Imagine the scene: A sports bar in Washington D.C. Giant plasma screens hanging high on every available inch of wall space. A mammoth projector screen showing the game of the day — Florida vs. LSU — taking up one entire wall. Every table is stuffed full of men clamoring over their favorite teams, shouting, “Go! Go!” on break-away runs, or “Catch the damn ball!” on dropped passes. Some of the men threw their arms in the air and pumped their fists while rejoicing. Others closed their eyes and let their faces fall.
But, wait… amend the imagine with one final piece of information: It was a gay sports bar! And I’d never seen anything quite like it! The men were stunning and they were all — to the letter — college football fans! BIG ONES! Sure, there was an occasional, “Tim Tebow’s got a fine ass,” but most of the banter was sports-centric.
On Saturday night, after spending the better part of the previous two days studying and researching at the Library of Congress, my classmate Ashley and I met two of my best friends in the world: Dan and Tyson, a couple that lives in San Francisco. They were in D.C. for an equal right march. After my first sushi dinner since leaving Seattle, we wanted to hit a sports bar so Ashley, a recent UF grad, could watch the battle between her top-ranked Gators and No. 4 LSU.
I had done some Googling and found this bar, Nellie’s, which was relatively close to where we had dinner. I figured it’d be a good compromise — Tyson was probably one of the only patrons with no clue about football. But, I also figured it wouldn’t be crowded. How wrong was I?!
There was a HUGE Florida contingency, and one that actually gave up their table for us. (So I bought shots!) But, alas, Ashley ended up happy with the Gators’ victory, and we all got sufficiently intoxicated while I waited for the Washington Huskies’ 10 p.m. kickoff.
After asking seemingly everyone in the bar to turn on Fox Northwest or Fox Arizona, I finally looked up the channel myself, paid a waitress $5 and got the game on as halftime concluded. (Yes, I missed Jake Locker’s 56-yard run and was quite upset by it.)
Immediately, I noticed the Huskies’ inability to “keep” the run game going. And the beleaguered secondary simply couldn’t stop Foles. (Seriously? Foles?) Now, I know the Huskies starting safeties, Nate Williams and Justin Glenn, were out. I know a key backup, Greg Walker, was out. But, this problem existed when they were playing, too. The Huskies secondary is not quick and it will be the bane of Nick Holt’s existence until he gets some speedy personnel upgrades.
Now, I was drinking shots of Southern Comfort and lime and couldn’t hear the game. But after Arizona’s last touchdown, I thought the Huskies were done. It was something I had seen too many times — a lead slide through the Huskies’ fingers because of their inability to stop the passing game in the fourth quarter.
But what happened next I had NEVER seen.
Jake Locker took charge of the offense. He transformed into the leader Huskies fans have been dying to see. Not only did he keep his cool and demand his teammates’ attention — as we have all seen him do — he completed passes. He took the clock into consideration. He made good reads, and smart decisions. He owned the drive. And say what you will about Kavario Middleton, the kid with all the physical tools made a clutch catch (when we had seen plenty of drops throughout the night.)
At that point, I thought the Huskies didn’t have it in them to stop the Wildcats’ passing attack. I didn’t think they’d have time to score again. I was mildly surprised coach Steve Sarkisian didn’t attempt an on-side kick.
And then we witnessed what my former colleague and rival, the Times’ Bob Condotta, has dubbed the “Miracle on Montlake,” (though I’m a little partial to the “Immaculate Interception” for, well, obvious reasons.)
There was no doubt about it, either. FSN showed the replay over and over, but Nick Foles’ pass never hit the turf.
In the past seasons, Mason Foster wouldn’t have caught the ricochet. It would have bounced to the turf and Foles probably would’ve converted the third-down pass. But with a renewed sense of confidence and a belief in a “fighting chance,” Foster stabbed the ball out of the air and ran it in for a touchdown. Two touchdowns, 18 seconds and the Huskies had a lead.
While Foster’s play was truly one for the ages, don’t forget Desmond Trufant’s ensuing interception. We at Montlake have seen leads dissipate into the cool lake air. But the Huskies weren’t letting this one out of their grasp — and everyone at Husky Stadium (and at a packed little gay sports bar in D.C.) knew it, too. This one — as miraculous, and immaculate, and unbelievable as it was — was simply Washington’s.
It gives me goosebumps just thinking about it again.
A few other quick football notes: 1.) Ohio State still hasn’t defeated a quality opponent. Sorry, Wisconsin fans, but your Badgers haven’t beat anyone worth a damn, either. 2.) Iowa is the best team in the Big Ten — and actually appears to be a decent all-around team. 3,) Cincinnati is the best team in Ohio this year. 4.) The Pac-10 is solid and will continue to beat each other up. And will probably win all its bowl games again. 5.) Boise State is in for a test this weekend and, if the Broncos pass it, Chris Petersen’s team will deserve its ranking and its eventual spot in a BCS bowl game.
With that, I will sign off for now, though I didn’t even get to tell you about my six-hour drive home from D.C., my absolute iPhone angst, my broken heart and my now-on-a-winning-streak Steelers! So, more later.
Halfway to bowl game, Huskies fans! Enjoy it.