Sweaty Men Endeavors

The sports blog with the slightly gay name

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Magnifico Mario!

All week long, it seemed like Michigan fans were waiting for that one loss, the confirmation that this was finally the season where the Wolverines officially slid into mediocrity. And this week's game versus undefeated Penn State looked like it could be the one.

That could still happen, because we still don't know how good these guys really are. But it didn't happen yesterday. Just when you thought Michigan might really be down, they show that they're still a player in the Big 10 race with a defibrillating, literally last-second 27-25 victory.

Of course you've already heard the call of Michigan's last-second win over Penn State on TV or radio (Boy, Frank Beckmann's going to miss U-M on WJR). But I'm curious if your house sounded anything like mine when Mario Manningham caught that 10-yard, game-winning touchdown pass from Chad Henne.

(Image by Duane Burleson/ Associated Press)

I was on the phone with my sister, a U-M graduate who lives in South Carolina and, thanks to ABC's regional TV coverage, was relegated to watching Louisville-West Virginia. (Top item on Lil' Sis' Christmas list this year? A satellite dish.) I tried to be helpful and called her with updates, but when Henne had the ball ripped out of his arms for a Penn St. touchdown (and I blew out her ear by screaming, "Oh, that FUCKER!"), she yelled at me and insisted she didn't want to hear anything about the game until it was over. "I'm gonna have a heart attack!" she said. "I can't take this!"

But she couldn't stay away. When she saw that Michigan had tied the game at 18 (via NBC's crawl), she called back, asked if it was true, and then repeated that I wasn't to call her until the end. Of course, I called back just before Penn State took a 25-21 lead. "WHY?" she shrieked at me. "I told you not to call me! Heart attack!" But with only 53 seconds left in the game, I kept her on the phone with me and made her suffer through my play-by-play commentary. (A sample: "Ohshitohshitohshit! Damn, he dropped it! But that's okay. The clock stopped. It's 2nd-and-10, 28 seconds left.")

Here's what my house sounded like at the end:

"Okay, one second left. This is it."

"Why did you call me, Ian? I can't take this shit. Why don't you listen to me?"

"C'mon, you wanted to hear this. Okay, here we go... Henne's dropp-- YEAH! YEAH! YEAH! HOLY SHIT! IS IT GOOD? YEAH! NO FLAGS! NO FLAGS! TOUCHDOWN! HE HIT MANNINGHAM! YEAH! YEAH! YEAH!"

I drop the phone while jumping around - really much more than a man my age should be - then pick it back up to hear my shrieking sister.

"Touchdown? Really? No! Yes! Ohmygodohmygodohmygod! YES!"


Sound anything like yours? Unfortunately, Lil' Sis didn't get to see a highlight of the play, no matter which channel she tried. Louisville-West Virginia went to overtime on ABC, LSU and Florida went down to the wire on CBS, and USC staged its own amazing comeback over Notre Dame on NBC. I hope she stayed up to watch SportsCenter last night.

(Image by Carlos Osorio/ Associated Press)

I'm sure a nitpicker or two could disagree with me, but didn't everyone in the Michigan Fan Doghouse redeem himself yesterday?

♦ Had Lloyd Carr not fought for those extra two seconds (from :28 to :30) after calling timeout, would Michigan have won the game? They literally needed every second left. (Joe Paterno thought the decision by the referees was "baloney," by the way.)

♦ I've been tough on Henne (which means I know nothing about quarterback play, according to Carr), but he was Fonzie on that last drive - cool. And that showed some toughness, coming back after that rather emasculating fumble. We'll see how Henne plays from here on out - and I certainly hope his confidence soars - but he assured no one else will be playing quarterback for Michigan for the next 1-2 years.

(But I do have one suggestion for young Chad, in regards to that fumble: Slide next time, you jive turkey! Slide!)

Garrett Rivas has been my favorite punching bag lately, but last week, an anonymous reader reminded me that Rivas has kicked game-winning field goals before. (Put a name to your comment next time, pal. I'm giving you credit here.) I might have to reassess my contention that kicking a field goal in a tie game (18-18) isn't a pressure kick, because Michigan really needed that field goal and - at 47 yards - that was hardly an easy kick to make. Garrett - for this week, you're a good kicker, and I'm a putz.

♦ With a huge 41-yard run to set up the game-winning score, Steve Breaston has had big kickoff returns two weeks in a row, and no longer belongs on the side of a milk carton. Does he once again deserve the hype The Sporting News lavished upon him earlier this season?

Okay, does that cover everyone? Did I miss anybody? Let's move on to some last points and thoughts from the game:

▪ ▪ How did Penn State let Manningham get that open on the game-winning touchdown? And would you believe Manningham was the second read for Henne on that play? Can you believe Breaston was the first read?

▪ ▪ From Jim Carty of the Ann Arbor News: Despite the win, Lloyd Carr is still mad as hell and not going to take it anymore - the criticism of Chad Henne and Jim Herrmann, that is.

▪ ▪ Hey, Michigan defense! How about not giving up any more 61-yard runs in the fourth quarter? Jesus...

▪ ▪ Will Michigan ever call for a pass play when it lines up Antonio Bass at quarterback? I like Michigan doing that, but if you're the opposing defense and see that formation, don't you know Bass is going to run the ball? Yet Bass gained 24 yards on one of those plays, so what do I know?

▪ ▪ Ron Cook of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette still thinks Penn State is the better team. Lest you think he's completely biased, however, he acknowledges Michigan played the better game and points out that Paterno will forever kick himself for kicking off to Steve Breaston toward the end of the game.

▪ ▪ Finally, it has nothing to do with the game, but if you're curious how Michigan feels about WJR's new deal with Michigan State, Terry Foster has some interesting insight into the story.


  • At October 16, 2005 8:21 PM, Blogger Chris said…

    I couldn't believe that fucking game! I thought Michigan was going to loose for sure. "No fucking way!" I shrieked, when Manningham grabbed that pass, scaring the hell outta my wife...

  • At October 17, 2005 1:58 PM, Blogger Sam said…

    See, I was screaming, "I can't take it anymore!" during those final few drives, and I was at the game.

  • At October 17, 2005 4:26 PM, Blogger Commish said…

    Just found this blog, good thoughts, good Detroit sports variety, keep it up!

  • At October 17, 2005 5:48 PM, Blogger mayday said…

    Great story re. your sis. Henne said afterwards his fumble was a case of him "thinking I was tougher than I was," that he could just run over the All-American cornerback. We hope it doesn't take him more lessons to quit pulling THAT trick.

    If Breaston was the first read on that play, then the first read was predicated on PSU completely screwing the pooch. Breaston ran right in front of both safeties, who converged forward on him, leaving Manningham in single coverage which he easily outpaced. If Henne throws to Breaston it looks like the final play of Super Bowl XXXIV to Kevin Dyson, unless Breaston does something ridiculous. Maybe Henne actually looked the safeties off a little bit (!!!), but the routes had similar trajectories (one just deeper than the other), so it would have been only with his eyes if at all.

    I can't believe I've now learned the network gave Prescott Burgess the player of the game award for Michigan. As usual, Prescott played focused maybe half the game. Even though this was Manningham's most glamorous effort so far, I think you have to give it to Breaston. He kept them in it with three huge returns in the 4th, the first and the last absolutely necessary.

  • At October 17, 2005 5:58 PM, Blogger Chris of Dangerous Logic said…

    Well, I think Paterno was right for referring to the extra-time call as 'baloney,' but for the wrong reason.

    They should have added two *more* seconds back to the clock, as Tabb was tackled with 33 seconds left and the bench immediately called time out.

  • At October 17, 2005 7:16 PM, Anonymous Scott said…

    mayday -

    I think they said Breaston was the first read because on that play Henne is checking the action of the safety with respect to Steve's cut. If the safety goes w/ Breaston, Henne knows that the outside's single covered. If the safety stays outside, there should be a small window to Breaston.

  • At October 18, 2005 2:45 PM, Blogger Ian C. said…

    How did David Harris not get Player of the Game from ABC? Dude was all over the field for Michigan.

  • At October 19, 2005 12:14 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Fuck WJR, bring on WTKA


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