THE FINAL FIVE
Here's something to think about. On Sunday, I didn't turn the television on. I knew the Patriots game started around four thirty or so, but I kept the tube turned off. I didn't listen to the game on the radio and had no idea what was happening at Gillette stadium.
I decided to go out and have dinner at my favorite restaurant The final few minutes of the Patriots game were televised on flat screens mounted above the semi-circular bar. New Orleans was up 27 to 23 over the Pats. Brady sat on the sidelines looking glum. The Saints were jumping all over their side of the field, figuring the game was in the bag and they'd go home undefeated. In a brilliant effort to get the job done with just sixty seconds left on the clock, the Pats went down the field, scored, and won the game.
It occurred to me that watching just the last five minutes of a game is a lot like finishing the end of a book without reading it chapter by chapter, because no matter whatever happened in the past, the last chapter is the outcome, Watching the kickoff, trying to figure out strategy from the stands or at home munching chips and drinking beer in the living room, fans are engaged. But in truth, in a close game like the Pats and the Saints, the two minute warning becomes the most intense 120 seconds of all.
When networks highlight the finals of other games, we get bits and clips of plays, but end up with the final play and the final score. We didn't have to watch the Chiefs go undefeated by beating Oakland. We didn't have to watch the Broncos go 6-0. All we had to do was watch or listen to the OT wrap up.
Watching the final five minutes of an NFL game can induce anticipatory anxiety or bring emotional relief. Every play before that, all the fumbles, incomplete passes, penalties, touchdowns, and extra points, though enthralling, becomes irrelevant. Miracles happen. Yesterday Tom Brady proved that they do.