But it is not pure sport for the pure of heart either:
Didn’t we agree this was pro wrestling two weeks ago?
No. Pro wrestling is actually scripted. They know who is going to win ahead of time. The NFL, on the other hand, relies upon a “thumb on the scale” approach to gently favor its preferred narrative as well as to protect the betting lines and prevent the blowouts.
Football is too unpredictable, and has too many injuries, to successfully script a game, let alone a playoffs or a season. But you can usually know which team is going to get the marginal calls in the playoffs on a week-to-week basis, such as the Saints in 2009, the Chiefs last weekend, and the Vikings this weekend.
The thumb on the scale only matters if the game is very close. For example there is absolutely NO WAY the league wanted Jacksonville to beat Pittsburgh since the narrative all season was set up for Pittsburgh to seek revenge against New England in the AFC Championship. That’s why the league spins multiple narratives, gently supports them all, and hopes one or more of them will play out. They are particularly intent on doing this now in order to try to carve back some of their lost ratings before the Super Bowl.
I expect that the league now favors a Minnesota-New England Super Bowl, as “the first Super Bowl at home” and “the last ride of the GOATs part II”. Also because they don’t want either New England or Jackonville, both of which have excellent defenses, blowing out an Eagles team starting a backup quarterback. (Of course, if Foles can somehow beat two of the top three defenses in the league this year, he will fully merit a Super Bowl ring.) But even if you suspect you might have the official wind at your back for a change, you still have to make the plays and win the games.
By the way, I’d like to point out that Sean Payton choked on the clock management as well. I watched the end of the game again and the Saints had two unnecessary, but intentional clock stoppages once they got into field goal range. And in defense of rookie safety Marcus Williams, I will note that his mistake was NOT intentionally missing the tackle of Stefon Diggs, but rather, misreading the ball and breaking on Diggs too fast and hard.
I can guarantee you that before the play, the defensive backs were reminding each other “no pass interference!” Williams appeared to think the ball was not going to hang as long as it did and broke on Diggs, then altered his path at the last moment when he realized that he was going to get there early. If he hadn’t changed his course, he would have cut out Diggs’s legs before the ball arrived.
Was Williams trying to avoid a pass interference penalty?
“I feel like I was a little early [getting to Diggs], but at that point, I’ve just got to make the tackle when he comes down.”
Williams was right. He was early. His mistake was trying to break up the play rather than letting Diggs catch the ball, then tackling him in-bounds to run out the clock. But then, given that his coaches were misplaying the sidelines on offense, it’s not a surprise that their rookie safety did too.
I liked this quote from Coach Zim quoting the Hitman.
No one thought we were going to be any good. I know you guys didn’t pick us very good going into the year. But we have a bunch of fighters in that locker room, guys that will compete. I said to Harrison Smith yesterday in practice, I said, ‘Are you afraid of these guys?’ He said, ‘I am afraid of everybody. That’s why I play good.’ That’s how our team is.”
Don’t overlook anyone, hit everyone hard, and don’t ever quit. That’s the Viking philosophy and it’s not a bad one for life.