THE GAME: Steelers vs Patriots
A year or two ago, I was browsing the condiments in my local supermarket - something I do with an embarrassing amount of frequency - when I came across a bottle of wing sauce from a place in Massachusetts called Wing It.
My heart skipped a beat.
On an autumn weekend not long after my 18th birthday, I visited a friend in Boston. After a booze-filled night, we returned to his dorm room and ordered wings from a similarly-named place. I fell in love with it, and in the multiple return trips I have made to Boston since then, I have always sought out those wings.
That has to be the same place, I thought, and purchased the bottle.
The bad news? It's not the same place. The restaurant at which I have dined many times - well, technically 'from which I have ordered delivery many times' - is spelled Wing-It, with a hyphen. The company that makes the sauce has no hyphen.
The good news: the sauce is delicious. One of the best bottled wing sauces I have ever tried. So I usually keep a bottle of the Sweet & Spicy flavor on hand.
On the rainiest day I remember having in years, I settled down to watch the AFC Championship Game and eat some chicken strips.
NOTES ON THE FOOD:
- I wasn't in any kind of mood to make my own fried chicken, like I did for the National Championship Game, so I bought some Foster Farms frozen chicken tenders. They're not the best, but I much prefer them to Tyson.
- The trick is to first defrost them somewhat and then fry them for a couple of minutes. If you just drop them frozen into the fryer, the center won't cook through (unless you cook them for a long time, in which case the breading will be severely overcooked). If you cook them in the oven, they will turn into mush. And I hope I don't need to explain to you that, while the packaging includes microwaving instructions, under no circumstances should you ever cook them that way.
- Once out of the hot oil, I tossed them in a bowl with the Sweet & Spicy sauce.
- I had intended to eat these with blue cheese dressing, but forgot that I'd taken my bottle to a friend's house a couple of nights before. So I used a creamy honey mustard. It tasted fine but didn't really add anything to the chicken.
NOTES ON THE GAME:
- This game features the only two non-kickers in the NFL who are older than I am: Tom Brady and James Harrison. I'm in the mood for a change of career but I'm starting to think professional athlete is no longer a viable option.
- I mentioned how lucky the Patriots got when Derek Carr broke his leg. The Raiders would have hosted - and, I believe, beaten - New England if not for that. Then the Patriots played the Texans, missing J.J. Watt and possessing probably the worst starting quarterback in the NFL. Now they are hosting a Steelers team with 15 players who have been sick with the stomach flu for the last few days. If they win this game, I fully expect a report that Matt Ryan broke his leg this afternoon during the NFC trophy presentation.
- The Steelers were also awakened at 3:40 in the morning by someone pulling their hotel's fire alarm. That's not luck, however; that's just typical Patriots fan behavior.
- The Patriots win the toss and take the ball. They march downfield and score three points... and I think Pittsburgh should be relieved to hold them to that.
- Sammie Coates let a long pass glance off his fingertips. Those are the kind of plays you CANNOT miss if you want to beat the Patriots in Foxborough.
- New England goes up 10-0 because the Steelers decided not to cover Chris Hogan in the end zone. That's an unorthodox strategy, guys.
- They keep showing commercials for The Great Wall. It's a 3-D monster movie, right? The IMDB page for it lists six writers.
- Le'Veon Bell leaves the game with a groin injury. Of course he does. Can we wrap Matt Ryan and Julio Jones in bubble wrap for the next 14 days?
- Pittsburgh scores a touchdown on an 86-yard, 13-play touchdown drive. They absolutely needed that one.
- The Steelers kicker - who set an NFL record last weekend by making six field goals - misses the PAT. Of course he does.
- New England scores on a flea flicker. Pittsburgh's secondary, not surprisingly, gets burned. Remember, these are the same players who opted to not even cover the receiver on New England's last touchdown. Brady has 209 yards passing with 8 minutes left in the first half.
- Now Cobi Hamilton drops a pass... in the end zone. Pull your head out of your asses, or just go home right now.
- Pittsburgh had 1st-and-goal from one foot away and have to settle for a field goal. That's now five points they have given away.
- Brady fumbled, Pittsburgh recovered, and... the refs gave the ball back to New England. Which should come as a surprise to exactly no one who has ever seen the Patriots play at home.
- 7 Steelers couldn't take down LaGarrette Blount just now. Story of the game. Pittsburgh had a puncher's chance if they had wanted it more. They did not.
- 90 seconds after I wrote that, Pittsburgh fumbled it back to New England at their own 28.
- New England scored three plays later because Edelman was... wait for it... wide open in the end zone. Pittsburgh is getting embarrassed now, which is exactly what they deserve.
- Apparently the Steelers had a 1st-and-goal from the Patriots 6-yard-line and failed to score. I didn't see it; I was watching the first ten minutes of American Pickers.
- I turned back in time to see Brady whining to the refs. Up by 24 points in the 4th quarter. Seems about right.
- The Patriots are just an all-around better team than the Steelers. It was going to take a lot for Pittsburgh to pull off the upset. Once Bell went down, they had to pretty much be perfect, and they were far, far from it.
- I guess I'll go watch a DVR of the Lakers now. I mean, they played Dallas today, it has to be a fun game to watch... right?