After all my angst over this loss, the guy was actually very cordial about it. I figured he'd rub my nose in it big time, but overall it wasn't much.
It sucks to lose, and it sucks big time to lose the way I did, but if your opponent doesn't make you suffer for it, it gets a little easier to take.
But only a little.
Here's how I wrote this up for my weekly rag. Feel free to tell me it's better than Shakespeare. My team is the Comets, his is Tsunami...
The gods of fantasy football like to play their jokes, do they not? After all the stats I mentioned in my preview last week showing the statistical domination of the Comets over Tsunami through the first nine weeks of the season, all that gets tossed out the window with one bizarre, meaningless play late in a game that had been decided two quarters prior. Let me paint the scene…
We pick up action late Sunday afternoon. The Comets have streaked out to a 54-32 lead on the strength of the Bears D and some great running by Greg Jones, a bye-week filler for LT2, and Warrick Dunn. We’re deep into the Seattle/St. Louis game featuring Tsunami’s Hasselbeck and the Comets’ Bulger, Engram and Stevens. Bulger and my Seahawks haven’t done much, but then neither has Hass. Meanwhile, Moss, Davis and Mike Anderson are toiling away for Tsunami, earning next to nothing late in their games. I start to feel confident that I can notch this one up. I get on with the business of playing with my daughter and making dinner, only checking Live Scoring occasionally here and there. Life is good.
Suddenly, in the span of less than five minutes, Hasselbeck, Davis, Moss and Anderson each score. It’s now 56-54 Tsunami, and it’s LATE in these games. I need some juice and I need it now or I’m going down. Up steps Bulger with a sweet pass that finally isn’t dropped by his receiver (Holt and Bruce had both dropped sure completions earlier, Holt doing so in the end zone). I jump back on top, 60-58. A few more minutes and a few more yards from Bulger, Dunn and Stevens and the late afternoon games end. I’m up 66-60. Mo only has Antonio Bryant left to play. I’m feeling pretty good. Bryant has scored less than six points in six of his seven games so far. He’s only found the end zone in one game all year. He often checks out of games when he gets frustrated by a good defensive backfield, and he’s facing the Steelers – one of the better backfields in the NFL.
Through three quarters of the game Sunday night Bryant has four catches for 78 yards, with one fumble. He’s still four points shy of beating me. The only way I can lose is if he gets in the end zone. The Steelers have this game wrapped up before halftime, and late in the fourth quarter they put the final dagger in the heart of the Browns, taking a 34-14 lead with just over two minutes to go. They kick off, and the Browns begin their drive. It’s uneventful, except that the Steelers are playing Prevent, so Cleveland is moving down the field. They’re taking plenty of time to do it, and the game is all but over when the Browns get inside the 10 yard line with 40 seconds to go.
Mind you, I’m up watching this game – the only Sunday Night Football game I’ve watched all year. I want to know I’ve won bad enough to stomach that trio of idiots ESPN hired to announce these games. Whether it makes my ears bleed to hear them say such inane things as, “Nobody wanted him to get that record more than the whole football team,” I had to know that I won. I had to. I’ve lost so many times to Tsunami that I want to see the door actually slammed shut before going to bed.
So here it is. First and goal, seven yard line. Forty-two seconds to go. I have to hope that A) the Browns don’t score, B) the Browns kick a meaningless field goal, or C) they score with ANYONE ELSE than Bryant. First down – the Steelers cover everyone, and with the pocket collapsing Dilfer throws the ball away. Fan in the stands gets a souvenir, stuffed in his sweatshirt. One play over, three to go. Second down - Dilfer fires a laser to Dennis Northcutt in the back of the end zone, but about ten feet too high. This one doesn’t make it into the stands, but it’s close. Two plays done, I’m still alive. Third down – third straight shotgun snap; the Browns are intent on scoring here because it will REALLY matter in the end. Dilfer again overshoots his receiver, this time Braylon Edwards; nowhere near a catchable ball. Three plays down – will they kick a meaningless field goal or do they WANT that meaningless TD?
Fourth down. This is the last offensive play of anyone on Mo’s roster. Twenty-seven seconds left. It has to happen right now or I win. Cleveland lines up in shotgun again. Apparently it’s the meaningless TD or nothing for them. Dilfer gets the ball, rolls slightly to his right. The Steelers bring pressure with their front four only, dropping seven into coverage. Some Steeler (I don’t know who) pops through the line and heads for Dilf, about five steps away. Dilfer fades a couple more steps to his right, and WHAM – fires a bullet to the end zone. The defender is all over the receiver, so for a moment it’s impossible to tell who got it. The ball is juggled, but immediately you see the receiver grasp it and fall to the turf, right in the middle of the end zone.
It’s Antonio Bryant.
I leaped up from my chair hardly believing my eyes. They call interference on the play, but it doesn’t matter – Bryant hangs on. I literally shout “NOOOOO!!!” at the top of my lungs, not caring if I wake Maddie up (she doesn’t), absolutely shocked by this. I hold my head in my hands as Bryant lays there in the end zone, cradling the ball. I’m stunned.
But there it is. The only catchable ball Dilfer throws in that whole sequence, to the only player who can beat me, with the only outcome that can hurt my team, to score a meaningless touchdown in a game that had been decided two quarters prior.
And Maurice wins.
In the grand scheme of things this loss will probably not mean much. I’m still comfortably ensconced atop my division. I’m going to the playoffs, and once there I don’t care who I play or what week it is – I’ve got the firepower to beat anyone. Instead of wrapping up the Campbell division crown in week ten, which I would have with a win, I drop to only a one game lead over the Tsunami.