When Eli Manning dropped back and scanned his downfield options, down three in the red zone with less than two minutes left to play, everyone in New Jersey’s 21st century football palace knew what was coming.
The 3-1 New York Giants had played ugly football on an otherwise beautiful October day at the New Meadowlands Stadium. As a result, a seemingly inferior opponent in the 1-3 Seattle Seahawks hung around, but now the inevitable finale loomed. The Giants would deliver the fatal blow to the Seahawks and move on comfortably at 4-1.
So when Manning unleashed the pass to Victor Cruz, who had already two spectacular snags on the day – including this theatrical 68-yard one-handed TD - to keep the Giants in the game, it was game over, right?
Wrong. Brandon Browner snatched the ball as it bounced off of Cruz’s fingers and took it 94 yards the opposite direction for the score. The final nail was driven into a coffin on that play, but it wasn’t the Seahawks being buried. In an unlikely upset, the Giants fell victim to the reigning NFC West champions.
When asked about Browner’s pick six, Seattle coach Pete Carroll didn’t hide his excitement about beating New York in New Jersey.
“It takes a moment like that to turn things around,” he said. “I knew as soon as I saw the ball get tipped that it was the one – I had his entire return to enjoy it. I don’t know how many seconds it was, but it felt like an eternity. It was just a freaking blast.”
I could not agree with Carroll’s sentiment more.
Today served as the realization of a lifelong dream for me: to cover an NFL game as a reporter. To do it in New York, at the New Meadowlands, covering a game that came down to the wire – it’s hard to ask for more than that.
But that’s precisely what I got.
Sure, not everything went all that smoothly. Silver is an excellent writer and a great boss, but he perhaps lacks the pull that he thinks he possesses. When I showed up at the press will call, my name was not on the list.
After talking my way into the stadium, I got to the press box – where once again, my name was not on the list. Eventually, I convinced the Giants PR staff to give me a seat in the far corner of the press box. Didn’t matter. I was still covering an NFL game.
And yes, the game was ugly. Very ugly. Through three and a half quarters it seemed more about who wanted to give it away than who wanted to walk away victorious. Seattle turned the ball over three times, including twice in the red zone (fumbles on the 11 and 3 yard line) and continuously crippled itself with penalties. New York gave the ball away four times.
Even worse, the Seahawks played with their backup quarterback, Charlie Whitehurst, for much of the second half after starter Tarvaris Jackson went down with a shoulder injury.
Seattle was unable to capitalize on numerous opportunities in Giants territory – my favorite being a four play, 0 yard drive that ended with a 43 yard Steven Hauschka field goal. Still, the hideous play didn’t hinder my ability to love every second of it.
On the way into the stadium I spotted Troy Aikman, who was on hand to cover the game for Fox. For guys in this business who covered the Hall of Famer, that’s a normal occurrence. For a kid who just graduated college, it’s just plain awesome.
Maybe even more awesome was the spread of food in the press box. For a graduate student whose diet consists entirely of peanut butter and jelly, top ramen and macaroni and cheese during the week, the eggs, sausage, hash browns, yogurt, chocolate milk. orange juice, and Dunkin Donuts coffee all hit the spot.
And that was just breakfast. I went back for more at halftime to be greeted by hot dogs, fruit salad, cookies and an ice cream cone, not to mention the flowing fountain soda. At least on Sunday afternoons, journalists eat well.
Post-game I sat in on Pete Carroll’s press conference. I spoke with players in both locker rooms. I explored the bowels of New Meadowlands Stadium and stepped briefly out onto the field. I even perused the Seattle players’ family tent. Lesson learned: act like you know what you’re doing and people don’t ask too many questions.
Yes, I’ll have spent nine hours on a bus for 26 hours in New York City. I’m writing this in not-so-ideal conditions – in the back row of a bus hauling me back to Washington, DC, helplessly distracted by the guy in front of me breaking up with his girlfriend over g-chat.
Doesn’t matter. I had a freaking blast.
I’ll be heading down to the locker rooms for postgame interviews shortly, so this will be the last update from the press box this afternoon.
Despite the messiness of the affair, this ball game is coming down to an exciting finish. Even if the preceding 58 minutes are brutal, if a team has the ball at the end of the game with a chance to win it, I’m happy to watch. That’s exactly what happened here today.
It was the Seahawks who will come out on top after Brandon Browner returned an Eli Manning interception 94 yards for the final nail in the coffin. With less than a minute left, it’s 35-25, Seattle.
Stick around for a full write-up on the game later today.
Immediately after my most recent post, where I spoke of the Giants regaining momentum against an inferior opponent, Victor Cruz negated any momentum he had created.
The Giants receiver coughed up the ball for New York’s third turnover of the day. The Seahawks just capitalized – if that’s possible with a zero yard, four play drive – with a Steven Hauschka 43 yard field goal.
The ball game is now tied up at the ever-so-common score of 22-22 with 10:15 to play.
Remember those offensive fireworks I just publicly doubted would ever occur? Giants receiver Victor Cruz didn’t get the memo.
Cruz came up with a theatrical one-handed grab that will certainly land him a sport in SportsCenter’s top 10 tonight. The 68 yard touchdown deflected off of a Seahawks defender before Cruz reared it in with one hand and took it in for the score.
More importantly, it appears that Cruz’s grab and the ensuing two point conversion may have provided the jolt of energy that the Giants and its fans desperately needed. Playing a significantly worse Seattle team, New York has appeared anemic on both sides of the ball. Following the Cruz touchdown, the crowd was back into the game for the first time since the first quarter and the defense immediately forced a three and out.
Now, the Giants have the ball with 10 minutes to play in the fourth and a three point lead.
After 45 minutes of play, the story line here remains the same. Unfortunately.
While neither team turned the ball over in the third quarter (amazingly), things didn’t get much prettier. Tarvaris Jackson went down with a shoulder injury and his return is considered questionable. Backup Charlie Whitehurst has now taken the helm.
Without much offensive production on either end – both punters saw plenty of action in the third – the only points put on the board came when Anthony Hargrove brought down D.J. Ware for a safety, putting the score at 16-14.
Perhaps the fourth quarter will provide some offensive fireworks. But more than likely, we’ll see more of the same – turnovers, penalties and punts.
Edit: A 51 yard Steven Haushka field goal with 14:28 left in the fourth quarter made it 19-14, Seattle.
Well, the second quarter didn’t get any better for either team. This is a hideous football game.
The Seahawks turned the ball over three times in two quarters. The Giants aren’t far behind with two give aways, although an Eli Manning fumble recovered by offensive guard Kevin Boothe nearly made it even. New York has only mustered 7 points off of those turnovers. The Seahawks haven’t put up any.
Even worse, two of Seattle’s turnovers happened in the red zone. One, a fumble from fullback Michael Robinson, gave the ball away at the Giants three yard line. Along with turnovers, penalties are absolutely crippling the Seahawks in all three phases of the game – in just one half they’ve been penalized eight times for 55 yards.
There are very few redeeming qualities about this game. The only one I cam think of is that it is competitive heading into the second half. That being said, the competition seems to be over which team wants to give this game away more.
This is the service of RideWithSilver.com: we watch the horrible games so you don’t have to. Seriously, watch pretty much anything else and check here for updates on this mess.
With a pretty porous Seahawks squad in town, I was expecting to see some ugly football today. And while that’s exactly what we’ve seen through 15 minutes here, I wasn’t expecting to see Seattle on top.
The Seahawks are leading the Giants 14-7 in a game marred by turnovers and penalties. Each squad has lost one fumble a piece and both have given away penalties that have kept drives alive.
Seattle has started two drives inside New York territory – once on the 11, which ended with a Marshawn Lynch fumble, and once at the 48, which required only two Lynch carries to reach pay dirt – and has relied heavily on a no huddle offense with Tarvaris Jackson in the shotgun formation.
New York, meanwhile, had over nine minutes of possession in the first quarter but had little to show for it, with giveaways and poor special teams (mostly a 34-yard shank of a punt by Steve Weatherford) hurting them in the field position battle.
There will be plenty more to come here as things progress in New Jersey. Stay Tuned.
At least for today, the answer to that question is “yes” – at least sort of.
I’m currently stationed in the press box of MetLife Stadium, otherwise known as the New Meadowlands, for the coming matchup between the Giants and visiting Seahawks. I’ll be providing exclusive coverage for RideWithSilver.com readers throughout the afternoon.
So while Mike heads to San Francisco for a clash between two 3-1 squads in the 49ers and the Buccaneers, I’ll serve as his eyes and ears in East Rutherford, NJ.
So far, my eyes and ears tell me one thing: this stadium is unreal. To be sure, I don’t have the best concept of 21st century football palaces. I grew up in San Diego, and Jack Murphy turned Qualcomm Stadium doesn’t exactly fit the bill of a top-tier NFL stadium.
I also played football at Cal, and although I was recruited on the promise of new facilities (as was every other player for the last decade), various tree-sitting protests delayed that process until after I graduated. The Memorial Stadium that I played is one in the same as the one you see in The Play. Great history, poor amenities.
This place, however, is completely different. Four big screens are perched above the club level seats in every corner of the stadium. Fans are able to tweet with the hashtag #NYGBCA (New York Giants Breast Cancer Awareness) and see their post scroll across the thin digital screens that line the ridge above field level seating. It also doesn’t hurt that the weather is as good as it gets, especially in October.
Now that Pete Carroll is playing catch on the field and the specialists have begun their pre-game routines, football coverage will commence shortly. For complete Giants-Seahawks coverage, keep it here and follow me on Twitter.