Sunday, September 7, 2008

Week 1: The Start of Domination

Nacho: I am currently sporting the most ridiculous red neck at this moment. It's in the shape of a V-neck. I stood/leaned in the first row at the 35 yard line behind the Panther bench. At a quiet moment I shrieked a complete sentence to Chris Harris, something about "acknowledge my existence!!!" He stuck out both hands as he rode on the stationary bike, and gave me a double-thumbs up. I'll be back in a bit...

Brethren: Wow.

Holy shit, what a first week win. Going into the Whale's Vagina, not a many pundits gave the Panthers of Carolina a chance to win the first game of the season. That didn't matter. Nacho was at the game; therefore, we had a fighting chance. And Jeebus, did we give the Chargers a game.

Much will be said about the heroics of Jake, Dante Rosario, Chris Harris, and the two-minute offense. And at the end of day, they won the game in those last seconds. But what I watched was not a close, two-point win. I saw a team that dominated a ridiculously talented AFC team on the road. I saw a team go up 9-7 at the half when they should have been up 28-7. I saw a team that looked confident. And dominant.

I saw the Carolina Panthers.

Brethren (cont'd): Smokey aka Nacho was at the game, so I'm not sure I can add much more. Here are my patented bulleted thoughts:

- I watched the game in a bar in Murray Hill in Manhattan that consisted of many Panthers fans. We had an awesome crowd.

- I jumped up and down in men's arms after that last-second touchdown. I was so angry that Jake didn't call a timeout when the clock read 0:07. But then he threw a slant to Moose, and called time with 0:02 seconds left. He then did his business, caught Dante's eyes, threw him the ball, and won the game. I was no longer angry. I was estatic.

- Honestly, we won that game several times. The defense produced a TD; they kept LDT under 100 yards; we just couldn't get into the end zone until the end there. We should have won this game going away.

- That said, we beat a consensus AFC playoff team. On the road. As I stated on Deadspin, we are the Carolina Panthers and the NFL has been put on notice.

Nacho: I'm fairly certain I sat closer to a pro football game than anyone in my family ever has. But before all that, I had to get to San Diego. Ricky & I hopped on the 6:33am subway to downtown LA, jumped into the Surfliner to San Diego, and sat next to a old acquaintance we'd met once before: an original Top Cat Panther cheerleader.

We arrived at the Power Party outside Qualcomm Stadium around 10:30 and I made a bee line for the tri-tip BBQ hoagie. At this point, we were about eight beers in, and we were welcomed by the pretty swell Chargers fans. Everyone talked about Brady, & we decided to take a walk of cojones through the tailgates. We were loudly, and rowdily heckled on all sides by drunk Chargers fans. It was as intimidating as the walk Ethan Hawke does through the Jungle in "Training Day".

We found our seats, but moved immediately to the first row, leaning over the railing, and commenced shrieking like banshees. We did not stop drinking, heckling, antagonizing and going out of our daggum minds for three straight quarters. The weather was perfect, the fans were evenly split between really cool people, and fans who made decent villains.

As the 4th quarter swung to and fro, and the Chargers scored with about two and a half minutes, my commentary to the crowd was "But did they score too soon?" The guy with face paint and a cape cocked a worried eyebrow. As Biscuit Defender drove the boys downfield and the clock kept ticking, John Fox didn't make one misstep. This was one of the specific situations in which John Fox had been shitting the bed in recent seasons, and he nailed it.

From my vantage point, I saw that the snap was high, Jake's pump fake fooled me, and then, in one glorious moment, I saw Rosario leap up and nary a Charger was at the same height. As soon as his fingers touched the ball I tuned, ripped my Peppers jersey off, and started waving it around my head like a helicopter. In times of great joy, I revert to the biggest stereotype I can.

The Chargers fans were nowhere to be found, so we led the Panther fans in a chorus of chants and cheers. Walking out of the stadium we yelled multiple instigating phrases, such as "We can't spell, but we win ball games." and, "That's why they make the game sixty minutes, and not fifty-nine minutes and fifty-eight seconds." We were clever.

The trolley system had some trouble, y'know, running but we eventually made our way onto the train home. Where we slept with smiles upon our faces. For a day, we were kings.

One last note: did you know that Sam Cassell would be ejected from NFL games for doing his "you got no mah-bulls" dance from Major League 2? Myself and some Chargers did the dance, and the cops came up and reprimanded my cohort Ricky for it. Thanks, Goodell.

Soundtracks for the Day:

Nacho: The theme from Mercenaries 2 "Oh No You Didn't"
Brethren: "More Time" by Needtobreathe.

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