Congratulations Patriots, but go Falcons
Courtney Becker | Tuesday, January 24, 2017
I’m working my way through the stages of grief after the Pittsburgh Steelers’ 36-17 loss to the New England Patriots in the AFC Championship game Sunday night.
It all started with denial, of course. “We’re only down 11 points,” I said. Ben Roethlisberger and the Steelers had been in worse positions throughout the 2016 season, so I was sure they could close an 11-point gap, even against Tom Brady’s Patriots.
Once I lost a little more hope, I moved onto bargaining. I was literally reduced to pleading with players who couldn’t hear me through a television screen to just pick Brady off once. I begged the officials to throw a flag on at least one of Patriots cornerback Patrick Chung’s interference instances that went unchecked.
This, of course, provided a smooth segue into anger. After the officials looked the other way again when Chung grabbed a chunk of Pittsburgh tight end Jesse James’s jersey and pulled him to the turf before the ball reached him on a third down play, my friends finally closed the door of their room — where I was watching the game — to spare the rest of our section’s residents from my outrage.
Anger lasted until about an hour after the game, when depression set in and I reluctantly texted my friends from New England to congratulate them before sitting down to work on homework I had neglected in favor of watching a travesty of a game.
It’s taken about a day of depression, but I’m moving into acceptance now. I’m sure every sports fan has had a similar experience. You go through this journey to reach acceptance and to come out the other side convinced next year will be “the year” for your team, and do it all over again the next season. (Except in 2006 and 2009, in my case.)
Sure, it would’ve been interesting to see a game in which penalties were called fairly and Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell wasn’t injured during his second carry of the game, but the Steelers probably would have still lost that game. The Patriots outplayed the Steelers all game and they deserve to be the ones going to Houston for Super Bowl LI. That was a really hard sentence to write, but there it is.
That doesn’t mean I’m going to all of a sudden soften on the Patriots, a team plagued by scandals throughout most of their championship runs thus far. Rivalries are a huge part of sports, and I can’t name a single AFC team that wouldn’t consider the New England Patriots a huge rival — which is a testament to their dominance throughout the past decade and a half. It just means I can move on from our loss, comforted by the fact that even if the Patriots win in two weeks they’ll still be one shy of the Steelers’ franchise record of six Super Bowl titles, and enjoy watching Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan pick apart the Patriots’ defense in Houston.
Congratulations, Patriots fans, but go Falcons.
The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.