I mean, imagine if Rocky Balboa and Apollo Creed never had their rematch. Imagine if they had their first fight, Rocky shook the heck out of the reigning champion and went the distance, and then they both just went their separate ways. Rocky, the underdog, came about as close as you can to beating Apollo, the favorite, without actually doing it. The champ survived and pulled out the victory in the end. But everybody knew it wasn’t the end. There had to be a rematch to settle the score, once and for all.
This past Sunday, the favored Patriots went into Pittsburgh and survived the underdog Steelers, 27-24. Many people thought New England would win in a blowout. (For the record, I was not one of those people. Unlike Apollo, I was not taking the underdog lightly.) I had been following the Steelers for weeks as the game approached. They had previously won eight games in a row behind exceptional play from Ben Roethlisberger, Le’Veon Bell, Antonio Brown, as well as others. They are a very good team and a threat to reach the Super Bowl. And they went the distance with the Patriots on Sunday, knocked them around, beat them up a little bit, and almost pulled off the upset.
When the game ended in controversial fashion, the tension was amplified. The Jesse James touchdown that was overturned (correctly, might I add) … well, let’s just say Steelers fans won’t be getting over that one any time soon. If you need proof, hop on over to Behind the Steel Curtain. There are plenty of salty tears over there to go around. There was even that silly piece about the curse of the Terrible Towel. But you know they are clamoring for a rematch. They believe, if given a second chance against Brady and the Pats, they can get the last laugh and win.
That’s another reason why a rematch in the playoffs needs to happen. The Steelers aren’t just another team waiting to be demolished by the Patriots. They actually can give them a fight. They didn’t just get lucky when they came close on Sunday. If they are healthy (Brown could return for the playoffs from the leg injury he suffered in Sunday’s game), they are very much a threat to take the Patriots down. That’s part of the reason why a lot of people want to see these teams meet again. I know I would like to see it. The Patriots have had a number of playoff rivals over the years … the Colts, the Broncos … you could even count the Giants … *shudders* … and now the Steelers. A rematch in the playoffs would be great for the fans of each team, as well as football fans in general, who just want to watch two teams with fan bases that hate each other battle it out for a chance to go to Super Bowl 52.
So just like in “Rocky II” when Balboa and Creed squared off again for the World Heavyweight Championship, it seems like the football universe needs a rematch between New England and Pittsburgh, this time most likely for the AFC Championship. And I’m not just saying this because “Rocky II” is one of my favorite movies ever. I really, really want to see it happen.
Of course, we all know how that movie ended. Hopefully the Patriots can rewrite the ending.