On January 11, 2014, the Indianapolis Colts visit Gillette Stadium to play the New England Patriots. I have no idea what the outcome of this game is going to be, but I can tell you how I’d like the game to unfold.
It’s not snowing but it is raining and has been for most of the game. The field is wet and the conditions are slick. Players have been stumbling and bumbling all game long and the Pats take a 7 – 0 lead in to the half. Head ref Walt Coleman and his staff have called a pretty clean game thus far. Announcers Greg Gumbel and Phil Simms are tripping over themselves during halftime extoling the greatness of Tom Brady and the Patriots and the obstacles they have overcome this season starting with the loss, due to criminal charges, of Aaron Hernandez. Gumbel is beside himself with the coaching job Bill Belichick has done this year and insists that he is coach of the year. Phil Simms interrupts Gumbel to exclaim that we may never see a quarterback like Tom Brady again and even goes as far as to claim Brady’s play has overcome the losses of Vince Wilfork and Jerod Mayo on defense, subpar receivers, and a "relatively" weak run game. Says Simms: "I mean, look what Tom has overcome on the defensive side of the ball and a weak supporting cast on offense, you can’t coach that, it’s just instincts!" In awkward silence, Gumbel just nods agreement. Out of nowhere, to break the silence, Gumbel recalls the game the two had announced that snowy night at Foxboro Stadium almost 13 years ago to the day and how it launched one of modern sports greatest dynasties. Phil Simms laughs uncomfortably and off handedly states how bad it must have been for a Raiders fan that night, and that he was pretty sure after that game the Raiders fans would "just get over it" in a weeks time. Gumbel flatly states he thinks some fans may still harbor some "ill will" towards Walt Coleman and the officiating crew, but that he’s not really sure about that, and really, how many Raiders fans are there still, any ways? Simms laughs agreement just as halftime ends.
After some uneventful possessions to start the second half and a lone field goal by the Colts, Brady is able to get the Patriots in to field goal range twice and the Patriots take a 13 – 3 lead heading in to the fourth quarter. In the fourth quarter, Colts quarterback, Andrew Luck, drives the team down the wet field and capitalizes by running in for a touchdown when containment breaks down, cutting the Patriots lead to 13 – 10 midway through the fourth. After receiving the subsequent kick off, the Patriots and Tom Brady drive the length of the field and get to the Colts 9 yard line making it 1st and goal with two minutes left. After getting stymied on a first down run, Brady drops back to pass on second down and is tracked down from behind by Robert Mathis who knocks the ball from his throwing arm. After the ensuing scrum, the Colts recover the ball. Walt Coleman indicates Colt’s ball and then he and his staff trot over to review the play on instant replay. During the break in play Gumbel and Simms debate endlessly whether Brady’s arm was coming forward and "absolutely without a shadow of a doubt" agree that his arm was, indeed, coming forward and that Brady "certainly won’t need the Tuck Rule to bail him out" this time around. After what seems like an eternity, Walt Coleman emerges from the replay booth and trots back to the field. "After reviewing the play, the ball was coming out of the quarterback's hand "before" his arm started moving forward. Therefore, the ruling on the field stands. Indianapolis ball." Gumbel and Simms are absolutely breathless at the ruling and wonder out loud "which game Walt Coleman was reviewing under the hood." The camera pans to Brady, who actually had put his helmet back on and was heading back on the field as Walt Coleman gave his review. Dumbfounded, a close-up of Brady show him lip "What the f***, I’m Tom F****** Brady, bitch!" The camera catches a stoic Bill Belichick on the sideline, head down, hoody dripping rain. Brady heads back to the sidelines and the cameras catch him trying to pump up the defense and then he emphatically throws up his arm for a high five as they head back on the field and he slowly lowers his arm.
The Colts take over at their own 15-yard line with 1:33 on the clock in a steady rainfall. In typical Luck fashion, the Colts move the ball, against all odds, to the Patriot's 30-yard line. On fourth and six, with 4 seconds left in regulation, the Colts decide to go for the tie and put the game on the foot of their kicker. Gumbel and Simms are dubious about the decision, based on the conditions, but agree that it’s the wise decision. After numerous camera pans to Brady, Belichick, back to Brady and then back to Belichick, out trots Adam Vinatieri. The crowd boos lustily as Vinatieri lines up for what would be the game tying field goal. As Vinatieri lines up for the kick we get a timeout from Belichick. Gumbel and Simms are besides themselves with praise at how genius a call the timeout is by Belichick, with Simms even stating, "That’s coaching, Greg. That’s instincts, right there. You can’t teach that! You’re just born with it!" To this, Gumbel just stares and nods blankly. After the timeout, out trots Vinatieri and again he lines up for his kick. In a heavy downpour and in to the wind, Vinatieri is right down the middle. The crowd sits back down and the camera pans from one sideline to the other in an effort to capture the agony and the ecstasy.
After winning the coin toss, the Colts inexplicably defer and give the ball to the Patriot's offense but get to select which end zone to defend. The camera catches a grimacing Belichick and a stone-faced Tom Brady. After moving the ball with alacrity to the Colt's side of the field, the offense bogs down at the Colt's 35-yard line. On fourth and seven, Belichick decides to give the ball back to the Colts and pin them down inside their own 10-yard line, with Simms flatly stating that he was sure Belichick would go for it because "he’s got the pedigree and balls to do it." With the five-second delay, CBS is able to quickly edit Simms’s comment and it only sounds to the viewers like Simms thinks Belichick has the pedigree to do it. Gumbel however is heard saying, "I’m not sure we’re aloud to say that, Phil…", leaving some viewers wondering what is wrong with the word ‘Pedigree’. Sure enough, the Patriots pin the Colts at their own 7-yard line, and out trots Andrew Luck and the offense. With a nice mix of runs and passes, the Colts keep the Patriots defense off balance as they move the ball in to Patriot's territory. As Gumbel and Simms debate whether Andrew Luck is displacing Tom Brady as the greatest current quarterback, to which Simms insists, "HE IS NOT!", the Colts drive stalls on the Patriot's 40-yard line but the Patriots are flagged for an unsportsmanlike penalty when Aqib Talib takes his helmet off in jubilation for shutting down the drive. The penalty places the ball at the Patriot's 25-yard line. The Colts decide, with the wind at their kicker’s back, they’ll kick the field goal immediately and not risk a fumble given the wet conditions. And out trots Adam Vinatieri...
Now, I’ll let you write your own ending. Hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed writing this little fantasy I’ve been writing in my mind’s eye for 13 years.