GAME TIME 1:00
GAME TEMP 75
The Raiders rode into town this past week, and they weren’t happy. Although they played pretty well the first two weeks of the season, they were still winless. Quite frankly, they were losing the way everyone thought they would, with a questionable defense, but the offense really had yet to find its rhythm …At least the rhythm most experts predicted.
The Eagles beat up on a hapless Niners team the week before, and all was well in Iggles-Land again…well except for some nagging doubts about a nagging injury to our All Pro kicker. Most Eagles fans thought the game would be won by the Eagles, but the game would be a shoot out, with the Raiders finally clicking on offense. One out of two isn’t too bad.
We have to vent here a second…all last year we tailgated in the same damn spot. The same damn spot! Now some clown takes our spot (the first two weeks anyway) and we have to go hunting for another tailgate spot. Needless to say, this is very frustrating. Yes, we could get there earlier, but that’s not the point. That’s our damn spot! DAMMIT!
OK, so we had to move spots a little bit, and the new place is OK, but it’s not the old place…Damm… We got to the new, perfectly fine spot around 10 AM, and set up for the cookout. Dolfi late last year got a nice tailgating grill; it’s sturdy, stands about 4 feet off the ground and once lit, stays lit. These characteristics make for a good tailgate grill. There is something that doesn’t work quite right on this grill and it doesn’t work on any tailgate grills we’ve encountered in our lives. The quick start feature…Works about twice, then you are reduced to chucking matches or burning paper into the grill – with a cloud of propane hovering right above. If someone would make a tailgate grill that starts right consistently, they’d make a mint.
We got the grill lit, and once lit, as noted above, the grill works very well. We cooked up some chicken patties, small steaks and brats. However, the best food item was provided by Last Row fellow tailgater and general thorn-in-the-side Meuser, who brought sausages stuffed with meat, herbs and some sort of cheese – that was good, very good. Meuser doesn’t do a whole lot right, but he came through there.
Shark Tank regular DragonZ20 joined us at the tailgate, he and his brother got there around 11 AM. He bought tickets from us and got to enjoy the view from the top of the world also. Last Row Auxiliary member Ed K and his brother in law also joined us. This is two weeks in a row that Ed has tailgated with us, which is nice, and Ed’s good about tailgates, he contributes food/drink when he joins us. A quick word about Ed, we know him from college, and he’s a good guy and everything, but he sits in club box seats. Ed’s pretty down to Earth and stuff, but he probably thinks he’s better than us. Whether he’s right or not is moot. We’re onto you Ed. We’re onto you.
First Five Songs at the Tailgate (we forgot this last week)
Of Wolf and Man – Metallica
Rainbow Connection – Me First and the Gimme Gimmes
Superstition – Stevie Wonder
Push It – Garbage
Mr. Brownstone – Guns N Roses
The temperature at kickoff was 75 degrees, which doesn’t seem that warm, especially with overcast skies, it certainly seemed hotter. Despite the fact that we didn’t see the Sun that much, your friends in the Last Row still ended up with sunburns.
We got into the stadium in plenty of time to get our requisite overpriced warm beers, and settle into our seats for the National Anthem. We’re not sure who sang it, but we believe it wasn’t the usual “R&B singing sensation”, “American Idol runner up”, or “Precocious child actor”…No we think the singer may have been an area person who just sings well. It was nice.
No fly-over this game, but we figure that’s probably a good thing, since it a) wastes fuel at a time when we’re being asked to conserve it; b) saves valuable cheering for the game where it’s often more needed; and c) is often so close to the top of our heads in the last row of the stadium that we suffer 2nd degree burns and Dolfi loses more of his already thinning hair.
Normally, we don’t indulge in play-by-play, but instead give you a general discussion of the game at this point, but we feel as if we’d be remiss without cluing you all in on the most bizarre start to a football game that we have ever witnessed, firsthand, coupled with a complete play-by-play of the Eagles kicking game. The whole thing was really strange in the extreme.
Ailing Eagles’ PK, David Akers, practiced on Thursday and Friday, and warmed up with no problems on Sunday, so the coaching staff makes the decision NOT to activate the kicker they recently picked up and added to their practice team. As they would soon learn, this decision was a VERY poor one, and almost cost the Eagles a victory, and likely DID cost them the services of the NFL’s second most accurate kicker of all-time for at least 3-6 weeks.
Akers kicks off, the ball travels a respectable 65 yards, and Oakland can only manage to return it to the 21. No wait… offsides on the kickoff, moving the Eagles back and forcing them to kick again. Akers again kicks off, but his one is much shorter, and he immediately drops to the turf, clutching the back of his leg – VERY bad news for the Birds. Oh yeah, the Eagles were also offsides AGAIN, and are once again moved back and forced to re-kick. With Akers now out of the game with an injured (torn?) hamstring, that leaves long-snapper Mike Bartrum to be the kicker on kickoffs (with LB Mark Simoneau as the kicker on PATs and FGs). Bartrum kicks one of the worst squib kicks we’ve ever seen, and the ball goes out of bounds on the kickoff, yet another Eagles penalty. But the game can finally start in earnest, when the Raiders accept the ball at the 50 yard line – more out of a feeling of pity for the Eagles at that point than anything else, we think.
The loss of Akers definitely hurt the Eagles as we watched Mark Simoneau (who actually hit a PAT the week before, miss his first PAT attempt badly, hitting one of his own players in the back of the head. That leaves Bartrum to attempt another kickoff, and this one he manages to keep in bounds, but it’s another bad squib kick and the Raiders start at the 40 this time (officially 39, but what’s a yard between friends?). It’s looking like a loooooooooong day at this point, by the way.
When the Eagles finally have to kick again, it’s a PAT attempt early in the 3rd quarter, and things have been so bad to this point, the Eagles David Akers hobbles back out on the field and chips one through – more leg clutching and writhing ensue. But the Eagles are finally on top in this one 13-10.
So it’s Bartrum’s turn again. He actually gets a little more leg behind this one, and it’s a squib kick, but at least a respectable one. No wait… this time the Eagles still allow a 20 yard return and the Raiders again start at the 39 yard line.
When the Eagles score late in the 3rd quarter, it’s Akers again limping out to chip through another PAT (grimacing and writhing) – and the Eagles now on top 20-10. Back to Bartrum to kickoff, again. Another bad squib and the Raiders start at the 41 this time. (Note that at this point, the Raiders’ have started from the 50, 39, 39, and 41 at this point – I honestly can’t remember when I’ve seen an Eagles opponent start with such good field position since the lean Ray Rhodes years or possible the bungling Rich Kotite years!!)
The game featured a few citizens of Raider Nation (in case you forgot, the only fans base who can sport the suffix ‘Nation’ is Raider Nation – no Red Sox Nation, no Sports Nation, no Nationals Nation…), more opposing fans than usual, but still not very many. The funny thing about Raiders fans was that fat Raiders fans wore Moss jerseys and skinny ones wore Sapp jerseys. Kinda like calling a big guy ‘Tiny’ .One character we had in our section was a skinny guy with the ‘gansta’ look going wearing a Warren Sapp jersey. We were a little remiss in noticing him, fortunately the guys who sit immediately to our right are always up to harass people, no matter who their target is rooting for. They noticed this guy right away. We joined in shortly thereafter. Now this guy had the Raiders jersey, the Raiders hat, and some tan work boots on. We had him pegged pretty quickly though – his boots were clean, this guy was a poser of immense proportions. None of us would get shot for getting on his case. A particular favorite was, “Hey Sapp, the 90’s called, they want their sideburns back!!” … Good times.
Raiders QB Kerry Collins (who had a great day against the Eagles – kudos to him) led the boys in black to a late 4th quarter rally, where they finally tied up the game 20-20. That only served to make the end that much more interesting as the Eagles use up 2 minutes and 8 seconds of the remaining 2 minutes and 17 seconds on a scoring drive that culminates in a 23-yard FG attempt by David Akers. (We aren’t 100% certain, but Akers might have already been in a wheelchair at this point…)
Akers pulled his limping form up to its imposing 5 foot 10 inch height and prepared for the winning FG. (We’re also pretty sure you could actually hear more hamstring fibers snapping at this point…) The ball is snapped back by Bartrum, Koy Detmer holds it (laces out!), and Akers sends up a wobbly, slicing kick that manages to stay just inside the upright. Eagles score to take the lead 23-20 with just 9 seconds left !! Akers thrusts his arms up in the air for a moment, forgetting he’s supposed to be writhing… ah, there he goes, back on the ground where his last writhing of the day ensues amidst Koy Detmer practically mounting his bent over form in celebration.
So the game pretty much went the way of the kicking game on this strange weekend.
A special thanks to Oakland’s Steve Janikowski who doinked a FG attempt mid-way through the 1st quarter off the left upright – letting us know we weren’t the only one’s with kicking problems. We owe ya’ Janny.
Oh – and an even bigger thanks to Raiders return-man, Chris Carr, who decided to take the final Mike Bartrum kickoff and run around with it for 9 solid seconds, rather than going out of bounds and maybe giving the strong-armed Collins a chance to toss one up for grabs to Randy Moss, the best leaping WR in football. Good decision, Mr. Carr.
As for the rest of the team, McNabb looked absolutely terrible for almost the entire game. He was consistently over- or under-throwing players, looked positively immobile, and generally followed one of his best games of his career, with a real clunker. But we don’t think all that was Donny Mac – it looks more and more like his bruised sternum (and a later reported sports hernia) were really limiting his ability to play at his normal level – a situation that bears close watching in the next few weeks. The bruised sternum will heal, but the sports hernia is likely an injury that will affect McNabb’s mobility for the remainder of the season.
T.O. looked solid, taking another hard shot for the second week in a row and bouncing back up. His also snagged his 100th professional TD – congrats to T.O.!! Westbrook played a great game, and racked up a combined 208 yards and 2 TDs – and if we we’re the Eagles, we’d think about talking to his agent about the contract renegotiation Westy wanted. The guy is worth it – trust us.
Note to L.J. Smith: Hang on to the damn ball. Freddie Mitchell isn’t always going to be standing in the end zone waiting to catch your fumbles for scores. This time it almost cost us the game – we won’t stand for this in the future.
As for the defense, it was a study in opposites. The defensive line played terribly, and produced almost no pressure on Collins the entire game. That’s the main reason Collins threw for 345 yards on a team that going into the game was one of the better pass defenses. It wasn’t the secondary’s fault – those guys did an *amazing* job of limiting Collins to yardage and coming up big on not letting the deep ball get by them. They frequently were forced to cover Oakland’s WRs for 7 seconds or more, while Collins was able to practically set up camp in the pocket – with nary an Eagles D-lineman in sight. Unless the Eagles D-line steps up, and soon, they are going to lose a few that they shouldn’t.
By the way, Christmas came a little early to section 209. Yes, the day was a little too warm for football, but there are certain benefits to an overly warm game. A relatively attractive woman in our section thought it would be a good idea to try to earn some beads (in memory of New Orleans, we suppose) from some guys sitting around her. Well, she flashed us…We give her a 7, cute face, and a great attitude. The security guy sitting right near us did nothing to stop this activity, although the actual flashing was building up for about 3 minutes. That’s what we call a security guard with his priorities straight. She did get some beads by the way. If you go to a game, bring beads, you never know when you’ll have a chance to give them away. We’re hoping the Chargers game OCT 23 is a little too warm too. As we walked out of the stadium after the game, we overheard her rather homely, overweight friend say, “I should have taken my shirt off, too!!” No, you shouldn’t have, Mooey…no, you shouldn’t have.
Lastly, we just have to say something about the penalties in this game. Both teams reached double-digits in penalties and both teams almost topped the century mark in yardage. The Eagles had 10 penalties for 81 yards (although, to be fair, if you skip the opening kickoff they would have had a more palatable 7). The Raiders had 13 penalties for 94 yards, several of them the inopportune, drive-killing type. The NFL has gotten sloppier and sloppier in its play over the last couple seasons, and this game more than any other this past weekend illustrates that. C’mon guys – it’s not that hard to stay on-sides.
Questions we were left asking ourselves after this game was over:
· Why wouldn’t you activate a kicker, knowing your starting kicker was banged up? Is the extra roster spot for some other player who will never see the field that important?
· Knowing that your QB was injured, even limiting his practice during the week, why call more than FIFTY pass plays? (Especially when your leading rusher was averaging 5 yards a carry on the rare occurrences he did get the ball…)
· Doesn’t the punter just *HAVE* to be a better kicker than your Long-Snapper, or one of your Linebackers?!? Listen – we know placekicking is different than punting, but we would think that Dirk Johnson at least uses those sets of muscles more than a linebacker or an O-lineman. This still baffles us.
· Why pick up a kicker named “Todd France”? Everyone hates France!! Even the French, for God’s sake!!!
Welcome to the City of Brotherly Love…B****!!
The award this week goes to …Norv Turner. Let’s face it, there were a few good hits leveled against the Raiders in this game, two of them by Safety Brian Dawkins. But none of them were really all that memorable. The biggest blow to the Raiders is that they are maybe the best 0-3 team (talent wise) in history, but having Norv Turner as your coach must give you a constant feeling like you’re Joe Theismann and you just got sacked by L.T. and your leg snapped like a dry twig. This guy amassed ONE season in the past eight where his team actually made the playoffs. And we use the term “coached” loosely – the Raiders penalties are killing them this season, and as Head Coach, Norv has gotten take some of that blame himself.
So Norv gets the WTTCOBLB award this week, because he was just what the doctor ordered for an ailing Eagles QB and PK to go up against. Don’t be a stranger Norv – come back anytime.
(One quick note here, the award never goes to an Eagle, but T.O. got walloped twice in the past two weeks. He bounces right back up, which is great, but he really gives himself up for the yards.)
Final Thoughts from the Last Row
· How bout them baseball pennant/wild card chases? Yawn…
· We felt pretty good predicting the Phillies would let us down. We were right, now the only thing left to do is cheer against the Yank Sox, and anyone or anything affiliated with Scott Rolen.
· The NHL is getting started up. We don’t know about you, but we really like hockey. Hopefully some of the changes made do allow more scoring. If the NHL doesn’t keep the game interesting early, and drive up attendance – they could be in for more large-scale changes to league structure soon.
· Daunte Culpepper got healthy quick against the Saints, didn’t he? I think anyone playing the Saints should think about starting their QB against them. Who are the Saints playing this week? The Bills…Hmmm…never-mind. Sorry J P, we ain’t starting you this week, or ever this season.
· Every year we forget how much time school bus traffic adds to our morning commute. It doesn’t mean we get started earlier on the road to work in the morning…It just means we have something else to mumble about on the way into work.
· Why does the ‘Gangsta’ look always seem to entail wearing pants that are falling down around your knees? It just doesn’t make sense – wouldn’t the cops catch you easier that way? And wear do you put your gun? In the waistband of your underwear? Think, Ganstas – THINK!
· The only thing worse than a pathetic, aging ex-con is a pathetic, aging ex-con who has her own reality TV show. Thanks for nothing, Martha. Maybe you’ll be able to crochet a tea-cozy for Satan when you eventually burn in hell.
Top Six List
The Top Six Ways We Like to Get Out of a Jam
Six – Go to the ‘Shiny Place’ inside our broken, twisted imaginations. We do this quite often at work, and except for prolonged drooling; it hasn’t let us down yet. We’re pretty sure that this exercise has gotten us both listed as ‘disabled’ in some way, and we can’t be fired now.
Five – Play Madden on ‘Easy’ and beat up on the Cowboys. Anytime life has us a low, we can always run up a 56-3 score on the hapless Boys (pretty close to what the Eagles did to them last year on Monday Night last year).
Four – Utilize our knowledge of art history and arcane symbology to find our way out of traps. Granted, we don’t find ourselves in traps fashioned by French, albino, monastic Grail historians often, but if we did, we’d know how to handle ourselves. (By the way – Eco’s Foucault’s Pendulum is a much better novel than Brown’s The DaVinci Code)
Three – Yell “Hey – Kool Aid!!!” You may not know this but we were once faced with an impossible escape situation in a maximum security Fort Worth jail. We were surrounded by 2 foot thick, 30 feet high concrete walls. Dolfi came up with the perfect escape, after yelling “Hey, Kool-Aid!!” the Kool-Aid Man crashed though the wall, making the perfect get away for us.
Two – Charm our way out of the situation. This has yet to work. We’re not sure why.
One – Yell “Hey – Vodka!!!” – Unfortunately, after Dolfi yelled for the Kool-Aid Man in Fort Worth, Walls yelled, “Hey – Vodka!!!” …Wouldn’t you know it? Vodka Incarnate came stumbling through the hole made by Kool-Aid Incarnate. We started doing shots out of his top. Even though the Vodka Man was much bigger, he couldn’t fight us off…because he was drunk. Yep, his little white-gloved, four-fingered cartoon hands were no match for us. We drank quite a bit, and passed out there on prison grounds, we were locked back up, but had a good time. Thanks Vodka Man!!