American Football

Tuesday Tithbits: 24th December

Merry Tithmas to all, and to all…. here’s the regular crap on a Tuesday.

Another moment that could only happen in the Big Bash

Well last night’s Strikers-Scorchers game delivered us some sheer entertainment, thanks to some rain delay-enforced power hitting from Alex Carey, Jake Weatherald, and then the Scorchers opening pair of Liam Livingstone and Josh Inglis, but there was another classic Big Bash moment that nearly brought an end to either/or Livingstone & Inglis.

With the score at 0/105 after a conservative 7.4 overs, the resident Pom deflects the ball off his body, which goes bouncing on to his stumps.

Despite enough contact, the bails somehow stayed on – Obviously it was another case of heavy bails.

Alex Carey then picks up the ball and takes a fierce crack at running out a stranded Josh Inglis, who would’ve been out by an absolute age.

The throw somehow missed the stumps by the size of a steroid abuser’s Jatz crackers.

Anyway, the Strikers won.

John Cain’s mark on Australian tennis

Obviously former Victorian Premier John Cain passed away yesterday, and aside from a number of other little things he did in his 2 1/2 terms in office, like allowing VFL games on Sundays (Sacrosanct!), and getting women not named The Queen into decadent sporting groups like the MCC and the VRC, if you ask me, Cain’s greatest lasting legacy on Australian sport will almost certainly be moving the Australian Open from Kooyong to Melbourne Park in 1988 (Flinders Park as it was), turning the iconic smell of the Jolimont Railyard into arguably the best facilities of any of the 4 major tournaments.

Bloody oath, have a look at the characters in those reports – Peter Landy, Bruce McAvaney, Steven Quartermain.

But, just think about that – John Cain – Actually, it was probably someone else in his government – was the first genius in the known universe to realise you could play Grand Slam matches at venues with retractable roofs.

31 years later, and the French still haven’t grasped that concept, mainly because they suffer from the problem of…. being French.

Speaking of the Australian Open…

They’ve submitted another entry in the Grand Slam prize money pissing contest, pushing the total money pool up to $71m AUD, up 13.6% on 2019, still slightly short of the $82.769m AUD the US Open piss out every year.

Keep going boys, just a few extra bottles of water in 2021 and you’ll be shooting out 9 figures a year.

Just 4 years ago the pool for the AO was a pissy little $40m – Pretty soon the singles champions are going to get that for winning the title.

Most of it goes to the players in the early rounds – Most notably, all 1st Round losers get $90,000… on the basis that they don’t show up and tank for an easy year’s wages.

David Warner getting hit in the nets in training

Damn, when is Justin Langer going to stop letting Steve Smith control the ball machine?

Perry Groves on Mat Ryan’s performance for Brighton against Sheffield United

To cut a long story short (Or you can just read the article), the Seagulls lost 1-0 to Sheffield United in Brighton on Saturday , in which the VAR wiped out 2 goals for The Blades and Ryan made a number of errors, leading to Groves to comment that the Socceroos keeper “Had a Holocaust of a day.”

As is their editorial standard, described him as a former Arsenal star, but many would argue that Perry Groves is a former Arsenal star in the same way that Fosters is considered beer.

He was lashed by all and sundry and did eventually apologise, but bloody hell, I wonder what Perry’s thoughts were on Glen Moss’ performance for the Newcastle Jets last Saturday – An Armenian genocide of a game?

Australians in the NFL: Week 16

Here’s something I enjoyed listening to – Former All-Pro punter Pat McAfee talking about the impact of Australian punters on American Football, about how old some of them are coming in to the NFL & College system (Damn near 40!) competing against kids straight out of high school, and a brief mention of Prokick.

Mitch Wishnowsky (49ers) defeated Rams 34-31 @ Levi’s Stadium

The last of the annual Saturday games at this time of year, and being a Niners game, it wasn’t short of entertainment

Like he has been pretty much all season, Mitch put in another big performance, punting 5 times, with 4 landing inside the Rams 20.

Despite their season being over, the Rams came out firing and opened up a 21-10 lead in the 2nd Quarter, but the Niners hit back and scored just before the half, and then as the Rams were driving downfield, Fred Warner picked off Jared Goff and ran it back for a Pick 6 to give the Niners a 24-21 lead.

After a miserable start to the 2nd Half, including an interception and a missed field goal, the Rams scored in the 3rd Quarter to take the lead again 28-24, George Kittle scored with 5 minutes remaining to give the Niners the lead 31-28, but the Rams would drive downfield and kick a field goal to tie the scores at 31.

Getting the ball back with 2:30 to go, things appeared very likely to go to overtime when Jimmy G was sacked on 2nd down, setting up a 3rd and 16.

Somehow, he converted it with a bullet to Kendrick Bourne up the middle – Another case of Bourne Supremacy against the Rams secondary.

The Rams then sacked Jimmy G again, setting up another 3rd and 16, but in the play that decided the game, Garoppolo converted again with a massive deep ball to Emmanuel Sanders to put the Niners into field goal range.

After killing the remaining seconds, thanks to another perfect hold from Mitch, Robbie Gould was once again as good as gold to win in a walk-off.

Given what happened the next day to the Seahawks, it’s funny to think that if the Niners had held on against the Falcons last week, they’d have the NFC West sewn up with a game in hand, and be a mortal lock for the No.1 seed.

Regardless, they are back into the No.1 seed on tiebreakers thanks to their wins over the Packers and Saints, and it sets up the regular season Sunday night finale – The last NFL game of the decade – against the Seahawks in Seattle, which also constitutes another All-Antipodean battle between Mitch and Michael Dickson!

Aussie Bowl: Lachie Edwards (Jets) defeated Jordan Berry (Steelers) 16-10 @ Metlife Stadium

The fans flocked to the Meadowlands to witness a rare matchup between Australian punters, and also Le’veon Bell playing the Steelers for the first time since he pretty much abandoned them last season to get a fat contract.

Anyway, the punting duel turned out to be a bigger highlight – Edwards punted 6 times (Finishing in the 20 twice) as the Jets spluttered along all day, but Berry punted 7 times, as the Steelers offense put in another turd of a performance.

The result of that turd of a performance was that their quarterback Duck Hodges was benched and replaced by Mason Rudolph, the Red Nosed QB, but Rudolph would go down with a shoulder injury after tying the game, forcing Hodges back into the game, and his drive to engineer a comeback in the final minutes predictably ended poorly, and the Jets would bag their 6th win of the season.

In another sideshow, Jets assistant coach Hines Ward (A former Super Bowl MVP for the Steelers) said he wanted a Gatorade shower if the Jets defeated his former team.

He got one.

The Steelers fall to 8-7 and lose the #6 seed to Tennessee based on the strength of victory tiebreaker, but it appears Pittsburgh have been thrown a bone by the Ravens for the regular season finale on Sunday – Having locked up the No.1 seed, they’re resting basically everyone important, including Lamar Jackson, while the Titans are lumped with the Texans in Houston.

Michael Dickson (Seahawks) lost to the Arizona Cardinals 27-13 @ The Clink

The Seahawks and Cardinals have a funny rivalry – The Seahawks always seem to win in Glendale, and then the Cardinals do what basically no other team in the NFL does on a regular basis, and that’s win in Seattle – They’re now 5-2 in their last 7 games in the Rainy City.

The pattern for the game started when when Cards RB Kenyan Drake, fresh off a lazy 4 touchdowns against Cleveland, ran 80 yards untouched on the first play after the Seahawks had taken their opening drive in for a touchdown – Which turned out to be their only one for the game.

Kyler Murray then led another drive in the 2nd Quarter, and after getting close to the redzone, Murray, doing what most new age QBs do and keeping a play alive, dumped a pass to Larry Fitzgerald, freshly named in the NFL’s 100th anniversary team, steamrolled through to score the go-ahead touchdown.

The worst appeared to happen to the Cards when Murray went down with a hamstring strain with 10 minutes remaining in the 3rd Quarter, leading certain sects of the Seahawks fanbase to think they’d just steamroll over the depleted underdogs with the usual gameplan of leave everything up to Russell Wilson and hope someone’s god offers divine intervention.

Turns out, a team did go down and score a touchdown after Murray’s injury…

It turned out to to be backup Brett Hundley teaming up with Drake to absolutely flatten the Pigeons on the ground in the 4th Quarter, while Wilson now sleeps with the light on thanks to at least 2 NFC West lineman- Aaron Donald is one… Chandler Jones is the other – He sacked Wilson 4 times alone.

All of the sacks led to Dickson punting 7 times, almost certainly the most he’s appeared in a game this season, which Pharoh Cooper returned 4 times to moderate success.

On top of the loss, the Seahawks lost the lead of the NFC West, and thanks to tiebreakers, they can’t claim a 1st Round bye, and they were absolutely decimated by injury again – Running backs Chris Carson and CJ Prosice are both gone for the season, meaning the team is now minus all of their top RBs, following Rashad Penny’s ACL tear.

That’s led to a desperate call to a certain 420 advocate to make a heroic comeback from retirement – MARSHAWN LYNCH.

Cam Johnston (Eagles) defeated the Dallas Cowboys 17-9 @ The Linc

It was the epic cripple fight for the NFC East, and it lived up to all very low expectations – Despite having the No.1 ranked offense, the Cowboys didn’t even score a touchdown, and the Eagles weren’t that great, but heck, they didn’t need to be in a game like this.

For reasons of laziness, I won’t actually detail the game, so here’s another episode of Stephen A. Smith laughing uncontrollably at the Cowboys’ ineptitude.

On that note, goddamn you Philly, now the Cowboys are finally going to let go of Jason Garrett.

Adam Gotsis had his season ended early due to knee surgery – The Broncos defeated the Detroit Lions 27-17

Speaking of the Broncos and Lions, in this the 100th NFL season, here’s a history lesson – The Broncos were the first team from the upstart American Football League to defeat an NFL team, defeating the Lions 13-7 in a 1967 preseason game (A full 7 years after the AFL started), although the AFL would still be regarded as inferior until the momentous Super Bowl III a full 18 months later.

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