In the brief time that Russell Wilson's final throw was in the air, I was already thinking ahead to the next possession, which would be Wake's game-defining attempt to get into field goal range for a crack at the game-winner. I was surprised at how little doubt I had we were going to score there. Wilson was engineering another clutch drive, and it seemed clear enough after his brilliant scramble and shovel to Jamelle Eugene, followed by a huge 15-yard run for a first down, that a score was inevitable.
And if Russell Wilson decides to keep the ball in play, it's because somebody's open and success is a foregone conclusion. There was plenty of time left, thus no need for haste or rash decisions, which meant this was a 29-yard TD pass that would prove a no-doubter in retrospect.
Donald Bowens indeed had a step and was there. But the throw was not. Wilson had faltered. I guess that was the really shocking thing about it, and his first INT as well. I kind of figured that when the INT did eventually happen, it would come as the result of a flukish tip drill or something. Certainly not the result of a lapse in Wilson's judgment. What an absurd and unfair thought. Quite the luxury we've enjoyed over the last year, eh?
I think the game was lost well before that last interception, when State's defense allowed Wake Forest to turn a 3rd-and-forever situation into an improbable touchdown, which stretched the lead back to ten, 27-17. It was an egregious mistake by the Pack in a game that, for the second week in a row, was full of them. Tom O'Brien's post-Pittsburgh comments look prescient now.
The volume of mistakes the Pack made against Pittsburgh meant that Russell Wilson had to play near-perfect football for the team to win. That's a huge burden and an unsustainable route to victory, as Saturday made painfully clear.
There's still plenty of time left in this crazy game of ACC roulette, though.