Sports can be cruel, and investing emotionally in the performance of any team is going to bite you at some point. There are just not many good endings.
But, like when you finally hit a sweet golf shot amid a full morning of hacking the ball around, it makes everything worthwhile and you invest emotionally all over again.
For Ohio State fans who back the 49ers, the game seemed over before it began. Brock Purdy, already the team’s third quarterback used this season, got hurt early in the game, and San Francisco just didn’t have enough firepower to stay with the Philadelphia Eagles. Josh Johnson did manage to get the team down the field once to tie the game at 7-7, but then the defense allowed a score before the half and Johnson took his eye off a snap, then proceeded to do very little to cover the ball on the ensuing drive.
Philadelphia recovered, scored again, and never looked back. Nick Bosa’s season ended with a four-tackle performance that included two tackles for loss, but he and his defensive colleagues got no help from the offense and wore down.
Is it less painful to get blown out than to lose a heartbreaker? I think it is, although the narrow defeats at least can provide the consolation of pride in the team’s fight.
Bengals fans had it a bit tougher on Sunday night. The team had the ball in a tie game late with a chance to drive for a winning score. The offensive line, which was porous all night, didn’t allow former Buckeye Joe Burrow — and yes, I do claim him, as is my right and with his permission, no less — to get the job done.
Still, overtime seemed a likely outcome until ex-Ohio State punter Drue Chrisman’s kick was returned into Cincinnati territory. The defense was asked to hold and it nearly did. But it was an uncalled hold on Trey Hendrickson on a decisive third-down scramble by Patrick Mahomes that will haunt Cincy fans’ dreams — especially combined with what happened on the back end of that run.
Kansas City still had a long field goal to make with the yardage that Mahomes picked up, but Joseph Ossai then committed an egregious personal foul with a late hit out of bounds on the Kansas City quarterback, giving Harrison Butker a much shorter kick to make. He did, and it ended the season of five former Buckeyes — one, Isaiah Prince, on the practice squad, and five on the roster — and those who claim Burrow can add him to the list. The Cincinnati loss knocked Eli Apple, Vonn Bell, Sam Hubbard, Chrisman, Prince, and Burrow out of the postseason in the penultimate game.
Bell led the Bengals with seven tackles. Apple had six stops, including a tackle for loss, but he also committed a costly defensive holding penalty that kept a Chiefs drive alive. Hubbard had two stops, a sack, a tackle for loss, a quarterback hit, and a key fumble recovery that helped his team get back in the game. Chrisman averaged 49 yards on four punts, with a long of 54.
Burrow completed 26 of 41 passes for 270 yards and a touchdown while under pressure all night. He did throw two interceptions, but he also made the “onions” play of the night on a 4th-and-6 play, connecting with Ja’Marr Chase on a scoring drive that tied things up.
The only remaining former Buckeye in the postseason is Philadelphia Eagles running back Trey Sermon, but don’t look for him to be the Super Bowl MVP.