While it wasn’t the worst kicking choke in NFL history (thank you, Scott Norwood), Billy Cundiff will certainly have an unpleasant week after hooking a 32-yard attempt wide left, effectively handing the Patriots the trophy while Ravens fans just stared slack-jawed. While some may argue that a miraculous last-second play best demonstrates the drama of sports, I would argue that a memorable choke does just as good a job, even though it might not be as fun to remember.
Though chokes are most common in the sporting world, failure to meet the moment can come in all walks of life, making the choke a pretty common device in storytelling. Nothing is quite as moving as the abject heartbreak a character suffers when he snags defeat from the jaws of victory.
The choke here wasn’t choosing to go head-to-head with Teddy KGB, or even playing out the hand that he had. Those were both decent decisions, as Mike McDermott is/was a very solid poker player. The bad move here was not being able to see KGB’s obvious “tell,” which isn’t totally clear, but I think has to do with the fact that he would set down his Oreo without eating it if he had the cards.
It might seem hypocritical that I’m judging Mike for not picking up on a tell (the first time, anyway) that I can’t determine, but I’m not gambling $30k on a hand of poker, and he is.
The wunderkind of the Hawks had the table set for his moment of glory, in a position to secure yet another championship for the perennial juggernauts. However, he let down Coach Reilly and his teammates by hitting the crossbar. Sure, he’s just a little kid, but that’s no excuse. Hawks win. If you don’t like it, go be a Duck or something.