In attendance: 81,000+ people, at least a few of which were actual Eagles fans.
Menu: stadium food, but we found a deli stand that had decent corned beef and excellent pastrami.
Stud of the week: DeSean Jackson, whose 65 yard punt return won the game? Nah - other than that, he had a pretty quiet game. Michael Vick? More about him below, but being Superman is just living up to expectations at this point. I have to give it to a combo: David Akers and Riley Cooper, who combined to perfectly execute the onside kick that totally changed the momentum of the game.
This was a rough game to attend in an unfriendly stadium. I know Eagles fans have a deserved reputation for being tough on opposing teams' fans and being somewhat lacking in class. Let's just put it this way: we're not unique in the NFC East in either of those.
Chef Spouse and I were in NYC courtesy of his company, thanking him for doing something really great this fall. He prepared an excellent picnic lunch for the train on the way up. We spent the afternoon walking around midtown admiring the department stores' fancy Christmas window displays. We enjoyed an outstanding dinner at WD-50 on Saturday night. Sunday dawned cold but not terribly windy and a little overcast - perfect December football weather. And this game was pretty much for all the money. Yeah, there are two games left, but the winner of this game was virtually guaranteed to win the NFC East and even potentially take the #2 seed, depending on what the Bears do in the next three games.
And then? The Eagles stunk it up. For 52 minutes, they were a complete mess, with the exception of the run defense (more on that below). And, my God, did we hear about it. It's a good thing I'm not easily offended, because F bombs were being tossed at me faster than in a Quentin Tarantino movie. When we left our seats at halftime (24-3) to get food, "go home, losers" was the nicest thing we heard.
Getting and eating the food took a while, and we returned to our seats with about 5 minutes left in the third quarter, by which time the seriously shit-faced Giants fan to our left decided Chef Spouse had drunk his beer (absolutely incorrect) and came about [this] close to starting a fight over it. My take? He was so wasted he didn't realize that HE had drunk his beer. Also? How is it even possible to get that tanked on Bud Light, Princess?
So the fourth quarter starts, and the Giants engineer another long drive, at the end of which Kevin Boss scores, taking it to 31-10. Apparently, with just over 8 minutes left in the game, the chances of the Eagles pulling out a win was 1%. Now, I hadn't done the math, so I didn't realize it was quite THAT dire, but I knew the Birds' chances were not good.
And then? Michael Vick apparently decided that there was no way in hell his team was going to lose. Even more amazingly, he made it happen. Superman wears Chuck Norris pajamas. Chuck Norris wears Michael Vick pajamas.
Meanwhile, Chef Spouse and I, convinced that the team could not win, were hanging out in our seats checking in on the other games with his new iPhone 4 and speculating about playoff scenarios.
Brent Celek TD? "Oh, isn't that sweet? They're not giving up!"
Onside kick? "How could the Giants NOT be prepared for that, after that Akers-led Sideline Coaches' Summit? Also, good job Riley Cooper!"
Vick runs in another TD? "Wouldn't it be funny if this game ended 24-31? It would look a lot less lopsided than it was."
Eagles burn all their timeouts with 4 minutes left to save the clock? "Didn't Andy Reid watch our win over the Cowboys last week? This does not bode well."
Maclin TD to tie it up? "Wow! Looks like we're going to overtime! Do we need to call the car service driver to let him know?"
[All of the above said very quietly so as not to set off Drunky Drunkenstein in the next seat over again.]
And then? One of the most amazing plays I've ever seen. Andy had DeSean back there, and I was all, "I don't know if I like this with DJax's injured foot. There's no way in hell the Giants kick it to him anyway." And poor rookie Matt Dodge either gets a bad snap or chokes on the pressure and kicks RIGHT TO DeSean, who DROPS the punt (which turned out to be a good thing, as it completely FUBARed the Giants coverage team), picks it up, spots a lane, Jason Avant lays a MONSTER block on Zak DeOssie, and the next thing we knew, DeSean's running across the front of the endzone before driving the stake through the Giants' hearts. With a VENGEANCE.
The stadium was silent.
I was so shocked, I had to sit down.
Chef Spouse kept repeating, "Did that just happen? Did that JUST HAPPEN?"
Tom Coughlin was so pissed he threw down his clipboard and headset and ran on the field before DeSean was in the endzone.
Things were so chaotic, the zebras couldn't get enough Giants on the field to kick the extra point, so it took several more minutes to end the game. During which Giants fans in front of us started - or tried to start - fights with any person they spotted in midnight or kelly green. Chef Spouse and I did our best to lay low, particularly until Drunkface and his friends were gone.
After which we started jumping up and down and screaming.
A few additional notes: rookie MLB Jamar Chaney played great. The Giants, purportedly a team "built to win in December" with a great run game and a solid defense, could not run the ball. And that turned out to be key. Remember the Cowboys last week? The Eagles won that game because LeSean McCoy successfully ran 4+ minutes off the clock. The Giants had to pass, and that gave the Birds far too many chances. I was really worried, with Stewart Bradley being out, but one thing about Andy Reid is that he seems to always have another guy ready to step in.
Apparently, at halftime, Asante Samuel, usually not the most voluble guy, exhorted the team to play with heart. Not to win, not to get back in it, but to play with heart. Chef Spouse and I were speculating, while waiting in line for our delicious, fatty deli meat sandwiches, what would need to happen in the locker room at halftime for this not to be an utter disaster. Chef Spouse noted that if anyone was going to step up with the "unleash the hounds!" speech, it was going to have to be one of the players. True dat.
A few comments on the Giants: Eli Manning played really well. I tend to rag on him, mostly because his diffident manner tends to get on my nerves (and I think it's unfair that he has a ring, when I honestly don't believe he's a great, or even a consistent, quarterback), but yesterday isn't on him.
You know who else it isn't on? Matt Dodge. Yeah, he made a bad mistake on that final punt. But he didn't have anything to do with blowing a 21 point lead in about 7 minutes. And 10 other guys were on the field who should've tackled DJax. Denizens of Big Blue View are calling for his head and bitching that you don't waste time grooming a punter. Two words for you: Sav Rocca.
Also, Justin Tuck? Might want to tone down the trash talk, son.
Finally, there's been a lot of Giants fan whining about DeSean Jackson "showboating" across the front of the endzone. He's been quoted as saying he was just making sure he'd used up the clock, and being there, it was pretty obvious he was looking back over his shoulder at the clock to be sure. Either way, all I have to say is, just like when the Cowboys whined last week, if you don't want to see it, don't let him do it.
Around the rest of the NFL...
Chargers over 49ers: The Giants fans in front of us at the game Sunday were talking about this game and how BWest is doing so well for the 49ers. I forbore to mention that it was because he didn't have to play at all for about 2/3 of the season, mostly because even when their team was winning, the Giants fans were really, really cranky.
Ravens over Saints: Super Bowl hangover? Nah - the Saints will still likely make the playoffs, although they do have to face the Falcons again, and in Atlanta. And once we're into the postseason, anything can happen. Actually, that holds for the Ravens, too.
Panthers over Cardinals: I called this one! And pretty much no one else did! Who cares?
Bengals over Browns: TO's done for the season, and maybe forever. Aw - I'm really going to miss that guy. No, I'm not.
Cowboys over Redskins: But Sexy Rexy played really well. Prediction? McNabb's done in DC. And he seems to have developed the reputation as being stubborn/inflexible, which could hurt his chances of going elsewhere.
Colts over Jaguars: I knew the Colts would find a way to win this game. Like I said, I just don't see Peyton allowing them to miss the playoffs. One of the Sunday morning shows was talking about "this combination of QB and coaching experience blah, blah, blah," and I know they were thinking Jim Caldwell, but I was thinking, "Same guy."
Bills over Dolphins: Just when I think it can't get any worse for the Fins (who, you recall, I picked to win the division), they lose to the Bills. Ouch.
Chiefs over Rams: The NFC West will be won by a team under .500. Sickening.
Lions over Buccaneers: Guess that whole dream of the playoffs is pretty much right out the window for the Bucs. Have I mentioned that I think the Lions are SOOOO close to being good? Because I really think they are.
Titans over Texans: We just watched C'mon Man, and they showed the Texans' linemen getting into a fight WITH EACH OTHER and drawing a 15 yard unsportsmanlike penalty. Possibly the dumbest thing I've seen this week (then again, it's only Monday).
Falcons over Seahawks: Well, yes.
Raiders over Broncos: Who will be starting Tim Tebow for the rest of the season. Why the hell not? Find out what you have now.
Jets over Steelers: There's this great sports bar in Times Square called Tonic, which is where we ended up after getting back from New Jersey and showering up, both to warm up and to try to address the Crazy Santa Hat Hair situation. We were watching the 3rd quarter while getting ready, and got to the bar in time to see the 4th quarter, where we found a lot of Jets fans, and some nice, friendly Giants fans. Apparently, you have to pass an asshole test to go to the game, as in, if you aren't one, they don't let you in the stadium (Yes, I was in the stadium. Draw your own conclusions). Watching this game, all I could think was: how important is Troy Polamalu to this team? I don't have the stats handy, but I know the Steelers winning percentage with Troy Polamalu is really good, and without him, um, not nearly so good. Even with the loss, they're still atop the AFC North, but they need to gentle Samoan to get healthy ASAP.
Patriots over Packers: This game is proof that things mostly turn out as expected. Even though the Packers, led by rookie QB Matt Flynn, led for most of the game, that is not going to beat Tom Brady at home 9 times out of 10 and twice on Sunday. Funniest moment of the game? Lineman Dan Connolly running back a punt 70+ yards. The crowd at Tonic was yelling, "Run, Fat Boy!" as one. The funny part is, if he hadn't tripped, he probably would have made it into the endzone, dragging all those relatively tiny Packers who were trying to tackle him, even though, as Chef Spouse observed, he was holding the ball like a sack of groceries.
And now? I find myself in the unenviable position of having to root for Brett Favre. But I really want that #2 spot, not least of which because it dramatically reduces the chances that the Eagles will have to face the Giants again this year. It's really, really hard to beat a team 3 times in a row. It's even harder to do it 7 times in a row.