Thursday, January 18, 2007

First the Bolts, Now the Colts

Okay, so it's taken us a few days to digest and recap the remarkable game that took place out in San Diego last Sunday. That's what we like to do here - lay back in the weeds, carefully assess, and then put our own spin on it.

First of all, as Patriots fans, we have to remember sometimes how absolutely BLESSED we are. We have a chance to win our fourth Super Bowl in six years, and we almost forget that we lost one in 1997 during the Great Tuna Escape. Imagine that - we've gone from Rod Rust and Tommy Hodson to forgetting about a Super Bowl appearance! That's what the amazing Brady/Belichick combo has done to us. And we need to savor it.

Okay, that said, what a freaking ballgame last week. It had everything and I honestly don't know where to begin. So a few notes:

- The better team in terms of talent may not have won, but the better TEAM most certainly did. I know it's a cliche, but when you have guys like Antwain Spann and James Sanders contributing to a playoff win, it's a credit to the coaches and the mentality that pervades this organization - and it starts at the top. Take a bow, Bob Kraft.

- Tom Brady was terrible for the majority of this game, and he can thank Troy Brown profusely for removing the goat horns. The pick he threw with a little more than 6 minutes to go should have been the fatal blow, but Troy's defensive instincts (above) saved the day...

- ... as did the hare-brained "coaching" of Marty Schottenheimer. How dumb was he? Let us count the ways. Let's go for it on 4th and 11, and punt on 4th and 4. Let's listen to an over-eager rookie QB's pleas to review an obvious call so we can lose a timeout down the stretch. And if memory serves correctly, the Bolts had the ball with 4 minutes and change left, and the first play was a handoff to Tomlinson. Then, inexplicably, Philip Rivers throws two incompletions and it's fourth down very quickly. I don't understand how you don't just keep giving it to LT. I didn't know what Martyball was, but now I do. D-U-M-B.

- First half MVP for the Patriots? Hands down, Todd Sauerbrun. The Pats spent most of the first half operating out of their own end zone, and Sauerbrun came through huge with some booming blasts.

- No one's talking about the job the Chargers' O-line did, but we didn't hear the names Seymour, Warren, Wilfork, etc., much. No wonder LT had 73 TD's this year.

- Early on, I thought we might be headed for another Miami debacle, where Brady just looks confused for the whole game. His TD throw right before the half halted that thinking in its tracks. When you watch it again, the pass he thew to Gaffney was made on the run, off the wrong foot, and it was pinpoint accurate.

- Where were former Chargers' Rodney Harrison and Junior Seau for this one? I heard through the grapevine last week that Seau got into a little tussle out in a Cali bar before the game when some fans started dissing the Pats. Get him back here next year - it's interesting that we haven't seen any articles getting Rodney/Junior's thoughts on the Pats' postgame celebration.

- Stephen Gostkowski made a lot of Pats fans feel better with his confident, clutch kicks. I've stood over 10-foot putts on the muni course for $10 and my legs are shaking like a leaf. How about lining up a 31-yarder in a playoff game before 70,000 screaming fools and a national TV audience? Takes a special breed.

- And finally, back to that celebration. A couple of thoughts. First, I love that LT was pissed off after the game, and make no mistake, he was pissed because his team lost and his dream year went out the window. That's emotion, and I wish there was more of it in sports. I understand his anger over the Pats' celebration. Rosevelt Colvin, Ellis Hobbs, Daniel Graham, and Vince Wilfork all decided to head to mid-field after Nate Kaeding missed his FG, and they did a little (ok, a big) jig on the Charger logo. There were some imitations of Shawne Merriman's "Lights Out" dance. I think all of that is okay, and not just because I'm a Patriots fan. They won a game they didn't deserve to win, against all odds, and Christ, it's sports. However, making the choke sign in the direction of the Chargers (as Graham supposedly did), and yelling into the Chargers locker room after the game (Colvin) takes it a step too far. And LT implicating Belichick was lame. These two teams tangle next year, so circle that one.

- Regardless, the Patriots move on and can now win their 4th Super Bowl in six years - a feat that the Steelers pulled off in the late 70s, early 80s. Much more on the Pats-Colts game in the next few days.

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