These last few days have been an exercise in excruciating torture for the sports fan living in Oregon, or namely, me.
As a fan of both the Portland Trail Blazers and the Oregon Ducks, I woke up Sunday with very high hopes.
The Blazers were entertaining the Miami Heat that day, a game I felt they could actually win. Portland's a great team at home, riding an eight-game winning streak in the Rose Garden at the time and I felt that if they could establish some momentum, they could pull the upset.
Unfortunately, they choked away a seven-point lead with less than three minutes to go, and lost in overtime and in heart-breaking fashion, 107-100.
The Blazers finally had a chance to be LeBron James, but yet again, he finds a way to rip out the hearts of the Rip City faithful with another monster game in the "Other Garden," the one here in Portland.
James averages about 31 points, eight rebounds and seven assists a game in eight games in Portland, and he was unstoppable again with a 40-point performance.
I listened to the game at work, using my MP3 player as a radio (handy little thing and my boss is a really cool guy who lets me do that as long as it doesn't interfere with working), and while I'm not a rah-rah guy, I was riding the waves of emotion.
It was a good thing that my workplace was closed during the meat of the game, or I might have attracted some weird stares from others at my sudden exclamations and intense looks on my face.
However, my team lost and I was left feeling sick, cheated and unfulfilled.
I went home that night in a state of shock that the Blazers could choke away a game that could establish huge momentum for them. A win against that team would have been huge for a group of guys that had to put up with so much injury crap the last few years.
Instead, they lost and I felt like they probably did: They let a big opportunity pass them by, and they likely won't get another one like that for a long while.
The next day, the Ducks took the field at Glendale, Ariz., against the Auburn Tigers in the BCS National Championship Game. What was hyped up as an offensive shootout turned out to be a defensive struggle, as turnovers, goal-line stands and overall ineffective play plagued both offenses.
While the Tigers had the upper hand throughout the bulk of the game, the Ducks tied it at 19 after a Cam Newton fumble led to a Ducks touchdown. Oregon converted on the two-point conversion and we had a ballgame.
Auburn attempted to run out the clock and get a field goal try, but were pretty much stifled until Michael Dyer made the biggest play of his life, and possibly, Auburn football history.
Dyer punched through the Oregon lines for a five-yard gain—or so Oregon thought. In actuality, he had used the defender tackling him as a barrier between his body and the ground. The Ducks had stopped short, thinking Dyer was down, but the Tiger coaches were bellowing at the top of their voices at their big running back, "GO! GO! GO!" and "You're not down! MOVE!"
And move Dyer did, to the Oregon one-yard line. A field goal later and Oregon was left wondering what if.
Listening to that game at work again (I'm a workaholic, what can I say?), I can think of at least four drives where the Ducks failed to maximize the drive and get a touchdown. 19 points should have been 40 and would have, were it not for Nick Fairley and the great play of the Tigers' defense.
Both defenses showed up big time, but Auburn's was able to hold on for just a bit longer.
I was very angry and upset, grousing to myself. Everyone knew that Oregon wouldn't win if they didn't take every chance they had to put touchdowns on the board. It didn't matter that Auburn hadn't fared much better; the important thing was, they were faring a little better and it made me extremely nervous.
After the field goal, I felt extremely disappointed and disheartened, but the future of the program itself is still bright. Darron Thomas, who was at different times awful and brilliant against the Tigers, returns along with LaMichael James and Kenjon Barner.
Jeff Maehl and D.J. Davis both depart, but the new guys coming in should fill the void almost immediately. Tacoi Sumler (at 5'8", 160 lbs.) and Devon Blackmon (6', 180) are not as big as either Maehl or Davis, but they're both amongst the fastest recruits in the country.
On a couple of broken coverages, Auburn was able to catch Maehl and Lavasier Tuinei after they got behind the defense on two separate drives. Both catches took Oregon inside the five of Auburn.
The results? A combined three points.
Sumler and Blackmon likely would not have been caught like Maehl and Tuinei were.
If the offensive line can jell in time for the LSU game in Arlington, Texas (a so-called "neutral field"), Oregon should be able to keep up on the scoreboard.
That discussion is for a later article, however.
On the eleventh, the Trail Blazers took on the New York Knicks in the Rose Garden. The game itself wasn't extraordinary, as the Blazers were caught up playing way too much one-on-one basketball and lost 100-86.
I mention the game because I actually was able to both get tickets and get away from work long enough to actually use them. The experience was pretty cool, despite there being only about 18,000 because some folks were trapped by the sheet of ice on the ground.
My brother slipped and fell twice, which reminds me...the next time I buy tickets, I probably won't take my brother.
He's a sourpuss, and the biggest "YEAH!!! NO!!!" sports fan I know. You know, the guy who yells like a madman when the team's doing perfectly fine, then falls into irritable grousing and criticism when they hit their downslide.
Going alone is no fun, so if there are any girls out there that can A) put up with me and B) are big Blazer fans, I'd rather take you next time I get tickets.
Maybe a Laker game?