Through a Stream Darkly: Watching the NFL in the UK, Sleepily

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You may take watching the NFL playoffs for granted if they happen in anything resembling your timezone. If not, it's an altogether more gruelling experience as the UK's Jamie Cutteridge shares.

It was easier for Russell Wilson. As Matt Bryant’s kick sailed through the uprights that sick feeling in the stomach must have been partially punctuated by relief. It was over. He’d be back next year, but for him, the season was over. If only the same could be said for the rest of us. We still had another four hours before we could catch some sleep. It was 9:15 PM, the night was yet young.

Peyton Manning got even less sympathy the night before. It was 2 AM when Justin Tucker’s kick ended Denver’s season, and the action was only just getting going over at Candlestick. Papa John’s was shut, there wasn’t a drop of Gatorade to be seen and nowhere was accepting Mastercard. Peyton Manning may be able to save your season, but his adverts can only take you so far.

Noise. Loud noise. I awake. My home bandwidth is lousy. The screen before me is blurry. I’m fairly certain Green Bay have 24 but San Fran’s score is unreadable. I check the clock. 4:15 AM. Sunday morning. The game must be coming to an end, I’ve missed just over an hour. The resolution improves. 24-45. I fall back to sleep. I can’t handle this right now. Suddenly, my eyes widen. 24-45. What the… If you’re going to miss the coming out party of an exciting new QB, it’s best to do so while the game goes on before your shut, resting eyes. Kaepernick’s 56 yard explosion into public consciousness only means so much when you’ve got work in a few hours.

More noise. 3 hours earlier. A coin is tossed and comes down. Bandwidth was better at that point. 1 AM. It’s 35-all. My last recollection was Denver’s 28-21 lead. The team’s jostling position to level scores at the end of the fourth quarter doesn’t seem un-natural. At a guess I’d have suggested a late Peyton drive to level the scores. Flacco’s late bomb were mere twitter whispers, twitter whispers of the greatest kind.

10 minutes into overtime. The girlfriend comes in. ‘I thought you were going to bed.’ I mumble something incoherently. She goes back to bed.

Justin Tucker wins it for the Ravens, my stream shows a vague brown object go between a couple of yellow things. I shout. The girlfriend awakes. I’ll regret that.

I work Sunday night at a youth group. The game is streaming on my phone for the whole session. After the score hits 20-0 I hit ‘stop’. Unnecessary use of my data allowance.

The session finishes, I sit in front of my computer. The first thing I see is a Matt Ryan interception. I crack open the first caffeinated drink. Bazinga.

Fifteen minutes was nowhere near enough time to recover from the ending of the Seattle-Atlanta game. I could have done with Pete Carroll putting me on ice. I want to give Russell Wilson a hug. There is no time. Houston and New England beckon.

I watch the final game of the weekend from my office. A better internet connection, and it would have been a rush to get home in time. I’m covering it for our @UKNFL Twitter feed.

It’s a slow start, not what my weary body needed. It was the hope that killed me. Every time New England looked like having finished the game, Houston would claw their way back in. The hope must have killed Houston. The hope of sleep killed me. Just when I thought I was out, they pulled me back in.

No sleep during this one, I’m awake, switched on and tweeting away. No time for sleep. No time to blink. No time.

Time is immaterial over divisional weekend. You have blocks with games, blocks where work needs to happen, and then time left over to sleep.

The game ends. I get home.

Turn the key deftly in the oiled wards, and seal the hushed Casket of my Soul.

I sleep.

Jamie Cutteridge is a journalist and a youth worker, and can be found on Twitter at silly times of night @JamieCutteridge.

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