I became a mature sports fan while watching the AFC Championship game that followed the 1974 NFL season. Pittsburgh had the ball, leading Oakland 17–13 early in the fourth quarter. The Steelers started one of their patented drives, which consisted mostly of running plays called traps. A trap play is an intricately timed and coordinated action; on television it looks like a guy running into a pile of other guys. Such is life.
What struck me after about five minutes and a few first downs was that the pile, which had moved two-three-four yards in the first quarter, was now moving four-five-six yards each time. I know the announcers didn’t mention it; Burghers hated Curt Gowdy with a vengeance, certain Raiders’ owner Al Davis had him on the payroll. Nothing spectacular happened. Pittsburgh was content to grind it out, moving the chains every two or three plays.
This was memorable to me because winning this game put Pittsburgh in their first Super Bowl. What made it pivotal was my ability, for the first time, to look ahead and know that Pittsburgh had won the game. Ten minutes left, and a turnover or bad penalty could still blow it for them, but Oakland had lost the ability to win this game. It was Pittsburgh’s to lose. (They scored and won 24-13.)
Now replace “Pittsburgh” and “Steelers” with “Barack Obama,” and “Oakland” and “Raiders” with “Hillary Clinton.”