So we made the road trip to see 2 undefeated teams, the New England Patriots and the Dallas Cowboys, slug it out on Sunday at Texas Stadium in Irving, TX. The game and atmosphere were great, but in the end it was a good old fashioned Texas butt-whuppin' by Tom Brady and Company.
We arrived at the hotel and were surprised to see exactly how close we were to the stadium, as it basically served as a parking lot for the fans being right across the street. We were right in the middle of tailgate central. We quickly got checked in and headed across the street to check it all out. We made a complete lap around the stadium and saw lots of parties and it's all pretty much the same as the Razorback atmosphere, except replace all the Hog shirts, games, banners and tents with Cowboy's of course and also it's just in a big parking lot... not a sweet golf course with grass like we get. I could see it getting really hot, and it was only low 80s there yesterday. I guess that makes the beer go down better though. There was a huge Mexican-American contingent... it felt like about 50% really. We smelled some great food and since we were wearing our Cowboy's swag, were welcomed by all. Now for the record, this would only be the 2nd time in my life I've worn a Cowboy shirt. I thought my day might go better and be more fun representing the home team (I'm a life long Steelers fan) and I figured I'd like to see the Pats lose anyway to help my boys out in the AFC race.
Achy Breaky Anthem
This was the first game I've ever been to in Texas Stadium, bringing my total of NFL stadiums to 4 (New England, St. Louis, Kansas City and Dallas). I really am happy to have seen a game in the historic venue before the new stadium opens, but man is it a crap hole. I know the history and the Ring of Honor was great, with names like Tony Dorsett, Emmitt Smith and Roger Staubach staring at you how could you not be a bit intimadated? But there was water standing everywhere (it wasn't even raining), cramped corridors and it was just generally uncomfortable and falling apart. Except our seats that is... we were in the front row in one of the end zones and had ample leg room and a great view. (Kudos to StubHub.com) Another positive was that I found Shiner Bock in 12 oz bottles ($7) at one of the vendors. While sitting in our seats taking all the pre-game in, we noticed Billy Ray Cyrus on the field and he eventually came up the ramp right in front of us, about 2 feet away, signing autographs and posing for photos with fans. He sang the national anthem before the game and got a nice cheer.
It didn't take long to notice some of the fans were quite the jerks (as with most sporting events lately it seems), with one guy right behind us challenging Pat's fans to fight and just basically harassing them loudly and repeatedly as they tried to ignore him. He didn't make it out of the first quarter before getting ejected, but like a bad horror movie, there was a new one to pop up to take one's place when they were thrown out. It's amazing how many drunk idiots can afford to go to NFL games. I never really understood the whole "hate everybody who likes the other team" mentality myself. I've been to opposing venues and been treated nicely and also have been rudely treated. I try to always make friends with opposing fans, but that seems to be outside the norm now. Michelle actually asked the Pat's fan behind us if she could get a pic made with her "I Love Tom Brady" poster, which the lady didn't mind at all. Seems to me like you pay a lot of money to go enjoy yourself and watch a game, why all the anger? Maybe it's just how some people have fun. Whatever. It's just something I see more and more often at games now and it's sad really. Insert your Rodney King "can't we all just get along?" soundbite here.
Anyway, on to the game. After a great entrance onto the field, led by a Cowboy on a 4-wheeler and the cheerleaders running through the fog out of a giant helmet, the crowd was loud and rowdy and it was finally time for some football. The Cowboys were down 14-0 pretty quickly, but a FG and fumble return for a TD got everybody in the crowd pretty pumped up, as the invincible Tom Brady actually made a mistake and fumbled. It was a fairly close game then and the Cowboys even took the lead 24-21 in the 3rd quarter. The Pats of course answered with a 77 yard drive, then got the ball back for a FG, then on the next possession Brady hooked up with Donte Stallworth for a 69 yard TD and they just made it look easy... outscoring the Boys 27-3 at the end for a final score of 48-27.
I realize the Cowboys were actually leading at one point in the 3rd quarter, but it seemed odd in the stadium... like nobody thought they were really going to pull it off. I know we both felt that way, like it was just a matter of time before the Patriots would drop the bomb on them and end it. Obviously that's just what they did in the last 20 minutes or so, but it just felt right for some reason. Tom Brady looked perfect, now that he's got so many weapons to choose from. It almost seems like he's more torn about which guy to give the ball to this throw than finding someone open. Reminds me a lot of Manning's play now that he has a cast of talent similar to what Peyton has been blessed with the last few seasons. I hate to say it, but the Patriots look completely unstoppable. I know it's a long season and a lot can happen, but if they stay healthy, always a HUGE if in the NFL they will set some records this year.
So what did we get to see?
1. drunk redneck Mexican-Americans galore
2. $7 Shiner Bocks
3. Tom Brady throw for 388 yards and 5 TDs
4. Donte Stallworth have 136 yards receiving and a TD
5. Wes Welker have 124 yards receiving and 2 TDs
6. T.O. have 66 yards and a TD
7. Billy Ray Cyrus!
8. The Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders
9. Mel Renfro and Everson Walls (signing autographs)
10. Michael Irvin (halftime speach and standing ovation)
10. the Patriots hang 48 points on Dallas with 448 total yards
11. former Arkansas Razorback Kenny Hamlin (see pic below)
Yes indeed... good times.