I'm sorry it's on such a grim note, but welcome to the 2011 NFL season, everyone! I really didn't think that was going to happen. I heard the same things everyone else did about our team heading into Week One - that we had too many injuries, too many young guys playing, that we lost too many good players, etc. I thought it would all become a distant memory after a masterful performance on the 10-year anniversary of 9/11.
That didn't happen.
Instead, we had faint glimpses of what our team could be, lost in an overall miserable performance. It was hard to watch, and it's going to be even harder to forget about, I can only imagine, after what the Jets did at home Sunday night. But we're going to have to.
The Viewing Party's New View
As always, when on the west coast, I watched our Gmen open up with my buddy JJ. He just moved into a new place with NFL Sunday Ticket, and that's, well…that's just the bees knees. Unfortunately, his roommate and his roommate's buddy are huge Chargers fans, and they had dibs to the living room. So we were stuck watching the game on the TV in his room. Still, not bad.
I always find it really funny when I go to watch a football game in front of people who've never met me, and have no idea what kind of insane fan I am. I doubt his roommate was used to someone jumping up and down and screaming every time his team got a first down. Well, he knows now. His buddy's dog was scared out of its mind, but I have to think that was partly due to the fact that they were watching the end of the Eagles game when I got there.
Like I'm sure was the case for everyone else watching, it was a lot of fun during the first half, and absolutely miserable during the second. JJ's room had a bed and two chairs, so we tried our best switching seats around, from one chair to the foot of the bed to another chair, trying to change our luck. We must have attempted four or five different seating arrangements. The best we got out of that in the second half was a blocked field goal attempt.
I also had on new threads for a new season. I had just gotten my brand new "official" Justin Tuck #91 home jersey in the mail from NFL pro shop. If we're friends on Facebook, you know how I felt about the "officialness" of the jersey. For those who aren't, allow me to explain. The last name is stitched right onto the mesh, as opposed to the blue nameplate that's supposed to be under it. The "NFL" logo wasn't on a red flap immediately above the "v" of the collar, like it's supposed to be. Instead, it's stitched right onto the collar. "It's what the pros wear." Yeah, maybe in a home electronics commercial. What a rip-off.
Regardless, it's early in the season. We'll get our routine down pat, hopefully sooner rather than later.
Not A Fan
The only thing in the world worse than watching the Giants lose to a division rival is having Troy Aikman call the game. Even when we do well, he looks to point out reasons why the pitfalls of our opponent helped make our success possible. And he didn't have to do much of that on Sunday. Also, is it just me, or does Joe Buck sound like he never wants to be in the booth when he does a game? For football or baseball. Like everyone should just feel lucky he bothered to show up to work that day. Please tell me someone else is seeing and hearing this, too. But about that game…
Like I mentioned, it started off great. The ceremony before the game was very well done, and as most expected it would be, quite emotional. Hard to tell between sweat and tears as they panned across the players and coaches on the sideline during the national anthem, but I'd like to think it was a little bit of both. I know I got teary-eyed on more than one occasion on Sunday, well before we kicked off.
From the opening kickoff, our defense played strong. They started with a quick three-and-out, including a nice job by both Kiwi and Boley putting Rex on his back early. Our running game and O-line looked good to start the day. So did Eli, at least from the get-go. They did a good job moving the ball down the field, save for Cruz's big drop on third down on our first offensive series. After that, he wasn't heard from again for the rest of the day as far as the offense was concerned, though he did make a nice rebound tackle the play after dropping the third down pass, flying down the field and making a nice tackle on the ensuing punt. I thought for sure after Eli ran it in for the first touchdown of the game, and then the Redskins missed a field goal on the following drive, that we would use our growing momentum to run away with the game early. We looked good for a while, but that intentional grounding call really hurt us, and we stalled from there, letting them tie it early in the second quarter. As the second quarter wound down, we had one of the most impressive drives of the day, for any team. Eli moved the ball around, Bradshaw and Jacobs both ran hard, we ran off a lot of clock, and finished with a touchdown. Then the coverage let them drive right down the field to tie the game right before halftime.
It was downhill the rest of the way. The secondary fell apart, and the play calling was terrible. I still can't for the life of me figure out why we don't put Jacobs in there on short yardage plays. Especially on a fourth down conversion! Isn't that why we have him? To have a huge, beastly presence in the backfield that can plow through the middle at will? I just don't get it. I hate to blame refereeing, but there were some horrible (non) calls. There was a blatant hold on Michael Boley that wasn't called on the Skins' first touchdown. In the third quarter, when our punt returner was BARRELLED INTO after calling for a fair catch, not only did that not get called, but somehow WE got a flag on the play. Finally, if a receiver wasn't touched after making a catch and falling to the ground, and is getting up to run with the ball, how can we be called for hitting a defenseless receiver? This used to be a man's game.
One positive - Steve Weatherford punted the ball very well. Our coverage didn't always do its job, but as far as punting was concerned, Weatherford did just fine. I can't understand why Lawrence Tynes is still our kicker, and I will never be happy about it. That field goal was blocked because he kicked it low. It was a great snap and hold, but he booted it right into their outstretched arms. Very frustrating.
And that was that. Before we knew it, all our optimism was dashed with a brutal 28-14 loss. A real stinger. But enough about re-living all the pain…
Non-Gmen Thoughts of the Week:
- I know it's only Week One, but man the Packers looked scary good Thursday night. Aaron Rodgers is something else.
- Didn't get to see any of the Bills game, but the re-cap was quite an eye-opener. Ryan Fitzpatrick, with FOUR touchdown passes? Sans Lee Evans? Wowsa.
- I should really get into Breaking Bad, because the lack of Mad Men is killing me. I'm in serious withdrawal, and I don't know if I'll be able to wait until 2012 to get my fix. WHAT WOULD DON DRAPER DO? I guess I'll pour myself a highball of scotch and think that one over…
- Never thought I'd say this about a Ryan Gosling movie, but I'm pretty excited about seeing "Drive."
- After watching the ND-Michigan game Saturday night, I have a couple of observations. First of all, BIG FAN of the throwbacks on both sides. Even the refs got in on the action. Second, there isn't a doubt in my mind that Brent Musberger has long passed his prime, and is now nothing more than an insane old man with a microphone. Half of what he says is presumptuous, and the other half simply has nothing to do with what's happening on the field. He kind of reminds me of Bill Hader's character, "Herb," on SNL. Regardless, it's entertaining.
It's a good thing we play a 16-game season, instead of just one. It's a bad thing we have to wait until next Monday night before we play again. One thing I noticed, as is usually the case, is that we weren't outplayed. We were our own worst enemy, with the real trouble existing between each player's ears. But we have the talent. In the meantime, let the doubters doubt, and let the haters hate. Ignore the re-cap shows if you have to. Justin Tuck and Osi will hopefully be playing next week, and if not, certainly by month's end. And Prince will be back in there before we know it. The exhaustion was very readable on our defense's faces, so hopefully getting a few guys back will help us stay strong through all four quarters. We have to eliminate stupid penalties like delays of game and false starts. We as fans have to also realize that (granted all the teams are in the same boat here) we had a shortened off-season with no OTAs or mini camps, and we have a very young roster, so it will take a little time to get all the kinks out. But I have faith in the young talent on this roster. It stinks to lose the first game, especially since it was against Washington on the anniversary of 9/11. But despite all the goings-on surrounding the game, the bottom line is it was only one game. We still have 15 more to play. And it's not like every team that was supposed to win on Sunday had a great day. Just ask Steelers or Falcons fans. But they also understand that it's a long season, only made more stressful with a full week of speculation filling the time between games.
So, relax! To steal from Harvey Dent (and/or Christopher Nolan), "The night is darkest just before the dawn. And I promise you that dawn is coming." Stay positive, fans. You can get bogged down in all the reasons why we should panic, or you can sit back and have faith. We've had far worse starts before, which ended pretty well, if I remember correctly. We have a huge Monday Night match-up coming up against the Rams, and we've gotta be ready for it! To talk all things Giants, you can e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org, or you can find me on Facebook under the name "Gmen Superfan." Until next week, GO GMEN!!