Since the Ravens have been underperforming this season and are basically one loss away from the end of their season, I really haven't been paying too much attention to who's been playing the nationally televised night games.
Thursday night we were watching the season premiere of "Top Chef" when I decided to go to my room and see who was playing the "Thursday Night Football" game.
Even more surprising than me sitting through "Top Chef" was the fact that when I turned on the game the Lions had a 20-0 lead over the Packers in the second half. Yes, the Detroit Lions, and yes, over the team with the elite quarterback who was projected to be a Super Bowl contender.
I guess Rodgers was waiting for me to turn on the game because it seemed like once I made the switch he decided to show his mettle and brought the Packers back to with striking distance by the end. One poorly timed facemask penalty and a Hail Mary later, and the Packers walked out of Detroit's stadium with a victory crushing the playoff hopes of the Lions and their fans everywhere.
Although as a football fan that didn't have any dog in the fight I loved the excitement of the Hail Mary victory, I felt the pain of the Lions players and coaches as they tried to come to grips with the devastating last-second loss.
Been there, done that.
Early last month we felt the same sting of a last second loss falling to eventual state champion Oakdale on a goal scored with 15 seconds to play. We gave our all and gave them everything they could handle, but as generally happens with championship teams they took advantage of their one opportunity late in the game and we were sat wondering, "What if?"
Seconds away from a 0-0 tie and overtime with the defending and soon-to-be repeat state champions, but unfortunately the game is 80 minutes.
The Ravens have faced the same kind of experience all season long having all of their games decided by less than a score either way. A few weeks ago we watched the Ravens snatched defeat from the jaws of victory with another ill-timed facemask penalty and a career-making field goal by the Jaguars kicker.
This week the favor was returned when facing a sure-footed kicker who had never missed a field goal in his career lined up to take the winning field goal, only to be foiled by the Ravens line before Will Hill picked up the loose ball and took it to the Dawg Pound to seal the victory for the visitors.
As a fan I've only ever left a sporting event that I paid for early one time in my entire life. It was a Sunday night game against Peyton Manning and the Indianapolis team in the driving rain, and the Ravens were down big and making no effort to keep it any closer. I figured if the players didn't care enough to bring their effort on the field then I had a free pass to leave the stadium early, and that I did.
It's easy as a fan to change the channel or turn the TV off when things don't seem to go your way but I just don't feel right leaving early to something I've paid more than $100 a ticket for so I've always gone the distance. I've been rewarded with some incredible comebacks and great memories from last-second field goals to good ol' "Orioles Magic" at Memorial Stadium (of course I probably only paid $3 for my O's ticket back then).
If I've learned nothing more over my lifetime devoted to sports as a fan, a player and now a coach, it's that you have to play every minute of every game to the maximum effort. There's no time for sitting on your laurels when you have a lead as Detroit seemed to do this week just as there's never a good time to think that you've been defeated. Even with those 15 stinking seconds left on the clock in our game against Oakdale, my boys ran the ball up to midfield, we sent everybody running forward, tried one last push to equalize the game and played until the last second ticked off the official's watch.
Even with that little bit of time left, our boys believed that we still had a chance to tie the score, something I'm extremely proud of as a coach.
The next time you have a big lead or it seems like you're fighting upstream chasing your dream, take in to account the words of the late Yogi Berra when he said, "It ain't over till it's over."
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