If I knew how good the Red Zone was I would have retired years before I officially did last March.
The Red Zone for those unaware, is the Sunday presentation by the NFL Network cutting from game-to-game, often in frenetic fashion, to bring the entire league’s action to viewers.
They cut to games when a team is threatening to score.
My tongue is planted firmly in my cheek when I say I would have retired sooner to enjoy the Red Zone.
My friends have told me over the years that they’ve heard my voice describing plays.
But I never realized how exciting it can be to be on the other side.
Especially when several games are coming down the stretch with the outcome in doubt and so much riding on the result.
That was the case last weekend, you couldn’t have scripted a more dramatic scenario.
Here was Kansas City, trying to nail down the top seed in the AFC with their ninth straight victory, leading the surprising Cincinnati Bengals who were out to clinch the AFC North title.
A huge long shot when the season began.
The Chiefs were in front 16-7 late in the third quarter.
The Las Vegas Raiders we’re playing for their playoff lives against the red hot Indy Colts who had won six of their last seven and apparently headed to post-season.
The Colts were up by four early in the third.
In Baltimore, the beleaguered Ravens, having to play once again without their thrilling starting QB Lamar Jackson, and looking to end a four-game losing streak were leading the LA Rams, 16-7, also late in the third quarter.
The Rams were playing to stay ahead of the slumping Arizona Cardinals in the NFC West.
And, in an unexpected shocker, the defending Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Bucs found themselves two touchdowns behind the lowly New York Jets midway through the 3d.
Back and forth it went with final quarter action that ultimately saw all four of the teams trailing in the third, rally to win their games, punctuated by the celebrations that followed.
The Bengals, who won only two games in 2019, and had five straight losing seasons, captured the division crown, on the arm of third-year quarterback Joe Burrow, a champion in the making.
The Chiefs will be fine, but their 8-game streak is over.
The Raiders took the lead minutes in the 4th quarter, saw the Colts tie the game with a field goal at the 2 minute mark, then survive on a field goal of their own with 2 seconds remaining.
Enormous road win for Vegas against the Colts, who had beaten some strong teams.
The Rams, who have been hot and cold, scored two TD’s in the final 15 minutes to come out on top.
Rams defense stops the Ravens
Matthew Stafford, streaky lately, found Odell Beckham Jr for the winning score with a minute left.
Then, just to remind everyone why he is the Greatest Ever, Tom Brady, with no way to stop the clock, fired a 33-yard touchdown laser to bring the Bucs back to win, with 21 seconds on the clock.
Another heartbreaker for the Jets.
Imagine the finish of these important games unfolding, one after another, all displayed live, as they happened, thanks to the Red Zone.
Two quick reactions from the penultimate weekend of the NFL campaign: On the good side, the many tributes to the late John Madden, who is a big piece of the overall success of the NFL.
On the bad side, Antonio Brown, shirtless, running off the field, and leaving his team, and those who witnessed it, aghast.
Brown clearly has problems that must be dealt with.
Having great talent is not enough to for a team to bring a player aboard.
The playoff picture will be finalized after next week’s final weekend, and we’ll offer our thoughts on what could develop.
Remember, our crystal ball is always cloudy.
On the college side, there is no suspense in this post-season.
It’ll be Alabama and Georgia for the national championship.
It’s a re-match of the SEC title game on December 4th, when the Crimson Tide crushed the previously unbeaten Bulldogs, 41-24.
That was a stunner, considering Georgia had surrendered an average of just under seven points a game in dominating the regular season.
But Alabama, is, well, Alabama, and it appears they can achieve anything they set their minds to accomplish.
Do I think we’re in for a carbon copy of their first meeting?
The one thing I’ve learned in all sports, is that past performance is really meaningless when it comes to the moment at hand.
Every game takes on different nuances, which can produce a different result.
I know, Nick Saban is practically invincible when he faces one of his former assistant coaches.
I know, he’s never lost to Kirby Smart, the Bulldogs head man, also one of his former cohorts.
That’s always good to point out until the day comes when he doesn’t.
I figure Georgia, with a fresh start, and so much at stake, will perform much better this time around.
Bama Vs. Bulldogs
They obviously have the incentive to avenge their setback in December.
And I can’t see Alabama getting dominated in any game by anyone.
I have no idea how the game will go. No one does.
I do know that a handful of plays will decide it.
Most should occur in the latter stages of the contest.
Why don’t we sit back and enjoy the contest.
At least, there is no question who the best teams are in college football this year.
Alabama and Georgia.
No need for the Red Zone for this one.