In processing the necessary data needed to factor in the over/unders and point spreads required to evaluate a game of this magnitude, my brain logically picked Denver to win. Calculating the degree of difficulty it takes to travel across the country for the visiting team, plus the altitude of the destination coupled with thinness of air, multiplied by Peyton's no-huddle offense…well, it would clearly equal the complete and utter exhaustion of the Ravens defense. Whew, it's exhausting just laying all that out.
Adding to that calculus, I recalled two different occasions doing shows in Denver. One where we drove into the city on a tour bus, which allowed my body to become gradually acclimated to the altitude; and the other where I flew into the city the night of the show and was totally spent by show time. These memories lent more support to a purely logical analysis. Ahhh, but my heart still gravitated toward the underdog. It kind of always does to be quite honest.
I couldn't help but have compassion for the Ravens whose leader is the heart that pumps blood into the organs that make the Ravens function. What was unbelievable to me in watching this game unfold on television is how it began to morph from a battle between two football teams into an internal war in my mind: logical side versus emotional side. Four quarters of intense football ended in complete balance, tied at the end of regulation. Then, as if to teach me a lesson, the Ravens squeezed out a victory with a 47-yard field goal in double overtime and the battle going on inside my mind ultimately ended with my heart edging out my brain.
I obviously received more from this particular game than just football. I was reminded of the level of preparation it takes to be elite and, beyond that, the level of focus and dedication required to overcome adversity. Our cases in point were Peyton Manning, with an improbable MVP-caliber season after career threatening neck surgery; and Ray Lewis returning from a torn triceps injury. This game really made me reassess my own drive and ask myself, "Are you truly giving 150 percent?"
The two NFC games were just as amazing. The 49ers defeated Green Bay 45-31 with Colin Kaepernick looking like a quarterback in a futuristic game that pitted the World Federation Football Team against evil aliens in the battle for earth's survival. I knew he was awesome outside of the pocket…but I was like “Damn!,” is that Usain Bolt? I picked the Seahawks to win, and maintain that Russell Wilson, who played a magnificent game, would've secured Rookie of the Year if the voting extended through the playoffs. Nevertheless, with seconds on the clock, Matt Ryan made two amazing throws to get his team in position for a game winning field goal. The Falcons finally got that elusive first playoff victory.
Last but not least…zzzzzzz…Tom Brady and the New England Patriots… Eh, they won.