A weekend (not) to remember

October 9, 2013 

There is good news about this weekend: There is no way it can be as brutal as its most immediate predecessor.

The Oct. 5-7 swing won’t soon be forgotten.

Even good -- a win -- was bad because of injuries. Even a surprisingly good season was all but forgotten after a quick playoff exit.

There were other games, wins and losses, and other sports where teams fared well. But truth be told, three particular aspects brought a few million residents to their knees.

Georgia was able to combine a great win with a terrible night, watching national championship possibilities twist away with twisted knees.

The Bulldogs lost another tailback, blew a two-touchdown lead, lost a receiver, came back, lost another receiver and beat Tennessee on the road in overtime. When Mark Richt breaks out a word like “carnage,” you know it’s bad.

Now, things are on the shoulders of freshmen and a hopefully busier set of fullbacks and perhaps 5-foot-6, 180-pound Brandon Harton, who is, after all, owner of a 100-yard game in SEC competition.

But there likely has been plenty of breath-holding during practice in Athens every time somebody was slow to get up after a hit. After all, two elite tailbacks are sitting, one for the year and one until further notice. Three key receivers are sidelined, two for the year and one until further notice.The punter even suffered a concussion.

It was a classic game, a gutty win for Georgia and an afternoon that added tremendous suspense for the rest of the season.

The Atlanta Braves pretty much ruined Sunday, scoring two runs in the top of the first inning and going downhill from there, losing 13-6 and giving Los Angeles a solid grasp on momentum in the NLDS with Clayton Kershaw back on the mound Monday night.

That first pitch came about an hour after the start of the Monday Night Football matchup, in which the Falcons would no doubt get back on the winning track against the New York Jets, who aren’t bad when there’s no drama.

As the Braves trailed 2-0 and then tied it, the Falcons fell behind the Jets. Neither Atlanta team was encouraging, but soon both had the lead. And then things went black. Let the second-guessing begin, except for the fact that the pitch Juan Uribe hit in the eighth was letter high and ball three, a pitch Craig Kimbrel can throw as well (although he usually survives it).

That was the crusher: Uribe hit a pitch he had little reason to swing at, and just like that, the season was minutes from ending.

The same fans who said Atlanta would win in four no doubt followed with talk of youth and injuries and all that, which, of course, was the situation going into the series in the first place.

The latest playoff failure left a mark but not a deep muscle bruise. Leading the division that long and winning by that much in an odd season were a pleasant surprise. Next year, leading the division for a long time in 2014 won’t be a surprise. Losing in four to anybody will be ... unless they put Dan Uggla on the playoff roster.

While that mess transpired on one coast, the Georgia Dome became a dungeon. Jason Snelling got a concussion, Roddy White’s hamstring turned uncooperative, and Julio Jones became owner of the most prayed-for foot in the state. Wounded Steven Jackson, Sam Baker and Akeem Dent, among others, sat and cringed. Carnage took Sunday off and moved from Knoxville to Atlanta, a fairly short drive.

Topping it all, rookie quarterback Geno Smith cruised downfield, and the Jets kicked the game-winning field goal at the horn.

Atlanta head coach Mike Smith heard plenty of second-guessing and deserved it. And now Atlanta is hoping just for bowl eligibility. There’s no truth to the rumors that the Falcons are petitioning to play multiple games in the second half of the season against the Giants and Jacksonville Jaguars.

So in the matter of a couple of days, Georgia’s national championship hopes were hammered, the Braves didn’t go down in a good way, and the Falcons’ hopes to reaching .500 were hurt.

Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez and Smith have folks wondering about their future.

But things are automatically better this weekend. The Braves can’t break any hearts, and the Falcons are off.

Georgia plays Missouri. Watch at your own risk Bulldogs fans.

Contact Michael A. Lough at 744-4626 or mlough@macon.com.

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