Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Black and Blue Monday

IN ONE OF THE STRANGEST SPORTS NIGHTS for me in forever, both the New York Yankees and Dallas Cowboys spit the bit. But where one team turned from a frog into a prince at the very last moment, the other kept right on ribbiting itself out of the playoffs.

Another uninspired Yankee team showed up for a playoff game last night, and that's why they're going home after another first round loss. The better team won again in the Cleveland Indians, and that's why they will be facing the Boston Red Sox for the right to move on to the World Series.

The underdog Buffalo Bills took it to the heavily favored Cowboys all night long -- forcing 6 turnovers, scoring 2 defensive touchdowns, and getting a 103-yard kickoff return. But it was the 1 late pick by Bills QB Trent Edwards, the rookie QB from Stanford who otherwise outplayed Tony Romo right from the get go, that proved most damaging to the Bills. Fittingly, after 41-point underdog Stanford pulled off college football's biggest shocker in years with their 24-23 win against USC Saturday, this game followed the same script for 59 minutes -- delighting the rabid crowd taking in Buffalo's first Monday Nighter in 13 years.

Romo threw picks early and often, 5 of them, but was able to lead a late 80-yard drive, going 9-11 to pull Dallas to 24-22 after a missed 2-point try. With half a minute left, Dallas K Nick Folk put the foot back in football, executing a textbook onsides kick, and suddenly Dallas still had a prayer. After a long pass to WR Terrell Owens was replay-reversed, Romo had just enough time to complete 2 short passes, and the Cowboys set Folk up for a 53-yarder. The rookie nailed the kick, but Bills head coach predictably had called time so Folk would have to hit it again for the win. Folk's second kick was a dead ringer for the first, and the Cowboys had pulled off the stunning comeback with 9 points in the last 20 seconds. The 25-24 win pushes the Cowboys to 5-0 heading into the New England game.

I never would have believed Romo could play this bad -- overthrowing receivers all night when he wasn't underthrowing them. After 3 passes, Romo had 2 picks and an incompletion. Romo kept throwing it to the guys in the retro Bills uniforms all night, but he kept right on flinging, managing to complete 29-50 for 309 yards. The Dallas defense kept them in the game all night, ultimately giving up only a single FG to the conservative Buffalo offense.

In the first half, it seemed Romo was doing everything in his power to burst whatever goodwill he had built up over the first 4 games, throwing 4 terrible picks, then just like that the legend is somehow enhanced with the dramatic, improbable come from behind last second win. And so you can say that Romo played his worst game of the year and his best game of the year last night, displaying the resiliency that all the great ones have. In the first half, Romo played like the turnover-happy Brett Favre of last year, but still displayed enough Favre-like fortitude to pull out the game when it counted.

I hadn't given up even after it was 24-13 Bills in the 4th. These Sunday and Monday Night games can turn on a dime. Even so, I was so disgusted at some points that I switched back to the Yankees game, who chipped away to get within 6-4. Derek Jeter had an A-Rod-like playoff series, hitting into double plays and killing the few rallies the Yankees could muster against the Indians pitchers. But the end of the Joe Torre era came quietly, with nary a mosquito in sight, and baseball in New York is dormant for another season, another spring, before even a trace of chill in the October night air...

1 comment:

Serge A. Storms said...

It's a shame about the Yankees. I'd have loved to see them up against the Sox again. Also sucks to see Torre go out like that. (I assume from the statement in your blog that this is his swan song.)

The Cowboys better hope that Romo doesn't repeat his performance against the Patriots. That's a team not likely to give them a chance to come back. I'm pretty sure Tom Brady has been replaced by a cyborg from the future. That's the only way I can justify his performance this year AND him landing Giselle Bundchen (I know I mispelled the hell out of that, but I'm too lazy to look it up.)