Tuesday, December 22, 2009

So here's how it happened around here: the Steelers-Packers game was not broadcast locally, but the score was flashed occasionally. I was pleasantly surprised to see the Steelers ahead. But then the fourth quarter began, and they were ahead by six points, and we all know what has usually happened: the Steelers give up points and lose narrowly--maybe by one point. And for awhile--as I watched the ESPN gamecast on the computer, and then just refreshed the score and time left on my homepage--it was happening again, sort of. The Packers kept scoring, but so did the Steelers. And then the Packers had a six point lead with a minute left. Then with 30 seconds. Then with 18 seconds, where the clock stopped. A time out I figured. Refresh: 3 seconds. Another pause. Then I got up. Instead of impatiently waiting for them to lose, I walked around the kitchen envisioning a last second touchdown, reasoning as well that the Steelers were due for some good, rather than bad, luck. Then I returned and refreshed again: Steelers 37, Packers 36, game over.
I had missed one of the great finishes and one of Big Ben's greatest games, one of the great performances in Steelers history and in the NFL this year. It was the game the Steelers needed. While conventional wisdom has switched because of it, giving them the edge over Baltimore next week, I think it brings them even, and the game is a tossup. But this weekend in the rest of the NFL was topsy-turvy, including victories by two of the "terrible teams" the Steelers lost to,and with dramatic swings in the narrative: now New Orleans and Minnesota are "vulnerable," Tennessee and Dallas are surging, San Diego is the new team of destiny. It goes to show that with two weeks left, the narrative is still uncertain. There are even a couple of fairly plausible ways that the Steelers get into the playoffs if they win their final two games, both now against wild card contenders.

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