The Year of the 3–1 Lead
2016 was either a rough year or an amazing year, depending on your loyalties. You were either celebrating a 3–1 lead comeback, or lamenting it.
The most important thing a team needs to be able to do, is finish a game. Don’t get too cocky, don’t self destruct, don’t blow a lead. It’s not over until the fat lady sings.
First up, is where the whole “3–1” lead terminology began, with the Cleveland Cavaliers and Golden State Warriors during the NBA Finals. This one is self explanatory.
The Cavaliers were down two games in the seven game championship series before LeBron James pulled some fairy tale magic out of his shoes to lead the Cavaliers on a three game win streak, complete with a championship title and a homecoming for the ages.
That wasn’t the fat lady singing the Warriors heard in game four, it was the sound of the entire city of Cleveland rallying behind their beloved team.
Sticking to the literal meaning of a 3–1 lead, the Chicago Cubs pulled the same magic out of their shoes during the 2016 World Series that LeBron did months before.
The Cleveland Indians were one game away from winning the title after game four of the seven game series against the Cubs. That is until like the Warriors, the Indians self destructed and left their door wide open for the Cubs to go on a historic win streak, breaking a 108-year curse. Now that’s a deficit.
Now we get to the most recent lack of finishing, the Super Bowl. At 8:31 in the third quarter, the Atlanta Falcons and their NFL MVP quarterback Matt Ryan were up 28–3 on the New England Patriots. Even with Tom Brady, it was hard to believe the Patriots would be able to come back from a 25 point deficit. Especially since the largest comeback in Super Bowl history had only been a measly 10 points. All the Falcons had to do was keep their foot on the gas pedal, or at least not send their defense home.
The Falcons didn’t score again for the rest of the game, and left the door wide open for Brady to hurtle over the Falcons’ metaphorical 3–1 lead.
Que the “Tom Brady GOAT” tweets.
Que the heartbreak in Atlanta.
Que that fat lady.
As much as Brady is getting heralded for this comeback win, I think the real MVP for the Patriots, was whoever was calling those pass plays for the Falcons so late in the game.
The saga of clock management being an achilles heel in football continues, but hey, maybe Donald Trump gave Brady some advice about beating an opponent who has that 3–1 lead.