Monday, November 8, 2010

The Perfect Half of Football

I'm speaking, you might have guessed, of the New York FOOTBALL Giants. On the road at Seattle, a place vaunted for its noisy "12th man," they came out and played one of the best halves of professional football I've ever seen.

One of the disadvantages of living in North Carolina is that the Giants are rarely on tv. Unless they're playing on Sunday or Monday night or going against the Panthers, you can bet local coverage will pre-empt Eli and the boys. That means I either have to order the NFL package (not gonna happen) or hit the bars on Sunday afternoon. For some reason, I have no desire to take the latter option. My drinking energy is usually spent from the weekend come the Lord's day, and I like to burrow in at home and either be slightly productive or do nothing. But I had the itch yesterday, so I hit a bar called Four Corners and hunkered down. An hour and change later, as the clock wound down on the second quarter, I knew I could head home safely.

Here's the play-by-play of the Perfect Half.

Seattle possession #1: 3 and out. Pete Carroll's wife has been watching Eli Manning warm up on the sideline. She's intrigued.

New York possession #1: Giants drive, bullshit fumble call on what should have been an incomplete pass. Turnover. (Oops, not quite perfect. But just wait.) Running off the field, Eli Manning makes eye contact with Pete Carroll's wife in the stands. He grins, as if to say 'don't worry.' She blushes.

SEA #2: 3 and out. Punt. Pete Carroll's wife meets Eli's eyes again. This time, neither one looks away.

NYG #2: 7 plays, 52 yards, Ahmad Bradshaw touchdown run. 7-0. Eli Manning points in the direction of the stands. Could he have been pointing to me? wonders Pete Carroll's wife. She feels slightly weak in the knees.

SEA #3: 3 and out. Punt. Pete Carroll follows Eli's gaze into the stands. When he turns, he sees his wife. Were they looking at each other? Pete Carroll is too intimidated to say anything.

NYG #3: 4 plays, 59 yards, Hakeem Nicks touchdown catch. 14-0. This time, Pete Carroll's wife is openly cheering. It's one of the greatest passes she's ever seen, and she's seen a lot of football. She tries to stop when her husband turns around, but it's too late: he sees her. When he looks back at Eli, Eli winks at him. Could this really be happening?

SEA #4: Kickoff fumbled. Turnover. Pete Carroll's wife watches Eli laughing with his teammates. What is it about him? As his laughter dies down, he runs his hand through his hair and looks up to the stands. When their eyes meet, he seems to mouth the word "you."

NYG #4: 1 play, 4 yards, Ahmad Bradshaw touchdown run. 21-0. This can't be happening, thinks Pete Carroll. His wife has always been faithful. He must be imagining things. It must be a series of strange coincidences. That's all: strange coincidences.

SEA #5: FIRST DOWN SEATTLE! Followed by immediate interception. Turnover. I have always been faithful, thinks Pete Carroll's wife. But this is something different. This is something elemental. This is something I couldn't resist if I tried.

NYG #5: 11 plays, 68 yards, Steve Smith touchdown catch. 28-0. The second quarter is winding down. After the touchdown, Eli boldly runs to the 30-yard line. "Halftime," he shouts at Pete Carroll's wife. All she can do is nod.

SEA #6: 2 FIRST DOWNS, SEATTLE! Followed by immediate interception. Turnover. If only we had scored a touchdown there, thinks Pete Carroll. Then my wife would have stayed. If only. Now he looks up at her, a worried expression on his face.

NYG #6: 10 plays, 86 yards, Kevin Boss touchdown catch. 35-0. Eli Manning is the picture of confidence, thinks Pete Carroll's wife. She knows the entrance to the visitor's locker room, and she begins to walk down. When Pete Carroll turns around, she's no longer there.

SEA #7: 4 and out. Turnover. Eli jogs out for one more play. There's 4 seconds left on the clock. There's 4 seconds left in Pete Carroll's happy marriage. On the sideline, the coach remembers his wedding day, and how happy everyone had been.

NYG #7: Eli Manning takes a knee. Halftime. Pete Carroll races from the sideline, trying to catch Eli before it happens. But the quarterback is gone, and the Giant offensive linemen stop him. They tell him to go back to his locker room. They know what's about to go down. This isn't the first time it's happened.

I have to admit, that other storyline creeped me out a little. But the football was beautiful to watch. Like I said, I can't remember the Giants ever playing this well in a single game, even during the Super Bowl years. For a couple reasons, I'm not going to rant and rave about how great they are. Not yet. Because:

1) Seattle stinks, and their quarterback was making his first start.

2) As Troy Aikman pointed out, the landscape of the NFL changes so much week by week. The Giants look awesome now, but if they totally sucked by Thanksgiving, it wouldn't surprise me. The parity in the NFL has gone too far. You can't count on anything these days.

But I'm going to enjoy this game. And obviously, I feel optimistic. I left the bar knowing full well that the second half would be among the most boring stretches of football in the NFL all year. Tom Coughlin is an expert at taking the air out of the ball with 4-yard runs and 3-yard passes. The second half would occasion one of these soul-killing hours. It was safe to go home.

Here's Pete Carroll and his wife, by the way, back when things were still good:

Hey, speaking of football part 1: How 'bout those...


Most of the time, Duke football games are usually only good for laughs. Even when they win, like on Saturday, it's always kind of like watching a comedy of errors. Duke's main problem is that they have absolutely no defense. I was watching the ESPN Goal Line channel Saturday (amazing station- they flip back and forth to any team about to score, like the Red Zone NFL channel), and I saw that with 4:30 left in the game, Duke enjoyed a 14-point lead.

The cynical side of me predicted that they would blow this lead. And the optimistic side? Also predicted they'd blow the lead.

And they did. Virginia scored twice in two minutes to take a 48-47 edge, but they made the crucial mistake of putting their own defense back on the field. Dukie Desmond Scott (first time I've heard his name? Yes.) reeled off a huge run, and suddenly it was 55-48 Duke. Still, they repeated the mistake of UVA, leaving 40 seconds on the clock. And the Cavs almost scored, too. A final hail mary sailed out of the end zone, though, and the Duke defense celebrated as if they had absolutely anything to do with the win.

Good times all around. Duke football: can't keep us down. The Devils are now 3-6 on the year, and can become bowl eligible with three straight wins against (*trying not to cry*) Boston College, Georgia Tech, and UNC. (*Failing at not crying.*)

Duke Football 2010: Heaven on Earth

Seriously, though, wouldn't that make a great team slogan? If you're going to be a crappy team with no defense, I think your slogan should at least be really extreme.

Duke Football 2010: We Guarantee an Undefeated Season

Duke Football 2010: The Greatest Team Since the 1972 Miami Dolphins

Duke Football 2010: Alabama? Never Heard of 'Em.

Now that I'm thinking about it more, they should definitely target a specific team like in that last example. Make it personal, make it weird. Let's build this program up, y'all!

Hey, speaking of football part 2: How 'bout those...


Hillside is a high school in Durham, North Carolina. Friday night, they completed their first undefeated regular season since 1943. They're now the top-ranked seed in their bracket, and I'll be following their journey for ReeseNews over the next month. The story isn't up yet, but will be later today. I'll link it then. I hope you take a look; the star of the team is Vad Lee, a quarterback who will be at Georgia Tech next year. He is, to put it mildly, amazing. So stay tuned for that.

Busy Monday, gang of pals, so I'm going to hit the road. Enjoy some music.


  1. Weird song but I passed it on to the English Department to show to their students about plagiarism. Thanks!

  2. Seth Curry Saves Duke!: the offical blog of my mom's English Department.