Live-Blogging the Conference Championships: Columbus at Georgia

14 07 2007

Matt Crankypants Nagy FTW

Good afternoon. Glad you all could make it. SportsCenter is running over, for some reason. What’s going on here? It’s 12:00 – where’s my wacky pseudo-league? Oh. I figured it out. TiVo fooled me. Let’s get it on.

12:07 – who knows how behind I am – but Chris Griesen looks ready to go. PLUS, we get to listen to the Mikes! Awesome. We get to recap Seth Marler’s doofus misses, as well as the bizarro clangs off the posts. Columbus! Georgia! Nagy! Greisen! Touchdowns! Matt Nagy knows it’s on. Doug Plank wants a warrior attitude. AFL warriors are like the Swiss Army. If it comes down to it, you don’t want to fight them, but most of the time you just are interested in their knives, and bags, and stuff. That metaphor kind of broke down.

12:12. Fat Mike takes his first crack at Fey Mike (just show up at the dance, you don’t have to be the best-looking). Matt Nagy has a playoff beard, but no playoff hair. The Scrappy Chris Griesen looks twelve. He has a really tiny head. I’ve never noticed that.

12:15 – Kickoff returned to the 10. Griesen starts off by making a nice couple of conservative passes. AND a rainbow goes to the other team. Just overthrew the crossing route. Oooh. It’s still early, though. 13:20 remains in the 1st. Griesen with a case of the nerves.

12:17 – Matt Nagy, former Delaware Blue Hen, has not shown his temper, but a dart to the end zone is picked of by Doster. Georgia and Columbus trade turnovers! Huge. My roommate says he hasn’t seen any touchdowns, so he’s bored.

12:18 – Boop-boop-boop through the commercials, and the “No Punting” graphic is noticed by Ryan (special guest roommate commentator), who immediately susses out that a missed field goal essentially equals a punt. Griesen flips a shovel pass out to the left, and they’re moving again. Even when Georgia screws up: Griesen fires the ball a couple rows deep, but the linebacker leaves the box. First down, two pump fakes and a first down to Derrick Lee, who my roommate would prefer focus on baseball.

12:22 – Mammoth sack, Ken Jones. Greisen is flung down by his right arm. 2nd and 19, and Georgia has to regroup. Troy Bergeron is out for the day, by the way, and that’s bad, bad news for Georgia. We could’ve mentioned that yesterday, I suppose.

12:24 – Georgia gives the ball over on downs. Coach says to just go for the first down, but Greisen sees Johnson gets some separation, airs it out to him. It would’ve been smarter to laser the ball to him, but he gets just enough air under it to get it broken up. Scoreless tie, with 8:04 left.

12:26 – Back from commercial, Greisen takes responsibility for the offense going nowhere. Bush makes thirty-seven Force defenders miss tackles, and a sissy push into the boards stops the play. The next flaf should be a bit of holding… and… it’s not. It’s a late hit. Weak, zebras. Well, I guess that’s a fair roughing the QB penalty, after all. But whatever. Touchdown, Cole Magner with the reception. That’s the way Greisen should be throwing the ball – darts. The Destroyers take the lead 7-0, 6:07 remains in the 1st.

12:29 – Still boop-boop-booping through commercials, and I have no idea what’s going on, because Ryan was explaining why the Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology logo is this crazy triangle-circle thing. But we digress. We’re back in with Greisen hitting things and yelling at himself. “Throw it,” he says. In. Deed.

I really like the lightning bolts on the shoulders of the Georgia uniforms. First down, Georgia and some poor family is brained by the chains. Greisen buys enough time to hurl the ball to some kid in a Vick jersey in the corner of the end zone. On the holding non-call Fat Mike with the Advice For Life: “If you don’t get caught, it’s okay.”

12:33 – Fumble, Georgia. That ball is live off the wall. Columbus on offense again. This is bad, bad news for Georgia. Good news for Georgia, though, as Nagy can’t get beyond midfield, turning the ball over on downs. Columbus isn’t taking advantage of opportunities. This game is going very quickly.

12:36 – Case in point: touchdown, Georgia. My, they answered quickly. Columbus DB wants the push-off call, but won’t get it. Martinez puts the extra point through, and it’s 7-7 with 13.5 seconds left in the first. Replay: the cornerback just fell down.

12:38 – Huge return (“MOMENTUM SHIFT,” screams Ryan) by Bush. Columbus gets the ball at the top of the second quarter in excellent field position. Ryan has begun playing drumset to counterpoint the action on the field. (Your traditional boom-boom-chick pattern, accompanied by “Aaaaaaarrreeeeeeeennnnaaaa Foootballllllllllll!”)

12:40 – I kind of like the Vitamin Water commercial with 50 Cent, where he conducts the orchestra. I think I’d get tired of it pretty soon, though. “These 7-9 teams winning the Arena Bowl will make a mockery of the Arena League like the Cardinals made a mockery of major league baseball. Not to imply that Arena Football is mock-worthy,” says Ryan. Hooray. Fey Mike calls Fat Mike prescient because he called illegal defense on Georgia.

Touchdown, Columbus. Nagy puts the ball in front of Saunders, and barrels into the end zone. That was an easy drive for Columbus. 14-7, 13:24 remains in the half. We get the “these goal posts are narrow” comment from the Mikes for the first (but probably not the last) time.

12:45 – ESPN is comparing Columbus to the New York Jets (SBIII), USA Hockey Miracle on Ice, Villanova, and Buster Douglas vs. Tyson? REALLY? Come on. That’s… obscene, really. Also, there apparently haven’t been any significant upsets in 17 years. Holmes rides the train down the sideline until he crashes directly into the kicker. You have to get around the kicker. Weak. Also, a facemask penalty puts the ball on the 5 or so. MOMENTUM CHANGER.

12:48 – Unfortunately, a short pass, and then the Jumbo package just sets up 3rd and Goal from the 1. Your giants fool no one, Georgia. Large Mike deciphers the fake run play, but Mike Jones is not fooled at all. Greisen’s crushed by Jones. Who is a very large gentleman. Time out, Georgia. 11:05 remains in the half.

12:50 – A little bunchy play, oh, and this is a disaster for Georgia, as Gerald Brown fools everyone to grab the interception and DEAR GOD, jukes the entire Georgia team and most of the front office, and brings it back for 6. That was… inexplicable. Greisen tries to arm-tackle him, but that’s the only guy that even gets a hand on him. Brown jukes no less than 7 times to take it from 6 yards deep in the end zone all the way back. Momentum… changer. 21-7 Columbus, 10:04 remains in the half.

12:52 – Gerald Brown is actually spelled “Jerald Brown.”Okay… On the replay, that was right to him. Yeesh. Greisen has to get back together, or this is the ballgame. Greisen completes the ball to Derrick Lee ANGRILY. He really just whips the ball to the sideline.

12:55 – Touchdown, Georgia. Jerald Brown gave up on that play, as he thinks he’s done enough for the day. What more do you want from Jerald Brown? He’s tired. 21-14, Columbus. 7:44 remains.

12:56 – Nagy, with the Bernie Kosar-esque delivery to the sidelines, and we’ll listen to a little chat with Doug Planck. And his constant. Nagy delivers the ball over the middle to Gross, who’s tapped into the boards. You should have to get hammered into the boards to be called down. Just pushed lightly… weak.

The EA Sports scouting report says that Nagy is out for revenge. That’s hilarious. He doesn’t have all the clubs in the bag, or anything like that. But he’s driven by REVENGE.

1:00 – Shovel pass inside the 5, and Nagy – it terrifies me to say this – looks pretty good. Especially when Umar Muhammed jumps into the neutral zone for the second time on this drive.
The ESPN Dump Button Guy is asleep at the switch, as Matt Nagy says, with complete clarity, “[something] on 2! No, no, wait, fuck that! I want to do it on 1!” Touchdown, Matt Nagy on the sneak. 28-14, 3:29 left in the half.

In other news, Fey Mike is really hammering the “Nagy is revenge-minded” card.

Greeny, sounding like he’s trying to convince himself (with limited success): “And the context has to be taken into account; the Arena Football League is… a… a… legitimatefootballlegauge…” And the ESPN torture droid hovers away, satisfied.

1:05 – Greisen pumps once, pumps twice, pumps thrice, throws a laser. First down.

1:07 – Heflin breaks up a pass, and a nice play by the Georgia WR is all that keeps him from tipping it to himself for the interception. 1:00 warning.

1:09 – Chris Jackson is the motion man, should be called offsides, but he gets the separation from the touchdown. And then, despite the fact that there’s no punting in arena football, he punts the ball into the stands. 28-21. 55.6 left. “Words can’t describe how much time Columbus has,” says Fey Mike. I respectfully disagree – I suggest you attempt to use the phrase “fifty-five point six seconds,” and go from there.

1:10 – Matt Nagy, Crankypants shows up in his interview with the Mikes. That’s cool. “Your guess is as good as mine,” as he rips off his headphones to go talk to his coach. And probably kick a puppy. But place or drop-kick it, because there’s no punting in arena football.

1:12 – Some random Georgia player on the bench just bops the referee, and I wish I knew why. Where are you now, ESPN Microphones? Where. Are. You. Now? Ooh, and for some reason the ground causes that fumble. Georgia may have gotten boned on that call.

1:14 – Matt Nagy and Coach Wilford Brimley can’t agree on a play, surprise surprise. Nagy shakes off his coach four or five times and brings the head coach into it. Then says “look inside” and goes outside. Weird.

1:16 – Awesome. At the end of another Columbus “strategy” session (including Nagy’s observation that “What are we doing, when we have all these plays to run inside the five!?!”) Nagy screams “GET A THIRD DOWN READY,” to his coaching staff, who he CLEARLY doesn’t trust. He won’t need that third down play, because illegal defense is called on Georgia. And Nagy finds the free man for the touchdown. 35-21 Columbus, 5.2 left in the half. Zoiks.

1:19 – Ryan asks if I’m eating my words currently. I am. “I hope your words taste like crow,” he says.

1:20 – A favorable clock start will leave .05, time for one play. Milligan was shoved down after the play, and takes a while to get back up, but he’s (kind of) okay. Carlos Martinez will attempt a field goal. Maybe it’s a fake? (The uprights aren’t very wide, mention #3) It’s a funny looking fake, and not only does he miss the field goal, but Columbus will take this all the way back.

But wait! A block in the back penalty will erase that 56-yard return. Jesus. And Greenberg once again mentions that he has “no words to describe” how big a momentum changer that is. You know, for a professional broadcaster, he seems to be lacking words with some frequency.

That’s the half. Columbus looks competent, and Georgia doesn’t. Shockingly.

HALFTIME ANALYSIS BEFORE I FIND SOME FOOD:

What the crap happened to Georgia? They just don’t look good. A couple easy interceptions and terrible special teams play isn’t the Georgia team I know. Also, if Columbus scores more points than Georgia, get this: they’ll win.

/HALFTIME ANALYSIS.

ESPN WIRED ANALYSIS, JUST AS A SIDE NOTE

Hey, Griesen really never gave up on that interception return (and wasn’t the one with the arm-tackle, like I thought originally), and it looks like he got blocked in the back. Scrappy. He took four or five blocks from some lineman and was with the play until what’s-his-face-scored. Oh, and I’m sure there was some audio editing involved. I don’t believe that “Oof,” is all that was initially on those tapes.

Meanwhile:

Ryan: “Am I just going to walk around with my balls out? Because that’s what these boxers seem to want me to do.”

TC: “Okay, that’s going in the blog.”

Ryan: “I’m putting some shorts on, for the good of America, then.”

THAT’S ENOUGH OF THAT, THANK YOU.

Oops. Doug Plank is spelled p-l-a-n-k, which means my Planck’s Constant joke doesn’t make sense. He also was less than inspiring in his halftime speech. This bodes ill for Georgia. Also, I’m caught up to real time, now.

1:36 – Kickoff, and Columbus is on the move. Fat Mike refers to the “four corner” stall, which is from a different sport and era. That’s showing you’re well rounded, I suppose. At the end of the 19-yard gain by Bush, the Georgia defenders try to hold him up and pull the ball away. Ryan and I agree that those are the conversations that we want to hear. Can we put a “parental discretion advised” label on this? Or put it on HBO? Meanwhile, while I was discussing that, touchdown Columbus. Aaaannd they clang the extra point. That’s good for another mention of how narrow the posts are, and it’s a 20 point lead, 41-21 Columbus.

1:39 – Matt Nagy, Crankypants, refuses to answer the last question from the Mikes, who deftly turn it into a statement, rather than a question. Kickoff is returned to the 15, and is stopped again by the kicker. If the kicker’s the only guy to beat, you cut inside, not to the boards, idiot. Greisen is on the ground a lot, and isn’t connecting with his recievers. He wants to throw the ball to CJ, and the offensive coordinator complies. Jackson is open, Greisen hits him, and he barrels over the defensive back for the touchdown. The missed extra point now looms large, as Georgia converts. 41-28, 9:24 remaining.

1:46 – Ryan leaves to go to the park, read his book, and smoke a cigar. He pretends to not be interested, but he lingers to watch the kickoff, and is rewarded with a little extracurricular activity. Martinez, the kicker, is mixing it up after making the tackle. What’s going on here?

Nagy to Groce, that’s what. A nice touch-pass from Nagy over the outside shoulder goes for the score. 48-28, Columbus. The Mikes want to know, as do I, how Groce got that open, and the answer is that Georgia tried to jam the motion man. That’s idiotic. But Columbus is shocking the world.

1:51 – Excellent point by Greenberg: “Every time Georgia does something to look like they’re getting back in it, Columbus has answered.” And another lengthy kickoff return leaves Georgia with good field position. Greisen takes the helm, and if he can settle down here, they’ll stay in the game.

Greisen makes a dangerous choice to try to force a pass, but isn’t hurt by it, as it falls incomplete, and they convert on 3rd down with a running play. Lee makes a delightful one-handed catch for the touchdown – after a bit of a push-off. The defenders are furious, the Mikes are trying to muster outrage, and the score is 48-35 Columbus, with 4:07 left in the third.

1:57 – Best wired comment of this segment: some offensive player says to Nagy “That’s a good quarterback,” like he’s a spaniel or something. Awesome. Serviceable (the Mikes call it great, but I disagree) onside kick by Georgia, but no love – Columbus goes up and gets it. Georgia’s going to have to stand strong from the 11. Columbus, realizing it’s never to early for clock management, starts with the run-and-dawdle offense. Nagy then throws the fade like only he can – to a fan. It’s taken the better part of three quarters, but the Georgia crowd has gotten loud. Nagy’s pass on 3rd down is complete, but not enough for the first.

Field goal attempt bounces off both goalposts and OUT. Dear God. “Double doink” says one of the Mikes, and I’m going to incorporate that into my everyday vocabulary. I’m also going to make it obscene. A late flag that the Mikes think may have come from the fans (how great would that be) gives Georgia some breathing room… and two quick passes lead to a Georgia touchdown. That didn’t take long, and dare I say it: Momentum Changer! 48-42 Columbus, 28.1 remains in the third. Wow, that was quick.

2:03 – Another onside kick goes nowhere. Good point, Fat Mike: Bush has been killing Georgia with long returns, so why kick to him? Nagy shows a face you don’t want to see on your quarterback at the end of the third quarter. I think his goal was to look “hard,” but he missed, and landed on “kidney stones.”

2:07 – Another great Vitamin Water commercial: Casey Kane, why are you here living with a group of nomadic yak herders? Hee.

2:08 – “Stan” in Bristol(?) keeps saying “back to you in LA,” when throwing it back to the game. Stan? Are you paying any attention? Nagy misses a wide-open Saunders to start the 4th, and on the next play, Georgia stands up his wide receiver and tries to strip the ball again. GO DOWN, Columbus recievers. Also: how come we haven’t seen any Georgia buckets today? Nagy’s deep ball goes off Groce’s hands! The Mikes say it was broken up, but that’s just a drop. That’s trouble. They don’t even acknowledge it on the replays, which is a little disappointing. What’s Josh Harris, former Bowling Green Fighting Falcon, doing in the game? He lines up under center, but Josh Harris, former Motor City Bowl Foe Of Northwestern University, has to burn a time out.

2:11 – Back from the break, it looks like Columbus is going for it. The Mikes say they should be going for the field goal, and it’s the classic conundrum: don’t take points off the board vs. THE FIELD GOAL POSTS ARE VERY NARROW IN THIS VERSION OF THE SPORT OF FOOT-BALL. The gamble fails – David Sanders wants a flag as Georgia breaks up the pass by sticking to Sanders with a little collision. It looked pretty clean to me…

2:15 – Georgia is marching – a dropped pass leads to 3rd and 5, and the playcall is Rage wide (y?) Post X. What does rage mean? Motion to trips? It apparently means Chris Jackson is blindingly open. First down at the 5-ish. 1st and goal, Georgia.

2:17 – Golic gets on board with my repeated shouting of “Momentum shift!” and lo, it is so. Lob pass to the end zone, touchdown, Georgia. Georgia takes the lead 49-48, with 8:42 left. “Is the clock about to strike midnight on Cinderella?” asks Fey Mike. You know he plays Pretty Pretty Princess on road trips. Golic won’t play with him, because the ring won’t fit on his big-ass paws, and that gives him body-image issues.

2:19 – Georgia with a goofy squib onside kick that doesn’t go 10 yards before hitting the wall. I really like that! That’s a weird spin on that one, and it’s Columbus ball at the 9. Prediction: there will be a lot of scoring in this, the 4th quarter.

Ryan, my Horner Park field reporter, lets me know that instead of watching Arena Football, three boys are riding one bike: back pegs and handlebars. That’s a lot of work for the bike owner.

Josh Harris, Scourge of Northwestern Wildcats Everywhere, makes a play that is in NO WAY the way they drew it up in the huddle… Flip to P.J. Barre, who reverses field on the run(?), but Barre shot puts the ball to somebody in the back of the end zone for the touchdown. That was the weirdest thing I’ve ever seen.

Hee:

Nagy: “No! NO! We don’t want the time out!”

Ref: “Well, you got one.”

The time out brings us more As The World Turns drama, as everybody shouts over each other, and I have no idea what happens, because the Dump Button Guy lands with both feet on the huddle. Anyway, Nagy takes control, and calls the run play for the 2-point conversion. It’s good. 56-49 Columbus. 6:34 is left in the game. Momentum?

2:25 – Ryan somehow psychically knows that we just say a run play for the conversion and texts me “If I were a fullback, I’d want all the ladies to know I was the reason they call it a ‘jumbo package.'” Nice.

2:26 – For the Ladies(…) we get insight into the Chicago locker room, and watch Matt D’Orazio’s rubdown in the Chicago/San Jose run-up.

Okay, so the insane scoring play was totally busted, and Matt Nagy admits it. Kickoff, Columbus. Another sizable return, and the Mikes are baffled as to where they’ve been the rest of the season. The special teams play today has been three to seven different varieties of shit, Mike and Mike. That’s where they’ve been. Derrick Lee sort of makes up for being offsides by coming down with the pass, and this one requires Lee to be “on his horse,” which I’m glad Greisen said. It makes him more real to me.

Lee makes a teriffic heads-up play to break up the near-certain interception. Wow, he just hammered the ball out of Brown’s hands. The next play is short of the sticks, and Griesen commits a false start after doing a hell of a job to show that he was calm in the huddle. That’s a back-breaker. 4th and 6. Greisen overthrows Jackson, but there’s a flag on the play. Everybody in the building thinks it’s on Columbus, but it’s offsides on Georgia, as the motion man gets 4 yards past the line of scrimmage. Ball goes over to Columbus.

2:33 – A run play gets blown up, and Matt Nagy, as soon as he hands it off, throws his hands in the air and groans. When he’s happy, he doesn’t know what to do with himself. Nagy puts it over the left shoulder of Damien Groce again for the touchdown. It’s a 2-score game, as Columbus goes up 63-49, and Georgia has 2:03 to make up the difference.

On the touchdown – how Wheatley can blow up Groce at the line, and have Groce still get two steps of separation on him, I have no idea.

Matt Nagy does not like being asked more than one question – he moves to remove the headphones after the first question, but Greenberg deftly slips the second question in.

2:37 – After the first insubstantial return in two quarters, Georgia tries to get going. With a running clock, you’d expect a little more urgency, but Georgia brings us down to the 1:00 warning and doesn’t manage to cross midfield.

2:41 – Hillery pulls down the pass, grabs a few extra yards, and instead of going out of bounds, reverses field, and gets a couple more. Then, immediately, touchdown, Chris Jackson – it might have hit the ground, but as Mike points out, there’s no instant replay. You know, in case you forgot. XP is good, 63 – 56 Columbus, 46.1 left.

2:43 – Golic name-drops AFL receivers I don’t know, but will research. Greenberg can’t contribute, so they go back to arguing about the call. Their consensus: not a terrible call. The onside kick is set out of bounds like a volleyball, and I love that move. Genius. And we get the “team with the lead” clock rules briefing. Columbus gets positive yards, the clock runs, Georgia calls a time out. Coach Walrus has to bark at Nagy to get him to focus. Positive yards, and the calls start coming: “One yard, and we go to the Arena Bowl.” Jesus.

2:46 – The timeout huddle is bedlam. Nobody’s focused, and Columbus comes out and can’t get that yard. Nagy. Is. Pissed. Columbus calls a time-out and Coach Brimley insists that they have to throw a touchdown here. Really? What?

2:48 – No, they’ll kick the field goal, and get it. That should do it. Martinez just put them up two scores. 66-56, Columbus, and there’s only 31 seconds left. Jaws would tell us that ANYTHING can happen with 31 seconds left. Meanwhile, on the replay, it looks like Martinez is terrified of Matt Nagy. He just wants to celebrate, and Nagy wants to get all in his face and tell him “I’M VERY HAPPY! WHAT DO I DO?”

2:50 – What the hell happened there? Offsides defense, but Georgia would’ve been screwed, as Holmes runs around and wastes a metric fuckton of time. Greisen makes another weird decision to throw the ball to the underneath man after hanging on to it for too many seconds. This is over.

2:52 – They’ll try to get the field goal part of the field-goal-and-touchdown, and it’s blocked. That’s the ballgame, kids. Ryan says “This is an upset greater than the Vandals sacking Rome.” I am unimpressed, so he amends to “A bigger upset than the Ice Age taking out the dinosaurs,” and then to cover his bases, “Bigger than protozoa evolving into sentient beings.” Oooohkay.

Matt Nagy’s itty-bitty wife runs onto the field after he hurls the ball into the rafters to run out the clock, and they have coitus right there on the 10-yard-line. I may have made the coitus part up.

Sooooo… we underestimated the Destroyers again, and we paid for it. They’re going to New Orleans, and I don’t trust sports anymore. I’m worn out. But, we’ll blog about the Chicago game. I swear it.

To close us out, Ryan: “So, this win was an un-possibility?” Yes. Holy crap.

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