The Other Lead – Your Sports Weekend in GIFs, Pics and Video

Most of the shocking games came in the NFL this week, where a few teams that were predicted to go to the playoffs sit at 0-3. The New York Giants are one of them after their truly awful display in Charlotte. They lost 38-0 to a previously 0-2 Carolina Panthers. This is what Eli’s day consisted of:

 

Similarly, the Pittsburgh Steelers are 0-3 after a loss to the Bears. They had five turnovers, in a bold attempt to out-Giant the Giants. But hey, Pittsburgh still has the Pirates (has anyone said that without sarcasm in the last few decades?). This sums up what the entire city of Pittsburgh thinks of this team right now:

 

On the flip side, the MIAMI DOLPHINS ARE 3-0 with wins over the Colts and Falcons. The Dolphins beat Atlanta 27-23 by converting in the red zone while the Falcons were in five times and scored only two touchdowns. Here’s the play that won the game:

 

In the college football world Michigan and Notre Dame were really the only two teams in the Top 25 to play close games, with both winning. Louisville beat Florida International so badly, ESPN gave their “top performer” distinction to a guy with these stats:

Miami also beat up on perennial pay-us-for-a-home-win school Savannah State by a Vegas score of 77-7. Here’s a tiny 5’9, 180 lb. defensive back about to get stiff-armed by Miami’s 6’4, 260 lb. tight end:

 

And last but not least, a couple of nice little back-heel goals from the weekend. The first is from Paulinho, Tottenham’s new midfielder. The score was 0-0 in stoppage time when he found himself at the end of a Erik Lamela pass and gave Spurs the win:

If you haven’t heard of Paulinho or even Tottenham, you’ve definitely heard of Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo. Here he is doing what he does best — scoring goals of ridiculous quality:

I’m making a prediction for next week… LSU-Georgia will be discussed. Stay bold, y’all.

Low Lie the Fields of Athenry

Some of the world’s most famous soccer players were on display during Thursday’s Spain vs. Ireland game in the group stages of the Euros 2012, but late in the 4-0 Spain victory the attention turned to the stands.

The Irish supporters were all still there in the 90th minute and sang louder than any country’s fans have during the Euros, even down the four goals. The Irish faithful sang “The Fields of Athenry,” an Irish folk song from the mid-19th century, so loud you could clearly hear the words despite the announcers speaking over it. This wasn’t just a loss, this was an elimination game and the end of a dream, yet the faithful never lost their pride. It’s also noted that the Spaniards in the crowd we’re clapping along with the Irish as they make their bow out of the tournament.

It’s a tournament that has been ravaged by violence and racism from the supporters of Poland, Russia, ect… but the Irish have proven to be as levelheaded as they are passionate.  As a rumble between Croatian supporters and Poznan police broke out after the Ireland-Croatia match, a lone Irish fan can be seen trying to get between the two groups to calm everything down while bottles flew past his head and he was being hit with a baton.  This photo of two separate Irish fans was taken later that night as riot police stood in the Poznan city centre.

Irish supporters against hooliganism

Soccer is a sport that has long been associated with hooliganism and violence which has been brought to the forefront this summer. UEFA is imposing sanctions on teams as a result of their fans misbehavior, as they have on Russia with a fine and a six-point World Cup qualifying penalty after Russian fans beat up stadium ushers, but it will always be ultimately up to the fans themselves to define the beautiful game as being about pride and country over violence and thuggery.

While the Irish are the first team eliminated from the tournament and are extremely disappointed with their inability to compete with the rest of Europe, it’s their supporters that took the trip to Poland that the country can be proud of as they look towards their next goal – World Cup 2014 qualification.

Watch the Irish sing “The Fields of Athenry” in the closing moments of their loss to Spain.

The Euros

Can the drama, intensity and late minute heroics of the Euros 2008 be beaten? We’re a month away from finding out.

With the signing of Roy Hodgson as England manager, the table is finally set for the Euro 2012. Sixteen countries qualified for the tournament that is being held in Poland and Ukraine, and all 16 are looking at this tournament dreaming of national glory. Defending champion and World Cup winner Spain is the favorite going in, with the Netherlands and Germany also being picked by many to win it all.

Poland and Ukraine were given automatic bids as co-hosts, but are likely to bow out as both are in Pot A with Spain and the Netherlands. Pot 2 is the tournaments “group of death,” with the Germany, Italy, England and Russia. England’s chances of winning the tournament are seen as slight, but getting through this pot and on to the knock-out stages would do a lot for Hodgson’s future with the Three Lions — England has never reached the final of the competition.

This will be the 14th edition of the European Championships, with Germany (including wins by West Germany) taking home the trophy three times. Spain and France have both won twice and no other team has won more than once.

There is no doubt this competition is one of the most important that these players will get to participate in throughout their careers, with aging players like David Beckham trying his hardest to impress the England brass for one last chance at international glory. Players on club teams around the world have been angling for more playing time to try and show their international team’s coaches that they have what it takes to be selected for the team – some even asking for transfers to lesser clubs that will allow them more playing time.

One problem will remain no matter what the outcome: only one of 16 teams will go home satisfied. Second place might be seen as a success for teams like Ireland, Russia or Sweden, but getting that close and still losing hurts nevertheless.

Over 12 million applications for tickets were received for the 31 matches that make up the Euro 2012, an all-time record for the championships. Ukraine and Poland will look quite different this summer, going through the same influx of visitors and festivities that South Africa saw two years ago when it hosted the World Cup.

The following video should give you a small taste of what this summer will bring. Matches will be on ESPN for those of you not lucky enough to go. Want tickets? We’ll have them up until the day of each game here.