My football team isn’t doing very well this year. Our star quarterback hasn’t taken a snap and most likely won’t take one all season. His replacement still hasn’t found his footing, and his back-up suffers from terminal inexperience and gotta-prove-himself syndrome. Without a quarterback to lead, the offense can’t do anything but mill around the field. Everything rides on the defense in this case, and last week, they lost the game. They couldn’t stop our opponent’s late-game drive, and the resulting field goal in the final seconds sealed the deal. Those knuckleheads! That play lost the game for us.

Whoa. Back up. Let’s take another look.

The pigskin through the uprights may have changed the score from tied to three down at the buzzer, but we shouldn’t forget how we got there in the first place. Our first offensive drive went three-and-out. Huge turnovers orchestrated by the defense went unconverted or resulted in only anemic field goals. Dismal special teams coverage forced the kicker to make a score-saving tackle. Receivers dropped passes, even the few well-thrown ones. The QB back-up-to-the-back-up fumbled (again) and the other team recovered, running it in for a touchdown. The defense was actually the only reason we stayed in the game at all.

Those sixty minutes on the field showcased more mistakes than candy in my kids’ Halloween buckets, and that’s exactly my point. Very rarely does a single action determine the outcome of any endeavor. Success or failure generally results from the culmination of a series of actions or circumstances; we just laud or blame the last guy. He’s the easiest to find when fingers start pointing.