Monday, January 19, 2015
And then there are what I call the epic losses. Those are different.
An epic loss haunts you. During the course of a normal day, when nothing is occupying your time or your attention, you begin to think about it, how things might have gone differently...if just...one/three/five plays had gone differently. If the Giants could have gotten ONE MORE OUT in the seventh inning. If the Kings had gotten the rebound. If Phil Mickelson had left the driver in the bag. If Roger Craig hadn't fumbled. If an epic loss is bad enough, you will wake up in the middle of the night, and the first thought that jumps into your head will be the game. You might see visions of Robert Horry striking a dagger (in the form of a basketball) straight into your heart, and every time the dagger finds its mark.
No doubt about it, yesterday's Green Bay defeat at the hands of the Seattle Seahawks was an epic loss. And it doesn't matter that Green Bay is one of the storied franchises in all of sports, with a rich championship tradition. Even with that rich history of success, there's no doubt in my mind that there were hundreds, if not thousands, of Packers fans for whom sleep came slowly last night. They played the game over in their minds. Why didn't we go for it on 4th and Goal? How could we have fallen for that fake field goal? Why didn't that guy who intercepted Russell Wilson's pass with barely five minutes left in the game keep on running? What the hell was Mike McCarthy thinking with those play calls? And why did Brandon Bostick even try to catch the onside kick when he was in there to block? And how, after looking like Ryan Lindley for nearly the entire game, did Russell Wilson suddenly morph into the next coming of Joe Montana?
That was an epic loss, no doubt. Here's a few of them that haunted me:
- The "Immaculate Reception" game, Raiders lose to Pittsburgh on the last play of the game, just one of the most famous plays in NFL history.
- On the same day, for crying out loud (12/23/72), the 49ers lose to Dallas 30-28, after having led 28-16 at the two-minute warning. That takes some doing.
- Game 6, 2002 World Series. More I cannot and will not say.
- 1990 NFC Championship Game. 49ers lose to the New York Giants 15-13 after Roger Craig fumbles on what would have been a game-closing drive.
- 1983 NFC Championship Game. People forget this game (see above picture), but this one really hurt. The 49ers were down to the Washington Redskins (in D.C.) 21-0 heading into the fourth quarter, when suddenly Montana got hot, and before you knew it, the game was tied at 21. You could hear a pin drop at RFK, and there was no way we were going to lose that game. Until, that is, we suffered three consecutive questionable pass interference calls, enough to put Mark Moseley in range for the winning FG. Thank you again, Raiders, for kicking the Redskins' ass in the Super Bowl two weeks later.
And of course, Game 4 of the 2002 NBA Western Conference Finals, which was really the NBA Finals that year. There's a reason Sports Illustrated chose that series as the best playoff series of the entire decade. Game 7 was decided in overtime, and it was only the third (or fourth) best game of the series. In fact, you could make an argument that the series closed with four consecutive epic losses. Unfortunately, the Kings were on the losing end of three of them. And nothing was ever the same in Sacramento.
So I wish I had some calming and hopeful words today for fans of the Green Bay Packers. But I don't. Sorry, but this one is going to hurt for a long, long time.
That is the nature of epic losses.