Ivey: Hoping history repeats itself for Super Bowl LI
Michael Ivey | Thursday, February 2, 2017
This Sunday, New England and Atlanta will face off in Super Bowl LI for the Lombardi Trophy. Many people won’t cheer for the Patriots or the Falcons particularly, and instead will just root for the game to be close and exciting.
Well, if recent events are any indication, those fans will get their wish.
Ever since the beginning of 2016, sports championships on the college and professional levels have had championship games that have come down to the wire and had unforgettable endings. You would think some of the championship games recently have been a part of a movie script.
The first of these championship games was the 2016 College Football Playoff national championship game between Alabama and Clemson. Clemson quarterback Deshaun Watson had a performance for the ages, accounting for 478 total yards of offense. It wasn’t enough, however, as Alabama was able to hang onto a 45-40 victory in an exciting game.
A month after the national championship game, Super Bowl 50 between Denver and Carolina proved to be historic as well. The Broncos won the game 24-10, and although it wasn’t the most exciting game, it will be forever remembered as Peyton Manning’s last-career NFL game. It provided the perfect ending to a storybook career, as Manning retired a champion.
Fast forward a couple of months later to April, when Villanova took on North Carolina in the college basketball national championship game. With 4.7 seconds left in the game and Villanova winning by three points, North Carolina guard Marcus Paige hit a spectacular 3-point shot to tie the game 74-74. On the next possession, Villanova took the ball down court and forward Kris Jenkins hit a buzzer-beating 3-point shot to win the national championship. The play will forever be remembered as one of the greatest moments in March Madness history.
A couple of months later in June, Cleveland faced off against Golden State in the NBA Finals. It was a rematch of the previous year’s finals, and the Warriors had a 73-9 regular season record and were looking to cap off the greatest season by an NBA team ever with a win in the Finals. The Warriors held a 3-1 series lead, and everybody thought the series was over. But then LeBron James and the Cavs stormed back to win Games 5 and 6 to set up a do or die Game 7, in Oakland. In a classic game, Kyrie Irving hit a 3-point shot with 53 seconds remaining and the Cavs held on for a 93-89 win. They became the first team in NBA history to win the Finals after trailing 3-1 in the series. The championship was Cleveland’s first major professional sports championship since the Cleveland Browns won the NFL Championship in 1964.
Cleveland would get a shot to add another title later in the year, when the Indians faced off against the Cubs in the World Series. This time it was Cleveland who blew a 3-1 series lead, and the Cubs forced a Game 7 in Cleveland. The Cubs held a 6-4 lead in the bottom of the eighth inning when Indians center fielder Rajai Davis hit a two-run home run to tie the game at 6-6. A short rain delay soon followed, and many wondered if history would have to be postponed another night. However, play was able to resume, and in the top of the 10th inning the Cubs scored two runs to regain the lead. In the bottom half of the inning, the Indians scored a run but the Cubs were able to close the game out for an 8-7 victory. The championship was the Cubs’ first since 1908, ending the longest professional sports championship drought in history.
In January 2017, Clemson and Alabama met again in the national title game. Alabama controlled the first three quarters of the game, but Clemson was able to mount a comeback and took a 28-24 lead with four minutes to go. On the ensuing Alabama drive, Alabama quarterback Jalen Hurts rushed for a 30-yard touchdown run to put Alabama up 31-28 with two minutes remaining. On the ensuing Clemson drive, Watson led the Tigers downfield and to the two-yard line with six seconds to go. On the last play, Watson threw a touchdown pass to wide receiver Hunter Renfrow with one second left to win the game and the national championship.
Championship moments like the ones listed here and the reactions they ignite remind us what sports are all about.
With all of these legendary games happening in such a short time period, we’re left wondering; what’s going to happen in Super Bowl 51? A Tom Brady last-second touchdown pass? A Matt Ryan last-second touchdown pass?
The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.