Mitch's Sports Report: Giant Gamble Pays Off For Giants; UVM Mens' Soccer Gets Into NCAA Tournament
The NY Giants did some riverboat gambling on Monday Night Football against the Cincinnati Bengals, and the roll of the dice paid off in eking out a 21-20 victory in East Rutherford.
Trailing 20-14 early in the fourth quarter, the Giants faced a fourth and goal and could have opted for an easy three points with a field goal try, but instead coach Ben McAdoo went for it, calling an option roll-out by quarterback Eli Manning, who found rookie Sterling Shepard in the end zone for what would prove to be the game winning touchdown. Manning also threw TD passes to Odell Beckham, Jr. and Jerrell Adams, and the Giants defense held steady in the fourth to keep the Bengals off the scoreboard the rest of the way, led by two sacks of Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton with five minutes left and an interception by Landon Collins, his fourth pick in the past three games. After a slow start to the season the Giants are now 6-3 and their next two games are against the 2-7 Chicago Bears and the winless Cleveland Browns, so you can pretty much go ahead an pencil them in at 8-3. Cincinnati drops to 3-5-1 on the year, with their playoff hopes dwindling week by week.
The Boston Celtics had won two in a row and were heading to the Big Easy to take on a team that looked easy to beat . The New Orleans Pelicans had lost eight games in a row to start the season, but they have one superstar player in Anthony Davis, and even though he's playing with back pain serious enough that he needed to wear a supporting strap on his back to get through the game, he dominated the Celtics with 25 points, 16 rebounds, four steals and two blocked shots in the Pelicans' 106-105 win. The biggest plays of the game, though, were made by Anthony's teammate Tim Frazier, who made a steal of a Marcus Smart inbounds pass with fourteen seconds left, and induced a Kelly Olynyk foul with 2.5 left on the clock to nail the free throws that sealed the deal for New Orleans, and just their second win of the season. The Celtics were led yet again by Isaiah Thomas, who scored 37 points including a bucket that tied the game with seven seconds left before Frazier broke the tie for the victory. The Celtics are successful when they don't have to rely on just Thomas to carry the load on offense, and last night's loss is a reminder that Brad Stevens needs more balanced scoring and a better team effort on defense if the C's are going to take their game to the next level this season.
Just one game in the NHL last night and the spotlight was on the struggling NY Islanders, who appeared to have taken a big step last season in winning their first playoff series in almost two decades, but even though it's still early the team may be in danger of being a post-season no-show, losing yet again in a 4-0 shut-out against the Tampa Bay Lightning. Out-shot 17-4 in the 2nd period the Islanders fired at will in the 3rd, putting 20 pucks on Tampa goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy, but he held firm for his 3rd career goose-egg as the Islanders fall to 5-8-3 on the year.
Also last night, the NHL inducted four more names into its Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto, the most recognizable being Eric Lindros, the hulking power forward whose career was marked by controversy early on when he refused to sign with the team that drafted him, the Quebec Nordiques, and was traded eventually to the Philadelphia Flyers. He also had stints with the New York Rangers, Toronto Maple Leafs, and Dallas Stars. Despite some early struggles, Lindros went on to become a force on offense, scoring 372 goals and 493 assists. He also won the league's MVP Hart Memorial Trophy in 1995.
Goalie Rogie Vachon also got in. I remember him most from the tail end of his career with the L.A. Kings when they wore those bright yellow King Vitamin uniforms but those were lousy teams and Vachon struggled to get wins, but he did win three Stanley Cups with the Montreal Canadiens in 1968, 1969, and 1971, although in the '71 playoffs he was supplanted by rookie Ken Dryden, who stole the show and the Cup from teams that included Bobby Orr's Boston Bruins.
Soviet great Sergei Makarov also got in as did former defenseman and long time head coach Pat Quinn, who was inducted posthumously.
Locally, it was a rough night in Providence for the University of Vermont mens' basketball team, who fell to the Friars 80-58 for their first loss of the season. The game was tight early on but Providence pulled away in the 2nd half by shooting 62% from the floor. Payton Henson scored a team-high 21 points for UVM in the loss.
Good news, though for the UVM mens' soccer team, who will make an appearance in the NCAA tournament, gaining an at-large bid despite losing to Albany in the America East semi-finals. The Catamounts will play host to Rider College Thursday night at Virtue Field, game time at 7pm.