Our seats were quite a bit higher up than Stu's seats, but the view itself wasn't that bad. We were in the lower part of the upper deck, on the sideline corner of the end zone (Jenkins's sack/strip and Vilma TD occurred right in front of us).
What I like about the EJDome is that it didn't feel like we were super far up and away from the field, and the seats are not at nearly as steep an angle as the upper deck of the Maison Blanche Superdome, so it really was a decent view. (Now the game itself, as we've discussed elsewhere, was utter crap, but that's another matter entirely...) We were in the very front row and had nice cupholders (sorry, Dave!) and a metal railing right in front of us, which was pretty handy to lean and bang on.
More after the jump with bullets and stuff...
- My wife grew up in St. Louis, and her family still lives there. The impetus of this trip was two-fold. It was a double-birthday gift for my wife's son, Petie, as well as for Petie's younger cousin, Luke, whose birthday was actually Sunday, and this was his first Rams game. My brother-in-law and I got to go because we're just cool like that. We (Mrs. Hans and myself, grandparents, an aunt and uncle, another aunt, and Petie and his wife all chipped in for Luke's ticket) bought the tickets back in August when individual tickets first went on sale, and with Petie's birthday being early in September and then his cousin's birthday being the actual day of the game itself, it was a complete no-brainer to put this plan into action. Of course, at that point, the Rams and their fans were still feeling like they'd have a decent season following their surprising 2010 success...
- When we got into town Saturday, the town was ELECTRIFIED with excitement from the big World Series win on Friday, and we saw about a 50-50 split of fans in Cardinals gear vs. Rams gear in and around the stadium and city. It was cool to see all the Cardinals banners and flags and signs and pennants and inflatables on doors, mailboxes, flagpoles, garage doors, in yards, etc., around town. Kinda like when I was visiting my parents in Covington near the end of the 2009 regular season.
- We had a very nice visit with the family Saturday night and Sunday morning. Prior to dinner on Saturday, one of my wife's aunts presented Petie and myself with dueling baby blankets she made for us. (Petie's wife is pregnant, and Mrs. Hans and I are pretty stoked to be grandparents soon - I feel like it's a role I was BORN to play.) One for the Rams, and one for the Saints, as you can see below. I told them that we could put the baby on the floor and place the blankets out on either side of him, and whichever blanket he crawls to, that team will win - HA!!! I also told them the baby might have to rip it off me to use it, as I'd probably be wearing it like a cape during the games. But seriously, that was a sweet and thoughtful gift my mother-in-law and aunt-in-law cooked up together.
- Before the game, Stu and I had arranged to meet up at his hotel lobby, and we had a nice chat, and took some pictures (my pasty white legs - GAAAA!) before walking to the stadium together and splitting up after getting patted down by the Feds. We exchanged a few texts during the lulls in the game, but it didn't help the Saints at all. And I forgot how a majority of the game is just the players and coaches and refs standing around waiting for the next play to start...after a timeout, commercial, injury, etc.
- There were vendors on the streets selling blue and gold t-shirts that read: St. Louis F****** Missouri on the front in big letters, and some other stuff on the back. Not sure what that was all about, but it felt a bit out of place amidst all the multi-aged families walking to the stadium while guys are yelling, "St. Louis F****** Missouri!! Right here!! Get your St. Louis F****** Missouri shirts right here!!!" The NFL is truly a family-focused venture. Especially when the stadium announcer calls attention to the scantily-clad cheerleaders bumping and grinding and gyrating on the sidelines, in the end zones, and up on the Jumbotron at various times during the game. Not saying I didn't enjoy scantily clad dancing girls, mind you.
- Here we are @ the game in the 435: from left to right - HansDat, Petie, Birthday Boy Luke, and Brother-in-Law Kevin. A very nice Saints fan in a Jimmy Graham jersey graciously snapped this pic for us before the game started...(notice the sweet cup holders).
- I enjoyed the national anthem played by a brass band ensemble. To me, that's much better than some country music star or local American Idol wannabe warbling out their "re-imagining" of the tune.
- It was kinda cool seeing the World Series champ Cardinals come out with their trophy...I joined in the standing ovation and hooting and hollering. Game 7 winning pitcher Chris Carpenter (in a Steven Jackson jersey) joined the captains at mid-field for the coin toss. Cardinals Manager Tony LaRussa had on a throwback Kurt Warner jersey (I think that's where the Warner taunting began, Stu...).
- Did the Saints really lose the toss for the 8th straight game? That has got to be some kind of record! I'm not sure what this really means, but it feels significant to me.
- The fans around me were pretty decent. No meat and beer odors that I could detect, but the Saints performance stunk up the joint pretty well. It helped that I was with family, too, I think. Having a young nephew in the area helped keep my usual profane tirades during poor Saints play easily in check. There were quite a few pockets of Saints fans scattered throughout the stadium and in our general vicinity, too.
- Right after the first Rams TD, Petie and I scooted down for a beer and a brat, just thinking we'd miss a crappy Saints drive to end the half with a whole bunch of nothing. But low and behold, while in line, we saw the Saints vaunted two-minute drill last just 7 seconds and only one play - the INT. And as we were at the condiments stand, we saw the long run or pass play that went down to the three, and it was still under review when we got back to our seats. My brother-in-law wouldn't let us back in at first and said we'd have to spend the rest of the game at the concession stand because the Rams did so well while were gone - Ha! I really married into the right superstitious sports family.
- It was kind of fun to be in the minority cheering, because you can really hear your own cheers and yells. On Ram 3rd down plays, I'd stand up, wave my arms up and down like I'm getting the whole stadium to cheer with me, but then it'd be just me hollering until the play was over, and I'd be so loud I could hardly hear myself think.
- I held out some hope that maybe things would improve in the second half, but when it opened with a crappy drive that quickly ended in a punt, I kept expecting every next play to be Steven Jackson hopping through the d-line and then rumbling to the end zone untouched. The Saints looked absolutely FINISHED at that point and we are lucky it wasn't worse than it was.
- At one point in the 3rd Quarter after it was 24-0, I stood up and loudly exhorted the Saints defense to "C'MON BOYS - FINISH STRONG!!!!!" Then I heard chuckling around me from both my family and the other Ram fans, so I looked from side to side, shrugged my shoulders and yelled, "OK then, maybe it's time to GET STRONG!!!! C"MON RAHHHHHHRRRRR!!!!!!" and then we were all laughing.
- The mini-rally in the 4th Quarter was kind of fun, but I knew it was GAME OVER when they sent the punting unit on the field on 4th down, losing 24-14, with about six minutes left on the clock. I know the drive was terrible - three weak incompletions - and there was no reason in the world to think the next play would be any better. I know it was probably the "smart call" given the amount of time on the clock and the field position. But on a day like Sunday, when nothing was working AT ALL, it felt to me like they just needed to make a bold move and the coaches really needed to DOUBLE DOG DARE this team into STEPPING UP and making JUST ONE FREAKING PLAY, even if not making it would probably, for all intents and purposes, end the game right then and there. Honestly, I'd rather have had them do that and fail then to punt away, eventually get the ball back, and have Brees keep the streak alive with that meaningless TD pass. UGH.
- When I realized what was at stake on the Saints final drive, I turned to my family and said, "Oh yeah, they're trying to let Brees keep his consecutive games with a TD pass streak alive here. He can move to one behind Favre if he gets it." Then they and the other Rams fans graciously said, "Oh, we hate Brett Favre, so we'll let you get that TD pass." So that was nice.