Back in July, before I left the safe-haven of Boston for the ferocious, vicious wild lands of the west (it smells like cow farts where I live. I consider that wild, okay?) I decided that to counteract inevitable homesickness, I had to have a ticket for when the Patriots came to Denver, just to be by some of my own people and be able to viably cheer against the home team, instead of just being That Silly Kid In A Shirt That Is Irrelevant. (see: wearing a Bruins jersey to the Avalanche home opener against the Sharks. Um, yeah.)
So October 11th came, it was 25 degrees at game time, here I am bundled up in my underarmor and my sweatshirt and my white Wes Welker and no gloves, and it was glorious (Mile-High sells this strange concoction of hot cocoa and peppermint schnapps – kept my hands warm as well as my insides!) The first thing I did was some people watching in the lower bowl. Pats fans, be proud – you represented New England as one of the highest ratios of away fans to home fans that I’ve ever seen outside of a Sox-Orioles or a Sox-Yankees series.
The Red Sox game, speaking of, was just winding down, and as I’m checking the score, I hear off to the side:
“YEAH, WES WELKAHHH!”
I ended up huddling together with this dude and his friend, frantically refreshing my blackberry as Papelbon let in not one, not two, but THREE home runs in the 8th inning, was pulled in the last out of the 9th for Hideki Okajima, and a 6-4 comeback sweep-aversion turned into two innings of clownshoes and ultimately, defeat.
The Patriots game, this game I had waited two months for, started out fantastically – I was sitting in a row where Broncos fans were outnumbered, it got to 17-7 at the half, and here I am, the stereotypical Brady Believer, that everything is going to be fine.
Never have I been so wrong.
I’ll get to the game-ending field goal later – the NFL overtime rules are incredibly WRONG – but the core of this game was rotten. The Broncos flubbed not one, not two, but THREE punt returns, getting the Patriots the ball back through no effort of our own, and three times we couldn’t convert on third down. This wasn’t an inability limited to these three occasions; the Broncos’ 1st-down conversions were nearly twice that of the Patriots. You can’t win games without converting a little more often, at LEAST, than the Patriots did in this game. The defense wasn’t faultless here, either; good defense doesn’t LET a team convert the way the Broncos did.
So one field goal and one touchdown later, it’s 17-17, and we go into overtime. The Broncos win the coin toss; march down the field, converting for at least one first down along the way; kick a field goal; and that’s it, they’re 5-0, and our sad-sack boys are 3-2.
The Patriots never should have let this game go to overtime. They sat comfortably on their lead after the half, and that is NOT enough to win games. However, the fact that the team that loses the coin toss in overtime almost 99% of the time wins the game is completely and totally unfair. The NFL should not have sudden death overtime; they should play it the way they do in MLB, where the inning gets played out, both teams have a shot; at the very least, give the coin-toss-losing team an opportunity to retaliate, the way it’s done in college football, or perhaps, make it not enough to win by just a field goal. If I ran this league, the rules would be as such: If a game goes to overtime, the winning team has to win by SIX POINTS. That’s one touchdown or two field goals. Sudden death by six points is a lot harder! It eliminates what is essentially the auto-win of only needing to march the ball to inside the other team’s 40 yard line (50 yard line if you’re Adam Vinatieri in the Pats’ super bowl era), which is infinitely easier than getting inside the 1 and scoring a touchdown.
Long story short – Pats drop another one, and I’m 0-for-2 on the day.
To be fair, only one of the remaining 6 games I was paying attention to was a Boston game; I am a self-admitted hockey cheater, and I love me some Capitals and Blackhawks hockey. Monday I got to see the Bruins lose to the Avalanche, and considered going into hiding (luckily I don’t live in Denver, so the jobbing wasn’t quite so bad – but dropping TWO sports to Colorado in two days? That was rough, guys. Rough.) I left my house as the Capitals were winning, and came back to find they’d lost to Sir Marty Brodeur in a shootout.
Lame. 0-for-5, and the Blackhawks were down by FIVE POINTS after the first period. I was about to just give up and call the weekend an utter fail, but somewhere, somehow, the Sports Gods must have felt my desperation, so they gave me ONE.
1-for-6 is better than 0-for-6.