A Day of Favreball
Posted Sep. 28 at 11:32 PM
The day after Brett Favre was traded to the New York Jets, who happen to be my local team these days -- along I suppose with the World Champion Giants; it's tough to keep track of sometimes -- I went on stubhub and got tickets for a game. I wanted to pick a game early in the season, to reduce the chances of him being hurt, and I wanted a game that they seemed to have a decent chance of winning (which left out the home opener against the Patriots). I selected week 4 against the Cardinals. As a dog trainer we worked with a few years back would say, Good choice. Yesterday's day of football wouldn't be spent on the couch.
Pre-Game: It would be spent, apparently, with us getting soaked. We walked through the parking lot to the stadium in a torrential downpour, with me one of the blithering idiots who didn't wear a raincoat. I wore a paper grocery bag we'd found in the car on top of my head as we approached -- insert your own joke about Jets fans wearing bags on their heads here -- then purchased a clear plastic raincoat for $10 at the first vendor we saw. Ten bucks might seem unreasonable for what was basically a garbage bag with holes in it, but considering they could have charged $20 or $30 and I'd have had to buy the thing anyway, I felt OK with it. Minutes later it stopped raining.
It's odd how being at football game makes you both starving and anxious to spend $8 on a beer at noon. We got food, drink, and enough napkins to dry off our seats. Watching the on-field pregame stuff for some kind of fantasy angle, I noticed that Favre, who you may recall sprained an ankle while being crushed repeatedly at San Diego last week, was in uniform and walking around fine. Whew!
First quarter: Considering no points were scored in this quarter, a lot happened. The Cardinals fumbled on consecutive plays, which was to become a first-half theme. Favre threw an interception that had the fans around us dumbfounded, it was so awful. (In fairness, everyone thought the Cardinals were offside and he had a free play, but that only slightly mitigates the gruesomeness of the dying quail thrown across the field.) The Jets blocked a field goal. Finally the Jets were about to go in for a touchdown, on the other end of the field from us, when the quarter ended.
Second quarter: ...and the teams switched directions! Outstanding, since we were about 20 rows from the field at the 10-yard line, and Favre's scoring toss on the next play was right in front of us. Everyone is celebrating except Favre, which was odd -- except, wily veteran that he is, he knew there was a penalty. Everybody moved 10 yards back. Two plays later, TD pass to Laveranues Coles, and things were just getting started. It was around this time when I heard somebody in the row behind me saying that Aaron Rodgers had suffered a broken shoulder. Turned out to be an exaggeration, but it was a pretty odd bit of timing.
At this point, let's review Kurt Warner's next five series, shall we? 1. Interception, returned for an easy touchdown. 2. Punt. (Jets TD three plays later, Favre to Coles again. So much for the idea that there's no chemistry between the two. We wondered why Coles was so wide open until we saw Cardinals' cornerback Eric Green lying on the field around the 30, suffering from third-degree burns I believe.) 3. Another Warner interception, on the first play of his next series. (Jets field goal.) 4. Warner sacked and fumbles, Favre hits Coles again for another touchdown. 5. There are 10 seconds left in the half and the Cardinals get the ball at their own 20. Warner takes a knee, right? No. He lines up in the shotgun and I swear I said to Emily, What on earth are they doing, he's going to turn it over again. Immediately Warner absorbs another sack, coughs it up for his fourth turnover in five series, and the Jets kick a field goal as the half ends. 34-0. Unbelievable.
Halftime: While basking in the glow of my favorite player's stellar first half (old and washed up my foot), recalling a frozen in time moment of him holding up the ball to the delirious crowd after his third TD to Coles, I considered the fantasy aspects of it all. Would Warner pile up lots of garbage-time numbers, or would he be yanked, beginning the Matt Leinart era for the fourth or fifth time? Would Thomas Jones and Leon Washington pile up huge rushing numbers as the Jets were in extended-clock-killing mode? Would the Cardinals fan sitting behind us fashion a plastic sword out of his processed cheese dip container and fall on it? I was still mulling this (and still waiting in line for the bathroom) as the third quarter began.
Third quarter: I missed only 7 plays of the third quarter, which Warner was still on the field for, a lightning-quick touchdown drive that made the score 34-7. Interestingly, Edgerrin James, not Tim Hightower, scored from 4 yards out. In all the excitement did Ken Whisenhunt forget to lift James in that situation, as he has been all season? Jets go 3 and out for the second time all game, and Warner leads another touchdown drive, answering my halftime musing with "Warner and Co. will pile up lots of garbage-time stats." At this point, I still believed it was garbage-time. Two notes: one, since the Cardinals are now heading our way, the touchdowns again were scored right in front of us. I feel mildly bad for the people sitting near the other end zone, who have yet to see any points scored in a game which so far has featured 6 TDs. And two, James again scores from 2 yards out, and adds the 2-point conversion. Perhaps Hightower lost his helmet at halftime or something.
Cardinals recover an onside kick and drive down for a Hightower touchdown from the 1 -- maybe Whisenhunt's plan is to give Hightower the ball at the 1 and James the ball from the 2, I don't know. Suddenly it's 34-21 and it's still the third quarter. Larry Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldin are showing why they're the best receiving tandem in football, it's no longer garbage-time, and either the score or the woeful "nachos" we had at halftime are turning my stomach. Fortunately, the Cardinals elect not to try another onside kick (it wouldn't have made any sense, but seeing as they could now do no wrong, they'd probably have recovered it). Jets get the ball and start driving toward the far end of the field....and the quarter comes to an end. Somebody is smiling on us.
Fourth quarter: Favre throws his fourth touchdown right in front of us, this time to Cotchery, helping several of my fantasy teams doubly. (Yes, I've got Favre on most of them, a choice that looked a lot worse after week 2 than it does today.) Game over! No, of course not. Warner, apparently forgetting he's supposed to be a sack and turnover machine -- but then again, he's not facing any pressure right now -- drives down the field again and throws a touchdown to Boldin, the first points scored in that far end zone. Since the game is now 41-28, I doubt the fans down there are happy about this development. Jets get the ball back and score a touchdown thanks to a gutsy play-action pass on 4th and 1 -- Favre to Cotchery, TD, again.
And that was pretty much it. Cardinals scored again, Favre threw a 6th TD, but time was running out and this thing was finally over. Maybe you could imagine a better football game to see in person as a devoted Favre -- er, Jets -- fan, but I doubt it.
Scary moment at the end, with Boldin getting sandwiched between two helmets in a hit that will no doubt bring somebody a heavy fine this week. It made me think of a conversation I'd had that morning with my neighbor, where he said he wasn't a fan of any team really, he was too disgusted by all the money everyone made. And I said to him, you know, I can understand feeling that way about, say, baseball, but I can't begrudge football players making big money knowing that on any one play they could end up paralyzed or something. Sounds like Boldin is OK, which is a relief, and you won't catch me giving him grief about being unhappy about his contract.
It was a day when I didn't get to see any other games or highlights, plus it took us two freaking hours to get over the George Washington Bridge and get home, but you know what, football is great on TV, but it's even better in person. And if your team wins and there are 91 total points scored and you spend a lot of time giddily slapping awkward high-fives with total strangers, plus your kid loves the two sizes too large Favre T-shirt you brought him from the game, it's even better.
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