Magic and heartbreak

By Justin Hubbard

 

Sports can be beautiful and painful all at the same time. It seems every time I start to forget it, something happens to remind me.

This past Sunday afternoon, I watched my Dallas Cowboys take a 7-0 lead over the Green Bay Packers early in the first quarter.

Green Bay then drove down the field and scored but, thanks to a missed extra point attempt from the usually sure-footed Mason Crosby, the Cowboys still led, 7-6. My dad and I left home soon afterward to go buy some groceries and grab supper.

If you’ve ever been inside the Ingles in Greensboro, then you know the cell service is poor. I’ve got Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott on my fantasy team, though, and I was somehow able to get alerts each time Prescott threw another touchdown.

He tossed two touchdowns while my dad and I were in Ingles. I was buzzing and nearly shouted after the second alert. My team was up 21-6 on one of the best teams in football. Surely, this game was going to be special.

Turns out, I was right.

We made a trip out to Zaxby’s then returned to Union Point where I was set to watch the conclusion of the Cowboys’ beatdown on Aaron Rodgers and the Packers. The score was 21-12 at the half but I was confident Dallas could finish it off.

Turns out, I was wrong.

Dallas went scoreless in the third quarter while Green Bay booted a field goal. In the final period, the teams traded punches and it appeared Dallas had the game in hand with a late touchdown run by Prescott.

Unfortunately, there was too much time left on the clock to count out Rodgers, the man I consider the best quarterback in football.

He expertly led the Packers down the field with only 1:13 remaining in the game. The play of the game happened on third-and-8 at Dallas’ 30-yard line: The Cowboys had Rodgers contained in the backfield and his receivers well-covered. It looked like they were actually going to stop them and hold them to a tying field goal.

But then, Rodgers broke loose. He galloped down the left sideline for an 18-yard gain and a first down. The Cowboys forced an incompletion on the next play, but they had already been broken.

Rodgers connected with Davante Adams on a perfect throw into the end zone to take a decisive 35-31 advantage. There were 11 seconds remaining, sure, but Dallas was done. The Cowboys had an incompletion to begin the ensuing drive then, on one of those throw-it-around plays, they fumbled it to end the game.

I couldn’t believe my eyes. Not even nine months had passed since Rodgers led an unlikely comeback win against the Cowboys – in Arlington – to eliminate them from the playoffs.

And there he was again Sunday, working his voodoo magic and breaking the hearts of every Cowboys fan in the world. There’s no shame in losing to the best quarterback in football, but, man, does it sting watching him tear apart your team’s defense in the clutch. 

What’s worse is the Cowboys’ performance in the entire second half was dreadful. They came alive on offense in the fourth quarter but their defense absolutely folded. For the second week in a row, Dallas choked away a sizeable lead.

For the Cowboys fan in me, it’s frustrating. It’s disappointing. It really ticks me off and makes me wonder if the Cowboys will have a strong season.

But for the general football fan in me, there’s something really cool about watching an all-time great have another career highlight. Rodgers is special, and every one of us is lucky to be alive during his career.

Even if he does beat our teams all the time.

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