The Goat Bowl February 7, 2012 The Super Bowl is over, the New York Giants won, and I can't be the only person who noticed something odd: the last three games of the season were all decided by goats.
It's mighty doggone suspicious. Whoever polices the NFL against game fixing should be investigating full steam, because something awfully weird was going on during the last two rounds of the playoffs.
Here's the thing: the only two ways to fix games is to subvert the officials or pay the players to perform badly. (They're already being paid to perform well, so that would be a waste of money.) Consequently, one of the first signs that something is amiss will be unexpected and inexplicably bone-headed blunders on the field. Exactly like what we saw in these last three games.
Maybe those were clues.
I have no concrete evidence that anybody was on the take in the NFL. How could I? All I'm saying is that what did happen, right there in front of our eyes, well, it defies the odds. You can watch a whole season of NFL football without seeing one 4th quarter obviously-game-losing mistake of the magnitude we saw two and three at a time at the end of these three games.
Game 1, Baltimore Ravens at New England Patriots (winner goes to Super Bowl)
Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco threw a perfect pass to Lee Evans in the end zone for the game-winning score, and Evans caught it, but he didn't put the ball away fast enough so a Patriot stripped it... game losing mistake number one. After another incomplete pass, the kicker came in to tie the game with a point-blank field goal but missed the 32-yarder wide left. Game losing mistake number two. (Both in the last 27 seconds of the game.)
Game 2, New York Giants at San Francisco 49ers (winner goes to Super Bowl)
It felt to me that the 49ers were the better team throughout the game, slowly wearing the Giants down with overpowering defense, and with 11 minutes 17 seconds left they were leading 14-10 when the Giants finished another futile effort at moving the ball by punting, their fifth straight possession ending with a punt. The 49ers defense was dominating the Giants offense. Inexplicably, the man fielding the punt for the 49ers, Kyle Williams, didn't catch the ball but stayed in the vicinity, allowing the ball to bounce off his knee which made it a live ball. The Giants grabbed it. Game losing mistake number three. The grateful Giants offense, rejuvenated, trotted back onto the field and scored a touchdown 2 minutes and 36 seconds later. Giants 17-14. The 49ers kicked a field goal to send the game into overtime but 5 minutes 18 seconds into overtime the Giants punted to Kyle Williams (again), who caught the ball and fumbled it back to the Giants on the 24 yard line. Game losing mistake number four. (Both by the same guy.) The Giants kicked a field goal to win the game.
Game 3, New England Patriots vs. New York Giants (Super Bowl)
Tom Brady threw a deep pass to Wes Welker who was wide open on the 20 yard line. Known for his good hands, Welker let the ball bounce off his hands. Game losing mistake number five. Instead of first down at the 20, the Patriots had to punt the ball to the Giants who marched down the field and scored a touchdown. The Patriots got the ball back and made a desperate drive with 57 seconds to go, but two more sure-handed Patriots receivers dropped passes that hit them in the hands. Game losing mistakes number six and number seven. (All by receivers.) The Patriots failed to score and lost 21-17.
Notice that all three games were ultimately won by the team that seemed weaker during the game. Looking back at the Giants two victories, they scored a total of 41 points: 3 after the first Kyle Williams punt fumble, 7 after the second Kyle Williams punt fumble, 2 after an intentional grounding call on Tom Brady after a pass up the middle that traveled 50 yards in the air (an unheard-of call), 7 after they fumbled the ball away but the Patriots had 12 men on the field, and 7 after Wes Welker dropped a pass that hit him in the hands. So 26 of their 41 points came after weird, unlikely scenarios.
It could be a fluke of statistics that so many blunders happened at the tail end of the three most important games in the NFL season, when all the gambling money is on the line and the incentive for skullduggery is greatest. It could be. Coincidence happens.
But somebody once said, "Coincidence is the word we use when we can't see the levers and pulleys."