Sunday, February 03, 2008

Blogging the Super Bowl

This is an interminable post ... perhaps less insightful than most ... certainly I would hope so ... and only the most dogged will plough through it. I have tried to include some italic headlines in case you want to scroll down. Despite appearances, it is not merely a paean to sweet sweet Eli. Oh well, perhaps it is. I have a few more photos to add, but is being a little cranky with the uploads.

So let's blog the Super Bowl ... the most hyped but rarely the best game in American sports. Year in and year out, the best game in American sports is the men's NCAA final basketball game. But that's not on today ... so let's start with ...

... Puppy Bowl IV ... my favorite show on television. Beyond cute, and so much better than the overhyped Super Bowl commercials. When they switch to commercials, I switch to the Puppy Bowl!

I don't really follow football. Baseball is my game. But like any spurts nut, a game is a game, and I end up watching a bunch of football games, mostly only partially. I think the only game I watched beginning to end this year was the Big Game, in which my alma mater Cal laid down and died before a spunky but nearly as good Stanford team.

The National Anthem
As a Canuck in the rapidly warming southland, I gotta say that the American national anthem always sends chills down my spine. A true anthem ... stirring, martial, difficult. This year it will be sung by American Idol, Jordan Sparks, evidently the daughter of a former NFL player.

Alas, she, like so many before her, seems to think it's a ballad. I think it should be sung like you are sitting on the deck of that ship watching the bombs bursting perilous near ... no need for ornaments ... just the stirring of a great nation's birth pains.

Pretty voice, though, and not a missed note. We'll have to settle for that.

Dell Discovers Cool
Swell, Apple did it a couple of decades ago, but never too late to join the party, I guess. Two commercials so far that I count.

The Quarterback Bowl

So, again, not really the sort of football fan who knows who's who. But it seems that this year the game is about two quarterbacks ... Mr. Smooth and the mama's boy. I'm for the mama's boy. I guess I am your basic queer sports dood ... I love the games, the strategy, the intensity of the competition. I try to learn the inner game, to see more than momentum and the score. But I can never take my eyes off the guys. In this sense ... if Eli baby decides he wants to "go gay" with a fifty-something old fag who has an eclectic streak and makes great conversation ... drop me a line! As for Brady ... hot dude ... stick with the ladies for all I care. [Smile]

3rd and 6, Giants ... on the money "pitch and catch" pass ... nice. Looking sharp so far.

When Eli first started with Giants, I got the impression that his heart was not in the game ... that he was a quarterback because he was a Manning and because he was gifted with gawd-given talent ... well at least Archie-given talent. The congenitally impatient New Yorkers hated him. But great athletes are human, which means they are complex. Great athletes are, with barely any exceptions, very intelligent as well. Intelligence has a habit of arriving with issues. And so great athletes achieve their greatness with complexity, over time. Is Eli great? We shall see. But today, he has arrived.

Nice first drive. Cooking on all cylinders.

Diet Pepsi Max
With ginseng and more caffeine ... give me a bag and make me barf ... cute commercial though. (I guess I was dissimulating about the Puppy Bowl above.) Americans are so cheap ... as if a smidge of ginseng undoes the deleterious effects of a flood of high frustose corn syrup. This is an example of ... we're going to hell.

Let's start with ... I can't stand Joe Buck. At least this is football, but he massacres baseball, and is openly bored by the game. I don't actually know who the color guy is as we speak ... but that will become apparent as time goes on. (Ooooops, I guess it's Troy Aikman.)

3rd and 3 Patriots, a floater from Brady for a first down. Not seeing the Giants pressure on the QB we were expecting just now.

Back to the talkers ... from time to time, I'll just italicize various inane assaults on logic and the English language ... like this one ...

"... he's gonna do what he does"

or ... "you can't double everybody."

Big mistake in the end zone ... pass interference apparently caused by a missed defensive doubling assignment. Of such little things are championships made and lost. Leads to a touchdown that did not have to be. 7-3.

Indian Gaming
Wow! The stakes in the current Indian Gaming ballot initiatives are obviously high ... and pricey. An anti-prop ad! That's a lot of money talking.

Back to the game
3rd and 7, Giants ... big heave by Eli, great catch by Toomer after what looked like pass interference. (On review, it looks like Toomer pushed off ... great no call [smile].)

3rd and 5 Giants, butterfingers doesn't haul in the pass and it flips to a Patriot for an interception that didn't need to be. Eli sharp, but some fuzziness around the edges with his teammates.

Tom Petty and Heartbreakers lend their name to tires ... how low can you sink. Again, give me a bag and a private moment because this makes me sick. (Turns out Tom Petty is the half-time show, sponsored by the tire-maker ... still, no excuse.)

3rd and 1 Patriots, and the Giants stuff the run for the second consecutive play. Giants winning the ball control zone, but not the game just now. The ensuing possession, though, is a mess ... sack, fumble on the handoff because the running back wasn't paying atteniont, screen that didn't happen. Patriots back with the ball.

Giants' front line now showing what we were looking for ... suffed the run and then sack followed by a sack ... consecutive 3-and-outs. But for that dumb penalty in the end-zone this is the Giants' game so far.

Giants moving the football and making some runs too.

3rd and 4 Giants, Manning loses the football, but the Giants recover it beyond the first down line. But a penalty sends them back 10 yards. 3rd and 18. Nearly picked off ... red zone, no points.

Canadian Rules
So the Giants kicker pooches the punt and it lands inside the 20. Had he kicked it hard, the Patriots would have had a touchback and got the ball at the 20 free of charge. In Canadian football, they would have lost a point. I think that is more fair. I like Canadian football because it is faster and more wide open. I like the single points, and the 20 yard end zone that comes into play a lot more. Taking a knee in the end zone is for sissies. [Smile.]

Feeble looking final drive of the half for the Patriots starts to get some gas. Brady finally looking like the man he is ... and then he coughs it up and the Giants recover. Nobody has quite seized this game by the throat ... which at least suggests a good second half. Pretty poor showing by the Patriots' offense, but the Giants seem to shot themselves in the foot on offense. Notwithstanding the low score, it is a quarterbacks game.

No go on the Manning Hail Mary ... so I'm heading off to do anything but watch the half time show. 7-3, Patriots.

A heck of a football game because the Giants are playing good football on both sides of the football.

Second Half
Good opening drive for Brady, but the Giants are getting penetration on every play. Brady is throwing earlier. Now 3rd and 5 ... but the catch is short of the first down. Giants defense defining the game right now.

Notwithstanding that, there is challenge that a Giants player, Chase Blackburn, did not get off the field in time for the punt, and that would be a penalty that gives the Patriots a first down. The challenge is the ultimate proof that football is, in George Will's terms, the worst of American life ... "mindless violence punctuated by committee meetings". (I quote from memory.) So now the flow of a tense game is interrupted by a committee meeting that is not even on the field ... some guy in a booth second-guesses the worst officials in sports ... and the challenge is upheld and the Patriots keep the ball. At least that wouldn't happen in baseball.

Giants killing themselves. Missed tackle leads to a first down on 3rd and 13. But another sack on 3rd down and hurry and misfire on 4th ends the drive.

BTW, Aikman actually doing a nice as color commentator ... seeing what is not obvious. Color guys who just talk about momentum or repeat what the play-by-play guy just said are useless.

Couple of sharp passes into coverage by Manning to Amante Toomer who's got sticky hands tonight.

3rd and 6 Giants, Manning almost hits his man, but no cigar. It seems like it has been 3rd and 6 all night. Nice coverage, but this thing is still a stalemate with the Patriots, like snakes, always coiled and seemingly ready to end it when they set their minds to it.

The Patriots Wes Welker is a real gamer ... short and stubby and comes up with the ball when you need it ... he just got them out of 2nd and 15 at their own 5.

The 3rd quarter comes to an end with either team quite ready to wrassle this thing to the ground.

"Tundra ... the truck that's changing it all" ... yeah, changing our world into post-apocalyptic hell. Congrats, and thanks. Back to the Puppy Bowl for the rest of this commercial break.

So Manning has the ball again to start the fourth ... c'mon, boy. Take control!

Yeah, big pass to Kevin Boss! 45 yards. That's what I'm talking about.

Big 3rd and 4 to Smith. As Aikman says, the offensive line giving Manning time, and he's finding his men. And TOUCHDOWN! Over the middle to David Tyrene, threading the needle. 10-7 Giants.

The first legitimate score ... by which I mean, the first score entirely commanded by an offense. Yeah, Eli. Peyton likes it. Nice to see some bro on bro action.

Coca-Cola Ad ... James Carville and some Republican who escapes my memory ... "let's see it from a different point-of-view." Strange! Gotta think about this one. (It's the doctor ... what's his name ... former majority leader fallen far and fast ... oh, yeah, Bill Frist. This is a little like resurrecting the dead ... smile.)

Brady's Charge ... not
Sweet pass to Randy Moss, but only the second completion to the great receiver ... this is where they have to rise up and be the champions if they want it, and where the Giants defense has to prove that all the preamble meant something.

Good game.

Brady overthrows Moss. Then 3 and out, almost intercepted. All because of the blitz.

Then, Manning misses Plaxico ... although Aikman says that Plaxico let up early ... we haven't heard Plaxico's name a lot. That's Plaxico Burress. Next, Amante Toomer a yard shy of a first down. (I don't swear to spelling these names correctly, but will check tomorrow.) A bad 3 and out.

The Patriots seem like the San Antonio Spurs of football ... boring but effective. They've pulled out a lot of games in their hitherto perfect season because the other team seemd to let them in the end. Now they are manufacturing a drive easily when a field goal would tie the game. Maybe the Giants defense is gassed. They have to rise up. Aikman says that "now you are finally seeing the Patriots get into some kind of rhythm." Still a lot of time. Another ig catch and run by Welker. If the Patriots win, he might be the MVP because he has been consistent all the way through. First down Moss inside the 20. This drive like cutting warm butter. Now inside the 10 with Kevin Faulk. First and goal.

Buck sez, "So much left to be determined in this game" ... yeah, like the winner. Brady misses Moss in the end zone. Another miss. 3rd and goal. Brady to Moss. Touchdown. Like cutting butter. 14-10 Patriots with 2:42 to go.

"A methodical drive put together by the game's best."

Eli's Moment
First down to Toomer. Eli looks cool. Aikman says that he shines in the no huddle because he is a good play caller. Misses Plaxico Burress. Aikman definitely sees it like a QB. Missed Plaxico again ... 3rd and 10 at the 2-minute warning. Didn't seem like the play came together at all, and Manning was just lucky he didn't underthrow it a little because there was lots of coverage.

Toomer is shy by a half yard on the 3rd down play. Big 4th down play ... surely they won't punt ... No ... going for it ... the moment ... ... ... Jacobs just made it.

Manning scrambles for 5 yards dangling the ball ... keep it tight, baby. 1:20 to go, 2nd and 5. Almost intercepted. 3rd and 5. Eli under pressure, HUGE CATCH by Tyree. How'd Eli escape, and then how did he find David Tyree. Huge play.

1st and 10 at the 24. Sacked at the line of scrimmage ... final time out with 50 seconds. He's got 3 or 4 shots to get it in the end zone. Stomach churning. Broken play ... pressure on Manning ... Tyree missed it but it wouldn't have been much of a gain. 3rd and 11 ... Steve Smith makes the first down and gets out of bounds.

Tight, baby.

Sweet pass to a wide open Plaxico Burress in the end zone. Man, he did it! That is huge. 17-14 Giants! It's Plaxico! That is totally sweet.

Isn't Plaxico Burress one of the truly greatest sports names? After the game, he credits gwd and all that, which is basically tedious. But he is a great receiver ... one of those unsung great athletes who come and go but who make viewing the charge that it is.

Brady's Last Ditch Drive
The longest 29 seconds of Eli Manning's life, sez Aikman. He should know.

Bad throw on first. Sacked on second. Misses Moss in heavy coverage on 3rd. 4th down, misses someone on a long pass.

One second left ... you gotta play it ... this is sports as high bureaucracy ... everybody is ignoring the bureaucrats. No one from new England is on the field. As a professional bureaucrat ... this gives me a charge. They have one secnd to go and nobody is paying attention.

Wow! Great game. I am going to skip all the post-game nonsense. It's not about the falderal ... it's about the game.

They get off the last snap ... and Eli is big time ... for real.

Photos, except for the one of the Manning family, from Arod's TV.

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