LOS ANGELES, CA – It was overcast out here this morning, having rained the other night and the skies still a bruised grey. The winds are back, no warm Santa Anas these, but bracing, whipping in off the perpetually cold Pacific… But of course I’m not here to talk about the local weather today – except by saying that if that’s how it felt down here in sunny Los Angeles, things must’ve been even more miserable than they looked up in San Francisco.
Candlestick Park is a great venue. It feels classically old (the one video screen is smaller than most of those displayed in Costco) but not run-down. And it’s not located in some attempt to make downtown hip spot, or some soulless suburbia or industrial wasteland either. It’s tucked between a nice woodsy hillside and the ocean… But the wind that whips through that place can be frigid, and the overcast skies giving way to night must feel bleak, especially in games like yesterday’s, as so many drives were snuffed and three-and-out punts filled the darkening sky. Short of a playoff game taking place in snow (is there anything better than that?), this was the best kind: a tight, tense affair with everything on the line; natural elements; hammering defenses; just enough big plays on offense; a multi-possession overtime; and a goat. This was the kind of game both teams were built for, and it played out just the way you thought it would. “Say what you want..” a San Fran friend texted me as overtime started, “The Niners play some good games.”
First off, hats off to Eli Manning. He’s throwing touchdowns to guys named Bear Plascoe. He got pounded all night long against Green Bay last week (without a whistle, nor a complaint), and took it worse yesterday, sacked 6 times and knocked into the turf another hundred. In 2007 he managed the Giants to the Super Bowl (that game would be his playoff high that year with just 247 passing yards), but yesterday was his second 300+ game in a row. It still wouldn’t have been enough without a hideous mistake or two.
In yesterday’s games it’s easy to label Kyle Williams and Billy Cundiff as the goats…though in Cundiff’s case you can point to Lee Evans, brought in over last off season to be a down field threat with good hands, who dropped a go-ahead touchdown on the play before. In Williams’ case…well, geez, didn’t he watch Jacoby Jones last week? And apparently he muffed a punt on his last game at Arizona State, giving rival Arizona the field position to make a winning kick. He was filling in for Ted Ginn (who any Miami fan will tell you doesn’t exactly have the best hands either), and now has to go through the whole off season and beyond seeing those two punts coming at him each time he shuts his eyes.
And so here it is, the big Super Bowl rematch that didn’t seem too probable at any point in the season…though there were some eerie similarities to 2007, so maybe probability didn’t have anything to do with it. It’s another North East Super Bowl, or as another friend of mine put it, “A bunch of d-bag Red Sox fans against a bunch of jerk off Yankee fans…” Something feels right about that.
Something feels right about Grote2DeMax tomorrow as well.