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If you didn’t happen to have a dog in the hunt Monday night at MetLife Stadium, then maybe you could’ve laughed at the way this football game turned on a dime once the cat showed up.
But let’s be very honest — nobody around here is much in a cheery mood unless you’re wearing your old-school Bryan Trottier jersey around town these days. The basketball season hasn’t gotten off to a rousing start. The Yankees couldn’t escape Houston. An alarming number of Mets fans can’t forget a nasty 12-to-6 curveball that was thrown 13 years ago at their brand-new manager.
Ah, but it is football that provides the fewest laughs and the most angst these days, as the Jets and Giants take aim at each other for what used to be called the Snoopy Bowl, but this Sunday will merely be a convention of dogs wearing helmets and shoulder pads.
Gagging Green and Bruised Blue keep grabbing the thesaurus from each other, looking to out-adjective each other:
B is for brutal, bad, bungling, blundering …
D is for dreadful, deplorable, disgusting, disgraceful …
Enlarge ImagePat Shurmur
Pat ShurmurRobert Sabo
And so it was that the Giants went up on the Cowboys 12-3 a few moments after a black cat showed up on the field Monday night, danced an end zone dance, then disappeared through the tunnel like Feline Flipper Anderson. In a happier time in New York City, another black cat put the evil eye on Leo Durocher and the Mets were the beneficiaries of its dark arts.
That was 50 years ago, though. On THIS night, the cat scooted off the field and the fight suddenly left the Giants: 12-3 up became 37-18 down by game’s end, a 34-6 turnaround that adds a few more layers to a civic sporting misery index that seemingly knows no bounds.
“All the things you can’t do in a ballgame happened,” Giants coach Pat Shurmur said quietly. “And they hurt us.”
So the Giants fall to 2-7 on the season, after playing the last 10 minutes of the game in front of a stadium evenly divided between Cowboys fans and empty seats. In six days, this very same facility will welcome the Jets-Giants Extravaganza of Egregiousness, the two combatants entering the game a combined 3-14. In lieu of a scoreboard, there should just be a single number welcoming everyone Sunday afternoon:
Welcome to the very strange Giants blame game
That’ll be the number of days until pitchers and catchers.
Perhaps the specifics of this one haunted you through the night out of habit or muscle memory, but they will soon become part of the hazy miasma this sport has become in this city the past few years. The Giants should’ve been up 21-3 at the half but, then, there are a lot of things they should’ve done differently lately.
Twice they had first-and-goal inside the 10, had to settle for field goals. There was a botched PAT. Then the Cowboys scored 10 points in the final three minutes of the half — post-cat — aided by an inexplicably awful interception by Daniel Jones. Somehow, the Cowboys were up 13-12. The smart segment of the crowd of 76,107 knew enough to seek the parking lot then. This wasn’t a new script.
It is, in truth, becoming the Sequel from Hell week after week after week.
“I’m disappointed we didn’t do enough things to win the game,” Shurmur said.
That makes 76,108 of you, Or, more realistically, about 46,108 of you, judging by the number of pieces of apparel featuring the old blue star. Because there were, of course, a sizeable amount of Cowboys fans littered among the stadium. This is still Giants-Cowboys, after all, and so the place was still electric long before kickoff, certainly more kinetic than you would think a game involving a 2-6 team could be.
But … well, Giants-Cowboys, It still matters. As the old-timers might put it: you can throw out the records when these two play (and in the Giants’ case, they would gladly accept that offer). The players on the field may not have memories that date back to the Cotton Bowl and Yankee Stadium but the people in the stands sure do.
Leonard Williams’ Giants debut was sad Jets encore
That includes the ones wearing Cowboys gear, the fans that defected in the ‘60s and ‘70s when the Cowboys were always playing varsity ball and the Giants barely JV, the ones about whom John Mara has often said, “I think of men my age (64) who are Cowboys fans who lived their whole life in New York and New Jersey and it makes me sick to my stomach.”
So it was Giants-Cowboys, and it was “Monday Night Football”, and even if these teams are in different weight classes right now it’s still worth the price of admission (and parking, and tolls, and …)
Then Feline Flipper Anderson showed up. More to the point: the Giants we’ve been so used to watching the past few years showed up.