18 September 2006

2006 Week 2 Recap

Week 2: Eagles/Giants, Sunday, September 17, 2006

In attendance: Only Ex-Navy Cheesehead. (Shout out to Shoegal, who missed the games for a very good reason: somewhere north of 40 - a lady never says how much - she was participating in her first triathalon - and called in from the road to check on the game status anyway! Congrats on a successful race, Shoegal!)

Menu: Chef Spouse treated us to a lovely end of summer repast of shish-kabob and corn on the cob (both cooked on the grill), accompanied by mojitos with fresh mint from the garden. Yes, in a departure from my usual bourbon, the bottle I was hitting after the game was rum, mon.

The game...ah yes, the game. There's a French expression called coup de grace, which translates to "blow of kindness" and is used idiomatically for the mercy blow - the killing blow. That's exactly what we were unable to deliver this week. How the hell do you sack their QB 8 times, hold their leading receiver to 50 yards, hold Shockey to 2 catches, while your own QB puts up 350 yards and throws 2 TDs and still lose? Beats me, but we played amazingly well for the first half, and not bad for the 3rd quarter. And then, with a sickening and all too familiar lurch, it all freakin' fell apart (literally - the Freak was seriously injured and is out for the season due to an overtime play that never should have happened). I think the term I'm looking for is poleaxed.

Guys, I thought we were clear on this after last season. I know it was confusing - lots of rules changed in the off season and the officials seemed to be making it up as they went along yesterday - but in fact, a football game remains four 15 minute quarters. Yes, I know it's just not done to run up the score and kick 'em when they're down (news, apparently, to Trent Cole), but need I remind you that the Giants won the division last year? Sometimes you find yourself in need of those "extra" points. Trying to sit on a lead for half the game? Not a good strategy.

Let's address those officiating problems for a moment. Eagles/Giants tussle over the ball when it would've been an Eagles TD? Incomplete pass. Brian Dawkins INT that Shiancoe manages to get a hand on? Completed pass for the Giants. Review after next play has happened? Nick Saban's out of luck, but the zebras can apparently do it any time they like, including at the end of a close game when the Giants are out of time outs, giving them both extra downs and extra time to discuss the next few plays, overall game strategy, how their fantasy picks are doing this week, and plan a barbeque at Michael Strahan's for MNF (I hear Shockey's bringing his famous hot wings). And the worst of all, Trent Cole basically trips over a guy (OK, that's not exactly accurate, but he didn't exactly roundhouse McKenzie either) and it's a 15 yard personal foul penalty that allowed Feely to make a 35 yard FG rather than take an almost certain miss on a 50 yarder. You may recall that Trent Green of the Chiefs took a monster hit last Sunday. It went through a formal review and the NFL agreed that although it nearly resulted in a decapitation, it was unintentional, as players cannot properly control their bodies or momentum after a block in the back. You know who else got blocked in the back recently? David Akers! He gets blocked into a Giants assistant coach, and the Giants on the sideline rip off his helmet, throw him to the ground and start kicking the crap out of him. And the officials do...nothing. (Oh, and Troy Aikman? You're an idiot. Just FYI.)

I know, I know - only big babies blame a loss on bad officiating. I'm not blaming the bad officiating alone, but while the officials were wrapping the game up with a big, pretty bow for the Giants, I hope they got 'em a pony too. Who doesn't want a pony?

Now let's get on with what we did wrong.

1. Missed FG (But to be fair, only the fact that it was Akers even allows a missed 49 yarder to make this list. It's his own fault we have such high expectations.)
2. The Michael Lewis fumbled INT (And if you were paying attention, you could feel the momentum of the game shift right there.)
3. Westy fumble (But it's hard to fault him, too, as he otherwise had a great game on a bum knee.)
4. Our offense fell apart - in the 4th quarter, we couldn't move the ball at all. (But was that their fault, or was it bad play calling?)
5. Our defense fell apart - in the 4th quarter, we couldn't get to Manning all of a sudden. (Or did the Giants figure us out and we just didn't - or couldn't - adjust?)
6. The Trent Cole penalty. Dumb, dumb, dumb.
7. Going for it on 4th & 1 not once but twice, when we could've pinned the Giants back and made 'em work for it.
8. The all out blitz on the last play.

Those last two were risky coaching calls that went the wrong way, and once again, the Eagles couldn't catch a break with a net, live bait, and break pheromones. It's easy to blame the coaches, and the play calling was poor in the second half. You can't sit on a lead for 20 minutes and expect the Giants to just give up. Our clock management woes seem to be back in force - we once again burned up time outs we were going to need. But you can't say it was all the coaches' fault, either - after all, who's on the field?

And once again, everyone takes the blame in the press conferences. Which is great, and makes me proud that my team's not a bunch of whiners (unlike some Mannings I could mention), but guys, maybe it's time to stop saying, "It was my fault," and start saying, "Now how do we prevent this from happening again?"

It's often the case that teams get off to a slow start and get hot later on - hell, even in our 12-4 and 13-3 years, we pretty much always lose the first game or two. It also happens that teams lose a tough one early on and find their cojones as a result. We know we have the skills. Now it's time to test the content of our character.

Around the rest of the NFL...

Shout out to the Saints for starting their season 2-0 with a big win against the hapless Packers. Next week, they get to re-open the Superdome. Unfortunately, they have to do it against the hot Falcons, 2-0 after a win against Tampa Bay. Too bad they didn't draw the Bucs. They'd probably rack up another win. Of course, it's only a matter of time until the Falcons fall apart under the weight of Mike Vick providing their entire offense, but it probably won't happen by next week.

Lots of 2-0 teams at this point, and lots of 0-2. And lots of blowouts. There are several teams who might want to start considering the idea of forfeiting some games. If you forfeit, you only lose 1-0. Raiders, Packers, and Bucs, I'm looking at you.

[An aside - I'm seriously going to jump on a plane in about a minute to kill ESPN's MNF announcers. There's this thing? Called a game? Going on on the field? Right now? You might want to think about talking about it? Good game, though. Now if we could just convince the announcers to pay a modicum of attention...]

The Texans got spanked. Again. But after being down 30-3, they did at least fight back into double digits. The Browns got spanked. Again. The Raiders? Y'all might want to pack it in for the season while Aaron Brooks still has all his limbs. Is every AFC division promised one JV team or something? The Lions' Roy Williams didn't realize he was guaranteeing a Bears win. The Vikings pulled off another upset win (of course, the Panthers are still missing Steve Smith, but good on Brad Childress and all the rest of those former Eagles out there in Minnesota). The Seahawks unsurprisingly beat the Cardinals, and the 49ers surprisingly beat the Rams. Bad news for us next week? Maybe - the 49ers have been putting up a lot of points so far this year. The Broncos managed to sneak a win in another all-FG game over a Chiefs team that was missing their starting QB. The Jets made it a game against the Patriots after the Pats had jumped out to an early lead. And the Titans, sadly, did not, getting rolled in a really ugly way by the Chargers. And talk about ugly! The Skins/Cowboys game was just...not good. Cool Web Dude (Skins fan), this could be a long season.

And Dolphins, don't think I've forgotten you. You're moving to the head of the line for Team I Will Mock Mercilessly All Season. The Packers say thank you, and that the truck of pony kegs is on its way.

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