An abbreviated weekend football summary. We had guests in town over the weekend, plus the late finish to the Colts’ game Monday threw things off.
Saturday was another big day. When I checked the local paper in the morning, there were no fewer than 13 interesting games set to air that day. When I say interesting, I don’t necessarily mean competitive. Tulsa-Oklahoma was interesting, for example, but I did not expect OU to have much trouble.
The first game of the day was the KU-Duke game in beautiful HD. A bit of a struggle early, but the defense adjusted, the offense found its rhythm, and I went outside to play with M., which always seems to help. A fairly easy win, after the first quarter, setting up the most interesting non-con opponent of the season: Southern Mississippi. I don’t think Southern Miss is a great team, but they can put points up. It should be a solid test going into the Big 12 season.
I didn’t see much of the late afternoon games, between kid responsibilities and getting ready for another night covering high school football. Finally I was on the right side of a blow-out. The team I covered is ranked ninth in 4A and were playing a 1A team.* My team won easily, 37-0. It wasn’t that close, to be honest. They had touchdown runs of 90, 67, and 25 yards, and had a 34 yard TD called back. Add another nine penalties on the night, and the game could have been really ugly. While not as nice as last week’s game at Lucas Oil Stadium, this game was played at the stadium of Division 3 University of Indianapolis. For being a small school, I think the stadium has the most steps at the highest pitch in order to get to the press box I’ve ever seen. I know, I know, I’m getting paid to watch and write about high school sports. Waaaaah.
<em>* Catholic school rivalries trump large class differences, apparently.</em>
I made it home in time to watch the second half of the amazing Georgia-Arkansas game. It’s nice that the SEC is playing Big 12 ball, or at least some schools are. I was working on my stats and transcribing my interviews, but it seemed like every time I looked up someone was scoring on a long touchdown pass.
Sunday. My brother-in-law who was visiting from Denver and I went to a sports bar to watch the 1:00 games. It’s the first time I remember going to a bar to watch games in two years. We mostly paid attention to the New England – New York game, but kept our eyes on everything, in between nachos and pitchers of Blue Moon. The place we went to had “smoking at the bar,” which was in no way physically separated from the rest of the place. On the rare occasions I have to be in a smoky environment, I really, really hate it. Getting married and having kids has made me soft!
Watched parts of the Cowboys-Giants game late. Remember, I’ve given up on the Cowboys so I was watching casually. I think I could have predicted everything about that game: Romo throwing picks (he really is a younger Favre!), the Dallas secondary getting burned repeatedly, and the Giants pulling out a late win. But at least Jerry has his Taj Mahal. I’ve always been indifferent about Jerry Jones, realizing he was an attention-seeking diva but appreciating the way he ran the Cowboys. I fear he’s going to ruin the NFL, though, by forcing revenue sharing and the salary cap to either be completely dropped or radically changed. The Cowboys will become the Yankees, the Redskins and Giants the Red Sox and Mets, the Steelers the Cubs, etc. and we’ll have a handful of teams that compete every year and the smaller market clubs will turn into the Royals and Nationals and Pirates. The lesson, kids, is that socialism works.
Onto Monday night. I had to juggle getting the kids to bed and a quick trip to the grocery store, so missed the first quarter and a half of the Colts game. As it stretched into the fourth quarter, I mentally drafted my summary and it went something like this:
<blockquote>Maybe the problems of last year weren’t isolated. Maybe the Colts really are aging faster than we realized and their window has closed. Vinatieri is clearly toast. The defense can’t stop anyone. The offensive line can’t protect Peyton or open holes for the running backs. Reggie Wayne faces triple coverage and Dallas Clark is the only other receiver Peyton trusts. Hey, perhaps he should occasionally throw the ball to one of his other receivers so he can learn to trust them. Maybe this really is the year the Colts go 8-8 and miss the playoffs.</blockquote>
Then Donald Brown busted through the line for the most physical Colts touchdown run I can remember. The defense kept it a three-point game, and then Peyton trusted one of his new receivers. Suddenly what looked like confirmation that the Colts’ best days were past became a stunning confirmation that they are still one of the most explosive, dangerous teams in the league.
We’ll see what happens next week, though. That Arizona offense is going to be a stiffer challenge for the defense.
Still 900 words. Football is grand.