Football and Me Part XIII

This is the thirteenth post in a series in which I will document this football season. It will broadly be about the Badgers and Packers but will more specifically be about myself in it. Football season does not just happen on the field. It is about great friends, foods, drinks, and merriment. My hope is that it will be interesting for readers but at the very least it will serve as a journal to look back on. I wish I had done this last year.

Times are approximate.

Thursday

11:00 AM – Seriously, how awesome is it that the Packers are playing? The four-day wait from Sunday was NOTHING!! If only the interminable wait could always be cut in half. If the players’ bodies wouldn’t regress into an injured state of nothingness, I would suggest that this be the case.

After getting beaten embarrassingly by my uncle and one of his friends in paddle tennis, my dad and I head to Bob Hyland’s Sports Page Pub in White Plains, NY to watch the first half. Bob Hyland, who we met last time we watched the first half of Packers-Lions on Thanksgiving but not this time, played center for the Packers from 1967-69 (1967 was the season the Packers won Super Bowl II) and in 1976. The pub is a pretty good general sports bar but not denominationally a Packers bar.

11:30 – The wait from 11:00 to 11:30 almost seems as long in totality as the wait from Sunday at 3:00 until 11:00 this morning. Come on…Come onnnnnnnnnnn….

Finally, it’s time for kickoff. Green Bay wins the toss, elects to defer, and the Lions choose to receive. I LOVE the move of deferring the coin toss because it allows for the possibility of two straight possessions – the last one of the first half and first of the second half. I have absolutely no idea whether or not this has any translation into winning or losing but the feeling when the Packers have the ball with three minutes to play in the 2nd quarter, knowing that they will get it again at the beginning of the 3rd, is AWESOME.

12:00 PM – The first quarter ends and the score is tied at 0-0. The Lions, though, have looked better than the Packers on both sides of the ball. At this point, the Lions have gotten eight first downs total on their two drives but have stalled just outside of field goal range while the Packers picked up two first downs on their first drive and went three-and-out on their second. While the two teams are feeling each other out, the game has a bit of a chippy feel to it. If the Packers are going to win, though, they are going to need to play much better than they did in the first quarter.

12:20 – After the teams trade punts, Ryan Pickett tips a Matthew Stafford Pass and Clay Matthews REFUSES to be denied the ball, intercepting it on the Lions 20 and going down on the 13. *Handshakes*

Three plays later, Aaron Rodgers, who has strikingly beautiful eyes, connects to Greg Jennings for a three-yard TD. 7-0 Packers.

12:40 – The awesome scenario I envisioned at the coin toss comes through; the Packers get the ball back on their own 37 with a little over a minute to go. While it doesn’t result in a score and the Lions end up getting the ball back with 30 seconds left, I still feel vindicated in my prophecy.

1:00 – At halftime, we have to scurry over to my great aunt’s country club where we are having Thanksgiving. The timing of it is not ideal and we aren’t even sure if we will get to watch the second half on TV (we know there is one in the room but in the past it has had unusable reception and we anticipate some backlash at allowing football to encroach on such a sacred family holiday). We feel a little bit like Jayme in her excellent Cheesehead TV post from Wednesday night where she detailed a relationship that ended in large part due to her insistence on watching the Packers on Thanksgiving. The Packers only play 16 times a year–20 TOPS. It’s scarce. Missing it when it happens is just not an option and anyone who disagrees is a racist. There, I said it.

The second we arrive in the room, I turn the TV on…IT WORKS!!!! And just in time for kickoff in the second half.

1:10 – Weird sequence here that has been discussed ad nauseum. But…the Packers drive inside the Lions 5-yard line, get stopped on 3rd-and-goal from the 3, and all of a sudden Donkey Kong Suh is involved in a frolic with Packers back-up guard Evan Dietrich-Smith and Suh gets a 15-yard penalty and tossed from the game. Replays show that he CLEARLY and unabashedly STOMPED on EDS. Couple quick thoughts on this because I know you are DYING for MY opinion on it:

  • This play singlehandedly turned around the tenor of this game. Before it, the Lions legitimately had a shot to win; they had stopped the Packers and would be down 10-0, a deficit that is hardly insurmountable. After it, they were down 14-0 and one of their best pass rushers. Not enough has been made about the fact that this play, which was as stupid as it was dirty, cost the Lions four points in a game where points had thus far been at a premium.
  • If this happened on a non-nationally televised game, I would guess that Suh would get a one-game suspension. It would be highlight show fodder but it wouldn’t have become the dominant news story of the day and even weekend. Instead, Suh lost his cool in a game that EVERYBODY was watching, and he is going to pay dearly for it. I would guess that a two-game suspension is coming.
  • Donkey Kong is lucky that EDS wasn’t injured on the play. Can you imagine what the backlash would have been if he broke his wrist or something? That might have broken Twitter.
  • Suh didn’t help himself–at all–with his weak non-apology after the game. It suggests that he is either mind-numbingly cynical or completely delusional. Neither is ideal and it HAS to be one or the other.
  • Looking back on it, this play WOKE UP the Packers. Read on…

1:20 – On the ensuing Lions drive, Packers back-up linebacker Robert Francois makes an OUTSTANDING diving interception. This play happened while my great aunt, who as I mentioned before was hosting Thanksgiving at her country club, was giving a very touching toast to her late husband Joe, who passed about ten years ago. I was still extremely fired up from the Suh play and I don’t know how I found the willpower not to scream YESSSSS exultantly and pump my fists. Thankfully, I was able to contain my excitement and will not be excommunicated from all forthcoming family functions. But it was a close call. Anyways, *handshakes*

1:25 – The toast had concluded and I am thankful not to have been tested again when Rodgers hit James Jones for a 65-yard touchdown on the first play of the next drive. At this time, I screamed, YESSSSS!!!!! and did a fist pump. I was given some confused looks by distant family members but not looked at as a heretic. Tough, but fair. 21-0 Packers. BEAT THEM DOWN!!!!!

1:35 – On the second play after the kickoff, Stafford throws ANOTHER interception, this one being of the Charles Woodson variety. *Handshakes,* Mason Crosby adds a field goal. At 24-0, the lead is presumed safe. Outstanding third quarter from the Packers, which saw them outscore the Lions 17-0 and assert their collective will that the kitties have a ways to come before they can hang with the big boys.

Nothing in the 4th quarter is terribly worth mentioning so here are my overall thoughts from the game:

  • It continues to be unbelievable that the Packers are seemingly unaffected when they lose starters. Middle linebacker Desmond Bishop, who is highly underrated, goes down and is replaced admirably by DJ Smith who had six tackles, at least two or three of them being impactful and in the open field. The Packers’ other middle linebacker AJ Hawk goes down and his replacement Robert Francois has an otherworldly interception. Right guard and 2010 Pro Bowl alternate Josh Sitton is dutifully replaced by Evan Dietrich-Smith. I know nothing about how to evaluate offensive linemen (except, unfortunately, when they give up sacks or get called for holding or false start penalties) but I have to imagine that if EDS got Suh fired up enough to stomp on him that he was playing effectively. The depth on the Packers is unfathomable and it doesn’t just take effect when starters go down with injuries. It fosters position battles where starters know they have to compete day in and day out or risk losing their jobs. It is a testament not only to Ted Thompson for finding these diamonds in the rough but also to the entire coaching staff for preparing the back-ups for game action.
  • The last minute touchdown by the Lions was annoying. Not that it even allowed them to cover or anything but I wanted the scoreboard to reflect the extent to which they were BEATEN DOWN.
  • Jermichael Finley’s case of the dropsies is getting increasingly worrisome but I have confidence that he will pull it together.
  • If the Packers find themselves undefeated with home field advantage through the NFC Championship Game clinched, I don’t want them to rest their starters. I want them to go for 19-0. I can see the point that the ultimate goal is to win the Super Bowl and cannot imagine how heartbroken I would be if, God forbid, Aaron Rodgers went down with an injury in a game that was “meaningless.” That being said, a team wins the Super Bowl every year. As we are constantly reminded by Mercury Morris and the rest of the merry gang of champagne poppers, only the 1972 Dolphins have gone undefeated for an entire season and nobody has done it in the era of 16 games. Going 19-0 ensures immortality. I think if the Packers find themselves in this enviable position Weeks 16 and 17, they go for the wins.

Badgers game too uneventful to chronicle (I would have run out of nice things to say about Montee Ball sometime around the third bullet) but here is some miscellaneous food porn from the weekend:

1/2 BBQ Carolina Pulled Pork, 1/2 Sausage and Pepperoni at Luna Pizza in Simsbury, CT

Luna Pizza

Duck Potstickers at Ching’s Table in New Canaan, CT

Duck Potstickers at Ching's Table
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