Is it better to have led and lost or to have never led at all? That is the question that I find myself trying in vein to answer this week. It is a nearly impossible task to discriminate between the two. After all is said and done, a loss is a loss. But you can't ignore the way you lose. Let me explain.
I am both a die-hard Notre Dame fan and a die-hard New York Giants fan, which I think at this point qualifies me as a masochist. For any of you who are not aware Notre Dame played rival Michigan in the first ever night game in historic Michigan Stadium, which more than 114,000 people attended (yes, attended). Notre Dame led most of the game and heading into the fourth quarter appeared to have a win well within their grasp.
The Irish defense gave up 28 fourth-quarter points and lost the game 35-31 despite scoring a touchdown to take the lead, 31-28 with 30 seconds left to play. Michigan quarterback Denard Robinson led the Wolverines down the field and lobbed the game-winning touchdown pass with two seconds left on the clock. What happened to the luck of the Irish?
The Giants opened their season against their NFC rival and perennial punching bag the Washington Redskins on the 10-year anniversary of one of the most devastating days in New York and U.S. history. While I, and many others I'm sure, assumed that this would mean an exceptionally inspired performance by Big Blue, I was inexplicably mistaken. The offensive line was just that, offensive. As a result Eli Manning never had an honest chance to even get the ball to one of his receivers, and even when he did they weren't helping much anyway, and the running backs looked about as effective as a spitball in a sniper fight.
This all had an expected negative effect on a defense that has been battered by injuries and was starting a sixth round rookie pick at middle linebacker, generally considered the most important position on defense.
The end result of all of this was a 28-14 loss to a team that was expected to win under four games this season, so I guess they're a quarter of the way there.
So now that you know that story, which would you say is worse? I still can't decide. On the one hand we have the fact that for about three and a half quarters of the Notre Dame game I was flying high.
It seemed they were ready to redeem their abhorrent week one loss to South Florida, a football program that began years after Notre Dame's last national championship, and were going to come away with a historic win in the first game ever played under the lights at Michigan Stadium.
Yet instead I lay on my couch with my roommate and watched as they slowly crumbled, making mistake after mistake and giving up big play after big play.
Then when all hope seemed lost they scored a touchdown and took a 3-point lead with 30 seconds left...only to lose that lead 28 seconds later.
I would equate the feeling in my stomach to that of someone who just ate a wheel of cheese, ran a marathon and got punched in the stomach by Mike Tyson.
But is that worse than never being in the game at all? The Giants scored first to take a 7-0 lead, only to give it back. Then they put together a great drive and took a 14-7 lead just before halftime, only to give up a series of huge plays that resulted in the Redskins tying the score mere seconds later, and the Giants never even sniffed the endzone again.
I sat and watched in horror as the offensive line made mistake after mistake and Eli Manning made the same bad decisions he's been making since he was a rookie (i.e. all decisions).
The second half of that game was like open-heart surgery that you stay awake for. Rex Grossman surgically removed my spirit.
It's not like I had great expectations for this season anyway, but for one day I was hoping that the Giants would be undefeated, especially on the 10-year anniversary of the most horrific tragedy in New York's history.
So the question I have on this day of heartache is: Which was worse?
To be honest, if things don't turn around soon for either of my teams, the worst could be yet to come.