DETROIT - The McCarthy family from Iowa has been away from home since Saturday . . . just like the Giants. A blizzard prevented them from getting to Minneapolis . . . just like the Giants. And last night they managed to get right on the turf at Ford Field . . . just like the Giants.
OK, so the McCarthys were a few feet removed from their favorite NFL team, sitting in the first row behind the Giants' bench at the 40-yard line. And it had been an exhausting - and sometimes frightening - weekend for the family of four, which includes Brian and Kristen and their two sons, Justin and Troy. But when they were among the first fans to enter the stadium Monday evening and sprinted down to their front-row seats, those problems seemed like distant and almost happy memories.
"We haven't missed a Giants game in 10 years, but none of us have ever seen them in person," Brian McCarthy said, looking up just in time to see Eli Manning jog past during a warmup. "Until now."
The McCarthys were among the hundreds of Giants fans who found their way to Ford Field to root on their favorite team last night. The announced attendance was 45,910. While the stadium was mostly home to Vikings fans - and Lions fans who came to boo the Vikings - there were enough folks wearing Brandon Jacobs and Justin Tuck jerseys to make their presence felt.
Such as Eric and Massiele Schweiger, originally from New Jersey but transplanted to Michigan. When they heard that the NFL and the Lions were giving away free tickets to the displaced game, they jumped at the opportunity to grab them. Eric Schweiger said he hadn't seen the Giants in person in 13 years since they played the Lions at the Silverdome.
Or Central Michigan University student Amy Lindstrom, who has been a fan of Peyton and Eli Manning for as long as she can remember and snagged front-row seats. She didn't rely on the freebie giveaway. Instead, she put out a desperate plea on Facebook looking for people who had ticket stubs from Sunday's Lions-Packers game, another way for fans to get into last night's game. She came up with four of them, enough for her, her roommate and her parents.
The McCarthys already had tickets for the game originally scheduled to be played in Minneapolis on Sunday. They drove into the blizzard to get there, a nine-hour drive that should have been about half that, but the snow was so blinding and the roads so treacherous that they had to stop about 35 miles shy of the Twin Cities. They figured their chances of seeing the Giants were finished. Said 13-year-old Justin: "I cried."
But as they were starting to head back to their Iowa home, they learned that the Metrodome roof had collapsed and the game had been moved to Detroit. They immediately hooked a left, headed east on another 11-hour drive to Detroit and pulled up in front of Ford Field at about 4:30 p.m. Monday. They were standing at the gate when the stadium opened.
And they were practically standing on the field when the game started . . . just like the Giants.