Like many of you, I watched yesterday’s NFC championship game between the Green Bay Packers and Seattle Seahawks.
Unlike most of you, I am the rare combination of St. Louis Cardinals fan for baseball and Chicago Bears fan for football. Which means I wasn’t rooting for the Packers — I know there are quite a few Cardinals/Packers fans (I am related to several) who obviously were rooting for their team, and the Cardinals/Rams fans were for the Packers also rather than see a division rival win.
So, personally, I was ecstatic over the outcome. More than ecstatic, actually, to see the Packers implode that way.
But I definitely disagree with Bob Nightengale.
Sure, I get it — sloppy game to start with, as we remember the ball that bounced off David Freese or the one that neither Matt Holliday nor Rafael Furcal could come up with in Game 6. Yes, comparisons can be made with the four interceptions that Russell Wilson threw yesterday.
The comeback that Wilson led, with the Seahawks scoring 15 points late in the fourth quarter was definitely amazing. Incredible plays, like Seattle recovering the onside kick after Wilson scored a touchdown with just over two minutes left. Then the two-point conversion pictured above. We even had the moment similar to Josh Hamilton’s Game 6 10th inning homer — kind of — in Mason Crosby’s game-tying field goal with just 14 seconds left to send the game to overtime.
And there’s the biggest difference: time. Or, rather, no time.
The timeless element of baseball is what makes it so incredible.
There wasn’t a clock telling us David Freese had only 14 seconds left in the bottom of the ninth when he launched the ball toward the right field wall with two strikes, Nelson Cruz missed it and he ended up at third base with the score tied 7-7 to save the game and the season.
Extra innings aren’t the same as overtime in football either — had the Packers won the coin toss yesterday that decided who got the ball first in overtime (uh, yeah, none of those in baseball either) and marched down the field to score a touchdown as the Seahawks ultimately did, the game would have been over.
Instead, in baseball, after Josh Hamilton hit that homer in the 10th inning, we had Lance Berkman up there with the season on the line. No time clock to determine what would happen — just an at-bat in which he singled with two strikes to tie the game again.
Finally, as enjoyable as seeing the pass from Russell Wilson to Jermaine Kearse was (and as redemptive a moment as it was for both of them after those interceptions), there was no way the excitement of that moment came close to the oh-my-God-I-can’t-even-believe-it-this-is-the-best-game-ever emotion that resulted when David Freese launched the game-winning home run in the bottom of the 11th inning.
Plus nothing tops the call Joe Buck made that night, echoing his dad’s own “We will see you tomorrow night!” (although who doesn’t remember his statement in the 10th inning too: “They. Just. Won’t. Go. Away.”) I’m not even sure what Buck said during yesterday’s TV broadcast.
While seeing the Seahawks all jumping around and celebrating in the end zone after that Wilson-to-Kearse game-winning TD was very cool, it wasn’t quite the same as seeing the Cardinals run out of the dugout toward home plate (to say nothing of the Laird Leap) and then wait expectantly as Freese rounded the bases. Right?
There’s just not that singular moment of anticipation like that in football, even in an exciting overtime win — or in any other sport but baseball.
Not to diminish the fact that yesterday’s NFC championship wasn’t fantastic. It was. But it wasn’t the football version of Game 6 in 2011, Bob Nightengale.
It’s impossible for a football game to ever equal that.