CLEVELAND, OHIO – It was bound to happen eventually. The first tie in the history of the WWFL occurred Wednesday evening between the Houston Texans (jag75austin) and the Cleveland Browns (renpav64). When the clock expired, the scoreboard had them even at 394 points apiece. But this was not the evenly-played game that the score would indicate.
Cleveland quarterback Renee Pavey came out with a roaring start, racking up 159 points on her first 3 moves, including an 86-point bingo (BACALAOS) that forced the Texans to wake up and pay attention.
“We were just flat at the beginning,” explained Texans defensive end JJ Watt. “Their running backs were running right past us, dropping 38 points here, 39 points there. They were white hot.”
We managed to catch up with Texans quarterback Joseph Gonzales after the game to ask him what he was thinking as his team was crushed in the 1st half. After a long career of football-related injuries and concussions, we patiently waited for him to make his point through incoherent, slurred speech. On at least two occasions, he seemed to forget we were interviewing him:
“They was just scorin’ n stuff and…like…they was nothin’ we could do bout it.”
Texans QB Joseph Gonzales
The low point is when the Texans put down a 4-point move in the bottom right corner to get rid of a few vowels. The Browns responded with another 19 points, bringing the total halftime deficit to 119. Beer sales set a record high at Browns Stadium (aka The Dawg Pound) as Clevelanders relished in the beating they were putting on a highly-ranked team.
In the 2nd half, the two teams traded a few average plays before the Texans began to erupt late in the 3rd quarter. Three consecutive turnovers by Cleveland set up the Texans for three big scores to take the lead. The normally-raucous Dawg Pound was then shrouded in silence as it became clear the momentum had shifted away from the home team.
The Browns, however, never lost their poise as they composed themselves late in the 4th quarter to make it a close game. Browns QB Renee Pavey scored 36 points with FLAXEN in the top right to take an 18 point lead. As the Texans took the field on offense, the strategy with 0 letters left in the bag was clear; make sure the Texans have two more plays for maximum points while limiting the Browns to one play.
There were big-point options around the board such as OAKY (30) or OKRA (24) on the bottom left TW, also NATAL on the top-left TW for 21 points, but none of those moves would have allowed the Texans to end the game with their next play, which meant the Browns would have two more turns instead of one.
“That’s exactly what we had to avoid…allowing them to have two more plays,” said Texans Coach Bill Smith. “We knew she had AEOGFWS as her last letters, which are great letters to have at the end of a game. We had to make a move, get as many points as possible and be absolutely sure we could end the game with our next move. Of course, we also had to make sure she didn’t score too much with her one move. We also wanted to prevent her from using a TW…there was so much to consider.”
There was an awkward moment on offense for the Texans as Gonzales was seen removing a calculator from his back pocket…presumably figuring out how many points he needed to score in order to pull off this miracle comeback.
The Texans came out with NARKY on the left side for 27 points. It blocked a TW and left them with two easy letters (RT) to end the game with on their next move. Pavey and the Browns responded brilliantly with SAFE for 29 points.
On the last play of game, the Texans searched the field, looking for any place where they could use their last two letters AND get more than 4 points. By ending the game, they were guaranteed to benefit from a 16 point swing because of the Browns’ unused letters. Gonzales commented on what he said to his Texan teammates before their last play:
“Like…we was trippin’ ….
I was like ‘dude we got an R and a T and we gots to get 5 points….just 5 flippin’ points yo! We can do this sh*%#!”
In spite of Joseph’s passionate eloquence towards his teammates, they had no choice but to play ROT on the top left for 4 points, which ended the game with a tie.
The 394-394 final marks the first tie game in the history of this young league, which enters its 12th week this Saturday. The tie left WWFL executives in a mad frenzy to determine how to handle the situation. It was quickly agreed that the game must be replayed. The Texans handily won the second game by a score of 517-373. The win puts the Texans at 9-1 on the season, all alone at the top of the AFC South. In spite of the loss, Renee Pavey and the Browns are still in a virtual tie in the gridlocked AFC North. Whoever’s at the top of the division at the end of the season will advance to the playoffs, although it’s possible that the 2nd place team will also advance. Now would be a good time to review how the playoff teams are determined.