Giant showdown

 

by Michael Parker

One of the by products of currently only working part time is more time to indulge in sport on TV.  And when One HD isn’t giving us old episodes of M.A.S.H or Cops, it occasionally still serves its original purpose of televising sporting contests. It has given me the chance to get to know American Football of late and today I managed to tune into the respective Conference Championship games in the NFL. The game can be quite hard to follow, and I’ll admit to not quite having all the rules covered. But I get the basics and I would now go as far as to say that I’m a fan. I even know some of the players names! Nearly as many as I know in the BBL!

I managed to catch the end of the AFC championship game between the New England Patriots and the Baltimore Ravens. Despite star Patriots quarterback Tom Brady claiming after the game to have “sucked real bad today”, his side was up 23-20 at the death, with Baltimore having one last chance at a field goal to send the game into overtime. The Ravens kicker (I don’t know that many names) missed his attempt, which the commentators informed me was regulation. From all that you hear about the ruthlessness of the NFL system, I can only assume that he will be looking for a new job for next season. Thus the 23-20 final scoreline was enough to send the Patriots into yet another Superbowl, where they will meet the winner of the NFC championship, either the San Francisco 49ers or the New York Giants (no relation to GWS), contesting our second game today.

In my short time casting an eye over the NFL, I figured immediately that I should pick a team. This traditionally isn’t easy for me to do. Apart from being a mad Hawthorn fan I really don’t have any other strong allegiances in any other sport. Maybe it’s easier to become attached as a child, because as a teenager and adult I have half heartedly tried to forge a following with various EPL, NRL and A League clubs, but all to no avail. You can’t manufacture passion. But I figured I’d have one last crack. One of the first games I watched was a New York Giants game (not sure who against) and I liked the look of them. They have a gun quarterback named Eli Manning (younger brother of the famous Payton) who has a rocket arm and can throw it anywhere. The Giants, that’s my team.

The match took place at San Francisco’s Candlestick Park, famous, among other things, for being the venue for The Beatles final touring concert in 1966 (fun fact). The stadium is (probably) one of the few in the comp affected heavily by Mother Nature. There is no roof and the ground is famous for its strong winds. On this particular day the weather is wet and miserable. In front of a home crowd and after a great win last week I assume that the 49ers are favourites. And the home side duly score the first touchdown. After the extra point conversion they sit 7-0 up and are looking good. The Giants look to be struggling against strong defence by the 49ers. After putting together some good passes the Giants hit back with a touchdown of their own and at the quarter time break there is nothing in it. The 2nd quarter is much the same as the first, in difficult conditions both sides struggle to hit the scoreboard. One player who shines in the first half for the Giants is receiver Victor Cruz, who catches everything that comes his way. He looks a bubbly, enthusiastic competitor, but with minimal fuss and pretence. A bit of a Cyril Rioli type. My kind of player. Late in the first half the Giants find some rhythm and look dangerous. They get the ball deep in their attacking zone where they finish with a field goal, giving them a half time lead of 10-7.

One of the first things I notice when watching NFL is the difference between the quality of TV coverage compared to AFL coverage in Australia. The commentators are clear and concise, and no one tries to say too much. They largely shy away from using clichés and buzzwords, and they actually seem to be speaking to the audience rather than just amongst themselves. And most of all they don’t continue on with replays after the play has already resumed (which is admittedly easier in the NFL).

The 49ers hit back in the 2nd half and seem to control most of the early play. They score an early touchdown and their quarterback Alex Smith is a constant threat. One of the highlights (or lowlights) for the third quarter is a massive mid air collision between two 49ers defenders. This causes a large break in the play while the carnage is cleaned up and the monster sized bloke who came off second best is helped from the field. Eli is having a hard time of it and the Giants start to struggle. The turning point comes after a punt reception is botched by a 49ers player and a penalty is awarded to the Giants on offense. I don’t quite understand the ruling but I’m not going to complain. The Giants finally start to string together some decent yardage, culminating in a superb touchdown pass from Eli. The touchdown recipient Manningham is something to watch as he celebrates and struts with his teammates in the endzone. In any other sport I’d call him a tool but here in the NFL it’s amusing and an important part of the game. The 49ers hit back with a field goal to tie the game up with 5 minutes to play in the 4th quarter. The remaining minutes are tense with both teams missing opportunities on offense and both teams quarterbacks being “sacked”. With the 49ers coming up short on the last play in regular time the scores are locked at 17-17 and we’re headed for overtime!

In teething rain the tension is clear to see. One need only look at the 49ers coach who is more than a little bit animated. Following another 49ers “sack” of Eli (sixth for the game!), San Francisco fumble a punt return which puts the Giants back on offense and looking to close the game out at sudden death. After a few successful passes to get within range, the Giants set up a play for a field goal attempt. After some time out delays and a five yard penalty the play was finally executed, and Tynes, from 34 out coolly slotted the field goal that set up a date with the Patriots at next months Superbowl.

 

 

 

Comments

  1. Richard Jones says:

    YEP, it’s a great sport Michael is the NFL. SuperBowl morning either at end Jan. or early Feb. has long been a ritual for me. Even when ol’ Donnie Lane used to host it, on SBS-TV I think when he was still upright on the planet.

    But then again I’ve been following the NFL since the Fifties. The usually inept Cleveland Browns are my team of choice, and for them to just get to the first week of the play-offs is a mighty effort. I suppose you realise that at the end of the regular season your Giants were 9 wins and 7 losses, placing them as the second-worst of the qualifiers for Wildcard Weekend — along with the Cincinatti Bengals, also 9-7 — ahead of only the Denver Broncos (8-8).

    By comparison the 49ers were 13-3 and last year’s SuperBowl champions Green Bay Packers were 15-1. The Pack didn’t make it past Week 2 of the play-offs going down to San Francisco 20-37!

    Good luck with the SuperBowl. But the Pats also finished 13-3 at the end of the regular season and thrashed the Broncos 45-10 in Play-Offs Week 2.

    Don’t bother with Z grade A-League Aussie soccer franchises. Very ordinary standard football there.
    Grab yourself an EPL club to follow. What about also a club in Spain/Germany/Italy as well?

    [P.S. as a rabid Geelong fan, guess who it is that we Cats must beat every AFL season, bar none. No, it’s NOT Collingwood or Carlton, altho’ beating them is nice.
    What about the club where the ledger stands 7-zero in Geelong’s favour since the end of Sept, 2008. That’ll give you a hint! We just HAVE to beat them every single outing.]

  2. Skip of Skipton says:

    This is a re-run of the ’08 or ’09 Superbowl. The Patriots went into that game undefeated for the season and the Giants rolled them. Was a bit like the ’08 AFL grand final.

    I like NFL and European Champions League (I don’t care for soccer below that level), but can’t really barrack for any specific team. I’d be a phony.

  3. Richard Jones says:

    MY apologies, Michael. Not for the Geelong-Hawthorn thing. That will stand for evermore.

    Of course it was the NY Giants who beat the Packers 37-20 in Week 2. At the Packs’ home field, and all. The 49ers had beaten the New Orleans Saints 36-32.

    And the SkipSter is quite right. The 2012 bowl is a re-run of one just recently. when the Pats were rolled.

  4. Michael Parker says:

    Yes Richard 7-0 since 08 is slowly eating away at me. The first couple of times I would just say “at least we got 08” but its worn pretty thin by now. The lead up to a Hawksv Cats game is as about as tense as I get.

    Yes its true the Giants didnt have a great regular season but have had a super post season so far. However if I was a betting man it would be hard to go past the Pats in the Superbowl. I’ll be barracking hard anyway. Should be a great spectacle!

  5. Michael: now that the NY Giants have clinched the SuperBowl XLVI r u going to pen a few lines about the whole thrilling saga ? Maybe a new story.

    I didn’t leave my chair in front of the goggle box on Monday for the full 4 hours. Oh, okay, I did have to grab a cup of coffee and and at another stage needed a wizzer.

    Eli Manning took out the MVP and the Pats’ Brady just couldn’t quite connect with his Hail Mary into the end zone in the final, five seconds.

    What a game !!!

  6. Hi Michael

    Great article by the way. When I was picking a Gridiron team I went for the Minnesota Vikings and not because of Dylan, Prince and The Replacements but I loved the nickname, Vikings. Needless to say I haven’t stayed the loyal fan you are. I’m kinda hijacking your piece because a clear link between what you have stated and a curious snippet I thought Almanacers would be interested in. The link inst the Giants but that we’re both Hawks fans. Anyways …

    Springsteen is about to release a new album and it’s called Wrecking Ball. What follows is some information on the penning and first performance of that song:

    WRECKING BALL must’ve been written around Aug-Sep 2009, about the 2010 demolition of Giants Stadium. On the opening night of his 2009 stand at Giants Stadium, Springsteen took the stage and told the crowd: “Join us tonight to shut the old lady down! We’ve had a lot of great nights here, let’s make this another one. This is something I wrote for tonight.” He then opened the show with WRECKING BALL, a brand new song written specially for the occasion. The song starts slow-paced on acoustic guitar, and then the E Street Band joins in after a few verses, with a trumpet solo from Curt Ramm. The song had been sound-checked ten days earlier, prior to the 20 Sep 2009 show in Chicago, IL. According to eyewitnesses, that version was much slower and more intense and drawn out.

    Wachovia Spectrum was also due for demolition. Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band did four shows at the venue between 13 and 20 Oct 2009. WRECKING BALL was performed on the first and last of these dates, with slightly altered lyrics to suit the venue. Wachovia Spectrum closed on 31 Oct 2009 with a final concert by Pearl Jam, and was demolished about a year later.

    A studio version will be included on Springsteen’s upcoming album Wrecking Ball. It was apparently recorded in early 2011, before the passing of Clarence Clemons. The lineup on this track is Bruce Springsteen, Ron Aniello, Clarence Clemons, Max Weinberg, Charlie Giordano, Soozie Tyrell, Patti Scialfa, Lisa Lowell, Curt Ramm, and the New York String Section.

    Giants Stadium
    Giants Stadium was a multi-purpose stadium located in East Rutherford, New Jersey in the Meadowlands Sports Complex. It was closed and demolished in 2010 and replaced by MetLife Stadium, located adjacent to its former site. As a concert venue, the Giants Stadium is mostly associated with Bruce Springsteen, who played there a total of 24 nights in his career:

    •6 nights in the summer of 1985 during the Born In The USA Tour
    •10 nights in the summer of 2003 during The Rising Tour
    •3 nights in the summer of 2008 during the Magic Tour
    •5 nights in the summer/fall or 2009 during the Working On A Dream Tour
    The five Working On A Dream Tour dates are the last concerts that were held at the stadium.

    Wrecking Ball
    Wrecking Ball is Bruce Springsteen’s seventeenth studio album. It was produced by Ron Aniello with Bruce Springsteen and executive producer Jon Landau, and features special guest appearances from Tom Morello

    (http://www.springsteenlyrics.com/lyrics/w/wreckingball.php)

    Cheers

  7. Rick

    Whether a major terrorist attack, or why you ripped off the microwave door in a drunk blackout, Bruce Springsteen has the answer.

  8. Michael Parker says:

    Thanks a lot for the comment Rick, that was awesome. I love Springsteen and love his loyalty to where he came from. Have you heard the rumour of The Boss performing at this years AFL grand final? Would be a massive coup for the league and a HUGE improvement on previous years.

  9. Particularly if the Hawks are there on the last Saturday or first Saturday or whenever the feck it is! However, I think we can assume it to be a rumour for now. It would be hard to imagine an organisation that had Lionel Ritchie one year could make the leap to an artist of Springsteen’s stature a year on from the debacle that was Meatloaf. With their track record they’d be more inclined to sign up Boz Scaggs or REO Speedwagon.

    Litsa, I have it on very good authority that it sounds great (thank you interwebby) and that this album is angry, very angry and forthright about the American rich screwing their fellow Americans.

  10. Rick

    Have heard ‘We Take Care of Our Own’, and it sounds angry in a Boss Anthem sorta way.

    The thing I love about Springsteen is that if you told me he worked in a factory by day and wrote music at night, I’d totally believe it.

Leave a Comment

*