Tuesday, January 22, 2008
Oooh Baby! It was cold outside!
Arctic conditions across the northern United States meant that football was played last weekend on frozen turf in New England and in Green Bay.
Isn’t that what the Packers always want? They crave the “Frozen Tundra” as an advantage for their boys. The opposition huddles around gigantic heaters, praying for sunshine. They run to the sidelines for mittens and parkas. Advantage Packers?
Sorry. Not last Sunday. The Giants from New York, led by Manning the Younger, regrouped in the second half, carried the play for most of the game, and won in overtime. Giants kicker, Lawrence Tynes, lined up a 47 yard attempt in the extra period. It split the uprights. Game over.
There is no doubt that his job was on the line, as he had missed his two previous shots at a field goal. There is an unwritten rule for kickers: Three and you’re out---something like baseball. He had hooked his second attempt in the dying seconds of the game, restoring hope in the faithful at Lambeau.
The Packers were fortunate to be in that position at the end of the game. The Giants had worn them down, controlling the play the entire game. They had the ball for forty of the sixty minutes in the game. More than half of their rushing yards came from Brandon Jacobs on twenty-one carries.
Jacobs hails from Louisiana, in the deep south. He didn’t seem too affected by the cold. Then again, when you are six feet four inches, and weigh more than 260 pounds, you do have an advantage when you run with the ball at opponents in the secondary who are under six feet tall. Jacobs mowed down the Packer tacklers on more than one occasion.
The Giants balanced their attack with an electric passing game as well. Plexico Burress hauled in eleven passes for 154 yards, breaking a long-standing team record. Six other Giants hauled in passes for another hundred yards.
Earlier in the day, the New England Patriots continued their undefeated season with a 21-12 victory over the San Diego Chargers. The Chargers entered the game with their wonderful running back, LaDainian Tomlinson, hobbling on the sidelines. “LT” carried the ball twice, then spent the rest of the afternoon off the field. He was sorely missed by the Chargers.
The Pats were led by Tom Brady, now recognized as the premier pivot in the NFL. Drafted 119th overall, Brady has continued to improve his stock over the years. Teamed with coach Bill Belichick, they are the most lethal offensive combination in the history of the NFL.
Running back Laurence Maroney had another typically spectacular game for the Patriots. He slashed and dashed for over a hundred yards, and got the Patriots on the board in the first quarter.
The Chargers failed to capitalize on their opportunities. They marched the ball down the field. They entered the “Red Zone” with plenty of momentum. They then fizzled, and faded. All of their points came on field goals. They needed major scores.
Both the Chargers and the Patriots fought the elements as well. It was nippy, and the winds swirled throughout the day. Quarterback Brady felt the cold. After the game, he reflected on his upcoming trip to the SuperBowl in Arizona: “Now we’re going someplace warm, because I’m freezing my you-know-what off.”
The Forty-Second SuperBowl will be the final test for the Patriots. They have yet to lose a game this year. Only one other team in the history of the NFL has gone undefeated in a season. The Miami Dolphins accomplished the feat in 1972, winning SuperBowl Seven in Los Angeles on January 14, 1973.
The word “perfect” is often used in these circumstances. There will be fumbles, interceptions, penalties. Passes will be dropped, offensive linemen will miss their assignments. In this game, there is no perfection; however, with a win on February 3rd, the Patriots will come as close as any team ever to doing it right.
In the Arizona sun!
January 22, 2008