On Tuesday, I was forced to go through what some of you may consider torture. I was forced to re-watch Super Bowl XLIV.
I'm taking a Sports & Media class at George Mason University, and as part of the class we had to watch the game and examine the different media aspects of the game coverage. For the sake of time, the professor only showed important moments from the game, such as Pierre Garçon's drop on 3rd down, the Saints' go-ahead touchdown, Tracy Porter's interception, and the post game celebration.
It wasn't easy to watch, but pretending the game didn't happen isn't going to make it go away, so I decided I would watch to help bring some closure to last month's misery. Most of what I re-watched felt the same as when I watched it live one month ago. The one thing that was different for me was the battle over the onside kick to start the second half. Like most of you, I knew the onside kick would be a defining moment in the game as soon as I realized what happened. There was still over 29 minutes left to play in the game, but it certainly felt like the game hung in the balance at the bottom of the scrum for the ball.
If you asked me how long it took for the referees to get to the bottom of the pile to find out who had the ball, I would have guessed at least three minutes before I re-watched the tape. Disassembling a pile of angry football players fighting over an inflated piece of leather takes time; doing so on the world's biggest stage at its most critical moment only makes it harder. Everyone knew how important this play would be in deciding the game, and nobody was going to walk away willingly.
As I watched the onside kick again, I was surprised how quickly everything was settled. Only 62 seconds elapsed from the time the ball left Garrett Hartley's foot to the time referee Scott Green signaled the Saints had recovered the ball. It took longer to settle than your average battle over a loose ball, but it was nowhere close to the eternity it felt like watching the game live.
Never before had the struggle between the two teams in the Super Bowl manifested itself in such a literal manner. You could hear and feel the intensity as players dove into the pile, yelled frantically, and pointed with all their might, convinced their team had the ball. That's the nature of sports. All the blood, sweat, time and effort someone pours into the game of football can boil down to one play and sometimes you find yourself on the wrong end of the play.
And that's the lesson I took out of re-watching the Super Bowl this week. No matter how hard you try and how much you prepare, sometimes you just get outplayed. All you can do is credit the team that won and hope things will go better next time. Given the way the Colts prepare and play, those opportunities will come again sooner rather than later.