Tag Archives: football

Can’t Get That, I’m in a Zone Over Here

One of the best things about being home is the newfound ability to watch sports without any sort of academic distractions hanging over my head. I’ve tried multitasking at school before, and no luck. There is simply no way I can concentrate on words on the page when linebackers are blitzing untouched from the outside on a television screen within 50 feet of my head. I’m starting to think that it’s actually physically impossible, like my retinas have field-goal-upright-shaped sports receptors, which activate a cascade of proteins which eventually shut down my cognitive brain functions, and there’s nothing I can do about it. Here at home though, no distractions, and it’s amazing. Actually, I just remembered that I have a 15 page report on the summer research that still needs writing, and of course there’s the whole packing thing, but there’s no urgency in either (yet), so I don’t feel completely guilty about spending this entire weekend watching playoff games.

Indianapolis 15 @ Baltimore 6

Not a pretty game to watch, but sort of disturbingly engrossing at the same time. Outside of the state of Indiana, and Peyton Manning fanboys who bandwagon with winning teams, doesn’t everyone enjoy watching this guy get picked apart by defenses flying all over the field? Bill Simmons’ “Manning Face” is absolutely crucial towards my enjoyment of a Colts game, and we got to see plenty of it during this game.

In the end, the Colts move on to the AFC Championship, but I wonder why all the talk is centering upon how the defense ‘saved’ Manning. Is it really the Colts defense, or was it more like an incompetent Ravens offense? As good of a leader as he is, nobody can really argue that McNair is a great quarterback anymore, and he just doesn’t have a supporting cast around him to make it work. I think that most defenses in the NFL could probably intercept McNair twice and not give up any touchdowns, the difference for the Ravens being that this time, the Ravens defense weren’t able to get the offense good enough field position off turnovers, and on the rare occasion that it was given to them, some sort of McNair blunder or penalty would push them back.

So now, we get to watch Manning choke in one more round. I will be stunned if he ever wins a Super Bowl, which makes me laugh. Statistically, he’s one of the greatest NFL quarterbacks of all time, but he just doesn’t have the right attitude for a championship winner. I’m not picturing any sort of late-career Elway-like resurrection either. Can you picture Peyton as a grizzled old veteran, making tough throws when it counts, and running for the first down on aging legs when the pocket collapses? The answer is no, Peyton the grizzled veteran will sit in the pocket too long until he’s swallowed up by the defensive line, or he’ll lob passes to safeties sitting in coverage. You can just picture it. He’s just that kind of quarterback, and that’s greatly amusing to me.

Philadelphia 24 @ New Orleans 27

I still don’t like Reggie Bush’s play in the NFL. His contributions to this game will largely be remembered by that spectacular 20-yard gain where he completely reversed field, outrunning several Eagles along the way, and for the touchdown run where he got stuffed inside and somehow bounced it outside where he beat Dhani Jones to the pylon. The thing that both plays had in common was that Reggie almost got stuffed by going straight ahead, so he decided to try for the Big Play by heading across the field and turning the corner.

That is not how you play in the NFL. Just look at how Deuce McAllister played this game: he hit his holes hard, and drove through the initial contact, and fought for yardage. I would argue that at this point, Reggie Bush is playing like a coward. He’s afraid of contact, he fights for yards with his fleet feet instead of with his considerable strength, and he doesn’t have the patience to wait for his blocks to develop. The fact that he keeps making these huge plays is kind of cool I suppose, like we’re supposed to be amazed by this kid’s athletic ability and imagination, but they almost seem like accidents to me. And the fact that he keeps succeeding is only going to encourage him to do it more. How much longer can he keep this up? I remain unconvinced that Reggie Bush will make a consistent every-down back in the NFL, he just doesn’t have the ability to run between the tackles like a traditional runningback. He either gets tackled for massive losses, which everyone seems to forget, or he madly dashes past confused defenders and gets praised as a genius on the scale of Leonardo DaVinci or Thomas Edison.

Great game though. Unless you live close to Philadelphia, you just had to root for the Saints on this one. They’re definitely America’s Team at this point. I have to say though: my favorite play of the game was early on, where Brees lobbed a soft toss to Bush in the flat, only for Bush to just..get…destroyed…by Sheldon Brown. That was the hardest hit I have ever witnessed live in a NFL game, it was incredible. I wish I was at a bar in Philly high-fiving everyone in sight, that was just the best hit. I’m glad that it’s on Youtube already. I liked how they went to commercial by playing that ‘Here Comes the Boom!’ song, it made me lol. Also, why the hell did Andy Reid decide to punt on 4th-and-15 on the last drive? Sorry Andy, that false start did not also add 3 minutes on to the clock, it’s just 5 yards, that’s it. Stupid, just plain stupid. Not one of the better coaches in the NFL.

Seattle 24 @ Chicago 27

Of course, all the pregame talk centered on the inconsistent Rex Grossman, and which side of Mr. Grossman we’d see in this game. The last time we saw him, he had a quarterback rating of…0. 0. That is a zero. Not the letter ‘o’ which I believe comes between the excellent letters ‘n’ and ‘p’. That is a 0. He completed more passes to the Packers defenders than he did to his own team. That is correct. Incompetence on a completely historic level. And wait, this team is in the playoffs?!

What most commentators seemed to forget was that we could get both sides of Grossman in a single game, like he’s schizophrenic or something! Incredible! So yeah, he made some amazing throws, for example that excellent deep ball to Berrian on the touchdown, yet there were some inconceivable decisions made under pressure as well. This time then, his inconsistencies were intra-game, rather than inter-game. Amazing.

Oh, and once again we’ve got a close game decided by a late field goal. Shaping up to a be a good round of playoffs so far, I gotta say. Chicago deserved this one, their defense stepped up at just the right times.

New England 24 @ San Diego 21

I have no idea what’s going on in that photo. I know it’s Kevin Faulk celebrating his 2-pt conversion to tie the game, but what is everyone else doing there? I can’t figure out what happened in this celebration at all, there’s just too many possibilities, none of which seem conceivable at all. I may have nightmares about this photo, so I thought I’d share it with you all!

Anyways, New England did not deserve this win. Even my token Patriots-supporting friend agrees! The number of San Diego mistakes is just too long to have allowed the Chargers to pulled it out, through no real intervention on the Patriots’ part. There’s was Parker’s bone-headed attempt to pick up and run with his own muffed punt, McCree’s interception stripped away by Troy Brown, Rivers’ soft lob intercepted by Colvin, and all the drops by those receivers. You can’t win when you make those kind of mistakes, and the Patriots did just enough to capitalize off them.

Meanwhile, this Gostkowski character is a monster. Remember when he got drafted, and everyone was just like, wtfwtfwtf? Mel Kiper didn’t even have the dude on his draft board of kickers or something! Of course, I laughed when one commentator said something to the effect of, “Well, let’s see, Bill Belichick is probably the greatest genius operating in the NFL right now, and he’s won three Super Bowls. How many Super Bowls has Mel Kiper won? Wait, zero? So maybe this Belichick guy knows what he’s doing?” Apparently so, apparently so. I can’t wait until Renaldo Balkman suddenly turns into Gilbert Arenas in five years, and starts dropping 35 on his hapless opponents on a nightly basis. If I were a Chargers fan right now though, I’d probably be all like

Let’s get to a few links then:

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Monsters of the Midway, with Intermission Between Acts

Finally, I got to kick back tonight to watch Monday Night Football, for the first time all season. Combinations of orchestra rehearsal and literal piles of homework have taken me away from such a luxury during the schoolweeks, but today I got to stretch out on the couch, bring out the chips and salsa, plus a tall glass of orange juice (Bojangles sweet tea supply already exhausted), and just watch the game.

First off, I’d totally forgotten that the Hank Williams MNF Theme Song even existed. What a terrible song. Seriously, does anybody like the song at all? Obviously we all know the MNF instrumental theme, ESPN even played off that with a series of commercials featuring everyday workers humming it on the way to work, but the Hank Williams song? I don’t know anybody who likes it, yet every week they need to feature footage of him “performing” it live, all intense-like. I get much more excited and pumped up by the instrumental theme, no need to feature an ancient country washup in the pregame. I’ve already forgotten how the song actually goes now, I just have this massive image of Hank Williams’ face filling the camera shot, branded into my skull. What a nightmare, and I mean that quite literally.

As for the game itself, the Cardinals come out and just take care of business, Leinart mechanically guiding the team down the field for two touchdowns and a couple of field goals in the first half. The kid looks incredibly calm and collected, he’s going to be a great quarterback some day for sure. I will note that he didn’t make any long throws, most of the long gains came after the catch, but at least Leinart made the proper reads and delivered the ball accurately.

That’s a huge contrast from Rex Grossman. Two interceptions and two fumbles in the first half would seem to explain the large enclosed circle associated with your team’s name on the scoreboard. Meanwhile on defense, the Bears didn’t do anything particularly poorly, but Leinart just did a good job of picking them apart. Meanwhile, Edgerrin James remains useless. If you drafted him for your fantasy team, you are a fool. Please see my team if you would like to see a model of success. At least, this week.

And so we reach halftime. I was looking for something to do during halftime, and I felt like I’d been doing something fairly interesting before the game started, but I’d forgotten what that actually was. Then I realized: it was the new Jay-Z video.

There are times such as these when I’m really, really tempted to plagiarize. Tom Breihan’s writeup on both the song and video are pretty spot-on, but clearly for ethical/legal reasons I can’t just claim his work as my own, as much as I’d love the fame and glory that comes along with such brilliant blogwork. Anyways, you can find the full post over here, and I’ll attach the Jay-Z segment below (Also please note that the My Chemical Romance section brought incredible lols, but is unfortunately unrelated to the issues at hand):

Jay-Z: “Show Me What You Got.” The song leaked last week, and the internet’s been hating it since then, mostly because Jay’s lyrics are undeniably lazy, the sort of stuff he probably comes up with on the toilet. But it totally works with the video. Just Blaze’s beat sounds lush and expensive, with that “Rump Shaker” horn riff languidly snaking over all those hectic drum-fills and organ-blurts. The video doesn’t have much of a plot: Jay rides around in cars with famous racecar drivers and drives a boat in circles and raps at a casino on the beach where people are dancing with torches or whatever. But F. Gary Gray edits everything really quickly and uses all kinds of split-screen pyrotechnics. The whole thing reminds me of the opening credits to Hawaii Five-O, and that’s my favorite shit ever. Jay Smooth calls it “yet another episode of ‘Hooray! I’m rich! Watch me do rich people things!’,” and that’s true enough, but it’s all done with such breathless verve that I’m really looking forward to seeing it on an actual TV instead of a smudgy-ass YouTube scan.

True enough, I’d been watching the video before the game started. And I totally agree with Breihan, Just Blaze’s production is amazing as usual, but Jay-Z’s rapping is a little uninspired here. The video is, however, really really well done, I agree. I too was looking forward to seeing it on a real tv, outside of the YouTube vid which I now see has been taken down, sadly. I’m sure it’ll pop up elsewhere, do some searching around. Edit: Yeah, do a youtube search, there’s a few copies up again.

But just as I was about to head back to my computer to watch the video again, Stuart Scott came on for the Halftime Report, and things took a turn for the incredible. He’s got a fairly normal sportscaster vocabulary most of the time, but now suddenly Scott was dishing out phrases like, “Jigga’s got a new record droppin in Novembeh, homies,” while making exaggerated hand motions, and I just started loling, and totally missed everything else he said, which I greatly regret. But yeah, turns out ESPN was about to unveil the exact video I was hoping to see, its first airing on national television. Funny how things work like that.

Well, not exactly, as it was an edited version with a bunch of NFL highlights spliced in to make it marginally relevant to ESPN. The screen-splitting now showed the Jigga and Dale Earnhardt Jr. cruisin’, Danica Patrick checking her mirrors, the two cars aerial-view, and Michael Vick diving for the endzone. You’d also get Jay spittin’ at the camera, then a quick cut to Tiki Barber juking out some poor Falcons linebacker. And as the video went on, the editing got heavier, until they cut out the entire second verse with respective boat scene (my favorite scene! those bastards), cutting straight to the casino, which was actually shown less than the football footage. Prominently featured was Jeff Fisher awkwardly celebrating his first victory of the year as if it were the Super Bowl, and the juxtaposition of ecstatic white boy Fisher with coolness personified in Jay-Z was fantastic. The whole thing was short too, probably only two minutes, before we went back to the Time Warner Cable and Verizon commercials. Oh well, a nice enough break, and we continue into the second half.

Edit: I totally forgot, the video came up again during the third quarter, this time in a Budweiser Select commercial. It was a lot of alternate shots taken from the video sessions, except now they’re suddenly drinking Bud instead of expensive wines at the casino party. Closing shot: Jay-Z sitting in this plush chair, cigar smoke snaking through the air, spits out, “The King is back!” They’re really pushing this comeback, aren’t they.

Third quarter, the Bears still can’t get anything going on offense, and the Cardinals are content to sit on their substantial lead. Since the game isn’t going anywhere, we get more and more shots of the ecstatic Cardinals fans, and I became amused at the dedication of some of these fans. One Cardinals fan was wearing this t-shirt emblazoned with the slogan PROTECT THE NEST in a massive font, and he was incredibly intense, pumping his fists and screaming at the camera, and I couldn’t help but laugh. PROTECT THE NEST, what an absurd slogan, is that supposed to pump me up? PROTECT THE NEST. So awesome, I suppose that’s what you get for having a small songbird as your mascot. Somehow, this was topped by a Bears fan who was shown at least three or four times, who wore a normal black t-shirt, except that he’d made a neon Chicago Bears logo sign, somehow attached to the shirt, which he could light up at the press of a button. What. I can’t imagine how you could possibly look like a bigger fool. Despite all this, American football still doesn’t seem to compare to European football in terms of the fans’ fanaticism; do you remember all that World Cup footage of lighted flares being thrown around, the town squares literally packed with fans watching on a projector screen? Not even mentioning hooligan riots, or that Colombian footballer who got shot by angry fans after scoring an own goal against the US. I feel like sports are just simply absurd in general, but so what, they’re still awesome.

So last play of the third quarter, Kornheiser and Theismann are talking about clock management, when suddenly Leinart gets sacked from behind and the football flies out of his hand, a fumble! Mike Brown recovers for a touchdown, and now the Bears are only down 23-10. So what, everyone thought, the Bears have looked completely incompetent on offense, and the Cardinals should be able to sustain drives and run out the clock. Some minutes later, what do you know, Grossman throws another pick. After some mild amusement at the sight of a defensive end rumbling down the field with a convoy of Cardinals celebrating around him, the return is brought back because his knee was down, and Leinart and the offense promptly go nowhere. So Grossman gets the ball back, and throws another interception. I can’t imagine a quarterback having a worse game. Four interceptions, two fumbles, zero touchdowns. Probably hurt your fantasy team somewhat.

Now, the Cardinals try and run the clock down with the run, but then, Urlacher makes a brilliant play and strips the ball away from Edge, and Charles Tillman returns that for a touchdown. And suddenly, the Bears are only down by six. Theismann is starting to panic. Kornheiser is just flipping out. Everyone outside of Chicago wants the Cardinals to win this game, but everyone can smell it: the Bears are somehow on the verge of reeling this game back in, against all odds.

There’s only five minutes left in the game, so if Leinart can just sustain a drive, they’ll be safe. But no luck, a couple of passes batted at the line, and Edge gets stuffed a few more times by Urlacher, and its time to punt.

Devin Hester returns the punt for a touchdown.

The entire state of Arizona melts down, and the apocalypse ensues.

The score was 23-3 with five seconds left in the third quarter, but now the Bears are up 24-23, without even scoring an offensive touchdown, and actually having one of the most offensively incompetent games in recent memory. But there is still some hope, sez Theismann, as Leinart has looked quite good thus far, and this is the sort of environment he thrived in at USC. Remember last year’s unforgettable Notre Dame game? And sure enough, short completions to Boldin, Ayanbadejo, and a few other faceless Cardinals brings them into field goal range for the automatic Neil Rackers, who now has a chance to save face and win the game.

He misses to the left.

That Bears fan gleefully lights up his neon shirt-sign, and the entire world melts down, and the apocalypse ensues.

Good game, good game. But Kornheiser and Theismann stated it pretty well: everyone wanted to see Leinart bring the Cardinals back. And he pretty much did, Rackers just forgot that he gets paid millions of dollars to kick footballs well, and they lost the game. Again, they were up 23-3, and lost to a team who had 6 turnovers and touchdowns coming from defense and special teams. If I were a member of the Arizona Cardinals, or if I was a rabid fan, this is about the time that I would get that ceremonial samurai sword out from storage, and commit ritual seppuku. I’m so glad that all of my teams are competent, except for the Bobcats but at least they have a good excuse.

After the Phillies lost out on the NL Wild Card race on the final day, we asked the fanatical Phillies fan who works in Tarble for his thoughts, he was completely emotionless, he simply looked at us and said, “I’ve been a Phillies fan for over fifty years, I’m not surprised that this happened at all, so I’m not even upset.” I sincerely hope that my Panthers, Tar Heels, Hurricanes, and Bobcats never sink to such a low level, as it would truly destroy my soul. Let’s just conveniently ignore the fact that the Tar Heels just lost to Central Florida in football. I always forget that they have a football team. But for now, I’m very sorry Cardinals fans, the nation mourns with you. Your quarterback has a bright future ahead, just don’t count on anyone else to be decent.

Edit: I really like this stat. In the final 22 minutes of the game, the Bears offense managed…39 yards, two interceptions, no touchdowns. Yet they overcame a 20 point deficit to win. Unbelievable.

Show me what links you got:

  • Certainly, as illustrated tonight, sports can be incredibly agonizing, and even a little absurd. But there are times when sports can become absolutely transcendant. The Wharton girls asked me before the break: When was the last time I cried? I said it was a few weeks earlier, watching a replay of the Music City Miracle. I wasn’t lying. I almost choked up again today, watching Magglio Ordonez’s walkoff homer to send the Detroit Tigers into the World Series today. Or David Ortiz’s walkoff single in Game 5 of the 2004 ALCS. In all three videos, just listen to the call, and look at the fans. Look at the fans. I’m tearing up just typing this. How sad is that, that the only thing that makes me cry is sports, and it’s not even my home teams that we’re considering. Long live sports, and congratulations, Tigers fans.
  • A pretty good compilation of bone-crushing NFL tackles throughout the years.
  • Some great time-lapse footage from the cities, reminds me a lot of Koyaanisqatsi and such.
  • This website has a really fantastic design, lots of fun.
  • The portrait photographer Philippe Halsman asked his subjects to jump, to loosen them up, and here’s a sample of his work, and a nice article too.
  • Kids these days are so spoiled. Now they can get night vision goggles that shoot darts. Srsly guys, you could’ve invented this 15 years ago, get with the program.
  • Instructions for making your own beanbag chair.
  • Useful website where you can print up pdf calendars, graph paper, sudoku puzzles, and all that jazz.
  • Someone compiled a map of the town of Springfield from The Simpsons, with frightening detail.
  • A very mysterious boat has been sighted in the waters off Washington state.
  • And finally, Radar Magazine has listed the 10 dumbest politicians on Capitol Hill, with some pretty great anecdotes for each one.

    McKinney fought back by proudly producing a survey that ranked her as the 277th most effective legislator in the House. In fact the survey, by congress.org, placed her at 408.

  • That’s it and that’s all, have a nice week.