The Ravens just almost beat the unbeatable Patriots. Almost. Almost. They were 20.5 point underdogs, but the wind was howling and McGahee was running and Ngata was tackling and Boller was connecting. Pats quarterback Tom Brady was having a bad night.
It all came down to the final drive. Score: Baltimore 24, Patriots 20, a minute and change to go. Pats 4th and 1, and the Ravens squashed them. Game over.
Ravens defensive coordinator Rex Ryan had called a timeout before the snap--there was no play. Ravens D freaks out, ready to kill coach Brian Billick, whom they thought had called the TO.
Next play, 4th and 1 again. Pats fullback Heath Evans stuffed like a turkey for a one-yard loss. Game over!
Patriots guard Russ Hochstein is called for a false start. That play also didn't happen.
A few nail-gnawing plays later, Pats are 4th and 6. Brady makes an incomplete pass to the end zone. GAME *^(*)#ing OVER!
Ravens are called on what everyone agrees is a dubious defensive holding penalty. It's first-and-goal at the 8.
With a dull ache in our stomachs, we begin to understand that the game truly is over now, because this season holds what ESPN commentator Tony Kornheiser called a "tragic inevitability." Nothing, not a running back on fire, not a bloodthirsty defense, not even Mother Nature herself can stop the New England Patriots. Possibly ever.
Brady throws a touchdown on the next play. Of course. Ravens linebacker Bart Scott flips out, gets an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty (15 yards), then throws the ref's flag into the stands (where presumably it was eaten by fans, then vomited onto the ref's head) and gets another UC call (for another 15 yards). An offsides call during the extra point attempt puts the kickoff at the Ravens 35-yard line (it would normally be at the Patriots' 25). So there's no kickoff return, which is sad because with 44 seconds left and decent field position, they could have had the tying field goal.
In desperation, Ravens QB Kyle Boller throws a Hail Mary pass into the 40-mph wind. It's freaking caught (which never happens) by wide receiver Mark Clayton.
At the two-yard line.
With no time left.
All year I've been rooting for the New England Patriots, even though they've become the Yankees of the NFL (I've been a Pats fan since way back when they were the underdogs). I've laughed as other teams have fallen in the path of Kornheiser's "tragic inevitability," laughed as other teams' fans have shaken their fists at the sky, screaming, "BRADYYYYY!" in impotent rage. Now I know how it feels to be squashed by the juggernaut.
Oh well. At least the Ravens didn't embarrass themselves on Monday Night Football again, and they have to feel optimistic about hosting the hated Colts next weekend.
And once again next Sunday, I'll root for the Patriots and laugh long and hard as Steelers fans raise their fists to the sky and scream, "BRADYYYYYY!"