No Longer Undefeated

Was it a case of a holiday hangover? Maybe a letdown after knocking another from the ranks of the undefeated? Or did the Pitt Panthers simply overlook the Dayton Flyers?

Whatever the reason the Panthers laid an egg, and the Flyers brought down another Big East foe.Senior, Brian Roberts (no, not that Brian Roberts), dropped thirty-one, including five of eight behind the arc, as the Flyers topped the #6 Panthers 80-55. The win marks the second ranked team Dayton has beaten en route to a record of eleven wins and one loss.

On December eighth the Flyers beat Rick Pitino and the #11 Louisville Cardinals 70-65 at Freedom Hall.Dayton’s win marks the fifth time this season an A-10 team has beaten a Big East squad.

Both Rhode Island and UMass have knocked off Syracuse. Xavier topped cross-town rival, Cincinnati.

In other great men’s games yesterday the Volunteers of Tennessee used a smothering defense to outlast Gonzaga 82-72. Inbounding the ball against the Volunteers is nothing short of an adventure. Their half-court offense is nothing special – almost zero post-play – but they make up for it with an all-out denial defense.

For those of you who were scratching your heads at my headline, thinking Casey must be sipping the Sam Adams a little too early in the morning – on to the game of the weekend.

Where has this been all year? Eli rolling left and finding Boss in the end zone. Eli rolling right and firing an absolute strike to Plaxico who tip-toed in the end zone like it was a garden of tulips. Eli diving HEAD FIRST. Where has this stuff been all year. 22 of 32 for 251 yards? There’s the upside everyone wants to believe in.

The Better-Half and I listened to quarters two and three on the radio. (Daughter #2 had a hoops game an hour and a half from home). We missed the first quarter. It was great to listen to Don Criqui and John Dockery call the game. (I have to rethink my evaluation of Dockery. As a sideline reporter for NBC I saw him as the bane of my college-football-viewing existence. He used to shove the microphone in the face of Bob Davie in such an intrusive manner). Dockery and Criqui were at a point of giggling when discussing Eli last night. Descriptions like: ‘Eli looks at ease in the pocket,’ ‘Eli is making all the plays,’ etc. etc.

Thanks to the Better-Half I have stuck with the Giants. Week after week she has encouraged me to watch (I know it sounds crazy, but it’s true) the G-Men. All the while she has remained patient while I erupt in frustration over their inconsistent play.

To top it off Hixon with the 74 yard kickoff and Brandon Jacobs! Any more of Jacobs and I am gonna get a severe case of amnesia when it comes to Giant running backs of the last seven years or so.

Of course Eli eventually botched a snap and threw an interception, the Giants abandoned the running game, they allowed the league’s best receiver to get wide open on back-to-back plays as the Pats took their first lead, and then missed tackles on two third and long plays as the Patriots drove for another touchdown.

Despite all that the Big Blue managed a late drive to pull within a field goal.

Credit Tom Coughlin for much of what happened yesterday. The guy has been under fire for as long as I can remember. While Bill Simmons has made several references to the ‘Tommy Hill’ face, there is also the ‘Coughlin’ face. The visage of complete befuddlement as if to say: “I can’t believe these guys are professional!” But no one can question Coughlin’s heart and his competitiveness. I have been looking for a reason to support the guy, and yesterday’s Giant effort went a long way to that end.

Question is whether the Giants can carry the momentum from yesterday’s effort into the playoffs? Or will this year end in disappointment again? I have no visions of grandeur. I do not expect the Jints to advance to the Super Bowl. I do expect them to show up and earn their collective paychecks.

Tip o’ the hat the Pats. They took the Giants’ best shot – and that WAS the Giants’ best – and managed to pull out the victory.

Remember on draft day when the Pats traded for Randy Moss? All those dissenters who rushed to prognosticate how Moss would be the cancer leading to the demise of the Patriots’ dynasty? Where are they now?

I’ll be the first to admit watching Moss play is much more enjoyable than listening to him. The ‘us or himself against the world’ platform will get old quick.

Caught part of a call-in show this morning. One of the listeners asserted that the Patriots are undefeated solely because of their offensive prowess. Does anyone get the irony in such a comment? A Bill Belichik team living on their offense?How quickly people forget. Remember the ‘K-Gun’? The Buffalo Bills’ no-huddle offense run by Jim Kelly who had more weapons than Tank Johnson: Andre Reed, James Lofton, Thurman Thomas, Pete Metzelaars, etc. etc. Remember how that Bills’ offense ran through the Raiders in the AFC Championship game 51-3? Then that same Bills’ squad was held to less than twenty in the Super Bowl. Do you remember the name of the Giant defensive coordinator responsible for the scheme that slowed down the ‘K-Gun’?

The Patriots’ defense is designed to work with their high-powered offense. If it comes down to needing a stop late in the game, there is no one better than Bill Belichik to devise a plan.

Cheers to the R.I.T. Men’s hockey team. The Tigers upset #12 Minnesota 4-3 in the Gophers’ annual holiday tournament. R.I.T. plays Boston College today at 5.

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