And Georgia fans, how are you feeling today? Based on the cutaways to Dawg fans late in the game, I’m going to guess: not good. In fact, probably pretty crappy. And you should.
I’d feel pretty lousy too if I threw down the kind of cash Georgia fans were throwing down to witness last night, only to witness that last night. Because it was all right there for you. Playing the national championship game in your backyard, leading by double-digits at halftime, and then it all fell apart, in the worst way possible.
And no, I’m not going to take this opportunity to run down all the misery and heartbreak that Georgia has experienced at the championship level. I’m not going to talk about the Braves dominating for nearly a decade and a half, only to win one World Series. Or the Nique, Tree, Doc, Spud, and Koncak Hawks being very good at a very bad time to be just very good in the East. And I’m certainly not going to talk about 28-3. Because all of that is ancient history. Most of those wounds have scarred over by now, but last night is still fresh.
And it’s all the more fresh because for much of last night, it looked like Georgia was going to do it. For much of last night, Kirby Smart and his crew looked like they were about to do what nobody does – they looked like they were going to out-Saban Nick Saban. Georgia looked more like Alabama than Alabama did. And Alabama looked nothing like Alabama.
For a moment, it looked like it was Georgia’s night, especially when they mastered the sideline, time and time again. Georgia’s gameplan was to let it rip and go through the air. True freshman Jake Fromm was doing what no true freshman does on the biggest stage. Until he was upstaged by another true freshman. And yes, it’s kind of painful to look back and see that Sony Michel and Nick Chubb only had 32 carries between them, when they had the lead for much of the game.
Just like it’s painful to look back on that huge sack on first down in overtime that swung all the moment to Georgia for a split second, before it was ripped away. Just ask Davin Bellamy, who came up with that sack: “I’m still kind of stuck in the moment, but life goes on from here. Eventually I have to get over it. I left it all out there. Second-and-26 makes it so hard.”
Makes it incredibly hard. And you know that’s not the last time Georgia or Georgia fans will hear about second-and-26. In fact, there are going to be years of hearing about it. Second-and-26 is the new 28-3. Which is some added salt in the wound because you know a ton of Georgia fans are also Atlanta Falcon fans, which means you’ve had a rough 11 months when it comes to big-time football games with halftime leads.
And yes, Georgia fans, I’m aware that a number of calls and non-calls didn’t go your way. There was the almost interception in the end zone and the punt block that was called back. But as always, if you’re pointing to the refs, you’re doing it wrong. Because the refs didn’t lose that game for Georgia, Georgia lost it for Georgia.
When you blow a double-digit halftime lead to a true freshman quarterback, get let off the hook by a missed field goal at the end of regulation, and then give up a walk off touchdown on second-and-26 in overtime, you have nobody to blame but yourselves. It was right there for you, repeatedly, and it slipped away. Alabama is the ultimate vampire. And you have to ram the stake through their hearts when you have the chance. When you’ve got a foot on their throat, you need to finish it, but Georgia never finished it. They managed to do just enough to keep Bama alive. Do that and a simple blown coverage in overtime because the source of pain for years, if not lifetimes.
But you know me, Georgia fan, I’m not here to celebrate the negative. I’m a glass half-full guy and if you want to look for the silver lining in last night’s thunderstorm of pain and misery, it’s the fact that you’ve got a stud freshman quarterback and another on the way. And that this team is loaded and isn’t going anywhere. But it’s a long eight months until the season starts, which means it’s a long eight months to have the taste of last night in your mouths. And that taste is terrible. Because you were so close. So very close. Saying something sucks is not a take, but to get that close, in your own backyard, to ending nearly four decades without a title, and then come up short, sucks. It really does.