This year’s NFC final four is a true national tournament. We’ve got the Giants representing the East, Green Bay the North, New Orleans the South, and San Francisco the West. Groovy. A perfect symmetry.
And late Saturday afternoon, the 49er season will either be abruptly over with or gloriously extended yet another week. It’s Door #1 or Door #2 time. Agony or ecstasy. Fame or ignominy. Shit or lift your cheeks from off the potty. Do or die.
The 1981 playoff victory over Dallas is now stamped into history as The Catch game. But if Eric Wright doesn’t make that horsecollar tackle on Drew Pearson, that game would be known instead as The Six Turnover Choke Job. Joe Montana threw 3 interceptions and might have been the goat, not the hero. Who knows how his career, or the legacy of the Niners, would have turned out after that?
I think it’s safe to say that if Alex Smith throws 3 interceptions Saturday, even if the team wins, the answer for him would be Not Good.
Montana wasn’t carrying anybody’s legacy on his back that day, like Smith and the current team are. In fact, he and the team were fighting a legacy, a legacy of choking the big game, especially against Dallas, who ended 49er hopes in 1970, 1971, and 1972. Three straight years kicked out of the playoffs by Dallas, the last one particularly heartbreaking because the team blew a 28-13 4th quarter lead. If they would have won even one of those years, John Brodie would probably be in the HOF, where he belongs. But he is not. They don’t hold any Legends Night galas for him and that team, either, like they did this past week for that 1981-90 team.
The Saints have their own issues in this game, too. A loss Saturday would continue the goose egg they have when it comes to playoff road games and games outdoors on the grass. It would make them a gimmick team. A dome team. An impure specimen of he-manless football. Drew Brees would be viewed as nice stats, guy, but you ain’t no Eli Manning.
Manning will be up in Green Bay Sunday, trying to replicate his out of the blue wildcard run to Super Bowl glory in 2007. His team is finally healthy, especially his defense, and the Packers are vulnerable, despite their gaudy regular season record. A Giants win and a Niners win would bring the NFC Championship game right back to Candlestick next week.
The AFC games are not nearly so attractive. Denver vs New England is more about the Tim Tebow phenomenon than football. And the Ravens vs Texans game will be a tedious who really cares game. Probably a defensive stand off. Probably pretty boring. No big names or game dramas to titillate the viewing populace.
We could see some epic games this weekend in the NFC, though. If the Niners win the opener, we can all sit back and enjoy the other three games. If they don’t, the remaining three games will be viewed with a heavy heart. Very heavy. Dark, kick the dog and bark at the kids surly, mean and nasty gloom. Dead. Throw the dirt on me. Life is meaningless. I’ll never be happy again. I hate God. Why did You do this to me? Sigh. Shit. Okay, it’s over. Piss. It was a hellava year, though, wasn’t it?
Take pity on me, 49ers. WIN THIS GAME!!!!!