What is a Great Game?

On Monday night I returned to Winter Springs for the first time since being unceremoniously fired with my Lake Howell Silverhawks for a clash against my good friend Logan Malmberg.  We played a back and forth game where neither team led by more than five points.  In the end, we had the ball down two with six seconds and a chance to tie or win, but turned it over. 

Winter Springs 54 Lake Howell 52.

My guys fought hard and as we left the court that night, I felt we had lost a pretty good basketball game.  That general feeling held until I watched the video.  We turned the ball over 26 times, surrendered 21 offensive, missed 15 free thows, shot 25% from three point range and failed to execute in several defining sequences of play.  For their part, Winter Springs turned the ball over at an alarming rate, shot poorly (necessitating the 21 offensive rebounds) and missed several free throws that would have put the game out of reach well before the final six seconds.  Ultimately,  it was a game decided more on mistakes than execution.

The same should be said of yesterday’s Iron Bowl.  In the immediate aftermath,  I received several texts and my twitter timeline exploded with “great” and “awesome”.  I was sick to my stomach with the result and the flashpoint analysis.

Alabama missed two field goals and had a third blocked leading up to the final minutes.  The field goal unit fiasco induced Bama to bypass an otherwise chip shot 27 yard field goal that would have given them a ten point lead.  They were stuffed on fourth and one.

Auburn responded with a genuine bit of brilliance on the tying 35 yard option pass for touchdown.

Alabama ran two draw plays to reach the Auburn 39 with one second left.  Having already disregarded his kicking game the on previous possession, I fully anticipated a hail mary pass that would win the game for the Tide or send it to overtime.  Improbably, Saban sent out the deplorable field goal unit to try a 57 yarder.  Auburn dropped a player to the endzone to field the kick if it fell short, and we all know what happened next.

In the context of the game, I felt it was the stupidest call in football history.  After a night of fitful sleep, I recede only slightly.  The liklihood of the Alabama field goal unit kicking that field goal was minimal, the risk of a return on an attempt of that distance was real, and the Alabama field goal unit was ill-equipped to cover such a scenario.

In total, the brilliance of the two fourth quarter touchdowns is not offset by the ineptitude and faulty decision making that ultimately determined this game preventing it from being a great game.

Great games occur when competitive pride and precise execution under duress meet.

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