It was a wild day. Start to finish. Here’s what I went through.
SUNDAY – DECEMBER 16, 2018
4:15 AM. My uncle’s birthday party started at 10 AM Saturday, in an Asbury Park bar, so I was fast asleep by 9:30 PM. At 4:15 I was wide awake and hungover and then came to the realization that (a) it was Sunday and (b) the Bears would be playing the Packers for a division title in 11 hours. So now I was awake, hungover and tense.
5:15 AM. Reverend Dave was flying into JFK from Paris so I checked the tracker. He was on time. There’s a good and bad side of this. Good side is…he’s on time. Bad side is I have to see Dave now.
9:29 AM. I had to drive from Sea Girt, New Jersey to Queens. I drive my dead grandfather’s 2004 Chevy Cavalier. It has 197,000 miles on it. And it doesn’t handle particularly well in conditions. Not only did I make this drive in a downpour but the fog was so thick I couldn’t see ten yards in front of the car.
10 and 2. Whole way. Tense as hell. Packer tense. Driving tense. Lots of tense.
11:35 AM. The normally hour and half ride is now done, clocking in at over 2. Instead of going into my apartment to pet my cats I went into my local, took a dump, slammed a quick Miller Lite and ordered an Uber to Josie Woods.
Sometime Around Noon. I popped into the pizza joint next to Josies for a quick slice. Cab pulls up in front. I see Dave in the back. He’s got two of the largest suitcases I’ve ever seen. I can barely hold the slice because I’m still tense from the drive and worrying my senior citizen mobile would veer the fuck off the Verrazano Bridge.
I said hello to Dave.
12:35 PM. There were already more Bears fans at Josie Woods than the previous five weeks combined. New faces too. Amazing what happens when you win more than you lose.
12:56 PM. A long debate occurred as we tried to find what the city equivalent of Reverend Dave is. Our best comp: Trenton. Except Trenton has a good slogan. (“What Trenton Makes, the World Takes”) Noah suggested the shitty tourist trap town at the base of Machu Picchu. Probably he’s the bad parts of Warsaw.
Quarter One. I wanted this game over early. I wanted the Bears up 17-0 in the first quarter. I wanted Aaron Rodgers to be dropping back every play to throw because I knew the Packers couldn’t survive that approach. It just didn’t happen. I thought the Bears looked a bit nervous early. I thought the crowd sounded a bit nervous. I know everybody at Josie Woods was nervous. I was nervous.
Quarter Two. The defense’s work at the end of the half was remarkable, getting the Packers off the field with a 30-second drive and giving Mitch Trubisky a chance to add more points. This was one of the biggest drives of the season, capped off by a brilliant throw from Trubisky to Bellamy and a brilliant effort from Tarik Cohen to score. They got the game to the half at 14-3. And for the first time all season long, I firmly believed the Bears were going to be division champs.
Quarter Three/Slightly Into Four. I stopped believing the Bears were going to be division champs. I started to believe the Bears were going to lose out and miss the playoffs entirely.
Field goal. Fake punt. Touchdown. Fumble.
Those four drives were like having the blood drained from my body at a painfully slow pace. It just felt that all the hope for the 2018 season was gone. I was despondent.
10:16, Fourth Quarter. At 14-14, Trubisky takes the Bears down the field and fires the touchdown to Burton. The Bears were on the ropes and it was THEIR quarterback, the kid, who fought them back into the lead. Hope?
9:12, Fourth Quarter. Cohen’s punt return was the single biggest moment of the game. I knew. I actually knew at that moment this was going to be their day.
3:04, Fourth Quarter. The interception. Roquan Smith makes a terrific play on the ball. Eddie Jackson is perfectly positioned again. I leapt to my feet, arms raised over my head, hands clenched in fists. Finally the tension broke.
Post-Game. Maciej. Rev. Noah. Stephanie. New faces. Shots. Congratulations. Hugs.
Later. Walked into my local again, now receiving congratulations from folks who understood what this day meant. Watched Steelers vs. Pats. Didn’t care about a single second of it.
4:15 AM, Monday. Couldn’t wait to get my laptop open.