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The New York Jets: Week 10

19/11/2010

My favorite thing about overtime games in the NFL is that you get to hear the words “sudden death.” A “sudden death” overtime is one where the first score ends the game. The overtime period is thus marked by a heightened state of fear.

I suspect that most fans would be loath to admit how deeply their chosen passion is one stamped and fashioned by fear. In fear are the bold predictions made. In quaking solitude is met the dawn of a weekly match, usually on a Sunday. The players, at least, can concentrate on the physical feats to be performed and the punishment to be suffered on the tufty pitch. Not so the tormented fan, the enthusiast who has begun to identify with her chosen team, to have wrapped up her own worldly expectations in the distant actions of a group of fallible young men and the uncertain meanderings of an oblong shaped loaf of pig’s skin.

I think sometimes of Kierkegaard when he wondered, piteously, “if there were no sacred bond which united mankind, if one generation arose after another like the leafage in the forest, if the one generation replaced the other like the song of birds in the forest, if the human race passed through the world as the ship goes through the sea, like the wind through the desert, a thoughtless and fruitless activity, if an eternal oblivion was always lurking hungrily for its prey and there was no power strong enough to wrest it from its maw, how empty then and comfortless life would be!”

Indeed, how empty and comfortless. Scoff, if you will gentle reader, at the pathetic hopes and fears of a fan looking on at the thoughtless and fruitless activity on the field of play and wondering if there will be some sign, if something will come to pass upon that ground. Scoff, but know that it is a human being you are scoffing at, alone and tiny in the face of vast uncertainties.

The overtime session in Cleveland started with another drive by the little Roman. Sanchez is beginning to have a presence now, to look like he believes that when he touches the ball something special will happen. This is an absurd belief, and all the more powerful, all the more practical for being so absurd. A man with that kind of absurdity in his heart and mind is a fearsome force. I believe, he bellows with a nod to Tertullian, I believe BECAUSE it is absurd. The drive, however, petered out. The game was testing our young Roman, plumbing the depths to which his absurdity will go. It will go deep.

The Browns fumble on their ensuing drive. The little Roman can believe again. He puts together an attack that goes all the way down to the Cleveland 29 yard line. It looks like Folk will kick another game-winning field goal in overtime. As it goes in Detroit, so it goes in Cleveland. But Folk misses. He misses. Wide right. And Cleveland gets the ball again. The time is ticking now. It doesn’t seem possible that the Jets will get another chance. But they do. And Sanchez the little Roman can drive once more, and he does drive once more, and his pass is intercepted. Catastrophe. There is no way to win this game. There is a minute and a half left in the game and Cleveland has the ball. There is NO TIME. And yet, there is time. Where time is needed, there is time. Cleveland punts the ball and the Roman gets one more chance with 24 seconds left on the clock. Nothing. There is no time. He throws the ball to Santonio Holmes on a simple slant route and after the dust clears and the fallen Browns pick themselves up again, Holmes is in the endzone. The game is over. Absurdity has ruled the day once more. Fear has been conquered by the impossible. The little Roman marches on, back to the Meadowlands for a brief rest before welcoming the men from Texas.

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Morgan Meis has been observing the Jets, read more of his posts on the season here >>

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