My daughter lost the TV remote control. It's a simple, harmless sentence, describing a simple, harmless act. But that one careless moment threw our whole household into absolute chaos this past weekend. We can't change the channel? How are we going to live? Are we cavemen or wild animals? Now, we actually have two TVs, and this one is in the basement where my daughter camps out to watch Nickelodeon and the Cartoon Network, but mayhem ensued nonetheless. Tempers flared. Our world was turned upside down (as was the basement in attempting to find the darn thing). Like a scene from a monster movie, there was panic in the streets. Occupy the Basement protesters flooded in until their demands of finding the remote were met. My daughter has a tendency to flit from one activity to another without much thought involved (or cleaning up from the previous event). Her attention span is not a long one, and she's easily distracted, so we tried to treat the missing remote like a detective solving a crime. What were you doing when you last had it? What were you watching and when did you last change the channel? What were you wearing? Do you have an alibi? Were there any witnesses? Was any DNA left behind? After searching the whole house for two days, there was no answer and no clues (the prevailing theory was that she had it in her hand while performing some other task and just left it wherever she happened to be at the time). But late Saturday night I had an Ed Helms in The Hangover moment -- "I know where it is!" I reached deep into the basement garbage can, and there on the bottom, among candy wrappers, Capri Sun pouches and other debris (though Mike Tyson's tiger was not buried in there), lay the remote. Euphoria and relief ensued. Problem solved. And just like that, we were back to normal.
A similar scenario played out in Orchard Park, New York, during the first half of the New York Jets-Buffalo Bills game. An impressive opening drive by Gang Green ended with an interception. Mark Sanchez later fumbled a snap. Dustin Keller foolishly hurled himself into the air, resulting in injury. His replacement, Matthew Mulligan, quickly committed a pair of penalties. Brandon Moore and Brian Schottenheimer were seen chewing out the backup tight end. Confusion and chaos reigned. Tempers raged. Mulligan might as well have lost the remote control. But in the second half, the Jets reached into the trash can, found what they'd been missing, put 24 points on the board, won the game and euphoria and relief ensued. It happened in Foxborough, too. The New York Giants' offense had disappeared, nowhere to be found. It wasn't in the couch cushions. It wasn't buried under a pile of toys. Steve Weatherford distracted everyone by dutifully doing his job until the second half, when the offense found what was missing, scored 24 points, won the game and euphoria and relief ensued.
One misstep, one mistake, one careless act can throw anything into a state of anarchy. But the Jets and the Giants (and I) all dug down deep, found the answers and ended up with a happy weekend. And now on to the top stories of the week in the world of New York sports.
They Did It Again: Everything was lining up in a way that gave the Giants no chance to win Sunday's game against New England: The Patriots weren't 18-0 this time, but they hadn't lost at home since 2008, and Tom Brady had a 31-game regular-season home winning streak going. There was no Ahmad Bradshaw, no Hakeem Nicks and no David Baas for the Giants. They could barely beat the lowly Dolphins the previous week so how could they have a chance against the powerhouse Patriots? But the Giants always play better with their backs against the wall, don't they? The offense could barely register a first down, let alone score in the first half, and that was against the everybody-and-their-mother-torches-them-through-the-air Patriots defense. Luckily, Big Blue's defense dominated Brady & Co., keeping the game scoreless for the first 30 minutes. But all hell broke loose in the second half, giving us a memorable regular-season game for the ages. Eli Manning was heroic once again (we say that every week now, don't we?), and the offensive line gave him time to throw. The unlikely Jake Ballard hauled in the two most important passes of the game at the end. Victor Cruz and Mario Manningham were productive in Nicks' absence (though Manningham committed a dumb penalty after his touchdown, which luckily didn't hurt his team). Brandon Jacobs kind of, sort of backed up his constant jabbering, with 72 rushing yards, a touchdown and four receptions for 28 yards. Michael Boley (nine tackles, strip sack) and Mathias Kiwanuka (12 tackles, interception) led the defense, making Brady look more like Steve Grogan than Tom Brady. Deon Grant picked off a pass. Jason Pierre-Paul notched his 10th sack of the year. Weatherford had a busy but effective day, constantly pinning the Patriots deep in their own end. The Aaron Ross fumble could have been a killer, though, as the Patriots were starting to look defeated, and he gave them new life. But the whole afternoon was an edge-of-your-seat thriller, and was a good beginning to the Giants' toughest-in-the-NFL second-half schedule -- though maybe Antrel Rolle will prove to be prophetic: Their schedule should be worried about them.
Domination: The Jets set the tone for the New York teams earlier on Sunday, when they could only put up three points in the first half. Turnovers and penalties were the road block holding them back. But like in the Giants game, the defense kept things under control. But unlike in the Giants game, once the Jets started scoring, the romp was on, as the D only gave up a field goal and one garbage-time touchdown. Sanchez recovered from his two first-half turnovers to go 20-for-28 (71.4 percent), throw for 230 yards, toss a TD pass to Santonio Holmes and finish the game with a 92.9 passer rating (and he also committed a comical holding penalty to boot, which will most likely end up on America's Funniest Home Videos). Though he didn't score three touchdowns this time, Plaxico Burress had his most consistent game as a Jet, with five catches for 79 yards. Shonn Greene rushed for 76 yards in three quarters. LaDainian Tomlinson's leap was more effective than Keller's as he made it into the end zone and didn't injure himself in the process. John Conner scored his first touchdown of the year. But the story of the game was the defense. David Harris made an acrobatic interception. Calvin Pace also picked off a pass. Sione Pouha came up with a key forced fumble, recovered by Jim Leonhard. They made a crucial fourth-down stop, led by Bart Scott. And they flustered Ryan Fitzpatrick all afternoon long, and held Fred Jackson to 82 rushing yards. On special teams, Joe McKnight gained 83 yards on only two kickoff returns, but Nick Folk actually missed a field goal, his first of the year. It's too early to bury the Bills, but the home stretch is looking like the expected dogfight between the Jets and Patriots, and this coming Sunday should prove to be a fun ride with the Patriots in a foul mood after consecutive losses and the Jets flying high.
GAG Part II: After surviving their grueling trip around the world, from Sweden to Western Canada, the New York Rangers finally settled into normalcy, with regular practices and a long home stand. And sleeping in their own beds has done wonders for the Blueshirts, as has the latest line configurations and roster changes. Mike Rupp and Wojtek Wolski were put on IR, with Sean Avery returning to New York and Anton Stralman signed, but the new top line of Marian Gaborik, Derek Stepan and Artem Anisimov has transformed the team's offense. They're the GAG line reincarnated. Or maybe Anisimov to Stepan to Gaborik is becoming the hockey version of Tinker to Evers to Chance. They've piled up 19 points in the last three games, all wins, 5-3 on Saturday over Montreal, 3-0 over Winnipeg on Sunday and 3-2 over Ottawa on Wednesday. The Rangers are finding their identity, they're finding ways to win and they're finding the back of the net.
The Rookie: With all their injuries, including no Ilya Kovalchuk, the New Jersey Devils have had to improvise their lines, with tryouts at center, but it looks like they may have found a centerman for the present and future in Adam Henrique, who was the hero in Saturday's 3-2 win over the Jets when he scored the winner in overtime. And he did it again on Tuesday, scoring the winning goal against the Hurricanes. God knows, the Devils need scoring, and Henrique is not only filling the net, he's proving to be clutch. He's scoring at such a dizzying pace, he even put one in the net for Carolina on Tuesday, accidentally deflecting the puck past Martin Brodeur (who picked up his first two wins of the year this week). The Devils are putting their early season struggles behind them and beginning to roll.
Topsy-Turvy: The New York Islanders are all over the map these days. One night they can win 5-2, with rejiggered lines and a goal-scoring bonanza (the P.A. Parenteau/Frans Nielsen/Brian Rolston line produced seven points), and then they can get dominated, 6-2. They're up and down and inside out, with numerous questions as they try to find themselves - is their No. 1 goalie Al Montoya, Evgeni Nabokov or Rick DiPietro? Can they even continue to live with three netminders? How will their lines shake out? Will they ever score consistently? The Rangers and Devils were floundering but have recently found success, now it's the Islanders' turn.
Brother, Can You Spare a Dime? The New York Mets made news this past week when they laid off 10 percent of their non-player employees, including secretaries and scouts. The Wilpons are still seeking minority investors, and would structure the deals as loans, with interest payments being involved. And there are reports that they'd be willing to deal David Wright this winter while Jose Reyes may be bolting to the Marlins or Brewers. Remember when Fred Wilpon insisted that the Bernie Madoff situation would have no impact on team operations?
So Long, Jorge: When asked if he still had a chance to stay with the New York Yankees, Jorge Posada flatly stated, "It's not gonna happen." And so that pretty much ends the catcher's career in pinstripes. He said five or six teams have interest in him, though he hasn't decided on retirement yet, but his wife mentioned the Marlins, since they live nearby. Mark Buehrle is the top target pitching-wise for the Bombers, but the Marlins have interest in him, too. Between Reyes, Posada and Buehrle, everybody may end up in Florida.
It's a Marathon, Not a Sprint: Kenyon Geoffrey Mutai set a new record in this year's New York City Marathon when he ran the course in 2:05.06, after setting a new Boston Marathon mark in April. Firehiwot Dado was the women's winner, with a time of 2:23.15. And the New York Rangers alumni winner was Mark Messier, who finished the race in 4:14.21. He wasn't wearing skates, but he did score three goals and cross-checked a few opponents along the way just for old time's sake.
R.I.P. Joe Frazier: The boxing legend left us too soon, dying at the age of 67 on Monday. Though he was from South Carolina and later a Philly guy through and through, Frazier had some of his greatest moments here in New York, which SB Nation NY's Chris Celletti wrote about earlier this week. Smokin' Joe was more than a boxer, though, as he was one of the good guys and a pretty good entertainer, too. Here's a video to remember him by.