The Power of ‘What if?’

By Jason Hayes


Things haven’t gone your team’s way this Sunday. It’s all but time to admit defeat. Accept that your offseason dreams of winning a Superbowl are not to become reality. That’s no over-exaggeration, it’s the truth. The sky is falling. No, worse again. The worst possible thing in the world, in fact. Your team is LOSING.


You’ve vented to your partner, to your friends, to Twitter, “How haven’t they fired this guy yet?”. The urge to change the channel grows by the second. How bliss would life be right now if you never became a fan of this team? You’re so emotionally entangled. The result will make or break your Monday morning mood.


But despite all this, you can’t turn away. As much as you want to hit the power button and turn the screen black, something deep down keeps you transfixed. It can all be explained in two words. Two simple words, that when married together create an endless amount of possibilities.

“What if?”


In Week 2 of the NFL, these ‘what ifs’ became reality for three teams.


The fourth quarter is about to commence in Baltimore. The Ravens lead the Dolphins 35 to 14. Lamar Jackson has looked like an MVP through three quarters. The value of his next contract continues to rise. ESPN Win Probability gives Miami a 1.3% chance of victory from here. Not so fast, says Tua Tagovailoa.

He’s given four drives in the fourth quarter. Four opportunities to send shockwaves through the league. And he converts each and every one into seven points. Tyreek Hill and Jalen Waddle are the weapons he uses to craft this comeback, as they combine for 361 yards and four scores. You won’t be hearing much from Tua’s critics this week, as the Alabama alum looked like a quarterback worth tanking for on this whacky Sunday.


In Cleveland, Nick Chubb struts into the end zone with 1:55 left in the game to make it 30 to 17 against the Jets. From here, New York has just a 0.2% chance at victory. What happened next will have Browns fans waking up on Monday thinking it was all a bad dream.

Kicker Cade York pushes the extra point wide to the right. Big whoop, right? Next, in a play that was reminiscent of the Mile High Miracle of 2012, Joe Flacco hits a wide open Corey Davis down the right side for a quick score. Browns fans brush it off, “Big deal, onside kicks are virtually impossible these days!”.


But when Justin Hardee emerges from the pile with the football, it feels like a the Jets are destined to win. Joe Flacco answers the call again, orchestrating a game-winning drive which ensures that Cleveland’s most recent 2-0 start to a season remains in 1993.

Over to Las Vegas. There’s 8:45 left in the fourth quarter. The Raiders are winning 23 to 7. Arizona has the ball 4th-and-four, 25 yards from the Vegas end zone. ESPN gives the Cardinals a 2.5% chance of winning from here. Enter Kyler Murray.


He floats a ball down the left sideline, giving newcomer Marquise Brown a chance to live up to his Hollywood nickname. He does not disappoint. A one-handed circus catch is the first of many unlikely dominos to fall. Things get whackier on the two-point attempt, as Murray holds the ball for 21 seconds and covers 85 yards, before scampering into the end zone. 23-15, Vegas.

Another stop from the defence and some more Murray magic brings the game to overtime. How the Cardinals even got to this point seems incomprehensible. But the ending is just as bizarre, when Byron Murphy takes a fumble 59-yards in the opposite direction, (barely) crossing the goal line to send Arizona home with a win.


If there was ever game which embodies the phrase ‘a game of two halves’, it was this one. In the first half, the Cardinals had 0 points and 86 total yards versus the Raiders’ 258 yards and 20 points. From here, the Cardinals had 327 yards and 29 points, whereas the Raiders put up 66 yards and three points.

If we were to freeze each game at those pivotal moments when all hope seemed lost, the odds of all three teams coming back and snatching victory from the jaws of defeat was 0.000065%. It was a Sunday that will ensure NFL fans around the world will continue to refrain from changing the channel next time their team struggles.


Because, what if?