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Fantasy turns to nightmare

In the wake of Sunday night’s 49ers-Seahawks game, I need someone to talk to. I promise this won’t just be a sob story and, once I’m done with the couch, you’re more than welcome to lie down and tell me about your problems.

My fantasy football team, Superior Race – I took Arian Foster with the No. 1 pick, and my sense of humor is, admittedly, a little off-center – entered America’s Game of the Week with a 10-point lead over my best man’s squad, Feeling Lucky. He’s a big Colts fan. Yet Andrew Luck was in my starting lineup. I digress.

What’s important is that his championship dreams hinged on the leg of Patriots kicker Stephen Gostkowski, whom the eggheads at Yahoo! Sports projected to come up a solitary point short with nine.

At about 9:30 last night, the bulk of NBC’s audience changed the channel. Tom “Teriffic” Brady had just thrown his second pick and, 7 seconds later, the 49ers turned it into a Michael Crabtree touchdown and a 31-3 lead.

Up seven points in my matchup, I thought about heading up to bed. The Hoodie wasn’t going to settle for field goals in a four-, three-, or even a two-score game. The only way Gostkowski was kicking one was if the Pats drew even.

Looking back, I’m not sure whether I wish I’d hit the hay. Turning in would’ve made for one of the rudest awakenings of all time. But watching the rest of the game was not unlike water torture.

Most of you know what happened. Fewer than 20 game minutes and what felt like an eternity later, the Patriots tied the game at 31, and four extra points lead trimmed my lead to three. The plane had crashed into the mountain.

When the 49ers answered 18 seconds later, I honestly wasn’t sure who it benefited. My mind was blown, and dozens of scenarios rolled through my mind, all of them feasible, given what I’d already watched.

The 49ers got what I’d spent the past hour begging for: a stop. They turned it into a field goal. Two-score game. I received a congratulatory text from the Kirk to my Spock.

But then, just as I was about to let my guard down and accept his glad-handing, Al Michaels offered the most stomach-turning analysis I could’ve heard.

He wondered aloud if the Patriots would kick a field goal once in range to set up an onside kick and shots at the end zone.

The Patriots twice converted fourth downs, the latter putting them at the San Fran 24 with 38 seconds to play. My blood ran cold as Gostkowski and company took the field.

He split ‘em. Moments later, his onside attempt was corralled without issue. I lost by a point, 159-158, on a field goal that ultimately meant nothing.

We have a new champion in the heartbreak bowl. On Nov. 22, 2009, LeSean McCoy scored the game-winning touchdown late against the Bears and went over 100 yards rushing to give me a one-point lead in a matchup. On the game-icing drive, he took a 2-yard loss to slip to 99 and cost me two points and a fantasy victory. I’d miss the playoffs in a tiebreaker.

What felt like the mother of all bad breaks at the time has got nothing on what I endured Sunday night.

I’ve played fantasy baseball for 20 years. As for digital football, we organized our first league in 1990. Before rejoining the ranks this season, I’d taken 2 years off because life simply got too hectic.

See, one of the main reasons I play is because our leagues have served as a sort of fraternity over the years – the same close friends getting together every March and August and catching up over wings, barley pops, and sleepers and reaches. When I moved to Michigan in August 2010, I was engrossed in my job and conceded there was no feasible way to physically get together with the guys. And online drafts are for amateurs.

I missed playing. A lot. It bothered me that I didn’t know who the Cincinnati Bengals’ third-string running back was for the first time since I was 13.

So I got back into it this season, and it’s been a blast, even if a roller-coaster of a season ended with my car flying off the tracks, the victim of a negligent carnie.

Well, there’s my sad story. Honestly, I feel a little bit better. Talking about it helps. Thanks for listening.

I’d love to return the favor. It seems everyone who plays fantasy sports has an improbable story to tell.

Share yours and, if they’re good (read: heartbreaking) enough, I’ll bring them up when I start my fantasy sports column this spring.

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