bad sports, good sports

Bad sports, good sports: What a Super Bowl.

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If you watched the Super Bowl on Sunday evening, you received a treat. What a fantastic game. Two great teams, quite evenly matched, played a game for the ages that was decided right at the very end by some huge plays. We got an awful lot of good, mixed with a bit of bad, in the biggest sporting event of the year.

The typical strength of each of these teams was not as evident in this game. The stifling defense of the Seahawks gave some ground to the Patriots, ultimately letting up 28 points, which was quite a bit more than the 6.5 points per game average they allowed in the final six games of the regular season. The Patriots defense, which was in the middle-of-the-pack among NFL defenses this season, came up big several times during the game.

The fourth quarter started with the Patriots down by ten points. A solid drive was capped by a Tom Brady touchdown pass to Danny Amendola with just under eight minutes left, bringing New England to within three points. They held the Seahawks to their second straight three-and-out possession, getting the ball back with 6:52 to play. They then spent nearly five of those minutes driving down the field, and when Brady tossed a pass to Julian Edelman in the end zone, the Patriots had their first lead since the second quarter. Two deep passes by the Seahawks (one of which resulted in one of the luckiest and most amazing catches you’ll ever see), mixed in with a few runs, took Seattle right down to the goal line and a possible Super Bowl win with less than a minute to go. Marshawn Lynch, the star Seattle running back, went over 100 yards for the game by carrying the ball from the five-yard-line down to the one. On second down, everyone in the stadium and everyone watching on television knew what was coming. Lynch would carry a couple of tacklers into the end zone, and the game would be just about over. The Seahawks coaches, though, must have missed the memo. They not only called a slant pass, but they did it from the shotgun, which meant there was no play-action fake to Lynch to throw off the defense. Patriots safety Malcolm Butler, a rookie, made an incredible play by stepping in front of receiver Ricardo Lockette and intercepting the pass. With the help of a bad offsides penalty on the defense that helped the Patriots get a few yards away from the end zone, Brady was able to kneel and run out the rest of the time on the clock.

The call to throw the ball was mind-boggling, although it was the type of pass that was very difficult to intercept. In defense of the coaches, they had four downs to get in, and probably figured they would fool the defense by throwing in that spot. Still, I think the game was over if they simply gave the ball to Lynch. Sure, the Patriots expected it, but Lynch never seems to lose yards. He carries people, and had been doing it all game. Instead, they gave the Patriots a chance to steal the game, and steal it they did.

The Patriots, and Tom Brady in particular, are the best I have ever seen at circling the wagons and winning in spite of the circumstances. Early this season, everyone was ready to write off the Patriots after they had some bad losses. Tom Brady was finished, a lot of his critics said. Instead, he led his team to a Super Bowl victory for the fourth time in his career. All of the noise about deflated footballs became irrelevant at the end, as there is no question that this game was won fairly.

There was some stuff leading up to and during this game that wasn’t so good, and it was all provided by the Seahawks. I have enjoyed watching them over the last couple of seasons, and I think they are a very good team. I also thought they were a pretty admirable bunch of guys, for the most part, but they tested that opinion last week. Marshawn Lynch made a circus of his press appearances, either repeating the same inane answer to every question or letting loose on a tirade about why he didn’t want to talk to anyone and how he couldn’t understand why they were even showing up to ask him questions. During the game, receiver Doug Baldwin one-upped some recent obscene Lynch touchdown celebrations by pretending to defecate the football after he scored in the third quarter. Then, at the very end of the game, they showed themselves to be sore losers by starting a melee on the field. My general dislike for Pete Carroll, cultivated during his time as head coach at USC, had been muted in recent years. His team showed me on Sunday that maybe my earlier opinion of him had been right on.

Overall, though, it was an enormously entertaining game, and a fitting end to a solid season.

Good sports, continued:

2) Remember back in the late ‘90s when Serena Williams was the younger and not-as-good sister of Venus Williams? That seems like an awfully long time ago. On Sunday, she won her sixth Australian Open title and 19th Grand Slam title by beating Maria Sharapova in straight sets. With four more Majors, she’ll pass Steffi Graf for the most of all time.

3) Trying hard to keep up with Serena, Novak Djokovic won the men’s side of the Australian Open for his fifth title there. He beat Andy Murray in four sets.

4) The amazing J.J. Watt won the NFL’s Defensive Player of the Year award in a unanimous vote this week.

5) Lydia Ko of South Korea became the number one ranked women’s golfer in the world this week. Incredibly, she is only seventeen years old, four years younger than Tiger Woods was when he became number one on the men’s side. He was the youngest person to hold the number one ranking until now.

6) Dave Wood, an amateur golfer, sank a hole-in-one at the Phoenix Open Pro-Am on Wednesday with a whole lot of people watching. Well done.

Bad sports:

1) The hotel where the New England Patriots were staying in Arizona before the Super Bowl had fire alarms going off in the middle of the night on two different nights last week. I assume this was a bit of gamesmanship by some Seattle fans, as opposed to being a chance happening.

2) Tiger Woods and his retooled swing are trying to get going to start the 2015 golf season, but things didn’t go so well at the Phoenix Open last week. He missed the cut after shooting an 11-over-par 82 on Friday, his worst round as a professional.

3) I used to like Tony Dungy. After he badmouthed Michael Sam and defended Michael Vick, though, I wasn’t so sure. This week, Tony Dungy voted for Seattle linebacker Bobby Wagner for the NFL MVP award. Wagner missed five games, and while he had a very good year when he played, he didn’t receive a single vote for the league’s defensive player of the year. How exactly could he be the MVP? Maybe Dungy shouldn’t get a vote.

4) The Atlanta Falcons piped in crowd noise during opponents’ possessions, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter. The investigation into this is ongoing.

Bad sports, good sports appears early each week

Alan Spoll is a software quality assurance director from the suburbs of Philadelphia where he lives with his wonderful wife and children. He has spent his entire life as a passionate fan of the Eagles, Phillies, Sixers, Flyers, and Penn State. Recent Phillies success aside, you will understand his natural negativity. Follow me on Twitter - @DocAlan02
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