Beer, Beer, Football, Beer
The headline of this post hails from the signage outside the BBQ and drinking establishment just catty corner across the road from my domicile in Austin, Texas.
Billy’s Brewery said it all for this Sunday of National Football League Championship games: Beer, Beer, Football, Beer.
Although by the end of the day, I’m sure many fans would have evened things out a bit and wrote instead: “Football, Football, Beer, Shakespeare.”
It was that dramatic a day in the NFL.
Now, mind you, as reported in this blog a few weeks ago, my Dallas Cowgirls have long been out of it. But I’m not just a fan of one team, I’m a fan of the game. And as any fan of the game must do, they must carry on and watch the professionals do what they do.
And boy did they do it yesterday.
I’ve not seen that dramatic a back-to-back series of NFL Championship games since I was probably a toddler, and I don’t really remember those.
So let’s start with the New England Patriots and the Baltimore Ravens. And let’s begin with the end, the missed 32 yard field goal by Ravens kicker Billy Cundiff. What should have been an easy chip shot to tie the game 23-23 and send both teams into OT, curved left like a bad Todd Watson hooked drive and veered well left of the uprights.
As I joked on Twitter, I’d love to listen to some local Baltimore sports radio talk this morning, as it just had to be brutal. Cundiff would be well served to not show his face around town, at least for a few months.
That dumb luck aside, the Ravens should have won the game. The Pats were hardly at their best, and it was their defense that saved them. Tom Brady, their celebrated QB, was inconsistent, laser-like on some passes, sloppy on others. He threw no TDs and two interceptions, and just looking at the data, earned a season-low 57.5 passer rating.
Surely he’ll have to do better in the Super Bowl.
I will give Tom Brady this: When it was time to dive into the endzone for the Pats to go up from 16-20 to 23-20, Brady literally dove right in, head first. Hard core leap for the TD, Brady. Maybe you deserve that Brazilian supermodel after all.
Now, flash West out to Candlestick Park, where relentless rain left a sloppy field for the New York Giants and the San Francisco 49ers, just the way I like my NFC Championships.
My money was on the Giants from the get go, but I knew not to count the 49ers out, especially with young, hungry quarterback Alex Smith, who struck first on a 73-yard touchdown pass to Vernon Davis with just 7:11 left in the first quarter.
The 49ers went on to stop a Giants first down, earning great field position before running a silly, accident-waiting-to-happen-in-the-rain reverse, the fumble from which Kyle Williams was able to recover.
By halftime, the Giants had eaked out a 10-7 lead, but this was still anybody’s ballgame.
In the third quarter, Vernon Davis struck again, this time in a 28-yard TD catch that put the 49ers up 14-10. The ghost of King Lear could be heard howling from the underbelly of Candlestick Park, the rain and wind screaming as the plot thickened.
In the fourth quarter, Eli Manning threw a deep pass to Mario Manningham for another TD, but not three minutes later San Francisco responded with an Akers 25 yard field goal.
And then the heavens truly opened up the Greek chorus appeared as the game went into overtime. The Giants’ Steve Weatherford punted downfield, and 49er Kyle Williams’ knee brushed the ball, and the Giants recovered the “fumble.” After the official review, it was the Giants’ opportunity to seize the moment.
And kicker Lawrence Tynes didn’t disappoint. Once again, just as he did with Green Bay four years ago, he planted a 31-yarder between the uprights and, once again, the Giants will be facing the Patriots in a SuperBowl.
One can only hope that William Shakespeare continues to look down from the heavens in that rematch from four years ago.