Play off game number 3 was in the beautiful Mile High stadium in the sunshine of Denver, where the media made it the clash of Manning Vs Brady. I always thought this was going to be a game that was going to the very last play, and I was not wrong. The Broncos started the better team, getting on the scoreboard early on, and their defense kept Brady very quiet and making the Patriots punt their first 3 possessions. But although the Broncos were clearly the stronger team in the first half, the Patriots were never out of the game. The Patriots slightly improved in the 3rd quarter, to make the Broncos fans sweat as there was only a touchdown between the two teams until the very last seconds. Brady found Gronkowski for a couple of great plays on 3rd downs, keeping the Pats chances alive. And it was the same combination that landed the Patriots a chance of taking this game into overtime as Brady threw a touchdown pass to Gronk to silence the Mile High crowd. But the Patriots could not convert their2 point conversion attempt, so the game went to a finale with an onside kick. The brilliant Broncos defense kept hold of the ball for this historic and very well deserved win which takes them onto Superbowl 50. Another great play off game for me to witness on my incredible tour.
Back in Phoenix Arizona for the 2nd play off game on my tour, I arrived on a lovely warm evening ready for what I thought was going to be a very close and wide open game. It did not disappoint as the Cardinals scored the first touchdown in a very noisy University of Phoenix Stadium. The Packers replied with a couple of field goals to make it a very tight 7-6 at half time to the Cards. The Packers looked the stronger and more aggressive team in the 3rd quarter and they scored a great touchdown to take the lead with the 4th quarter approaching. The cards then stepped up a gear and dominated the next quarter, racing into 20-13 led with no much time left. The Packers finally got the ball back with around 30 seconds to go, deep into their own territory, with no touchdowns left. Aaron Rodgers proceeded to throw a 50 yard catch to one of his wide receivers with 20 seconds to go and the clock running. Then with the last play of the game Rodgers attempts a hail Mary pass and incredibly for the second time this season, he connected with one of his receivers. Unbelievable! So the game goes into overtime. The Cardinal win the controversial coin toss, and with one of the next plays, Larry Fitzgerald runs almost the whole length of the pitch to the three yard line. The next play, Fitzgerald runs in the winning score. The Cardinals fans erupt. What a great finish, yet another one for me on my amazing tour.
This was a game I was really looking forward to, and it did not disappoint….at all!! Back in Cincy with my good friends and Bengals Superfan Shawn “Who Dey” Moore, I got my warpaint on and become a Bengal for the night. On a night of terrible weather, the first half, where I sat up in the nose bleeds (top tier), the game was totally forgettable, with the Steelers leading 6-0 with 2 field goals. The 2nd half was a totally different game, as the Bengals had to chase the game. I came down from the clouds to stand with my friend “Who Dey” but this did not seem to help the Bengals, as the 3rd quarter the Steelers led 15-0, and the game looked over as we approached the final 15 mins. Then the game completely exploded into life with the Bengals making a great comeback to race into a 16-15 lead. Then it was Bengal dreamland as with less than 2 mins left o the clock, they intercepted a Steelers pass and the game looked over. With 1.32 left on the clock and deep into Steeler territory, the Bengals fumbled and gave the Steelers another chance. What a cock up! But it got even worse. Two terrible pieces of indiscipline by the Bengals defense gave away two 15 yard penalties to give the Steelers field goal range, which they accepted and successfully kicked. Complete heartbreak for the Bengals with 10 seconds remaining against their deadly rivals. What a final quarter, probably the best and most tense on my entire tour. Poor Bengals!
I did it!!! I made it to the 31st and final stadium in the regular season, something I will treasure forever!! The Levi Stadiums, home to Superbowl 50 is not an easy place to get to from downtown San Francisco, a 2 train and 2 hours ride, which wont make it an easy place to get to next month. So with the sun shining, but freezing cold winds, I made my way to the stadium. Without a ticket, no scalpers were around, but i managed to bag a 150 dollars ticket for 50 bucks, so yet another success!!! The game was a bit of a non event for me, other than I wanted to keep my 100% record of watching the Rams win. Sadly this did not happen. The low scoring game was not the best I have seen on this tour as the game went into overtime, with the 49ers edging out the victory. The 2 hours ride back was a pain, but I got back to San Fran for the second half of the late game between the Packers and the Vikings. Up next is the play offs, next stop Cincinnati. Mission accomplished.