BAD BEATS: NFL WEEK 1

BY ADAM GREENE

It’s that time again where we gather as a nation, take comfort in each other and do our best to try to overcome the grief of money lost in the most frustrating of fashions. Yes, because the old axiom of “Any Given Sunday” remains true in spite over everything else going on in the world, we are once again saddled with a Bad Beat to open the NFL season. Literally.

First off, it’s important to distinguish the difference between a betting loss and a Bad Beat. A betting loss is just that, you laid your wager down on a points spread or moneyline, you felt good about it, and it just didn’t happen. Say, for instance, you took the Kansas City Chiefs at -5.5. At halftime, with the Chiefs down 22-10 to the Cleveland Browns, you knew that money was lost. You have two more quarters to make peace with it in spite of Kansas City pulling out the win in the end….by four points. You were doomed, walking the green mile and at least you probably had a solid last meal. I’m thinking pizza or wings.

It’s also not an upset, like say the Houston Texans, who looked in every way like not only the worst team in the NFL, but maybe in all of North American Professional football, They unloaded a curb stomp upon the Jacksonville Jaguars. The Jags were down 14-0 after the first quarter and starting a rookie QB. Any money you placed there on Jacksonville (and we should really know better by now, shouldn’t we?) was already tossed in the woodchipper.

No, we only had one contender for our Bad Beat to open the 2021-22 NFL season and it just so happened to be its first game. I present to you, Tampa Bay Buccaneers 31, Dallas Cowboys 29.

The line sat at Bucs -7.5 and I’m pretty sure, as a universe, we felt OK about that. After all, Tampa Bay had brought back all 22 starters on offense and defense from its Super Bowl championship team but, more importantly, Mike McCarthy remained the head coach of the Dallas Cowboys. And no matter how much talent that team has, and it’s a lot, McCarthy is going to McCarthy. Which is great if you’re in, say, a hot dog eating contest. Not so much in coaching a professional football team.

You’d watched HBO’s Hard Knocks, seen McCarthy get his own Pro Bowl quarterback, freshly minted and back from injury, hurt again because he was too dumb to track his practice reps. You watched, awestruck, as McCarthy decided his best possible motivational technique for the former America’s Team was to institute the “Mojo Moment,” dedicated to the Austin Powers film franchises and, specifically, Austin’s level of horniness at any given moment.

The thought of associating anything sexual with Mike McCarthy made all of us, as a civilization, have to swallow back our gorge. So it was while battling back your own bile that you felt pretty strongly about taking the Bucs at -7.5 and started making plans. You’re vaccinated, ready to take that Delta booster and roll on with your life. Sure, you and your family are going to hunker down for the winter, but that’s when the football is on anyway. You have no desire to eff around and find out like 35 percent of your countrymen. Instead, you’re planning on your Lord of the Rings themed New Zealand getaway come spring. Vaccine passport? You’re ready to get yours laminated or tattooed on your arm at this point, if for no other reason than to escape your local plague rats doing their best to learn about that Darwinism they so roundly reject as a concept.

So you took the Bucs and points and prepared to build that vacation fund. You know that Bilbo’s house is still there, right? The whole Shire is there. You can walk right in and visit. Bump your head on the ceiling beam like Gandalf. Before kickoff at 8 p.m. EST, you’d already had six of your seven required Hobbit meals; breakfast, second breakfast, elevensies, luncheon, afternoon tea and dinner. Supper, the final feast, would be enjoyed at halftime and even though Tampa Bay led 21-16 at that point and Dallas seemed to be playing pretty good in spite of McCarthy, wrestling with his belt on the sideline so as not to unleash his ass crack on an unsuspecting and already psychologically damaged nation.

You need eight points. You have Tom Brady, Mike Evans, Chris Godwin and a suddenly relevant Antonio Brown on board to make it happen. When Dallas settled for another field goal to open the second half, you had it. The margin was there and as Tampa’s Carlton Davis picked off a Cee Dee Lamb deflection and four plays later and Brady hit Rob Gronkowski for a touchdown, you were all but prepping yourself for a relaxing evening of smoking pipe-weed and signing Ho! To the Battle I Go.

But there was a problem. Regardless of how bad McCarthy might be, offensive coordinator Kellen Moore might be pretty good. In fact, he should probably be that team’s head coach and he and Dak Prescott make a pretty good team. So 10 plays later, the Cowboys had pulled back within two with a 21-yard strike from Prescott to Amari Cooper.

Time was ticking away. Both teams traded punts. You weren’t doomed, but you were certainly putting off toking up on the pipe-weed. With 10 minutes to go, Brady, who, if you are like me, have a hate and really despise relationship with, was going to save you. He uncorked a 10-play drive headed for the end zone that would not only put the game away, but put you squarely in Middle Earth. On a first and 10 in the red zone, Brady hit Godwin for an 11 yard pass and as the wideout dove for the end zone to put the Bucs up by eight and you at the Shire’s Mid-Year’s Day Celebration, he fumbled.

Dallas took over with 5:04 to go down 28-26 and no matter what happened at that point, your own Fellowship quest was over. The Cowboys took the lead with a field goal and the Bucs eventually won with a field goal of their own, denying you even the satisfaction of watching Brady lose just as you did.

This is how Boromir must have felt at Parth Galen.

The NFL season is underway and the Week 2 Schedule is up and taking bets at BetOnline.AG.

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