By Martin Rogers
FOX Sports Columnist
Exhausting. Awesome, without any question, but still exhausting.
The weekend that just passed in sports was uplifting, inspiring and wildly, frenetically entertaining. But if it didn’t also leave you wiped out and spent and dizzy and in need of recuperation this morning — rather than the start of a fresh week of work — then it didn’t move you like it’s supposed to.
If, through all the deliciously stressful mess of 18-inning games and 12-second field goal drives and 15-year drought-busters and two-point conversions and three-run walk-off revivals, you can remember a better and more nerve-jangling two-day burst of multi-sport action, then congratulations are in order.
This Monday column typically focuses on the story of the weekend, except that, this weekend, the prevailing story was … that there were so many stories. Do people still chat around the water cooler these days? If so, they might spend half the morning there and become phenomenally hydrated, because there is a lot to talk about.
It will go down, to some degree, as the weekend when Josh Allen narrowly outbattled Patrick Mahomes in an epic duel, gaining a measure of revenge in a showdown that nearly cloned last season’s divisional-round blockbuster —but this time gave the Buffalo Bills the edge to soothe some lingering wounds.
Mahomes’ Kansas City Chiefs redefined footballing horology once again, needing just 12 ticks to get into field goal range at the end of the first half, but after scores were tied at each of the quarter breaks it was Allen, incensed by an earlier missed tripping penalty, who launched one more downfield march to give the Bills pole position in terms of the AFC No. 1 seed.
“We didn’t panic,” Allen said. “Or blink. Nothing that we did last year translates to this year. Everything that happened in the past is where it is.”
By the time Allen spoke, on Sunday evening, the drama had been coming so thick and fast we were hopelessly spoiled and expecting nothing less.
For Saturday was a wondrous head-shaker, especially if you love sports but even more if you like seeing things that you usually don’t.
There was the bizarre treat of an ALDS game between the Houston Astros and the Seattle Mariners, where they played for more than six hours without a run, emptying the bullpens, and when some of the finest hitters in baseball had stat lines that were 0-for-29, or something like that.
Soon after it ended — Jeremy Pena’s 18th inning homer for Houston breaking the deadlock to ultimately close the series — the Cleveland Guardians came storming back in the bottom of the ninth to take a 2-1 lead over the New York Yankees, a series that will now see its decider today at 7:07 p.m. ET.
Oscar González walks it off
Cleveland Guardians outfielder Oscar González hits a two-run single to walk off the New York Yankees 6-5.
By then, it was one of those weekends when you knew you had other tasks to do rather than watch sports nonstop, but, well, there was just never a convenient window to do them — and in any case, you were debilitated with a sore thumb from changing channels so frequently.
While baseball’s postseason was ebb-and-flowing in real time, college football was simultaneously toying with the public’s emotions, most notably in Knoxville, where Tennessee had suffered nonstop pain against Alabama for the past decade and a half, but burst into an early lead.
Behind electrifying quarterback Hendon Hooker, the Volunteers showed enough dynamic offense to win the game, committed enough ill-timed mistakes to throw it away, then somehow got over the line in a fashion that showed how outrageously hard it is to beat ‘Bama.
Even with Jalin Hyatt snaring five receiving TDs, even with Nick Saban uncharacteristically messing up his clock strategy, a wonky old knuckleball of a last-second kick was needed to clinch the famous victory — one that meant so much that locals stole the goalposts and found a way to haul them into the center of Knoxville to continue the party.
There was so much going on that other happenings of redoubtable worth had to take a backseat. On any other Monday, Utah’s outrageously bold two-point try to sink USC’s unbeaten record would have gotten more play. As would TCU’s incredible comeback and overtime win over Oklahoma State, to stay perfect.
There was too much to keep up with. In Pittsburgh, Tom Brady tried to motivate his offensive line with irate intensity and it got lost in the shuffle of incoming sports information. In New York, Saquon Barkley took flight for a game-winning TD and it scarcely created a stir outside the Big Apple. In Indianapolis, Matt Ryan conjured a dream of a last-minute touchdown drive.
In Philadelphia, well, it’s definitely sunny right now, with a football team that’s on top of the NFL pile and a baseball counterpart doing a fine job of keeping pace. The Phillies knocked off the reigning World Series champion Atlanta Braves to start the weekend. The Eagles took down the Dallas Cowboys to close it out on Sunday night.
Needless to say, a lot happened in between. If you saw most, or all of it, take a breath. For it was everything. It was too much.
Personally speaking, there’s not much left to say except — phew. I need a rest. The weekend is over, but I’m exhausted. I feel like I need a couple of days off. I need to do some yoga and light some scented candles. I need to find some balance.
And maybe, just for a while, I need to stop watching so much spor… nah, that’s not going to happen. Not a chance, not when it can be as exciting as this.
Martin Rogers is a columnist for FOX Sports and the author of the FOX Sports Insider newsletter. Follow him on Twitter @MRogersFOX and subscribe to the daily newsletter.
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