“A Day with Denny”

After corresponding via email and “Between the Lines” forum countless times over the years, it was an absolute joy to finally meet Mr. Denny Hodges (a.k.a. Zinnastone). This past Saturday morning I found myself deep in thought worrying about my ailing mother and my wife’s upcoming scan, when all of a sudden someone touched by shoulder and I turned around to see Denny. From that moment my day instantly improved, we headed down to the tournament room for a day filled with APBA Football, some good conversation and a lot of laughs. Denny hadn’t played a face-to-face game for several decades, so we started out with the Basic game. He used his homebrewed 1963 Cleveland Browns and I used the 1993 Dallas Cowboys. I forgot how good that Dallas team really was with their 45 rated offense and 42 rated defense, however, Cleveland’s tandem of Jim Brown and Ernie Green each averaged over 6.0 yards per carry. Denny’s ice cold dice coupled with Dallas’s four “A” rated receivers proved to be too much for the Browns. Jim Brown soon realized the defenders in 93 were slightly bigger and faster than their counterparts of 63. Jim Brown was held to nine-yards on eight carries and as a team, they finished with 27 yards on 14 rushing attempts. Frank Ryan had a decent game, going 8 of 18 for 179 yards and two touchdowns. But the difference maker of the game was Troy Aikman, he was 36 of 41 for 335 yards with one touchdown and one interception (which came off the penalty boards). Within the final five minutes of the game, I was telling Denny how Emmitt Smith was complaining because he was stuck on 99-yards. If you don’t know Denny, he is a very reserved and thoughtful gentleman, however, he looked at me and said “Emmitt is NOT breaking a hundred.” Needless to say, I knew what the defensive play call was going to be, “Standard, G alignment, key Smith”. Emmitt lost four yards on his next carry and only gained four yards on his next seven carries to finish the game with 98-yards.

Cleveland                              0          7          0          7          – 14

Dallas                                     7          17        3          6          – 33

Dal – E. Smith 1 run (Murray kick)

Dal – Novacek 3 pass from Aikman (Murray kick)

Dal – FG Murray 27

Dal – Johnston 1 run (Murray kick)

Cle – Kreitling 65 pass from Ryan (Groza kick)

Dal – FG Murray 43

Dal – FG Murray 42

Cle – Kreitling 80 pass from Ryan (Groza kick)

Dal – FG Murray 23

Well now it was time to graduate to the Master game, so I let Denny take the 2011 New England Patriots and I took the 2011 New York Jets. The first half was a defensive struggle and the Jets entered the locker room at halftime with a 9-0 lead. I started to feel really good about my chances after Shonn Greene scored a 4-yard rushing touchdown to put the Jets up 16-0 early in the third quarter. All of a sudden a funny thing happened, Denny started to master the line changes and with it his dice heated up. To put it bluntly, he was unstoppable. Tom Brady completed 23 of 41 attempts for 357 yards with three touchdowns. Wes Welker and his A* rating finished with six receptions for 164 yards and one touchdown. Deion Branch had eight catches for 142 yards and one touchdown. The Jets were penalized 13 times for 134 yards with the majority occurring in the second half. Mark Sanchez finished with 23 completions on 35 attempts for 184 yards and one interception, however, he guided the Jets to 20 first downs. The forgotten aspect of the game, Special Teams, proved to be the difference in the game. Steve Gostkowski missed a 45-yard field goal and Nick Folk made four of five attempts. The Jets punter, T.J. Conley, averaged 50.4 yards per punt and Joe McKnight returned a kick 102-yards for a touchdown.

New England                        0          0          7          17        – 24

New York                             3          6          10        7          – 26

NY – FG Folk 34

NY – FG Folk 39

NYJ – FG Folk 46

NY – Greene 4 run (Folk kick)

NE – Welker 65 pass from Brady (Gostkowski kick)

NY – FG Folk 38

NE – Branch 80 pass from Brady (Gostkowski kick), 14:46

NY – McKnight 102 kick return (Folk kick), 14:30

NE – Welker 50 pass from Brady (Gostkowski kick), 9:30

NE – FG Gostkowski 43, 4:30

Greg and Denny