Bizarro Sunday

Most NFL fans will tell you that the weekend of the divisional playoffs is better than opening day, better than the conference championships, and yes, better than the Super Bowl. Four great elimination games spread out over cold late afternoons and evenings on Saturday and Sunday in January makes this the best weekend in sports of the year.

And for Hobokenites, many of whom Giant fans, playing the hated Cowboys made the day almost like an unofficial town holiday. Every bar with large plasmas around town was so packed you couldn’t get a shoehorn in.

The Sunday appetitizer set the tone for what was truly Bizarro Sunday in the form of Chargers-Colts. What should have been a relatively easy Indy win was suddenly a close one, and when the Colts scored on a spectacular catch-and-run by Anthony Gonzalez to go up 24-21, that should have been enough to advance Peyton to the next round for Colts-Pats IV this decade. After all, Chargers QB Phillip Rivers was out with a knee injury, the league’s leading rusher (Tomlinson) went down as well, and the best tight end in football (Gates) was nowhere to be found with a busted toe. But somehow a career backup named Billy Volek and soon-to-be-a-starter-elsewhere RB Michael Turner drove the Bolts an improbable 78 yards on the road against the defending Super Bowl champs for the go-ahead score.

No panic by the 10 or so Colts fans at Liberty Bar, not with Peyton Manning at the controls. But #18’s receivers got a funny case of the drops at the worst possible time. Dallas Clark’s drop on fourth down with about one minute left sealed the deal, and the depleted Chargers were off to New England as one of the biggest underdogs in conference championship history (they’re getting 15).

Random tangent: Some guys really do only think with their (insert organ nickname here). Here you had the Colts with the ball down four and about two minutes left, and as I panned around the bar right before a play, they were some idiots with their backs to the screens locked in deep conversations with whatever girl was in front of them.

Colts lose? Chargers win? No Pats-Colts mini-Super Bowl next week? Who cares? But these guys were in a SPORTS BAR and likely wouldn’t know who Peyton Manning was if he fell on them. Hoboken Police should have been called immediately and arrested all offenders complete with $1000.00 fines.

The main course was finally served up around 4:40 and by this time Liberty Bar was a sea of blue (it helped that Colts fans who stayed have similar duds to the Giants). By 5:00 it was already 7-0 Giants after Amani Toomer broke a few tackles and scored on a nifty 52-yard touchdown. Did this guy find the pool with the rocks from Cocoon before the playoffs began? He has four touchdowns this postseason and is one of the oldest guys on the team.

The place, as you can see, was already going insane. In fact, it’s the loudest I’ve ever heard Liberty since I moved here back in the 20th Century. There were no Cowboys fans there…just one schmuck that was wearing an Eagles jersey that was somehow rooting against both teams (any bad play by either side was met with a sentence that usually ended in “sucks”). Anyway, the Cowboys came right back, tied the game and eventually took the lead with a marathon drive (20 plays) that I finished three beers watching right before halftime. The Giants looked shot, but when the Tea Building’s Eli Manning took them down the field for another score (to Toomer, of course) in only 46 seconds, there was hope that the second half wasn’t going to be the disaster it looked like it would be.

It was about 7:00 PM on a Sunday night, but at this point the drinks were flowing fast and furious. Shots, pitchers…you name it. And when the talk of a 10-inch snowstorm coming Hoboken’s way that evening, many people figured that they may not have to go to work, so why not treat Sunday like a Saturday night.

Waking up with a hangover on a January in Monday and looking outside to see absolutely nothing white in the air or on the ground must have been a bitch, huh?

Anyway, you know the rest: Giants trail 17-14, take the lead again with a Brandon Jacobs plunge (which I particularly enjoyed since he’s on my playoff touchdowns-only fantasy team) and Romo, whose girlfriend, Yoko Romo (Jessica Simpson) will somehow be blamed for everything in Texas including rising oil prices, couldn’t get his Cowboys into the end zone thanks to a suffocating Giants pass rush and backup cornerbacks like Corey Webster containing Terrell Owens (who looked like he was headed toward suicide attempt #2 when crying after the game).

Since I’m a Bears fan, I wasn’t quite as euphoric as the rest of the bar when the Giants sealed it late. So the most entertaining part of my day had to be watching a large, middle-aged man next to me survive 17 heart attacks during this back-and-forth affair unfolding before him. Sweat, prayers, begging on his knees…he looked like Gekko at the end of Wall Street when Budd Fox got his revenge. But when it was over, I commented to a friend that we were witnessing the happiest moment in his life. Kids born? Wedding Day? First time he was orally pleasured? Oh no…NOTHING compared to watching the Giants go into Dallas and beat the Cowboys in their first-ever playoff meeting.

As Bizarro Sunday came to a close and you could actually see the floor at Liberty again, an Islanders-Senators game popped on the TVs. This made me depressed for a moment as I was seeing my sports future for the rest of the winter. Bad Knick games, disappointing Net games, college basketball all day on Saturday and Sunday…ugh. At least the Devils are on fire, but the NHL is impossible to really get into until the playoffs begin in April.

So one more Sunday of two games remains with Chargers-Pats at 3:00 PM and Giants-Packers (where the high temp in Green Bay is forecasted to be 9 degrees) at 6:30. Doesn’t matter where you go in Hoboken on January 20th…just make sure you use a sick day on Monday if they actually win.