to raise their own 1-9 record to the lofty heights of 2-9, while the Niners sink into the ignominy of 1-10. I think Jason Taylor (one of the hottest men in football, just as a side note) summed it up best when he said, after the game, "Thank god we got the win, but we're not going to overreact. We're 2-9."
Apparently (and I'm getting some of this from the Miami Herald, but I think you have to register to read their articles) both teams exited the field at halftime to boos from the crowd. The score at that point was 7-3 in Miami's favor (the game was in 'Frisco).
AJ Feeley made a bid for the Gutsiest Yet Probably Most Ultimately Useless Performance by a Quarterback this year by coming back into the game and playing with a dislocated finger. They showed the injury as a highlight, and you could see the finger plainly out of place, Feeley's face contorting in pain. It happened on his third passing attempt. The first two attempts had seen him getting hit hard and nearly knocked out of the game by the Niners. When he came back in, after trainers popped his finger more-or-less back into place, he threw a 25-yard touchdown pass to Chris Chambers.
Hey, it's rare that Miami has something to celebrate. So leave me alone while I savor Feeley's performance and use its shiny glow to dull the horror of the Lions game.
I wouldn't be a football fan if I somehow failed to mention the Browns/Bengals game. The two teams combined for 106 points, making it the second highest scoring game in NFL history. Kelly Holcomb, the Cleveland quarterback, threw for 400 yards and 5 touchdowns, but the Browns still lost 48-58.
You might assume that, in such a ridiculously high-scoring game, there was no defense. There was defense. But all the notable defense came in the form of interceptions that were returned for touchdowns. There was, by all accounts, very little 'normal' defense. Cincy is 5-6 and Cleveland is 3-8, both in the AFC North behind the 10-1 Steelers and the 7-4 Ravens, so there's essentially no chance of either team going to the playoffs, but it certainly was an exciting game nonetheless.
Of course, it was also an aesthetically horrifying game, as the orange-helmted Browns faced off against the newly emboldened and over-striped Bengals. We did get to see the nice midfield tiger again, though.
I'm kind of sad that the Jaguars lost, and not just because I now have a simmering resentment for the Colts, born of their sound thumping of Detroit on Thanksgiving. I like Byron Leftwich, dammit. The fact that he had to lose to the hated Six Monarchs* just makes it worse.
The Steelers won again, which is a situation that every Patriots fan should keep a nervous eye on. Of course, they won against the Redskins, who might be 3-8 but suck every bit as much as the Fins do, so you might have to take this win with a grain of salt.
The Chargers won again. I can feel the Drew Brees bandwagon sucking me in. 'Believe!' it squeals, powder-blue wheels spinning hypnotically. 'We really are this good! You know you want to join us... join us... join us...' I'm resisting so far, but it's getting harder with every successive week.
The Panthers beat the Buccaneers today. Jake Delhomme actually looked something like a real quarterback for this one. Amazing. And here we all were, ready to write off last year as a fluke and send him right back to NFL Europe. I guess we have to keep him for a while now. However, if I have to hear Chris Berman say 'Daylight come and you gotta Delhomme' one more time I'm going to be very irritable. It was maybe funny the first couple of times, Boomer, but it is now just annoying. Also, Julius Peppers had a frelling amazing game... intercepting, running, blocking field goals, scoring touchdowns. Phew.
Bledsoe and the Bills beat the living daylights out of a reeling Seahawks team. I said before that Hasselbeck might be washed up for the second half of this season, and the Seahawks do indeed have the appearance of nosediving team. Nice to see Bledsoe looking a bit like his old self, though. I always root for the guy except when he's playing the Pats. I did love him when we had him, and while I wholeheartedly embrace the Brady era, I felt really bad for him at the time and I still like to see him win.
OK, I wasn't intending to do so, but what the heck, I'll comment on all of tonight's games.
The Texans trounced the Titans, and that's rather a lot of Ts. Despite the fact that Steve McNair looked really good early and had some good plays, the much drooled-over David Carr led Houston to victory. People have been calling Carr the Tom Brady of the future, only they're referring to his attractiveness, not his play.
The Saints, another team that has a better record than the Fins while actually on the same level of suckitude, nearly pulled off an upset against Michael 'Fleet-foot' Vick and the Falcons. Didn't happen, because Michael Vick is Michael Vick and when you think you've got him tackled he dances around and away and throws a touchdown pass. This is one bandwagon that I definitely have gotten on. I still think he's not the quarterback to end all quarterbacks, but the guy can move like no one else in the league, and his arm is good enough to outpass a lot of other QBs (*cough*JoeyHarrington*cough*). On a positive note for N'awlins, Aaron Brooks threw two interceptions but at least didn't make the evening highlights for a spectacularly bad throw (i.e. backwards, to no one, or forwards, directly into the arms of a confused opponent). This is progress for the Saints.
The Jets beat the Cardinals, but I still can't count Arizona out of it. They're in the NFC West behind the previously mentioned reeling Seahawks team and a very lukewarm Rams club, so I think they still have a shot. I could be completely full of crap on this, but as of right now I'm saying it: do not count the Cardinals out of the playoffs with a 4-7 record right now. However, Emmit Smith left the game after what looked like a perfectly normal tackle and didn't return. I've no idea what that was about.
And that's all of today's games. Wow. I am the football machine.
On a completely unrelated note, I spent the vast majority of this afternoon and evening (Sunday, that is) working on this one drawing.
I have no idea why I suddenly got a mad compulsion to draw this guy, and then to color him on the computer, which is a long and fiddly process even with a pen tablet. You can see a larger image of the figure here, which better shows the madly obsessive coloring I did on him.
He's sort of a redesign of a preexisting character I have lying around. But, as I said, I have absolutely no idea why I absolutely had to draw him, and had to spend so much time on him. It was weird. I got the urge to draw, to draw this, and there was no refusing it. I could have been getting ahead in my bio reading, I could have been writing a paper for art lecture, I could have been paying closer attention to the football games, I could have gone across the hall and harassed the Halo guys. But I had to draw this. No idea why. None.
Oh well. Who am I to deny the little voices in my head? Hopefully there will be baseball news shortly. Mirabelli is supposed to be resigned by the Sox by Monday (so, er, later today) but I'll wait for the official announcement to post all the recent Red Sox goodies. Until the next, mes amis.
*The Vikings. You know. Six Monarchs, VI Kings. Nickname shamelessly gacked from the Detroit sports message boards.