Sunday was a gray, sloppy day both on the football field and off--but more so on. It was the kind of game that harkens back to the old days of leather helmets, stout-hearted runs up the gut for three yards at a time, and nosebleeds wiped on ragged sleeves. In other words, a perfect day for football--as romanticizing an atmosphere as a sun-drenched late-August afternoon for baseball. Slowly, every player's uniform was covered in a thin patina of filth, kicked-up turf stuck in helmets, and the old-time run dominated given the slippery conditions.
If the Patriots had actually won this game--especially if they had pulled out a tie for overtime and then won on another last-minute Brady drive--it might have been one of my favorite football games ever.
When the Jets scored a touchdown after the teams had bruised each other into 10-6 stagnation, I thought for sure they had sealed it up. Then it seemed the Patriots offense suddenly remembered themselves, and they played hook-and-ladder down the field on their way to a neat, crisp touchdown of their own, at which point I thought for sure we were about to witness magic.
"If he does this," I said as a mud-covered Brady warmed up on the sideline, "It'll tack a little more onto his legend. And if he doesn't, who could? He's got nothing to lose."
But passes fell incomplete and the time dwindled and the Patriots drive ended not on a game-tying kick, a touchdown to win, or even a venture much beyond the 50 yard line. Brady was driven once again into the mud--the final ignominy was his fumble as he fell, and though New England recovered, the clock stood at all zeros.
It was mental whiplash. One moment I was already beginning to rationalize a loss; the next I was anticipating a rousing, miraculous win; I didn't want to let that go even as the game ended, and neither did Brady, as he sat sullenly in the mud, while the Jets crowded around him, celebrating. He and I were probably wondering many of the same things.
P.S. Seems to be all but confirmed now that the Sox have put in the top bid for Matsuzaka, and reportedly are looking to sign Dodgers outfielder JD Drew for $44 million. Soxaholix has an interesting take on that, and Surviving Grady has a video of Matsuzaka bringin' the nasty breaking stuff.