Today is the day that I alienate a lot of my readers. I won’t be talking about my feelings or my health or any of that, oh no.
Today I’m going to talk about football.
It is important to note that, despite living in Houston for nearly 10 years and Austin for nearly three, I was born and raised in North Carolina, living in the state until I was almost 26. As a result, my sports allegiances are first and foremost to the teams in North Carolina – the Hornets, the Panthers, and the Hurricanes. I have my favorite teams here in Texas – the Texans, the Astros, the Rockets and Spurs – but my loyalty will always be with my Carolina teams first.
Last night the Panthers hosted the Colts in Charlotte. At one point in the fourth quarter it was 23-6 Panthers, and I figured it would be safe for me to tune in through the NFL Mobile app. (This is rapidly becoming one of my favorite perks of being a Verizon customer. It allows me to tune into almost any game I want for the teams I declare allegiance to.) Note the word “safe” there. I have a bit of a superstition that if I watch the game, my team will lose, so I tend not to watch a lot of football. (I watched most of the game last week against the Eagles as an experiment of the NFL Mobile app, and was pleased with it, not to mention my team won fairly handily.)
Then the score went to 23-13.
Then it was 23-20.
And then, with time expiring on the clock, it was 23-23. To overtime we went.
I was very tempted to turn off the game, convinced that the Colts pulled themselves back into the game because I was watching. But I persevered, despite my nerves.
The new rules state that if the team with first possession in overtime does not score a touchdown, their opponent gets the ball and the chance to tie or win. If, after one possession each, the game is still tied, the next score wins the game.
Indianapolis got the ball first in overtime and I was very worried.
They scored on their first possession, but it was a field goal, not a touchdown, so with the score now 26-23 Colts the ball went back to the Panthers. I was more than scared that my team would lose.
The Panthers had a good drive but couldn’t end it with a touchdown, settling instead for a field goal. The score was now tied 26-26 with the next score on either side becoming the game winner.
Indianapolis got the ball back and started driving down the field. And then a Colts pass was tipped by a Panthers defender, and then intercepted by another Panthers player.
The Panthers had the ball again, in good field position.
They fought and struggled to get the ball down to the point that their placekicker could make the game-winning field goal, and finally managed to get within range for a 52-yard attempt.
The snap was made, the ball positioned, the kick was up …
… and veering to the side …
… closer and closer to the goalpost …
… and then it sailed through, just inside the goalpost, for the field goal and the win. 29-26 Panthers.
My heart finally started beating again.
My Panthers played a lot of sloppy ball, missing opportunities to put the game away in regulation, but still managed to squeak it out in the end. Just like they’ve done all season.
One analyst predicted the Panthers would finish dead last in their division. Instead, the Panthers stand alone among NFC teams as the only undefeated team in the conference at 7-0. Once considered a fluke, they’re now among the NFL’s elite teams this season. With the win last night, they’ve already tied last year’s win total with more than half the season left to go.
Next Sunday, we host the Packers, who lost this week to drop from the ranks of the undefeated teams. They will be a dangerous, dangerous opponent, by far the best competition we’ve had all season. Just as I’ve done multiple times before, I predict the Panthers will finally lose a game.
But I’ve been wrong in the past, and the Packers are having problems on offense lately. It just might be possible for the Panthers to win this Sunday.
But just to be safe, I’m not going to watch that one. I’m not sure my heart can take another game like the one last night.