Nine years ago today — Sunday, October 13, 2013 was one of the wildest, happiest sports days in the history of Boston sports. A town that in the last 20 plus years has had enough titles and happy memories that most towns won’t experience in a century.
No titles were won this day (although one was en route to one). But the day was a wild ride, that maybe some people don’t remember. But I do.
I was there for it.
Every year as a New England Patriots season ticket holder I give my brother first pick of what game he wants to go to. Typically he will pick a game early in the year. In 2013, he picked the Saints — a team he likes, a team that promised a competitive matchup.
This was the national game on FOX, at 4:25pm because of course it was. FOX had their A team there, with Thom Brennaman standing in for Joe Buck (more on him in a bit) along with Troy Aikman. New Orleans was 5–0, the Patriots 4–1. All five guys on the pregame show picked the Saints to win.
The Patriots got off to a big lead in the second quarter and led at halftime 17–7. The Saints would tie the game in the third quarter with a field goal and a 3 yard touchdown run by Khiry Robinson. Tie, 17–17.
The Patriots would get two field goals to make it 23–17 Patriots, after which the Saints would get the ball back. They drove down the field and, despite facing a third and 20, Drew Brees connected with Kenny Stills for a 34 yard score. 24–23 Saints, three minutes left.
The Patriots got the ball back with about three minutes left. They burned two time outs and Brady threw three incompletions after a short gain on first down. Saints ball again. Saints kick a field goal, it’s 27–23.
Patriots get the ball back. Brady threw a long pass to Julian Edelman….which was intercepted at the Saints 30 yard line. And it looked for all the world the game was over. One first down and the Saints in all likelihood win the game. Many fans headed for the exits.
The Patriots needed to hold the Saints, with only one time out and the two minute warning. Which they did, Chandler Jones sacking Drew Brees on third and seven. The Patriots got the ball back with 1:13 left on their own 30 yard line, need a touchdown to win, no time outs.
As a Patriots season ticket holder the best thing during the glory days was that every game — every single one — I always thought the Patriots had a chance to win, no matter what. I don’t know what the percentage of victory was here off the top, but it couldn’t have been more than 20%
Brady used the middle of the field. 23 yard pass to Edelman. 15 yards to Austin Collie. 6 yards to Aaron Dobson, out of bounds, 39 seconds left. Then two incompletions. 4th and 4, convert or game over. Complete to Austin Collie, 9 yards. Then a spike to stop the clock.
What happened next is still one of the most vivid memories I have as a Season Ticket Holder. Brady drops back, places it perfect — I mean, perfect- for Kembrell Thompkins, who makes sure to catch the ball with both hands, and get both feet inbounds. The crowd erupts! And Scott Zolak’s radio call:
BRADYS BACK! THATS YOUR QUARTERBACK! WHO LEFT THE BUILDING! UNICORNS, SHOW PONIES…WHERES THE BEEF?!?”
Nine years later I have no idea what that means. Fans may have given up….but we did not.
I was there. And I’ve got a video to prove it!
Not long after the end of that game, about 25 miles northeast the Red Sox would be playing the Tigers in Game 2 of the ALCS. The Tigers had won Game 1 convincingly and had Max Scherzer for Game 2. The Tigers staked Scherzer to a 5–1 lead late and it looked like the Red Sox would be in a major hole going to Detroit.
Until it didn’t.
Bottom of the 8th. As always at Fenway they played Sweet Caroline. The fans singing along. “Sweet Caroline BAH! BAH! BAH! Good times never seemed so good SO GOOD! SO GOOD! SO GOOD!!!” The Red Sox rallied, and loaded the bases with two outs.
And here comes David Ortiz.
And Joe Buck — who was not at Foxboro that afternoon — called it:
Bases loaded, two out…..Hard hit into right….Back at the wall….TIE GAME!!!!! Big Papi!!! The Grand Slam!!!!”
For all the iconic home runs Papi hit for the Red Sox — and he hit A TON-few gave me goosebumps (and still do) than that one. The Red Sox needed it, and he came through. Oh did he ever.
From that point on it seemed inevitable the Red Sox would go the distance. The Tigers were done. Jarrod Saltalamacchia got the game winning RBI in the bottom of the 9th to clinch it, 6–5.
I was at my brothers house after the game, as I was going to stay over since my job at the time was a half hour away. I had been monitoring the game through score updates on my phone, and saw it was 5–1 Tigers late. Oh frig, series over. Then I get an alert. Red Sox 5, Tigers 5. I go to the MLB app and see Papi hit a grand slam. I tell my brother “Hey, Red Sox are tied 5–5!”
What happened next I am STILL embarassed about. I consider myself a pretty tech savvy person, I can figure out how to work spreadsheets and devices without reading instructions. I’m good at that stuff.
My brother had at the time Verizon TV. And I could NOT get it turned on! I’m over here, playing with the box, the input on the TV, and am getting nothing but a blank screen. And this is going on for five minutes. Finally I did something I don’t think I’ve done before or since: I listened to the Red Sox radio call on WEEI through the app. And I’m sitting there next to the TV, STILL trying to turn the damn thing on, and that’s when I heard Salty got the game winner. Red Sox win 6–5, and on to Detroit.
The other cool thing that happened that evening (I think it was that evening) was that my brother, who was engaged to his now wife, had tapped me as his “battery mate” (best man) when he got remarried that next August. Which was cool.
Overall, a pretty epic day.
So October 13th 2013 was a day of triumph for the Red Sox and Patriots, led by the two most iconic athletes in the city’s history by far (I think), where Tom Brady and David Ortiz carried the day.
Where I was named a Best Man for the second time.
And, where I couldn’t figure out how to turn the damn TV on.