“I See Game Winners”

When the play clock read 00:00 at the New Meadowlands stadium Sunday, fan’s faces looked like they had just seen the conclusion to the film ‘6th Sense’ for the first time.  Confusion.  Disbelief.  Dismay.  In what is being called one of the greatest plays in NFL history to go along with one of the greatest comebacks in NFL history, the Philadelphia Eagles defeated the New York Giants 38-31 on the very last play of the game.  Blame it on the high snap or a rookie mistake from punter Matt Dodge, but either way the ball ended up in the very last place the Giants wanted it…in the hands of a lethal DeSean Jackson.  The score was knotted up at 31 with no time left when history unfolded.  Jackson who originally fumbled the ball on the catch, snatched it up and with a combination of speed and superb blocking made a house call for the unthinkable win.  Key word: unthinkable.  It was the type of finish that would be exciting if it happened in a video game, let alone a divisional rivalry game in reality.  I hear debate going on whether Giants Coach Tom Coughlin should cut the rookie punter for kicking it to Jackson, and maybe he should, but that can’t be the only highlighted discussion.  Think about it, the Giants were up 31-10 with just over 8 minutes to play.  That’s a huge margin.  The fact that the Giants let the game get to the point of whether a rookie punter hit his target or not is overanalyzing one play.  New York actually played well for the majority of the game.  The Giants had Mike Vick contained nearly all day, putting him on his back seemingly every other play in the first half, while the New York offense was clicking.  But instead of letting Matt Dodge shoulder the burden of the loss alone, consider how the Giants defense allowed Vick and the Eagle offense in the last 8 minutes of the game to run for a TD and throw for two more.  How the Giants offense who had produced all day couldn’t manage first downs.   Or how about the other 10 players who were on the field besides Dodge that couldn’t make a play during the final punt return for the game.  I’m not making a stand that Dodge should be released one way or the other, but by zooming out and looking at the whole situation, it’s unfair to pin the loss entirely on Dodge.  Vick continues to build his case for MVP week by week, and Sunday was no exception.  Going into the 4th quarter, Vick was ‘ehh’.  After that 8 minute stretch of insanity to end the game, Vick’s performance went from below average to legendary.  Dude tossed the pill for 242 yards and 3 touchdowns, while managing to use his freakish athleticism to run for 130 more yards!  Vick’s performance took away shine from Eli Manning who played a fantastic game of his own, throwing 4 touchdowns with a rating of over 100.  In a game of paramount importance, the Eagles took sole possession of first place in the NFC East.  The Giants have to feel like they were just mugged.  New York outplayed Philly for 85% of the game, and were it not for that pesky little thing called momentum, Giant fans would be yucking it up at the water cooler, and Matt Dodge would be able to sleep at night.  Momentum.  You can’t see it, touch it, or smell it, but that doesn’t mean it’s not there.  It makes basketballs pop out of hoops, golf balls find there way into holes, and game winning punt returns possible.  Just ask DeSean Jackson. 

Boy was I off when I said that if Aaron Rodgers didn’t play Sunday, the New England Patriots would mop up Green Bay.  In a game that was a hell of a lot closer than anyone could have anticipated, the stars of the game are probably guys you never heard of.  Matt Flynn (LSU), in his first start in 3 NFL seasons,  filled in for Rodgers and ended up throwing 3 touchdowns and 251 yards.  Not bad.  Ever heard of Dan Connoly?  Me either, before Sunday.  This mammoth of a offensive lineman found himself with the ball in his hands during a kickoff return.  I’m not sure why, and I guess I don’t care.  All I know is this steam-roller of a human tucked the seed and barrelled his way for 71 yards into the red zone and set the table for a easy TD pass from Brady.  For whatever reason, this always makes me happy when one of these over-sized grunts get a moment in the limelight usually reserved for receivers, backs, and QB’s.  I’m not sure if it’s the way their belly jiggles as they truck along, the fact that they play football and never actually get to touch the football, or the oxygen mask needed directly after the play, but whenever it happens I oddly enough find it ‘cute’.  I always want to pinch their fats cheeks like a grandmother and say “good job” in a tone that I use when talking to a puppy.  Weird I know.  Good job Dan.  Although New England was largely sloppy in the win, I still wouldn’t want to play the Pats who have now won 6 stright.

The UConn women’s basketball team is on the verge of breaking John Wooden’s UCLA men’s record from the 1970’s of 88 straight wins.  Gender aside, this UConn team is possibly the most dominant team in sports history.  It’s true.  They have the streak, and the championships to back it up.  It’s more than the streak though.  It’s how they’ve done it.  No games are even close.  Take the latest game for example.  To tie the record, they played Ohio State, a top-10 women’s team.  UConn won by 31.  The same variable that makes the case for this UConn team being the greatest team in sports history, is also the same that hurts it in some critics eyes.  No competition.  Of the 88 wins, 57 have come by way of 30 points or more.  30 points!  That’s insanity.  What’s more telling is that of the 88 wins, only 2 have been decided by 10 points or less (Baylor and Stanford).  Since 2000, UConn has won 6 national titles!  Are these numbers a testament to how great they are, or how poor the rest of the field is?  Or both?  The top high school senior women only have 1 school to choose from if they want to play for THE perennial powerhouse.  Not that other schools aren’t good every year, but there’s only one  UConn.  In men’s college basketball, you could argue Duke, UConn, North Carolina, UCLA, Kentucky, and the list goes on and on.  It’s no wonder why such a large percentage of the top players go to UConn, cause the best players want to play for the best.  It’s a simple equation.  And with a lack of realistic options for national championship contenders, the cycle continues.  There’s UConn, and then there’s everyone else.  This same argument could be used against that very same UCLA team that was dominant for so long.  Both teams have unquestioned greatness, but you must look under the surface of merely the number 88 to evaluate how and why both streaks happened.  That being said, neither UConn nor Geno Auriema can control the rest of the field, and should make no apologies for using opposing teams as toilet paper for the last decade.


18 Responses to “I See Game Winners”

  1. James says:

    First, I was not replying to BL. As I said earlier, he has a duty to cover the story and “possibly the most dominant” is a stretch but it is within reason.

    To summarize my point: what they are doing is impressive, but if you were going to pick a team to go on a win streak of 88 straight games you would pick a college team, and you would pick a women’s team. Women’s college sports are all incredibly top heavy… anyone who has ever looked at the bottom line is no stranger to seeing “W CB – Tennesse 120 Siena 26”. There is absolutely no parity in the women’s sports, and that is a big part of why the same couple colleges dominate each sport each year, for example check all of the streaks I listed before (in women’s sports) happened within the last 20 years. I dont know what other NCAA women’s sports are popular, but im sure if you look at a list of who has won youd find one or two teams that accounted for the majority of the championships.

    And 88 games is impressive. But it’s womens college basketball! Don’t get caught up in the number 88. It’s just not competitive. 32 in the NFL would be far more impressive. 40 in the NBA more impressive. 28 in college football. You have to take into account the relative difficulty in winning in each sport/league. And I dare anyone to claim any mens pro sport/major collge sport is easier to win in than W college basketball.

    Finally, I think any conversation of the best or most dominant teams EVER should include teams from the past, Eh Rocco?

    • JB says:

      Yea my bad bro I caught that too late. I actually agree with you 100 percent.

    • Rocco DiJohn says:

      NO I don’t think. YOu need to take sports played 20 or 30 years or even 40 years ago differently. I mean womens softball is just as popular as womens basketball and no team has ever done that before??? I mean NO team in the NFL has won 32 straight or even 40 in a row in the NBA. So what if this is womens basketball were not talking about who cares. how many people watch it we are talking about 89! (NOW) straight! You can talk about how many matchs a golfer has won in a row but in womens college basketball you can’t??? Yes the sport in womens college basketball is top heavy but they still are smacking the ranked teams! like tonights 30 something win!! LOl

      • James says:

        Ignoring for a second the fact that 2 teams (Arizona and UCLA) have combined for 20 out of the 28 women’s College World Series titles of all time, I would like to point out that in women’s volleyball (perhaps, but not definitely, the second most popular collegiate women’s sport) Penn State had their 108 match win streak snapped just this year. . . but they still managed to win their fourth consecutive title. I don’t really see the point in naming the “best/most dominant team EVER” if one cannot include any team whose run happened more than a decade or two ago, but, for the sake of argument, I will consider how collegiate sports have changed in the last few decades. After doing so, you come to the conclusion that, if anything, things (particularly collegiate women’s athletics) have gotten more polarized. In this post-Title IX era the top schools are particularly well equipped to turn themselves into dynasties. ESPN, Fox Sports, and, occasionally, the major networks broadcast female athletics, but, because no one actually cares about female sports for the sake of the contest itself (you might watch Colorado vs. Texas A&M in men’s hoops, but no one is watching that if it is women’s), they only show the top teams because they are the only programs with any draw what so ever. What happens? The few programs with exposure get more exposure (thus more recruits) and the leagues get top heavy. Who can blame the kids for going to the one or two schools who win more championships in a given sport than the rest of Division 1 combined? Success breeds more success, and furthermore, in this Title IX world, the best women’s programs have the financial means to recruit whoever they want, no matter where they may be. Summary: If anything, the passage of time has made it easier to dominate college athletics, particularly women’s, than ever before.
        As for the golf analogy I’m not really sure where you were going with that. If anyone ever had 1/4th the number of consecutive wins on the PGA tour that UConn has in hoops, I would consider it one of the greatest (maybe the greatest) feat in sports history. Half UConn’s total? You would have to compare it with the invention of the printing press and the cure for polio in terms of human greatness…. I’m not sure where you are going with your sports comparisons. My point is that it is easier to win in some sports than others and women’s basketball is one of the easiest, so take “89” with a grain of salt.

  2. NFC EAST Divisional Winner says:

    Bye Bye Giants, the playoffs might like to see you still, if you’re lucky.

  3. Tom says:

    i love the sign off at the end of the uconn portion of todays blog. all of its good but that stands out

  4. Geri Gingrass says:

    Zach – Love the site, keep it up. I’m not sure who the target audience is for your site, but if I were you I would consider doing some posts about stories affecting the 518. If the furor of the Jimmer post is any indication your readers are passionate and interested in reading about local events/teams/players. Anyways, keep it up and I’ll try to check in every few days.

  5. Ola says:

    Your right about everything, especially uconn, its them and everyone else. They are the best, and i have experienced that ahahahaha. I love the article !

  6. Slim Jim says:

    Giants fuckin choked….yaaccckkkkkkkkkkk

  7. Jerry says:

    The Uconn women are the best team in sports history. Name me another team thats won for as long and the way theyve done it,….they kill teams every night, not for a season, but for 10 years!!!!!! If they were men youd be telling us how great they were instead of not giving them enough credit!!!!!

    • James says:

      You have to be kidding me. Best team in sports history?? Check your totem.
      Yanks of the late 40’s/50’s/early 60s: During a 16 year span the Yankees won 10 World Series titles (including 5 in a row) and made 13 appearances in the Fall Classic.
      Coach Wooden’s Bruins of the late 60s/early 70s: 10 NCAA titles during his last 12 seasons, including seven in a row from 1967 to 1973. And oh yeah, he won 88 games in a row too.
      As much as I hate them, the Celtics during the late 50s/60s: 11 NBA titles in 13 seasons. Streak of 8 consecutive NBA championships is the longest streak of consecutive championships in U.S. professional sports history.
      The Bulls of the 90’s: Two three-peats in an 8 year span. And the reason they didn’t win 8 in a row? One of their players retired for two years (I think it was Bill Cartwright or somebody).
      The UConn women are just the story of the moment and a way for everyone in this post-Title IX world to talk about female sports for a few days and pretend they give a shit about it. Plus, relative to men’s sports, this happens all the time. 6 titles in 10 years for the UConn women? Impressive, but Tennessee women had 5 in 9 years in the same sport the decade before. The Huskies’ sustained excellence? Cool, but try matching the 16 women’s soccer titles UNC won in 19 years. Dominating a college sport? Awesome, but either Stanford or Texas won the women’s swim championship for 14 seasons straight, recently. Byesline has a responsibility to cover this story because of the national attention it is garnering, but that doesn’t mean we should just be lemmings and believe that this team is “the best team ever” because that’s the buzzword sensationalist journalists are throwing around to get clicks/reads/attention.
      Not to beat a dead horse, but one last point: you don’t need to dominate for a long time to be the “best team ever.” Few would (or could) argue that the original Dream Team wasn’t one of the greatest teams of all time, and they were only together for a few months. Although it seems superfluous to include statistics to back up my point, consider that they won by an average of 44 points a game, the 13 man roster included a full 20% of the top 50 greatest players of all time, and that they didn’t have to call a timeout the entire tournament.
      In summary, are the current Huskies the best team ever (as you claim)? No. Are they the most talented? No. Are they the most dominant (which you seem to believe is a prerequisite for being the best)? No. Congrats to UConn, but making lazy, uneducated claims about their success only diminishes their accomplishments and shows how little people actually know about them.

      • Rocco DiJohn says:

        James yu literialy have no clue what you are talking about, for todays game where everyone is playing sports all year around and there is so much money and aau teams and recuiting? You gotta be kidding me for winning 88 in arow in the year 2010?? Your facts and stats you bring up are soo old there true but old.. Your the one that is uneducated about sports today and dimishesing these young ladies accomplishments and show how little your actully know about sports. You must be like 70 years of age! I’m sure the USA college girls basketball team wouldn’t lose in the NCAA either. But that is a team of All stars! Look at what is happing in the games today! We LOST Just a couple years ago. Here you are bring up that stat?? Shows how you don’t follow sports. For todays game winning 88 in a row is unreal! You bring up UCLA! Yes good! The women beat there record, There is reason to bring them up but the girls beat there record and that was years ago when you only recuited in your own state really, UCLA recuited out of there state and thats why they were great! Thats not what it is today. With all the money and everything is record is unreal dude. I”m sorry but think about it, Nice try I like the facts but your wrong! Flat out wrong…

      • JB says:

        James don’t get your panties in a wad for nothing. The writer only said they are POSSIBLY the most dominant team in sports history, and then proceeded to say an argument can be made against them. You wrote a long post replying to something the writer didn’t even say. And by the way, I think Womens basketball is a joke, I’d rather watch re-runs of the crap they put on the WE channel. But for their sport I don’t see how you can’t take 88 straight bone crushing blow out wins for real. They have to be in the conversation of most DOMINANT teams. Pay attention man!

      • Anonymous says:

        Yea you don’t need to win for a long time to be a dominant team (2007 Patriots) but when you do dominate for a long time that makes it all the more impressive. How are the claims uneducated when the wrtier has listed off a bunch of facts and accomplishments of the team? I have to agree with the other comments, the writer didn’t say they were “the most” dominant. He said the argument could be made. I don’t think they are the most dominant team but the common sense in my brain acknowledges they’re in the discussion. Get some.

      • JB says:

        My bad I just realized that “jim” was replying to jerry not BL. It appear I’m the one who needs to pay attention *gulp*

      • Jeff D says:

        I think this is a great accomplishment for Uconn, however, I disagree with any claim from sports reporters, writers, analysts, etc. that women’s college basketball benefits from this accomplishment. It goes to show that there is no parity in women’s basketball when there are only a handful of good teams throughout the NCAA year in and year out. I agree with Byesline that this is certainly one of the greatest accomplishments in all of sports, but I can not see how women’s college basketball benefits from this. Even though they are getting tons of media exposure, which is much deserved for Uconn because the streak is quite remarkable to say the least, I think it consequently brings negative attention to how the rest of the playing field is weak relative to Uconn. Does anyone else agree with me here?

      • Tim K. says:

        Jeff D: I think their success brings good attention to the sport so little girls can see womens sports talked about and inspire them to play themselves.

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