Sunday, January 4, 2009

Darren Sproles is too small

Chargers 23, Indianapolis 17 (OT)

I didn't see much of this game, most of it occurring during the NU/UMN game, but I did catch most of the fourth quarter. The Chargers, who epitomized "backing into the playoffs," scored a potential ticket to the AFC championship game with a game much more dominated by offense than the final score indicates.

This was a weird one. At one point, Manning threw for a touchdown on a quick snap while the San Diego secondary was looking at the bench. At another, Darren Sproles managed to fumble the ball a yard before the endzone. And the game's MVP was decidedly Mike Scifres, the San Diego punter who kicked 6 punts for an average of over 52 yards, including a 67 yard punt. None were more important than his fourth quarter kick, a beautiful punt that dropped the Colts back to their own 1 yard line.

The Chargers, able to get the ball back with just under two minutes to play, tied the game on a Nate Kaeding field goal to force overtime.

Overtime in the NFL is mind-bogglingly stupid. Whoever wins the toss tends to win the game, and the Chargers won the toss. Assisted by some horrendous defensive penalties, they managed to ice the game with a 22 yard Sproles touchdown run. The kid is small, but he's got wheels.

Northeastern 2, Minnesota 3 (OT)

Probably the best college hockey game I've seen as far as overall talent, the Huskies managed to lose the game on a couple freak plays to finish second in the Dodge Holiday Classic. NU got goals from Wade MacLeod (his second of the tournament) and Tyler McNeely, but couldn't hold a 2-1 lead in the third.

Trailing 1-0, the Gophers got their first goal on a freak bounce. Aaron Ness shot the puck into the slot where it took the most benficial bounce off a shin pad I've ever seen. The puck deflected directly into the net and the game was tied.

Later, the Gophers tied the game at 2-2 with another weird goal. Ness, again, sorta flung the puck on net from deep in traffic near the blue line. It rose, fell, and dropped into the net, a goal Thiessen likely wants back.

Regardless, the game ended regulation at 2-2 and overtime commenced. Almost immediately, the Gophers seemed to ice the puck, but no call was made. Thiessen came out to play the puck and tried bouncing it along the boards, but instead flicked it into the stands. The refs called a delay of game penalty. The rules state, quite clearly, that a penalty shall be assessed if a player "deliberately" forces the puck out of the rink. Thiessen was not under pressure, clearly did not want to put the Gophers on power play, and obviously did not "deliberately" force the puck over the glass. Nevertheless, the Gophers scored soon into the ensuing power play and that, as they say, was that.

Thiessen had an otherwise brilliant tournament, named to the all-tournament team along with MacLeod and Louis Liotti. He needs to shake this one off. His history in tournaments is far from stellar, but the fact remains that Hockey East points are far more important than wins in holiday tournaments. Of course, there is one tournament that matters...

The Huskies have a home and home series with Merrimack this Friday and Saturday. 3 points should be considered the bare minimum.

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