Shamik Das

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Manning magic sees off Miami

"2, 4, 6, 8, we think London's really great!"    TOUCHDOWN: Eli Manning evades the Dolphins defense to get the ball rolling with a cheeky score and set the Giants on their way to an historic win.

NFL, Wembley Stadium:
Miami Dolphins 10-13 New York Giants

THE New York Giants made history in the London rain to win the first ever NFL game to be played outside of North America.

A crowd of over 80,000 - featuring supporters of all 32 NFL teams - watched the Giants ease to a comfortable victory, condemning Miami to an eighth straight defeat.

More sedate than the usual Wembley crowd, it felt more like a Lord's Test match than an American football game, the majority unattached to either team and probably ignorant of the rules to boot.

The organisers tried their best to engage the spectators, cheerleaders aplenty frolicking to a playlist that Disco Stu would have enjoyed, with the chance to chirpse some of the girls at the tailgate party in the Arena beforehand.

1541hrs: The sense of anticipation builds as kick-off approaches.    2007hrs: The moon peers out from behind clouds following an historic night's action at London's premier sports venue.

There was even something for the ladies: a streaker, who braved the cold to run onto the pitch as the teams were about to start the second half, in the guise of an official, clad in black and white stripes, doing press-ups, trying to give security the slip and generally making a tit of himself.

He was maybe a wee bit confused by the half-time show, quite unlike anything seen at Wembley, old or new, before.

The game itself was something of an anti-climax, with Miami never really looking like arresting their worst ever start to a season; their fans appearing genuinely worried they could add the first 0% season to their perfect campaign of 25 years ago.

Lawrence Tynes opened the scoring for the Giants with a 20-yard field goal following a 60-yard drive, the Dolphins defense standing firm.

Then, on the stroke of half-time, quarterback Eli Manning - younger brother of Peyton - scored the first Wembley touchdown, feigning a hand-off before running in from distance with the Miami defense nowhere to be seen. Tynes converted and added another goal for a 13-0 lead.

ALL PILE IN: Giants running back Brandon Jacobs finds himself enveloped by no fewer than five Miami tacklers.  NO WAY PAST: New York defensive tackle Fred Robbins tries to put the squeeze on Dolphins quarterback Cleo Lemon.  JUMP FOR JOY: Miami wide receiver Ted Ginn Jr celebrates after touching down.

After the break the Giants defense came into play, cornerback Sam Madison saving a certain touchdown by clawing the ball away from Derek Hagan in the endzone, the Miami wide receiver unable to complete Cleo Lemon's 15-yard pass.

Jay Feely knocked in a 29-yard field goal to reduce the arrears, with Tynes missing his attempt from the same distance in the next New York attack.

The Dolphins kept pinning their oppents back, and finally broke the plane deep into the fourth quarter, Lemon spearing a 21-yard pass straight into Ted Ginn Jr's hands, which Feely converted to reduce the gap to three points.

But the kicker made a hash of the re-start, to the horror of those watching, fluffing his onside kick. New York ran down the clock - whistles ringing in the ears - and history was made.

Star man: Madison (Giants); Entertainment: ****

Watch highlights of tonight's game on BBC Two at 11:00pm and at
BBC Sport Online afterwards, and view photos of the match on the
NFL website.


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