Sunday, October 13, 2013 will not soon be forgotten. It reminds us why we love sports. It also reminds us how lucky we are to be living in this specific area at this exact time.
I'm sure there have been days when two, or maybe even three, of the local sports teams were in action on the same day. And there have been days when one of those teams may have been involved in a playoff game. Maybe it was a Red Sox-Yankees game on the same day as a Patriots-Jets game. Or maybe the Celtics and Lakers were involved.
But I am equally as sure that no single day matched the drama that this past Sunday had. Not only did the Patriots and Red Sox play on the same day, both at home, but both had improbable come-from-behind victories which defied credibility.
The opening act was the Patriots. Playing against the undefeated New Orleans Saints, fans had begun to head for the exits when wide receiver Aaron Dobson dropped a fourth down pass deep in their own territory with less than three minutes remaining in the game and the Patriots down by a point.
The Saints had a chance to run out the clock, but the Patriots defense held Drew Brees and company to a field goal. With the Patriots now down by four, the Patriots little glimmer of hope was dashed when Tom Brady threw an interception just prior to the two-minute warning on the first play of the ensuing drive.
The defense, without injured stars Aqib Talib and Jerod Mayo, again did its job and the Patriots once again would, improbably, get the ball back. The New England offense was equally weakened by injuries to offensive lineman Dan Connolly and wide receiver Danny Amendola. With only 1:13 left on the clock, no timeouts, and needing to drive seventy yards for a touchdown with a ragtag group of rookie wide receivers and a veteran receiver who was brought in just this week, victory still seemed improbable.
But Brady would march the team down into scoring territory thanks to a couple of big catches-- one on fourth down-- by Austin Collie, the aforementioned veteran receiver. Brady would miss a couple of passes to an open Julian Edelman near the goal line. It appeared those may have been New England's best chances to score. With only eleven seconds left on the clock, the ball sat on the 17-yard line.
Brady would have two shots to get the ball to the end zone, but would only need one. Rookie Kenbrell Thompkins would outleap a defender to haul in a perfect Brady pass in the back corner of the endzone. Brady's touchdown pass would tie him for fourth all-time along with Fran Tarkenton for most touchdown passes in NFL history. It would also give the Patriots a 30-27 victory and hand the Saints their first loss of the season.
The main event came about five hours later. The Red Sox were looking at their post-season hopes slipping away. They trailed the Detroit Tigers, 5-1, with two outs in the eighth inning. Detroit had already taken the first game of the series the previous night. The Red Sox were facing the prospect of losing the first two games of the series, both at home, with Justin Verlander waiting for them in Game 3 in Detroit.
The stage was set. The Red Sox, who had struggled mightily against Detroit's starting pitchers, had managed to mount a bit of an uprising against the Tigers's suspect bullpen. With two outs in the eighth inning, the bases were loaded. The Red Sox couldn't ask for a better hitter to be at the plate. Up stepped David Ortiz against Detroit's closer, Joaquin Benoit. Ortiz would waste no time in taking Benoit's first pitch deep to right field and over the leaping Torii Hunter's glove. It was a magical image.
The rest was anticlimactic and fairly predictable. Detroit wouldn't score in the top of the ninth, and the Red Sox walked off with a victory in the bottom half of the inning when Jarrod Saltalamacchia singled in Jonny Gomes.
We shouldn't take days like this for granted. Heck, just last year the Red Sox won only 69 games and had an embarrassment of a manager on their hands. The Patriots success stretches further back, but people my age will remember the days of Marc Wilson, Tommy Hodson, Scott Secules, and Hugh Millen as New England's quarterback. It wasn't pretty.
Days like Sunday are why we love sports. No talk of steroids or PEDs or even murders. No stories of money-grubbing contract talks. Nobody clamoring about chicken and beer. Just pure heart-thumping, adrenaline-rushing hysteria. We may never see another day like it.