Sunday, January 15, 2006

Wind and Rain

I could even feel it in the weather.

It had been so nice this past week; mid-50s, only partly cloudy. For those few days, it felt like spring.
But waiting out on Cambridge Street, across from the Allston Sports Depot for the 66 bus near midnight last night, it turned bone-chillingly cold. Not the kind of cold that can be managed with simply adding a scarf; cold down to the bone. The rain started slow, and then picked up, stinging my cheeks.

However it was only a coda, only a complementary sadness to the other end of the evening.
And I have to confess; I walked out before the end. With 4:30 left in the 4th quarter, and the Pats down 24-13, the longing for home and warmth became too strong.
It certainly wasn't the company; in fact, they probably made it more bearable than it might have been. Spending the evening with Beth, her fiance Steve, Marianne, and Kristen's roommate Colleen, had it not been for the circumstances, was pretty damn cool.

But for circumstance.
We certainly lost to the better team. But with some losses to a superior team, it's quick and painless. This game? Like repeatedly stabbing oneself in the stomach with a rusty fork.

I also can't help feeling a little like Cassandra, standing among the ruins of burning Troy right now. I wrote in this space last week, even if the defense performs to the same level, the offense must amp up their game significantly.
And the defense did their damnedest. ( Apart from a distressing lack of Jake Plummer being legally whacked upside the head.)
It was the offense who gradually, and painfully , gave the game away.
For the 1st quarter, and most of the second, it was simply the futility of last week. No one could get open, and when they did, Thomas always seemed to overthrow them.
Something clicked, with about 8 minutes left in the second, and not in a good way. The two late second half fumbles started the boulder down the hill.
And then, the pick. The INT. The ugliest play I have ever seen Tom Brady make.
At first, the crowd didn't know what was going on. But then, as Champ Bailey danced his way through the line of scrimmage, a wail went up, which only increased in volume and emotion as he made his way 100 yards towards the other end zone.
God bless Ben Watson, God bless his heart for following Bailey step for step, and using a last burst of energy to knock Bailey out of bounds at the one yard line.
Not that it did any good. But that, right there, is a football player.

Something died right there, though. Some fork in the road was taken from which there was no return. Most tellingly, the Pats lost their cool. The Pats never lose their cool, but here they were. Jawing at the refs and getting distressingly physical. Willie McGinest (!) shoving Larry Izzo. Adam Vinatieri missing a field goal.These were not the Pats who could come back from 17-6. These were unfamilar people.
The game officially ended an hour or so later. But something got lost in that interception return, which could not be regained.

And it feels like it outside today. It's windy, and it's gray, and it's cold. Patriots football is done for the season. And we enter the most depressing days of the year, the 20 days between football and spring training. If there are the dog days of summer, these are the bear days of winter, the days where you just curl up in your blanket and wait for spring.

Because it is cyclical. It'll start again. And so, we wait.