Watching the San Francisco 49ers lose to the New York Giants in the NFC Championship game on Sunday probably brought out a few mixed emotions for sports fans in Arizona. The 49ers are division rivals and between Stanford's Luck, the baseball Giants and now the 49ers, the Bay Area has had their share of recent sporting success compared to a local drought.
In other words, no tears were shed here for the 49ers overtime loss. Unfortunately, however, the game featured former ASU Sun Devil WR Kyle Williams playing the role of the goat.
Williams' two punt return turnovers in the fourth quarter and overtime directly led to the Giants final 10 points of the game.
It is hardly a stretch to say that that Kyle's blunders cost San Fran a trip to the Super Bowl and so of course he was the subject to cruel jokes from fans on Twitter and became the focus off the media after the game.
There was a bright spot for Williams, however, in his postgame misery. The 49ers rallied around their teammate and Kyle himself handled the difficult situation with far more bravery and dignity than many other athletes in similar situations.
Instead of hiding from the tough questions, Williams stood up and took responsibility and for that, he's a winner.
"Everyone in here told me to keep my head up and it's not on me," he said. "You hate to be the last guy that had the ball, to give it up that way in that fashion and to lose a game of this magnitude ... but I couldn't be happier with my teammates."
A similar thing happened after the Baltimore Ravens loss to the New England Patriots. Ray Lewis defended Billy Cundiff for missing a kick that would have sent the game to overtime. As Lewis put it, "We win and lose as a team."
Fans might want to put the blame on a specific individual, but the reality is these teams wouldn't have been in position to go to the Super Bowl if they had that attitude.
Cardinals DB Michael Adams understands that:
Twitter / @meezybaby27: I just read an article abo ...
I just read an article about the 49ers in the locker room after the game defending Kyle Williams! That right there spells team!
That same attitude is what kept the Cardinals together after a 1-6 start to their season and put them in position to finish 7-2 over their last nine games.
In sports, and especially football, team chemistry matters far more than the average fan seems to realize and so it was no surprise to see winning teams stick together through adversity on Sunday. If there's lessons we can take from professional athletic entertainment, these are the moments to watch.