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Two big games, two thrilling wins, one special night

October 15,2018 08:15

The Red Sox' 7-5 victory to even the series with the defending World Champion Astros did not pack as many thrills as the football game — baseball's meandering pace leads to a more drawn-out tension — but it demanded that fans keep their fingers ...


For a nervous moment or two, Sunday could have been a good sports day gone bad. Instead, it was a good sports day gone even better than expected.
In one evening, the Patriots and Red Sox provided two thrilling victories that no one is going to forget anytime soon.
They delivered a special kind of night to New England fans, the kind that is the stuff of unfulfilled dreams in many other cities, but practically common around here.
On TBS, the Red Sox hosted the Astros in Game 2 of the American League Championship Series, a must-win for the home team given their uninspiring Game 1 loss Saturday.
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Meanwhile, on NBC’s “Sunday Night Football,’’ the 3-2 Patriots hosted second-year sensation Patrick Mahomes and the 5-0 Chiefs in a prime-time matchup so appealing it must have been the envy of every other NFL broadcast partner.
The Patriots-Chiefs shootout was a genuine thriller. The Patriots took a 24-9 lead in the first half, endured a tsunami of offense from the Chiefs in the second half, and ultimately prevailed, 43-40, on Stephen Gostkowski’s 28-yard field goal with 3 seconds left.
The Red Sox’ 7-5 victory to even the series with the defending World Champion Astros did not pack as many thrills as the football game — baseball’s meandering pace leads to a more drawn-out tension — but it demanded that fans keep their fingers crossed right up until the final pitch, when Astros superstar/nuisance Alex Bregman’s quest to hit a tying home run over the Monster fell a few feet short into Andrew Benintendi’s glove. If you took a second to exhale, you probably started holding your breath again once you turned back to the Patriots and saw that at roughly the same moment the Chiefs had taken a 33-30 lead.
The collective excellence in Boston sports since the turn of the century — the Bruins, Celtics, Red Sox and Patriots have combined to win 10 championships since 2001 — led to some satisfying daily double-features through the seasons, those occasions when a pair of Boston teams have a meaningful victory or unforgettable moment on the same day.
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The Patriots and Red Sox have had a few mutual days to remember in this era. The first to come to my mind occurred on October 5, 2003. The Red Sox ralled to beat the Oakland A’s, 5-4, in Game 3 of their American League Division Series, when David Ortiz — who had been struggling in his first postseason with the Red Sox — put the Red Sox ahead with a two-run double off A’s closer Keith Foulke, who would go on to bigger October feats elsewhere.
Meanwhile, in Foxborough, the Patriots rallied for a 38-30 win over the Titans, improving to 3-2. It was the first of 21 straight wins, including Super Bowl XXXVII.
Five years and a day ago Sunday, a perhaps even more satisfying double victory occurred, in part because both required a did-that-really-happen? comeback. The 4-1 Patriots defeated the 5-0 New Orleans Saints, 31-27, when Tom Brady found Kenbrell Thompkins for a 17-yard touchdown with five seconds remaining.
In Game 2 of the ALCS, the Red Sox trailed the Tigers 5-1 in the eighth when David Ortiz — by now established as a postseason legend — enhanced that legend with a grand slam that introduced the world to Fenway bullpen cop Steve Horgan.
There have been others – for instance, the 2007 Red Sox won the World Series on October 28, the same day the Patriots throttled the Redskins, 52-7, to improve to 8-0. I was curious how Sunday might compare to such lore, I think it’s fourth among the Red Sox-Patriots connections.
The question of “Which game will you watch?’’ — as if the Patriots and Red Sox are an either/or proposition — is roughly as outdated as sitting in an easy chair to watch the big game on a black-and-white Magnavox.
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There are countless options to watching sports nowadays, even if game times overlap. The question is “what will you be watching more of, and how?’’
My setup had the Patriots game on YouTube TV on my television, the Red Sox game streaming on YouTube TV on my laptop, and a liter of Polar Seltzer (Pomegranate Cherry) and a bag of Red Hot Blues tortilla chips to pass for dinner. It also may be breakfast.
The Red Sox-Astros game began at 7:05 p.m., or 75 minutes before the Patriots and Chiefs kicked off, so baseball had a head-start on getting our attention. The Red Sox scored in the first inning and soon took a 2-0 lead. But approximately 10 minutes before the Patriots were ready to kick off, the Astros’ Marwin Gonzalez crushed a two-out, two-run homer off maligned Red Sox starter David Price to give Houston a 4-2 lead in the third inning.
If anyone was tempted solely to focus on football at that point, the Red Sox thwarted that temptation with three runs in the bottom of the third, all coming via Jackie Bradley’s three-run double. The Sox had a 5-4 lead, and not long after, the Patriots took their first lead of the night when Sony Michel scored from 3 yards out to give the Patriots a 10-3 advantage in the first quarter.
At times, there were tense moments going on in each game simultaneously. When Kimbrel, who often complicates matters even in success, came on to start the ninth, the Patriots were leading 30-26 and well aware they were in for a battle. But Kimbrel got the outs he needed, and when our eyes turned solely to the Patriots for the final quarter of their game, they made all the plays you’d hope they’d make, and a few — such as Tom Brady’s 4-yard touchdown run for a 37-33 lead – that you’d never know to imagine.
One night, two thrilling and important wins. It’s tough to get a paragraph in the sports history books in New England given the volumes upon volumes that have been written. The importance of Sunday night’s events will be revealed with outcomes still ahead. But no matter how the Red Sox’ and Patriots’ stories end this season, we’re not going to forget the plot twists of October 14, 2018.
Man, what a fun night for sports here, one more time and again.

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