Saturday, January 14, 2012

Giants: Packers - home field advantage

Every team likes to play at home feeling they have a home field advantage. This manifests itself in several ways - the home crowd gets behind the team, screaming and cheering tumultuously, charging up the emotions of the home team in what everyone agrees is an emotional sport. Occasionally the loud cheering can disrupt the opponent's offense and lead to a few false start penalties or lack of communication between the QB and his players in case he wants to change the play at the line of scrimmage. Finally, the cheering can sometimes influence the referees and the home team will get the benefit of the doubt on a few close calls. I am not a conspiracy theorist, but it sure seems like the Giants rarely get the favor of those home town calls when they are at home, but they suffer through them on the road. As a simple example, against the Falcons, the Giants pass rush was dominant yet the Falcons did not get called for a single offensive holding call. Nicks was held all over the place on a pass at the goal line, but PI or defensive holding was not called. By contrast, the Giants interior OL got called for several very soft holding calls which were questionable at best. In the Packers game at Met Life Stadium earlier this year, there were several calls that should have and certainly could have gone in the Giants favor, but were called instead for the Packers. The worst of these calls were the bobbled TD pass by Jennings in the end zone and the illegal contact call on Jacquian Williams, when in fact Finley pushed off Williams. I think that the NFL has become such a national TV sport, that a team like the Packers that gets national attention may get benefit of calls even on the road. Consequently when they are at home Sunday and have the additional benefit of the crowd noise, I am really concerned that they will get a few calls making it harder for the Giants to win.

I recall the conference championship game in Green Bay in 2007 and there are a few calls then that favored Green Bay. For one thing, the 90 yard TD pass that Driver caught in the first half, when Corey Webster "fell down". Actually, Driver put both hands on Websters shoulders and threw him to the ground in his release form the line of scrimmage. In the second half, Giants stopped Packers on a 3rd down but Sam Madison was called for a personal foul after the play was over - he was wrestling with a Green bay RB, who initiated the late contact, but fell down in the tussle, so the flag went against Madison. Packers scored a TD to go ahead on the next play. Giants ultimately won, of course, but it was not easy. It's hard enough to win on a level playing field. Let's hope the guys in the striped jerseys aren't calling the game for the Packers.

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