In the NFL, it ain’t over until the fat lady sings. Or in this case, until Antonio Brown steps out of bounds. After the Miami Dolphins played their best 4th quarter this season and took a 34-28 lead over the Pittsburgh Steelers, I finally took a breathe of relief and reveled in a HUGE win that marched the ‘Fins one step closer to the playoffs. I laughed at the sight of Le’Veon Bell lateraling the ball backwards and snickered at the sight of Ben Roethlisberger slinging the ball backwards (ish) to Antonio Brown. And then my smile disappeared in less time than it took for Antonio Brown to scamper into the end zone, ending what would have shockingly been the 2nd best finish to a football game that week (Auburn-Alabama takes the cake). In one ridiculous turn of events, I cursed the television and swore to never watch football again. But then, just as quickly as I had written off impossible as “nothing,” a referee came running onto my cursed television screen and waved off the Steelers’ touchdown. My smile returned, my faith was restored and Miami more importantly moved to 7-6 on the year.
What is even more amazing than Miami’s narrow escape in Pittsburgh was the amount of chaos that erupted on this wacky Week 14 in the NFL. Here is a brief description of the rest of the chaos, just in case you missed it.
In a game with severe snow and extreme cold, the score was 7-6 at the start of the fourth quarter and was on pace to be the most uneventful and low-scoring game of the day. Instead, the game saw 6 different lead changes in the final quarter of play, including a 77 yard kickoff return for a TD by Baltimore’s Jacoby Jones, which was followed by a 79 yard catch and run for a TD by Minnesota’s Cordarrelle Patterson with a minute left. Game over, right?. Wrong. Baltimore countered with an 80 yard drive that culminated with a nine yard TD pass from Joe Flacco to Marlon Brown with four seconds remaining. To my amazement, the Vikings failed to return the kickoff for a TD, and the game finally ended.
In a game that belonged to Cleveland, the Patriots successfully converted an onside kick after a touchdown with less than a minute to go and received a HUGE break from the refs on a pass interference call that gave them 1st and goal on the one. A quick one yard TD pass to Danny Amendola completed New England’s miraculous “theft,” and the Browns were left shaking their heads, mouths agape at the refs. The Pats clinched a playoff spot with the win and confirmed that they are indeed the officials favorite team in the NFL. Rob Gronkowski also left the game with what looks to be his 400th torn ACL.
A Frank Gore 51 yard scamper late in the 4th led to Phil Dawson connecting on his fourth field goal of the day with 26 seconds remaining, and San Fran knocked off the Seattle Seahawks to remain unbeaten at home against the NFC West since 2008.
Overall, Week 14 boasted four games that were decided by three points or less. An astounding six games were determined by a one score difference heading into Sunday night. The NFL exhibited what I consider to be it’s most entertaining and yet heartbreaking quality: it’s unpredictability.