Monday, February 03, 2014

Super Bowl XLVIII and Passive Tilt

I mentioned when I signed off on the last of my travel reports from Deauville how I was eyeing a long travel day on Sunday with a schedule getting me home about an hour before Super Bowl XLVIII was set to kickoff. It’s about a 45-minute drive from the airport to the farm, and so if all went as planned I’d make it home just in time to watch the sucker get started.

There were a number of odd little moments and weird delays going from Deauville to Paris to Philadelphia to Charlotte to the farm, plus one fun coincidence running into fellow tourney reporter Mo Nuwwarah in the Philly airport (also on his way home from a reporting gig, his being at the Borgata). But I ran well enough to stay mostly on pace and only a lengthy wait on the tarmac at CLT for an open gate made me late getting home. I walked in the door about halfway through the first quarter, glad to reunite with Vera and our cats and horses, and after 18-plus hours of traveling was almost giddy just to plop down on the couch and tune in.

I’d listened to the start on the radio, and so knew about the safety and how things had begun less than ideally for Denver. It was 5-0 when I turned it on, then 8-0, then quickly 15-0 and 22-0, and I just had to laugh about having wanted to get home in a hurry to watch such a stinker.

Had been so busy during the week I hadn’t really thought too much about how the game might go, but I can’t imagine any thought process that would have led me to suspect an outcome such as the one that occurred.

Easy in retrospect to point back to the last time a top-rated offense clashed with a top-rated defense in Super Bowl XXXVII, to note how the defensive power (Tampa Bay) crushed the offensive one (Oakland) by 27 (forcing five turnovers along the way), and perhaps to use that to support a thesis that Seattle might do something similar, thereby proving the maxim about defense winning championships, regardless of the sport.

But I doubt I’d have gotten around to that idea on my own, and I know most didn’t. Indeed, it sounds like the sportsbooks did well as the majority of bettors leaned Denver’s way -- two of every three, according to the Las Vegas Sun.

I was vaguely rooting for Denver, although was reminded by my mother over the last week how as a kid I was a Seahawks fan, mostly because they were new, had cool colors and a menacing logo I could draw in my notebooks, and a quarterback whose first name started with a “Z” (Jim Zorn). Also, no one else liked them. But since the Panthers arrived that’s where my allegiance has been, and so wasn’t all that committed either way last night.

And, of course, not too long after I got home, there wasn’t much to root about once the game had gotten out of hand. Was a little like watching a poker player take a hit early in a session and then start making bad play after bad play in a tilty effort to right the ship. Although John Fox’s conservative tendencies -- something that we Panthers fans well remember and which came up last year in that AFC Championship game versus the Ravens -- made Denver seem less like a player betting too much when he shouldn’t, but rather one who had tightened up too much after losing early.

I like John Fox and was sorry to see him leave Carolina. And while coaching hardly decided yesterday’s game (as Bill Barnwell notes at the start of the “Thank You For Not Coaching” section of his column today), it definitely felt like Denver’s lack of readiness to take any risks at all yesterday made it essentially impossible for them to put up any sort of fight after getting knocked down early.

Any doubt about the outcome was erased once Seattle returned the kickoff for a TD to start the second half and go up 29-0. But then Denver got the ball back, marched to the Seattle 38-yard-line, and on 3rd-and-10 called a draw. I flashed back to Fox’s Panthers days, when the 3rd-and-long draws routinely drove us insane. Then after losing a yard they punted down four scores, which definitely seemed the equivalent of a beaten-down poker player folding again, clearly not able anymore to give himself a chance even to get lucky.

I liked Fox at Carolina and still pull for him, but talk about “passive tilt”...!

Speaking of “passive tilt,” one of the great thinkers about tilt, Tommy Angelo, has a new contribution over a Learn.PokerNews today, another installment in his “Tilt for Beginners” series, this one titled “Writhing Over Rules” -- check it out.

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