Act of God: Maine church sign correctly predicts score of AFC championship game

When the New England Patriots went on a last-minute, go-ahead drive and eventually headed into overtime in the AFC championship game on Sunday against the Kansas City Chiefs, seemingly all of New England was praying for a miracle.

However, one man had faith all along that this was the plan. Two days earlier, Rev. Mark Tanner of Skowhegan Federated Church in Maine had changed the sign outside his church to read a positive message for his Patriots.

The Patriots took a 31-28 lead with 39 seconds left after Rex Burkhead’s 4-yard touchdown rumble, and, surely, Tanner would have been happy with just a win. But after Chiefs kicker Harrison Butker’s 39-yard field goal effectively sent the game into overtime, there was a strong possibility that the exact score would play out.

A coin flip later, and the Patriots charged down the field, scoring on another Burkhead run. And with the final score exactly matching his 37-31 prediction, Tanner’s phone blew up with people remarking on his preternatural guess.

“I would like to think it was divine intervention, but I’m not that crazy,” Tanner said to CentralMaine.com on Monday.

Tanner later added in the interview that he thinks the Patriots will beat the Los Angeles Rams in Super Bowl LIII, but he didn’t have a score prediction yet. Until then, all eyes will be on one particular sign in central Maine.

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Patriots vs. Chiefs AFC Championship Game
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Patriots vs. Chiefs AFC Championship Game
KANSAS CITY, MO - JANUARY 20: Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes (15) stiff arms New England Patriots strong safety Patrick Chung (23) as he rolls out in the third quarter of the AFC Championship Game game between the New England Patriots and Kansas City Chiefs on January 20, 2019 at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, MO. (Photo by Scott Winters/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce (87) spins in the air as he is tackled by New England Patriots defensive back Jonathan Jones (31) during the first half of the AFC Championship NFL football game, Sunday, Jan. 20, 2019, in Kansas City, Mo. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)
New England Patriots wide receiver Phillip Dorsett (13) makes a touchdown reception against Kansas City Chiefs cornerback Steven Nelson (20) during the first half of the AFC Championship NFL football game, Sunday, Jan. 20, 2019, in Kansas City, Mo. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)
Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Sammy Watkins (14) makes a reception against New England Patriots cornerback Stephon Gilmore (24) during the second half of the AFC Championship NFL football game, Sunday, Jan. 20, 2019, in Kansas City, Mo. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)
New England Patriots strong safety Patrick Chung (23) pressures Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes during the second half of the AFC Championship NFL football game, Sunday, Jan. 20, 2019, in Kansas City, Mo. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
Kansas City Chiefs running back Damien Williams (26) makes a touchdown reception against New England Patriots outside linebacker Dont'a Hightower (54) during the second half of the AFC Championship NFL football game, Sunday, Jan. 20, 2019, in Kansas City, Mo. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)
Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes (15) throws a touchdown pass to running back Damien Williams against New England Patriots middle linebacker Kyle Van Noy (53) during the second half of the AFC Championship NFL football game, Sunday, Jan. 20, 2019, in Kansas City, Mo. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)
New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady (12) celebrates with his teammates after the AFC Championship NFL football game, Sunday, Jan. 20, 2019, in Kansas City, Mo. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady (12) celebrates with middle linebacker Kyle Van Noy (53) after defeating the Kansas City Chiefs in AFC Championship NFL football game in overtime, Sunday, Jan. 20, 2019, in Kansas City, Mo. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)
KANSAS CITY, MISSOURI - JANUARY 20: Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots celebrates after defeating the Kansas City Chiefs in overtime during the AFC Championship Game at Arrowhead Stadium on January 20, 2019 in Kansas City, Missouri. The Patriots defeated the Chiefs 37-31. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
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More churches offer optimistic sports signs

Tanner isn’t the only religious leader to share a message of hope for his local team, although he certainly is the most prescient.

During the 2015 Stanley Cup Playoff run, Tampa-area pastor Tyler Moore’s signs went viral when he offered his best wishes for his Tampa Bay Lightning, who were facing off against the Chicago Blackhawks.

Moore created signs referencing the saving abilities of both God and goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy, how the sport fits into the Ten Commandments and Job’s take on hockey. And even though he didn’t issue a prediction for any of the games — and the Bolts lost to the Hawks in six games — Moore did offer a positive message after the season was over.

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