Sunday, November 02, 2008

Lousy Football, On Both Sides of the Atlantic

Yesterday at South Bend, Notre Dame let a two-touchdown halftime lead against Pittsburgh get away, and the Panthers won, 36-33 in four overtimes, the longest game the Fighting Irish have ever played.

The Irish played a solid game on offense, as Jimmy Clausen threw three TD passes, two to Michael Floyd and one to Golden Tate. Clausen was 23-for-44 and 257 yards. Floyd and Tate continue to be an impressive tandem of receivers, and have brought ND's offense back to where it was a few years ago. Floyd also set the ND record for catches by a true freshman yesterday.

But the Irish defense simply couldn't stop Lesean McCoy, who rushed for 169 yards and 1 TD. Pittsburgh forced overtime with about 2 minutes to play as they scored a TD on fourth down and six, as QB Pat Bostick hit Jonathan Baldwin to make it 24-24.

Overtime was a field goal derby, in the first three overtimes both teams hit one apiece. With the game tied at 33, ND kicker Brandon Walker missed a 38-yard attempt as it went wide right. This opened the door for Pitt, and they got the game winner as Conor Lee hit from 22 yards to give Pitt the win, and drop the Irish to 5-3. All three of the ND losses have been to teams with winning records. (The last win against a team with a winning record for ND was against Penn State in 2006.)

Notre Dame faces Boston College next Saturday at Chestnut Hill at 8 PM.

And across the ocean in English football (that's soccer on these shores) was Liverpool's loss to Tottenham Hotspur in London yesterday. Liverpool was atop the Premiership standings going into yesterday, and were riding high after beating Chelsea last week and ending their 86-match unbeaten record at home.

On paper, it looked like it might be a piece of cake for the Reds, who needed to win to keep pace ahead of Chelsea, who whipped Sunderland, 5-0 yesterday. I caught a good part of the match on the Fox Soccer Channel, while switching over to the Notre Dame game on NBC.

Dirk Kuyt scored in the third minute to put Liverpool up 1-0. And it looked like it might stay that way. Spurs were the bottom team in the Premiership, but had won one and tied one since they changed managers recently and put Harry (Houdini) Redknapp in charge. And in the 69th minute, Liverpool defender Jamie Carragher accidently headed a cross into his own net to tie the match. (There are fewer more embarrassing sights in sports than hitting a ball into your goal in soccer.)

And in added time, the Spurs completed the comeback, as Roman Pavlyuchenko scored after Pepe Reina made a beautiful save, and the shot appeared to be heading out of bounds.

So now Liverpool and Chelsea are tied in points at the top with 26.

And now I'm hoping the Minnesota Vikings don't complete the "hat trick" of my favorite football teams collapsing this weekend.

Good luck to my friends (and dedicated Red Sox fans) Ruth and Eric who are running in today's New York City marathon. I'll never know where they get the stamina to pull it off...

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