BOSTON (CBS) — Some cities would kill to have it this good.
Fans at Gillette Stadium didn’t even wait around to hear the fat lady sing, as the Patriots were set to lose their second straight game of the season on Sunday evening. The Red Sox, likewise, were about to fall into a 2-0 hole in the ALCS, opening themselves up to 48 hours of scrutiny and panic on the local airwaves.
Many fans and analysts in the area lost faith in both teams, but they shouldn’t have. They should know better by now.
Tom Brady rescued the Patriots from certain defeat at Gillette Stadium with a game-winning touchdown pass at 7:36 p.m. About four hours later, 20 miles to the northeast, the only other current Boston athlete on Brady’s legendary level did the same for his team, when David Ortiz smoked a line-drive grand slam over the bullpen fence, tying Game 2 of the ALCS in the eighth inning and reviving the Red Sox from a gloomy situation.
Within a half-hour, the Red Sox were celebrating a walk-off win at Fenway Park, and the fact that it was Ortiz who delivered just hours after Brady did the same for the Patriots is, simply, perfect.
Brady, at 36 years old, is the longest-tenured Boston athlete we’ve got, now that Paul Pierce is gone. Brady arrived without much fanfare when he was drafted, and he’s been around since the world was just getting over Y2K scares, before anyone in the world owned an iPod. He’s accomplished everything there is to achieve in the sport of football, from championships to MVPs to all-time records. He is one of the best of all time — you could make the case that he’s the best ever — and he put it on display for the umpteenth time with his last-minute drive against the Saints. He completed five passes for 70 yards in 1:08, two of them to a guy who signed 10 days prior, the final one to an undrafted rookie playing in the sixth game of his professional career. No matter his supporting cast, Brady can seemingly always get the job done.
Ortiz, 37, arrived on the scene three years later, similarly without generating many headlines. Yet he blossomed into the best designated hitter the sport’s ever seen as well as one of the most prolific postseason hitters for the Red Sox, delivering as the team’s MVP in the 2004 ALCS on the way to getting the Red Sox their first championship in 86 years. They won it all again three years later, when Ortiz posted a .370 postseason batting average, and now they’re in position to contend for another, thanks to his four-run swing of the bat on Sunday night.
What Brady and Ortiz did on Sunday is something that very few athletes ever do in their careers. While Ortiz’s came at a much more critical moment of the season, the degree of difficulty was no doubt greater for Brady. They were truly incredible moments, yet for those two all-time Boston greats, it was just another day on the job.
“That’s what he does,” Patriots head coach Bill Belichick said nonchalantly about his quarterback. “That’s what he gets paid for. That’s why he’s so good.”
“He stays calm,” Red Sox manager John Farrell said of Ortiz. “Guys that can perform in meaningful moments, they’ve got the ability to keep the emotions under control.”
The commentary for one could be applied to the other
The Red Sox may still come up short in this series, and the Patriots may indeed struggle to make their way deep into January and February this year, and the reasons may be plenty. Regardless, Sunday night was simply a special moment for Boston sports, and with Brady and Ortiz much closer to the end of their storied careers than the beginning, it was one worth relishing. We may never see a night like that again.