I suppose I'm not alone in watching the vaguely Matt Ryan-shaped shell of a quarterback that stood over center for the Colts last night (26-for-41, 251 yards, 0 TDs, 2 INTs, 60.1 passer rating), without my brain going immediately to how good he once was. And to realize how at the height of his powers, his team blew a 25-point lead and a ring. He has never been the same since. Without a doubt, Super Bowl LI was an Icarus moment, for Ryan personally and the franchise he won an MVP with not all that long ago.
That 28-3 game will be studied and analyzed forever. Like an epic battle that changed the course of civilization, we're still finding out new things about it. Alesia. Gaugamela. Hastings. Gettysburg. Stalingrad. 28-3.
And one of the many heroes of that historic victory has just given us new perspective on just how violent and bloody the conflict was. Danny Amendola had great game. Targeted 11 times, he caught 8 passes for 78 yards. More importantly, when the Patriots were left with zero margin for error, Danny Playoffs scored 8 points on the last two drives of regulation. A 6-yard touchdown with just under 6:00 to play, and a 2-point conversion that tied the game in the final minute. Then added a 14-yard reception that put his team 1st & 10 close to midfield in overtime to help seal Atlanta's fate.
All of which he talked about on Julian Edelman's podcast. And the details of what he had to endure just to stay on the field will make you rethink everything you thought you knew about that game. And NFL games in general:
“You guys saw how that game turned out," he said. "It was just a long night for us. We were running. I probably lost 10 pounds that game of just water weight, just sweating. I remember, I got four IVs, total, the whole game — two before and then two at halftime.”
This in spite of the fact NRG Stadium was, one would assume, room temperature. The reason for his near exhaustion had to do less with the non-weather inside the un-retracted dome as it was the situational football.
”Well we knew they were gonna play a lot of man coverage on second, third down,” Amendola said. “So we knew we’re gonna be running routes as opposed to sitting down in zones, kind of working at a slower pace in zone routes. We knew we were going to be running all night. But thank God that the halftime was so long. I guess the halftime is 20 minutes, as opposed to whatever the 10, eight minutes we get at a normal game. Because I was in there, I got a bag and I said we had enough time to get to get two bags of IV just to get it all the liquids back in. But we were running all night."
Holy cats. I've had a couple of minor surgeries, and I'm not sure I've had four IVs in my life, much less in the span of three hours. And it's a true eye-opener to think that this is the extent a ridiculously athletic guy like Amendola had to go through just to stay hydrated under the circumstances.
I think we tend to take for granted how much receivers have to endure in the course of a game. The Patriots ran an amazing 77 pass plays, 76 by Brady and one by Edelman. Amendola ran routes on 45 of them. Even more remarkably, Edelman was in for 90 total snaps, 70 of them pass plays and ran the ball once. Every one of them a full out sprint through heavy traffic against freakishly gifted athletes trying to force them off their routes. Even if you account for long game stoppages for Lady Gaga and selling snack foods, that's such a test of endurance that even gallons of water and buckets of energy drinks weren't enough for a guy in his prime the way Danny Playoffs was.
Sure, you can argue it's their job and they get paid millions to do it. I get that. I didn't write a blog about my brother's nephew who spent two weeks reshingling my roof in a July heatwave, after all. I just think we can factor this into the talk about the concussions and other grotesque injuries we've been seeing every week now:
… and appreciate how hard this game is. And respect the guys who do it for our amusement even more than we already do.
P.S. Imagine going through all of that just to go through life knowing you lost that game? Thoughts and prayers to Matt Ryan.