Well, it's happened again: Marquette lost in the NCAA tournament in a game we had and couldn't close, and it was hard to take, and I swore off sports. Again. It's been a tough year in Brennan fandom, so in thinking back I've decided to list and describe my all time most wrenching defeats as a fan.
5. January 16, 2000; Titans 19 - Colts 16. Wow, did this one hurt. All the work of a whole season to get the bye and home field advantage, and to host the first NFL Playoff Game in Indianapolis history, and to let it slip away. This one is not higher up because I didn't know better when it happened - the year before the Colts were 3-13, so I was still pretty used to losing, but it still hurt bad. As a fan of desperately crappy teams I knew what it was like to be in the wilderness and I wasn't sure the Colts would be that good again. That kind of success can be fleeting (ask the Lions), and there was an 11 game win streak in the regular season! The Colts were still in the AFC East with Miami, New England, the Jets and Buffalo, and there were no losses from October 10th to Jan 2nd, in Buffalo, when the East was already won. Too many field goals, too many drives stopped short, and late game heroics that wrench your heart back into thinking you have a shot, with a tease that maybe, maybe, maybe... but no. Nope. One and done. Well, I have come to expect that in later years, but it was a crusher. No Super Bowl that year. Click here and scroll to page 23 for the boxscore, to page 92 for the season results.
4. 2000 NBA Finals, Game 4, Lakers 120 - Pacers 118. This was a killer. Yes, the Pacers were clearly underdogs here, and yes, they dropped the first two games in L.A., but they won Game 3 against the Kobe-less Lakers and in this one, game four, Sam Perkins hit a three with time running out to send it into overtime, 104-all. I was watching in Monticello with Arnold (who, even though he was from L.A., was good enough not to be vocally pro-Lakers) and Kendall, and we were going a little nutty when he hit that shot, and it just felt like the tide had turned and the Pacers could actually do it. I let myself think ahead - all tied up at 2, we could win one more at home and then steal one in L.A., and a team I cheered for could finally win a title! Reggie would get his ring! Rik Smits could secure his place in Pacer legend by givin' Shaq all he could take! In overtime, Shaq fouled out but Kobe did what Kobe does, even on Indy's home court, scoring 8 and giving the Lakers a 120-118 lead. Six seconds left. Ball gets inbounds, goes to Reggie, it's Miller Time! But no, Horry is all over him, his three ball doesn't fall, and LA leads the series 3-1. Game. Set. Match. No title for the Pacers. All those years when they couldn't get past Jordan and Chicago; and then the Knicks; and now the West was good again and they come up short in the Championship Series.
Click here for the boxscore.
3. January 16, 2005, Patriots* 20 - Colts 3. Bookends to the season. Indy started on Thursday night in the kickoff game of the season for the NFL at New England (and any Patriots* fans who want to whine about how the Pats* now are always in Indy need only look back a few years to see all those years in a row when we were in Foxboro every. Freakin. Year.), in a game that we had should have won but that squirted away when Edgerrin James fumbled at the New England 3 going in for a TD at the end of the game when we were only down 3. Oh god, that makes me sick to think about. Oh... oh god, I can still see that play. I took off early that day and had ridden my bike down to the Eastside Grill to watch, and the place was packed but I got a seat that I didn't use at all in the second half. Man, we had 'em. Oh god. Okay, well, that's not the game I'm writing about, it's the shellacking at the end of the season, in the playoffs, in New England because we lost that first game in September and could never wrest the home field advantage away from the Patriots*. Couldn't move the ball, though the week before we'd hung 49 points on Denver. Couldn't play in the cold. Were soft. "No dome teams win the Super Bowl" (and nevermind that the Rams did it...). Peyton? He couldn't win the big one, he wasn't tough enough. Dungy? Couldn't win the big one, he was too nice. The Patriots*? Too "tough" and too "smashmouth" to lose to Indy, a "finesse" team. (I told everyone who would listen at the time that they were also too "cheaty" to lose to Indy. Uh-huhn. We all know how that turned out. When you know where Marvin is going to be, it's a little easier to defend him. And "defend," on this 5th year anniversary of the crushing Titan loss, mean "mug" evidently. But so are the fortunes of sport. Some teams cheat, and cheat, and cheat, and win, and others have to figure out how to get better or level the playing field.) This loss was so wrenching because this was the year that we were going to put the Patriots* behind us; we were faster, tougher, and barring a fluke in that first game we were better and could, but for that James fumble, have been playing in Indy. Well, it wasn't, he did and we didn't. In the snow in Foxboro, another loss to the Patriots* and another long off-season of thinking of what might have been. Just... gah! I went to the beach and then to the bar. Tough one to take.
2. Oh, man. Now it's the devastating losses that I've tried to forget. I need a break. I'll post 2 and 1 tomorrow. I need to go watch some You Tube of happy Brennan sports moments, like this of Reggie being Reggie.