Even for Boston, Sunday was superb
With Boston sports in complete shambles, we can all agree New Englanders needed a day like Sunday.
What’s that? The four Boston major sports franchises have combined to win seven titles since 2001? And most recently in 2011? Oh that’s right.
OK, so no one’s feeling sorry for the New England area these days, even if the Celtics are in full rebuilding phase, the Patriots appear ill-equipped for a Super Bowl run, and the Red Sox nearly got no-hit in Game 1 of the ALCS.
None of that mattered Sunday when the Patriots and Red Sox pulled off back-to-back mesmerizing escape acts on their respective home turfs in marquee games.
The 4-1 Patriots were up first, hosting the 5-0 New Orleans Saints in a tentpole game of the young NFL season. Trailing 23-17 in the fourth quarter, Saints quarterback Drew Brees led the team on a 10-play scoring drive to take a 24-23 lead with 3:29 remaining.
On their ensuing drive, the Pats quickly came to a fourth down. And went for it. And were unsuccessful. Needless to say, things were not going well. Tom Brady couldn't even hook up with a receiver on a high-five (see video at right).
Game over, right?
Nope. Somehow, New England got the ball back twice in the final minutes, with New Orleans adding a field goal in the mix. On its final possession, Tom Brady led his team — much-maligned for a lack of receivers — on a 70-yard drive, hooking up with rookie Kenbrell Thompkins on this gorgeous game-winning touchdown, Brady’s one and only TD strike of the day (OK, in the last two weeks):
Final score: Patriots 30, Saints 27.
What a gorgeous catch. Let’s freeze-frame that baby:
The score sent the Gillette Stadium crowd into hysterics, and left Saints defensive coordinator Rob Ryan in hilarious disbelief:
But that only set the table for what might go down as one of the best postseason games in Boston Red Sox history, and there have been plenty of those over the years.
For a while, Game 2 on Sunday night at Fenway looked very much like Game 1 the night before. Detroit’s ace Max Scherzer had a no-hitter through 5 2/3 innings and a 5-0 lead. To say things looked bleak for the Red Sox, who only mustered one Game 1 hit (and it didn't come until the ninth inning), would be an understatement.
But then something magical happened. The Red Sox finally put up a run in the series in the sixth. Then, trailing 5-1 in the eighth inning, the Red Sox loaded the bases. David Ortiz came to the plate and did what has been expected of David Ortiz over the years — he delivered. Big Papi drilled a grand slam into the Red Sox bullpen:
Tigers right fielder Torii Hunter, who probably would’ve caught that ball 10 years ago, is the one you see over-running the screaming liner, flipping over the fence and landing upside down in the Red Sox bullpen. The view from above, complete with celebrating police officer:
After a quick top of the ninth, Boston put the finishing touches on a wild game, and a wild day, in style. Jonny Gomes was up first and reached on an infield single, then took second on a throwing error, then third on a wild pitch. The next batter, Jarrod Saltalamacchia, knocked in Gomes with a single to the left and pure bedlam erupted at Fenway:
The Red Sox won 6-5 to tie the series at one game apiece after staring right in the face of a 2-0 deficit headed back to Detroit. Here's what Ortiz had to say about it all afterward:
It’s only fitting that the two biggest icons in Boston sports over the past 12 years — Brady and Ortiz — figured so largely in a day that will forever go down as one of the most memorable in Boston sports history.
Whew. What a day. What a night. And what a brutal Monday morning it will probably be for fans in Boston. But they’ll definitely take it.
The rest of America? Probably annoyed.