It’s funny how specific we get in what we root for while watching the NFL these days.
In the era of fantasy football, pick ’em pools and elimination challenges, who knows what team or player you’ll be rooting for by the end of a contest.
For me this week, I had locked in the Packers as my survivor choice against the Bengals and things started to look a little bleak when the Pack went into halftime trailing by two touchdowns.
At the same time, my primary of two fantasy football teams had taken an early advantage and my opponent’s best remaining player was Aaron Rodgers’ best receiving weapon, Jordy Nelson.
That had the makings of a recipe for disaster for both my fantasy team and my survivor pick because not only were the Packers losing, leaving me hovering on the brink of elimination from the main survivor pool, but with Green Bay down two scores they would be more apt to throw the ball even more often than they normally would.
As the clock wound down in the second half, Blair Walsh’s point after attempt and a couple of carries from Derrick Henry in the Titans-Seahawks game helped to give me a bit more breathing room.
My lead was approximately 13 points as the time ran out on all but the Packers and Bengals. Both my opponent and I had used up all of our available positions and my scoring was finalized, but he still had the last couple of minutes of that game, and not only did he have Nelson in his lineup, but the Packers’ kicker Mason Crosby as well.
Then, in the final moments of the fourth quarter, what was simultaneously both a saving grace and a potential calamity occurred.
Rodgers found Nelson in the end zone with 17 seconds left on the clock and Crosby’s point after attempt tied the real world score at 24.
This was great news for my survivor pick because the Packers would have all the momentum in overtime after outscoring Cincinnati 17-3 in the second half.
However, that also meant that my fantasy team was now only leading by a little more than five points.
In some fantasy football leagues, a field goal is only worth three points, regardless of the distance from which it is kicked. In others, like this one, kickers are rewarded with a bonus point if the field goal is longer than 40 yards and two bonus points if it’s from 50 yards or more.
Essentially, all it would take would be a 15-yard catch from Nelson followed by a 40-yard field goal to give my team the loss, though that would also mean I would last another week with my survivor pick. Or if Nelson caught a touchdown, good for six points in fantasy football just as it is in the NFL, I would again lose.
As the overtime period began, I was on the edge of my seat. The Bengals had the ball first, so the best outcome for me would have been a turnover to give the Packers a short field. This is because in the NFL’s overtime rules, the first team to possess the ball in overtime has to score a touchdown in order to win immediately, whereas if they only score a field goal the other team still gets a chance for redemption. However, the second team can win with just a field goal if the first team doesn’t score. Then, if neither team scores, the next point wins.
Thus, if the Packers got a takeaway right off the bat, Crosby would likely come out for field goal right away and wouldn’t be able to help my opponent surpass my score on his own.
While the Packers didn’t force a turnover, they did force the Bengals to punt. This was potentially dangerous territory for me because Rodgers could fire the ball to Nelson again and crush my team under his boot.
That’s exactly what he tried to do too. Rodgers’ first pass of the overtime period was slung right at Nelson, but thankfully wasn’t completed.
However, when Rodgers’ second pass also missed Ty Montgomery, the nerves started to kick in because if the Packers didn’t convert a first down and gave the ball back to the Bengals, my survivor pick could be stamped out by a field goal.
Enter my personal deus ex machina for the day, Geronimo Allison.
Allison, the fourth receiver on the Packers’ depth chart, was seeing extra playing time due to an injury to Randall Cobb. His last and longest catch of the day was my saving grace as he caught a pass down the far sideline and ran it an additional 40 yards, winding up deep in the Cincinnati red zone.
This meant that unless Crosby bungled his kick, the Packers would win and I would survive. It also meant that the three points from the field goal wouldn’t be enough to cost my fantasy team a win. That play was right in the sweet spot on my in-game Venn Diagram.
Crosby made his kick from 27 yards out to win it for the Packers and thus my fantasy team held on to win by 2.3 points while I avoided survivor pool elimination.
Thank you, Geronimo Allison.