Lots of talking ties and twittering thumbs declared that Cowboys/Steelers game to be the MOST EXCITING GAME OF THE SEASON. “It saved the ratings,” several podcasts enthused. It is remarkable that they could say these things on the same day that the Broncos sealed a victory by returning an extra point attempt and the Patriots and Seahawks revisited that incredible Super Bowl goal line showdown.
I think the opinion-buzzers are probably right, though. Not sure why I feel so much confidence saying that, since I am hopelessly prejudiced towards my hometeam and I only saw two of the day’s other games. And I’m not sure how those other folk can say it confidently in the moment, since I don’t really understand how people can really digest and compare a full Sunday’s slate of games, even with tools like NFL Red Zone and the insistent wavecrest of twitterverse opinion.
My confidence, however, remains. Unassailable, like the grime on a sliding shower door that never seems to get scrubbed away. It is hard for me to pin down the source of that confidence, though I could gesture towards the big plays made by big names, the seven lead changes, the trick calls and fourth quarter heroics. Those all seem like good reasons someone who is tracking the game via highlights, fantasy options or basic plotlines might get their buttons pushed into a rivet. The fact that it was two storied franchises doesn’t hurt either.
But for me, it was more than that. It was the palpable sense of possibility in the game – like anything could happen. And while most of the excitement came from the firepower of the respective offenses, this was more than the thrill of watching a shootout. Shootouts can be just as monotonous as defensive stalemates; when the defenses are completely overmatched, it’s just a matter of who has the last possession and that has all the suspense of Eeny, Meeny, Miny, Moe. This game felt like the coaches were trusting the level of talent that was assembled on both sides of the field to execute daring, creative plays. It’s like both teams were willing to be the wedding guests in the center of the dance circle, confident in their ability to get the party started. And the Cowboys were the team that could actually do the Worm.