Monday, September 10, 2018

Neff, Not Nerf

TigerBlog has been a fan of the New York Giants for as long as he can remember.

This is through four Super Bowl wins and one Super Bowl loss. Through a lot of really bad seasons. Through years and years of helplessness against the Cowboys.

In fact, TB remembers when the Giants played at Yale Bowl and in Shea Stadium. Through it all, that was his favorite team in professional sports.

The Giants lost their season opener yesterday to the Jacksonville Jaguars 20-15. To this TB has one word: Hah.

TigerBlog has turned completely on the Giants. First, there's only one player on the team he can root for, and that's Eli Manning, who doesn't have that much time left in his career. Second, the Giants could have had Marc Ross as their GM but instead let him go. That was the last straw for TB.

Here's a team that didn't lose this weekend in the NFL: the Cleveland Browns.

They didn't exactly win, but they didn't lose either. The Browns, coming off an 0-16 season that followed a 1-15 season, rallied from 14 points down in the fourth quarter to tie the Pittsburgh Steelers 21-21.

Both teams missed late field goals in the overtime, with the Browns attempt blocked in the final seconds. When it was over, neither team really seemed to know how to react to the tie. Cleveland still hasn't won in awhile, and Pittsburgh probably assumed it should have won that one.

TigerBlog watched pretty much the entire game. It was played in steady rain, which got worse in the overtime. It was very entertaining in fact.

As TB searches for a new favorite team, he's adding the Browns to his list, which currently includes the Jets and Redskins. First of all, the Browns have nowhere to go but up, and it's been awhile since they've been anywhere near up. As a result, TB can't be accused of cherry picking a winner.

Also, the Browns have Princeton alum Seth DeValve on the team. TigerBlog doesn't know DeValve well, but he's been around him enough to know that he's the kind of guy you want to root for.

DeValve played a lot in the game yesterday, on offense and on special teams. It's good to see that he's established himself the way he has, now in his third season with the Browns.

The Pittsburgh-Cleveland game was the best football game he saw this weekend. He watched some college games on Saturday, including a bit of the wins by his favorite FBS teams - Navy and Georgia.

There were certainly enough games to choose from Saturday. In all, there were probably 40 or so on his TV between noon and midnight.

The best game he saw since he last wrote to you was not a football game but a field hockey game Friday afternoon.

Princeton, who came into the week ranked sixth in Division I, had defeated No. 5 Penn State in two OTs Tuesday, and now the Tigers were facing No. 4 Duke in their home opener Friday. To TigerBlog, it was sort of like an NCAA weekend, playing the No. 5 team and then the No. 4 team after that win.

The game against Duke was very entertaining, even more so because Princeton won 3-2. The game-winning goal was amazing, as MaryKate Neff took a rebound off a save on a penalty corner, tapped the ball straight up to herself and then batted it in the goal.

Yes, you're allowed to do that in field hockey.

Neff's goal - or was that Nerf's goal - impressed more than just the people who watched it in person. In fact, it ended up as the No. 4 Play of the Day on SportsCenter:
The goal itself was incredible. So was the resilience of the Tigers, who tied it 1-1 early in the second half, only to have Duke regain the lead 2-1 just 18 seconds later. Rather than be deflated by that, Princeton responded to tie it and then get the game-winner.

Field hockey is one of the fastest paced games you will see. When TigerBlog first started at Princeton, the home field for Princeton field hockey was Gulick Field, which is now Plummer Field at Myslik Stadium.

Back then it was grass, and the game was obviously much slower. Now, played on lightning fast turf by athletes who are ridiculously well-conditioned, the game features quickness and strength, as well as the need to make decisions on the fly, where the wrong decision means getting countered.

If you don't believe TigerBlog, then go watch a game at Bedford Field. You have a lot of chances to do so coming up, with four home games in eight days beginning Friday against Monmouth and then with games against Delaware (Sunday), Maryland (a week from Tuesday) and then Dartmouth (the following Saturday).

Princeton is 3-2 after its 1-0 loss to Rutgers Sunday. There's a long way to go in this season - and the games last week are all the proof you need to know that the Tigers are for real.

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