Pray for the Patriots

The time is roughly 8:30am, Australian Eastern Standard Time. It is a Sunday morning in the scorching heat that is only swept across our great land in the season of summer. For all die hard Australian sport fans who follow the pattern of following football or rugby in the winter and cricket or tennis in the summer, it is a bizarre time to wake up to watch sport. But on the eleventh day of the New Year there is an event being played out in another land. A land that is suffering from climatic conditions that differ so much from ours that we wouldn’t believe that it’s true.

On this Sunday morning in the Australian summer a soon to be 15 year old boy eagerly rises out of his bed like it is Christmas morning as he turns off his alarm and rushes to the couch in the living room. On goes the TV as quick as England’s Ashes batting line-up crumbled in front of this same person’s eyes just a year before. But instead of the TV stopping on the channels of Seven, Nine or even 10 for a bit of Big Bash fun, the stations whizz past in a blur. To any outsider, they would be questioning whether he wants to go watch Persian News on SBS or if he wants to get the number to buy the Ab Circle Pro on any number of phoney channels made just to annoy people who try to flick through them as quickly as a man does in the fashion papers of their morning Herald Sun’s. The number finally stops on 73. What is Channel 73? Funny you asked. It turns out that it is 7Mate, an associate channel of Seven. The time reaches 8:35am as a ball is kicked. What? There is sport on and you missed it? Correct. After all of this deliberation, the second week of playoffs in the National Football League are underway, and this teenager just wants to watch his beloved New England Patriots.

New England. They are perhaps the most popular worldwide NFL team, but they are also successful. On the back of wonder man Tom Brady – who fulfils the well-known position of quarterback – they finished the regular season as the best team in the American Football Conference, which is one of the two divisions in the league. They received a bye from the first week of playoffs and now come up against the Baltimore Ravens, who are seeded sixth in the conference. The Patriots, being the number one seed, host the game in Boston, at Gillette Stadium, where approximately 60,000 people are rugged up and embracing the snow. It’s a wonder for how amazing sport is when a 14 year old boy on the other side of the world watches a game played in snow whilst he is bathed in sunshine.

But the start is painful for the kid, as New England stutter under the pressure that they should make it to the pinnacle of gridiron; the Super Bowl. Baltimore have a 14-point lead, which is the equivalent of two converted touchdowns. But just before half time, Brady produces one of his popular masterstrokes as instead of throwing a sizzling ball to a teammate, he simply strolls past the Baltimore defenders who are engaged in push and shove wars with New England players, scoring a touchdown. The noise is deafening, even through the TV.

At half time, the Patriots are behind by a touchdown, with the score 21-14. A nervy wait for the second half to start awaits, as an exit this early in the playoffs would be disastrous.

First seeds are granted as the best for a reason though, and the Patriots rally and level up proceedings by three quarter time, with Brady thinking wonderfully by passing to a teammate behind him (Julian Edelman), who then throws a long ball for a touchdown and one of the best scoring plays an NFL post-season has ever seen. They came back from a 14 point deficit yet again in the third quarter, and history could possibly be made in terms of the largest playoff comebacks. Plays like that aren’t seen, and even the AFL and cricket loving teenager jumps up in surprise and cheers in delight at some a marvellous play. The Patriots are back.

The time is now nearing midday and the whole family is up, with the parents not understanding the rules and leaving him to his solitary peace on the couch. But the heart-warming play that sees the Pats level the scores turns to heartache as the Ravens  manage to kick a field goal and sees them go ahead by three points. Time is now slowly ticking away, and New England needs some more genius from the awesome quarterback who could go down as the best ever.

The Patriot defenders have just prevented a Baltimore touchdown, with a dropped catch in the ‘end zone’ helping the favourites. That sniff is all they need, as Brady throws a beautiful and majestic spiral that falls into the arms of a Patriots receiver who waltzes into the end zone like a guy who struts into a bar after parking his Lambo right outside the entrance. Drop the keys into the guard’s hand; you are currently one of the coolest people in this world.

The teenager can’t believe it; what a game to witness. Was the effort of coming out of his slumber early on purpose worth it? He has a judgement day of five minutes before he will know. As Brady runs over to his teammate and points like he knows every single piece of knowledge in this world, confidence in the result grows. The famous quarterback then saunters back to the bench where his beanie goes on and his black face paint on his cheeks is evident. If calm attitude was points then Brady would have just scored thousands.

When the clock reaches two minutes the Ravens have a fourth-down and are three yards from completing a first down. If they don’t get over three yards in this play then the Patriots get the ball and Brady will lock up the match like a stockbroker does his money after a hefty payment. But Baltimore somehow scrambles over, and the game is still in doubt. The margin is four points, and this game is going down to the wire. Heaven is reached not long after though, as the last play of the game, a ‘hail mary’ pass (where the quarterback throws a long ball into the end zone) is knocked to the ground by defenders, and relief fills 60,000 Patriots supporters in Gillette Stadium, as well as the teenager sitting in his Australian household.

Up rises the teenager, who now thinks about the Big Bash League game that afternoon. The game may already be drifting away from his subconsciousness, but it is 100% certain that he will rise and stumble to the same couch at 10:30am the next Monday to watch the third round of the playoffs, where the Patriots play Indianapolis for a spot in the Super Bowl.

Comments

  1. Nice one Sean. Welcome aboard the Almanac train.
    This was the first game all season that I watched most of. It was a ripper as you describe. I was barracking for the Ravens as the underdogs, but I always felt that they never quite believed they should be 14 points ahead of the Patriots in a play off game. The champs were down but not out of it, and they found a way as champs generally do.
    That play where Brady lateralled to Edelman on the sideline, who drew all the defenders expecting the run, and Amendola took off loose down the sideline to receive a touchdown pass from someone other than the quarterback. Really clever and brilliantly executed. The sort of special play that Belichik and the Patriots are famous for.
    They remind me of the 2011 Cats. An ageing team of stars who may still have one shot left in the locker on the big stage.

  2. That sounds exactly right. After the heartbreak of a few recent Super Bowl losses they deserve to win one last one. They have too good of a line up to not win another one. The big challenge will be Seattle though.

    Thanks for the warm welcome!

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