The Freak is back home from his European trip, but took time to take in a football game while in London.
No, it wasn’t the Rams and Patriots at Wembley Stadium, which was a blowout, but a football (soccer) match in the English Premier League. The game featured underdog Reading and powerhouse Arsenal. The final score was 7-5 – the most goals in the history of a Premiership League Cup game.
If you put it into an American football perspective, the Browns only beat the Chargers 7-6 last Sunday, so really it would be the equivalent to a 49-35 NFL game that would no doubt be very exciting to watch.
The game was very entertaining, and the crowd was much different than NFL games The Freak has been to. In your typical NFL game, the home crowd cheers very loudly when the visiting team is on offence, and there are really no organized chants amongst the crowd unless you are at a Jets’ game.
However, at this football match, the home fans would all dance after a goal was scored, which was different. The Arsenal fans would not sit down for the whole game, and would sing throughout most of the night, some not suitable for young ears.
The product on the field was unbelievable as these top players in the world run at top speed with the ball, make any pass thinkable and have great footwork and body control. Furthermore, this game is much more physical watching it live than on television. The pace of the game on TV doesn’t do it any justice.
One huge difference between watching the two types of football in person is all the visiting supporters (Arsenal) must all sit together in one end of the stadium. At least you knew the guy next to you was also cheering for the same team. You could celebrate and cheer together, and not be worried about getting punched in the head or being verbally abused by other fans like at a NFL game.
The one thing The Freak didn’t like is how the extra time at the end of the game is controlled only by the referee. In this case, there was only to be four minutes of extra time, but it ended up being six minutes and Arsenal tied the game at the end of this extra two minutes.
It’s been like this forever, but giving the ref all the power of how much time is left on the clock seems wrong. Luckily, the Reading fans were good-natured or there might have been a riot and this zebra probably wouldn’t have made it out of the stadium.
Finally, there was no tailgating before the game, which is a big part of the experience of the NFL but not with soccer. You could still get a drink in the stadium, but you were not allowed to take it to your seat for security reasons.
This was probably the last English football game for The Freak and his family, but it was a fantastic experience that all sports fans should try. The Freak is happy to be back home to watch the NFL, and is looking forward to seeing four NFL games live in December.
Stat of the Week
After last week’s fourth-quarter comeback against the Cowboys (shouldn’t blow a 23-0 lead anyways), the Giants’ Eli Manning now has the most comeback wins – 25 – in NFL history.
Pet peeve of the week
After painfully watching the Giants’ game on an Internet football field two weeks ago, The Freak had to listen to the Cowboys-Giants’ game on BBC radio. It was better, but when you have no visual of the apparent game-winning touchdown by Dez Bryant it’s very hard on the nerves.
The sure thing
The Packers had a rather easy home game with Jacksonville last week, and they get struggling Arizona this week. The result will be the same – Green Bay wins.
The Ravens had a bye week, which will give them time on defence to regroup after losing Ray Lewis and Lardarius Webb for the season and getting pounded by the Texans. Surprisingly, Cleveland has been in every game this season, but they are facing an angry and hungry Ravens’ team. Baltimore steps it up and beats the Browns in the Dog Pound.
Detroit won last week to save its season, and now visits Jacksonville. The Lions aren’t a great outdoors team in November, but this is sunny Florida. Lions enjoy the sun, and a big win.
Don’t mortgage the house picks
At the beginning of the season everyone had the Cam Newton-RGIII game circled on the calendar. Now no one cares about the 1-6 Panthers, and RGIII and the Redskins will show Newton who really is Superman. Washington wins.
The Bills’ Mario Williams was hoping to return and haunt his former team, Houston, but he is out for the game. Both teams are rested after the bye week, but the Texans will be waving bye at the end of this one.
Peyton Manning looks like he’s back in top form, and has the Broncos on top of the AFC West while the Bengals and Andy Dalton have been struggling of late. Denver delivers another knockout blow on a late Manning drive to win the game.
It’s a make-or-break game for the Cowboys on the road in Atlanta.
A loss will really put them in deep trouble for the playoffs.
You have to believe this will be the week that quarterback Tony Romo will not throw four or five picks in a game, and that corners Brandon Carr and Morris Claiborne are good enough to shut down Julio Jones and Roddy White.
The Cowboys finally have a mistake-free game, and upset the undefeated Falcons.
Last week: 4-for-7.
John Turner is a Summerside schoolteacher. His column appears every Saturday during the NFL season. Feel free to e-mail questions and comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.