Eddie the hero as desperate Blues survive Cats onslaught
It was fitting that three minutes of madness buried Geelong.
After being completely outplayed by Carlton for three quarters - the Blues led by 42 points at the 10-minute mark of the third quarter - the Cats launched one of their typical withering comebacks.
When Gryan Miers kicked Geelong's fourth goal of the final quarter at the 14-minute mark they were suddenly within 11 points.
Then the madness happened.
Miers inexplicably played on when his teammate Gary Rohan had won a free-kick 20 metres out with his screw kick touched on the line.
A minute later Mitch Duncan appeared to have kicked a brilliant left-foot goal only for a score review to show that Carlton veteran Kade Simpson had got a finger on it.
And then Gary Ablett, the greatest player of the modern era, missed a simple set shot from 30m out directly in front.
Even after blowing those golden opportunities, the Cats still closed to within two points when Tom Atkins kicked truly with less than 90 seconds remaining.
Carlton desperately needed a hero. Enter Eddie Betts.
The veteran found a way to drag down Geelong defender Jack Henry to win a holding the ball free-kick which sealed his team their first victory at GMHBA Stadium since 1996.
There had been murmurings after the first look at Betts in a Carlton jumper for six years last week.
That's the brutal reality when you're a 33-year-old in this business and you open the season with a quiet showing.
But Blues fans shouldn't fear, there is still plenty of life left in their cult hero.
Betts kicked the opening goal of the night inside 45 seconds and added another one in the final 40 seconds of the first term.
He was buzzing around all over the place and in the third quarter he had a hand in all three of the Blues goal before producing the matchwinning tackle.
Slow starts had been the elephant in the room for Carlton across the opening two rounds.
Blues coach David Teague was desperately looking for a pressure release on that front and his men responded.
Five goals in the first quarter was more than they had kicked to three-quarter time the previous week against Melbourne.
They continued rolling in the second quarter finishing with nine goals for the half, something they hadn't done since Round 10, 2016 which was ironically also against Geelong.
Jack Steven's Geelong debut started well enough with a possession within seconds of him running onto the ground.
The former Saint started on the bench and was called into the action five minutes in with his first stat a potential shot at goal from 45m which he rushed and ended up screwing it into the pocket.
A couple of minutes later he had his first howler in a Cats jumper when an errant handball set up a goal for Carlton veteran Marc Murphy.
At the start of the second quarter Cats coach Chris Scott threw Steven into the middle of the ground as he looked for a spark but he was unable to provide it with just five possessions in the opening half.
He then didn't touch the ball in the third quarter before his inglorious evening finished with just six possessions.
CARLTON 5.3 9.5 12.6 12.7 (79)
GEELONG 1.2 4.6 6.7 11.11 (77)
Goals: Carlton: E Betts 2 L Casboult 2 M McGovern 2 M Murphy 2 P Cripps 2 H McKay M Gibbons. Geelong: G Rohan 2 T Hawkins 2 C Guthrie G Miers H Taylor J Bews J Selwood R Stanley T Atkins.
Best: Betts, Weitering, Cripps, Pittonet, Docherty, Gibbons, Curnow, Martin
Geelong: Duncan, Rohan, Dangerfield, Guthrie.
Originally published as Eddie the hero as desperate Blues survive Cats onslaught