Sunday, November 04, 2007
God I Love This Game
Where should I start? Where can I start? I mean seriously, after 43 years, more than double my life mind you, where could I possibly start?
I guess the only place to start is at the end, more specifically the play you’ve by now seen a million times, and, if you’re like me, could see a million times again. It was a play that probably never should have happened to be honest, a play that was born from a questionable pass interference penalty that seemed to once again snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. But after 43 years, three overtimes and a fourth and goal stop called back, Navy’s much aligned defense wasn’t going to settle for another week of woulda, coulda, and shouldas, and wasn’t about to let the window slip away.
It was a fitting end to a game which Navy fans are already calling one of, if not the best finishes in the program’s long history, as Navy’s much maligned defense stood tall and stopped Travis Thomas in the backfield on a second fourth and goal in the third overtime. It was, as it has been said many times today by many different people, the stuff of which legends are born, and I consider myself both extremely blessed and extremely fortunate to have witnessed it in person.
When I got back from the airport this morning I read that Coach Johnson gave the team three keys to success in his pregame speech. He told them, three strait times, to believe that they could win. Never was a cliché more apt or appropriate, and never have they rung more true. Navy won this game for a lot of reasons, many of which we will undoubtedly look into in the coming days, and not the least of which was the final stop on fourth and goal.
But if you ask me, Navy won this game because in the end the Mids wanted it more, and because in the end players like Ram Vela decided that they didn’t want to be the guy who was remembered for missing an easy sack that allowed the Irish to climb back in. It was because a guy like Nate Frazier played his ass off all game, and that what looked to be a hodgepodge of defensive backs before a game showed up and made plays when it mattered.
As I look back on this game, typing this report while watching my taped copy for the second time this evening, I can’t help but stare at disbelief at the screen for a moment, asking myself if this really happened, if I was really there. But watching those vital snapshots, the images of Vela over Allen and Kahur-Pitters rumbling into the endzone let me know that what we saw last night was something that we as Navy fans will never forget.
There have been some people who’ve already started saying that this win doesn’t mean as much because of Notre Dame’s 1-8 record. These people have no idea what they are talking about. As Coach Johnson said last week, this is still Notre Dame, still bigger and stronger, still faster and more athletic, and still filled with 43 years of winning tradition over the Midshipmen. For an outsider, it may have been hard to see a David vs Glioth matchup in a showdown of 1-7 and 4-4 teams, but make no mistake about it, that’s what it was yesterday, and will be for some time to come. But for one time, just one time, David came out top, and in the process vindicated 43 years worth of balls to the walls never-say-die Navy football players. And to think, all it took was a little belief, and a defense that refused to quit.
God, do I love this game.