This past weekend was the last of the "Best Sports Weekends" for Boston sports fans for a while. It seems like for the past two months every weekend has been filled with contests that have had huge implications in the sports world. This weekend the Red Sox were not part of the equation, basking in the glow of last weekends sweep of the Rockies and their second World Series title in four seasons. Each day this weekend there was a big game that on its own would be huge, but combined with the other games made for 48 hours of sporting bliss.
The Celtics opened up their NBA season with the new "Big Three", Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen. This has been the most anticipated Celtics season in two decades and they didn't disappoint the home crowd at the "Gah den". The game started slow with almost no scoring in the first quarter. It was as if the ghosts of Bird, McHale and Parrish were reluctant to abdicate their title to the new guys evidenced by the plethora of airballs, clangs off the rim and shots careening off the back board. Pierce looked like a man who had his death row sentence commuted (by Governor Garnett and AG Allen). He took control of the game in the third quarter. I fell asleep in the forth with the Celts holding a 20+ point lead. They won by 20, 103-83. I know its only opening day, but the Celts will be in the playoffs this year and a run at the Eastern Conference title is a real possibility.
The #2 ranked Boston College Eagles and their Heisman hopeful, Matt Ryan squared of against unranked Florida State. My cousin Jimmy aka Sul-Dog scored us some tickets from a friend. Unbeknownst to me instead of tailgating in the remnants of Hurricane Noel (which brought torrential downpours and 40 mile an hour wind gusts) we were in the comfort of a corporate party held in a student cafeteria with all the beer you could drink and food you could eat. This hospitality took the sting out of the Nor'easter, but not the sting of a bevy of dropped passes, missed tackles and horrible officiating. The speedy Florida State defense was draped all over BC receivers all night, but there was nary a yellow flag in sight. In stark contrast the Eagles piled up 121 penalty yards on eight penalties and appeared to be running in quicksand all night. The Eagles have dropped to #8 in the polls and the BCS and have to win out to ensure a BCS bowl game.
The Celtics won an afternoon contest vs the Raptors in OT which primed the pump for the most anticipated NFL regular season game ever, the 8-0 Patriots vs the 7-0 Colts. The game was a defensive battle from square one. Both teams punishing the other with smash-mouth D complete with plenty of helmet to helmet contact and borderline late hits. As in the BC game the previous evening the officiating was horrible. The Pats racked up 146 yards worth of penalties, half of which were on three pass interference calls which were completely bogus. The worst was a call against Cornerback Ellis Hobbs, who had perfect position on the receiver, who actually would've had an interception if he wasn't dragged down by receive Reggie Wayne. Of course when Kevin Faulk tried to make a catch on a critical 3rd down play he was hooked from behind, but the flags remained in the officials pocket. Even Jim Nance and Phil Sims, who were the TV announcers for the game, seemed perplexed as to why the Pats were getting called for everything and the Colt were getting called for nothing.
In spite of the poor officiating the Pats overcame a ten point defect in the forth quarter thanks to precise passing by Brady, phenomenal receptions by Moss, key returns by Welker and shut down "D" highlighted by a strip and pick by Green and Colvin respectively. Patriots: 24, Colts: 20 . I found it interesting that in his post game conference, Peyton Manning, in responding to a reporters question, agreed that the Colts injuries affected the outcome of this game. I didn't hear him, reference the Patriots depleted secondary, receiving core or stomach flu that half the the team suffered in his post game press conference after the AFC Championship game last year.
The run of great sports weekends has come to a close. There will be plenty of great games, but the confluence of football (college and pro), baseball, basketball and hockey (did I include hockey?) has come to an end. Good thing because I have neglected my kids, wife and housework to feed my need for Boston Sports. Next weekend I'll have lots and lots of leaves to rake. Maybe I'll get my housework done in time to watch BC play Maryland Saturday night.