Sunday, January 21, 2007


I'm gonna be guilty for BUI - blogging under the influence - but what the hell... how can I not let the stream of consciousness flow from my skull after this one? If anything, it will be therapeutic. It hurts right now - really smarts, to be honest -but I told myself to be appreciative of this year, and I'll try to stick to it.

But GODDDDAAAMMMMMMMMMIT. We're up 18 points after Asante Samuel's pick-six and all looks rosey. Then all hell breaks loose. I'm trying to think 'be classy' here. Really, I am. I respect Peyton Manning and feel good for Tony Dungy. I'm glad this didn't come down to an Adam Vinatieri field goal. But I can't get the no interference call on Reche Caldwell out of my head. He was completely mugged, and you know if it was Reggie Wayne, the yellow hankies would have been raining out of the second balcony. The love tap to Peyton's head for roughing the passer was lame. The phantom call on Troy Brown. Caldwell's huge drops. I know - coulda, shoulda, woulda - but I just needed to get that off my chest.

I can't believe they lost this game. I don't understand what happened to Corey Dillon - are we going to hear a Roger Clemens-esque story here? Was he too tired to go back in there? The guy went from being a stud in the first quarter to being featured on milk cartons. I don't get it. Maroney was a huge disappointment in this one. I thought he had a chance to make a big impact, but instead all we saw was a lot of hesitation at the line of scrimmage and a bunch of 1-yard gains. In the 4th quarter, when it really counted - and again, my brain is a bit clouded right now - I think I saw a little too much of Heath Evans? And who was No. 52 playing linebacker? Johnny Rembert? Oh, how I wish Junior and Rodney could have suited up for this one.

Still, with a minute left, a couple of well-preserved timeouts, and the ball in Tom Brady's capable hands, the Colts' four-point lead didn't seem insurmountable. And then he threw the pick, to another guy named Marlin no less - but this one had the presence of mind to just lay down. Game over.

All that said, the Colts' offense woke up for this one in a big way and they deserve credit for that. I think the big swing was when Peyton drove his team down the field for three at the end of the first half, and then they took the ball for a big chunk of time to begin the second half. After that, the Pats' D was gassed. Dallas Clark was immense in this one, outshining both Harrison and Wayne. And, of course, Peyton answered his many critics by making the big throws when they needed them. It was pretty cool to see how Peyton couldn't watch when Brady was driving with less than minute left. That's respect. Fear, even. And it was also classy on the part of Tedy Bruschi and some other Pats' veterans to find Peyton in the postgame scrum, shake his hand, and wish him well. The guy has been a valiant competitor.

In the end, it's an instant classic that the NFL Network will no doubt be re-playing some night this week. For us, though, it's a classic for all the wrong reasons. A punch to the gut that will hurt for a long time. The Pats could have gone to the Super Bowl and they would have steamrolled (like the Colts will) over the Bears. But it wasn't meant to be. I suppose we can take solace in the fact that the Pats weren't expected to be in this situation to begin with - remember early in the year when Brady was going ballistic over his lack of receiving depth? Seems like eons ago. And all of a sudden, Caldwell and Gaffney are making big grabs. And in crunch time in the AFC Championship game, we had guys named Baker and Alexander on the field. No excuses by any means, but I'm just saying we should appreciate what this team did this year. We're so goddamned spoiled.

I'm rambling, and it's time to go to bed. I think that was relatively therapeutic. I'll let you know in the morning. Twenty-five days until pitchers and catchers report.

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