By: Bob George/
January 04, 2003

Rob Gronkowski continues to dodge questions about Patriots future
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Year after year, Gil Santos delivered
Bill Belichick pays tribute to Patriots Hall of Fame broadcaster Gil Santos
Bill Belichick pays tribute to the late Gil Santos

Didn’t it kill you to sit there and think to yourself, “Darn, that should be the Patriots putting a licking on the Colts, not the Jets!”

Four hours later, you saw why.

After watching the Atlanta Falcons make football history…er, uh, let’s rephrase that and say Packer football history (sorry, but after 3 hours of John Madden, he could convince you that they should move the Pro Football Hall Of Fame to Green Bay, Wisconsin, and put the museum right in Lambeau Field), it became painfully evident that the right team did indeed win last Sunday night. While all of Patriot Nation gnashed their teeth at the sight of Green Bay cutting a stinker in a game everyone outside of north Joisey fully expected the Pack to win, it was hard to realize that those were the real Packers, and the team that beat them were the real Jets.

The fact that the Jets advance to the next round of the playoffs won’t make you feel any better. But had the results of Saturday’s games been reversed, you would have been livid beyond belief. The Jets made Dolts out of the Colts, 41-0. With Bill Belichick on the other side, it would have been 71-0. Be that as it may, Indianapolis embarrassed themselves and the entire league with one of the worst playoff performances perhaps ever.

In a wonderful expose of what the anti-parity people hate about the NFL these days, the Colts made a parody out of pro football in getting whitewashed by the Jets. For a team that supposedly upgraded their perennially weak defense with a defensive-minded head coach like Tony Dungy, their supposedly revamped defense looked worse than Vic Fangio’s. To be fair, Dungy should not be judged this early on this sort of thing. But that was one area in which Colt Nation figured would be better this year, and not worse.

Two diverging tendencies came together in perfect symmetry on the first Jet score. Richie Anderson took a simple two-yard left flat pass and turned it into a 56-yard touchdown rumble along the left sideline. This was pretty much the game right here. The Jet offense had their way pretty much the rest of the game, and Indianapolis never once challenged the Jets at all. For the Jets, it was the longest scoring play in the postseason in the history of their franchise. For the Colts, it was another case of what they can never do well being exposed once again.

Quick, who’s David Macklin? Isn’t he the guy who was burned on all three scores by David Patten during his landmark touchdown hat trick game at the RCA Dome last year? Macklin is still a Colt. That might explain a little bit about today’s mockery of an NFL playoff game.

Oh, and then there was Brent Musburger (where was Mike Patrick and his crew for this game?) already extolling Curtis Martin as a Hall of Famer. Eight years, 1,000-plus yards each year. This guy can’t retire fast enough. Every day this guy puts on a Jet uniform blasphemes the uniform of the Patriots. There will always be bad blood between the two teams until the day this guy hangs up his cleats and turns his life over to Toni Braxton (you’re nuts if he says he’ll turn it over to his cleric and you believe him).

Meanwhile, amidst the snow flurries and the tundra (yes, I am one of the one percent of people in this country who know that tundra, by definition, is frozen and calling it “frozen tundra” is redundant, something that even the great John Facenda should have known), Michael Vick made his first postseason splash, old friend Shawn Jefferson saw his first postseason action in a coon’s age, and the Cheeseheads went home smelling like Limburger. The Falcons upended the Packers, 27-7, handing the Pack the first home postseason loss in franchise history. Yes, that means all the way back to Starr and Lombardi, and even all the way back to Hutson and the stadium’s namesake.

Wow. Don’t know how Madden, who if given the chance will blubber and shill for the Green Bay Packers all night long, could stand it. I’m surprised he didn’t lapse into something like “You know, Al (Michaels), this just isn’t right. There’s something wrong about Atlanta coming up here to what has to be a shrine, the most hallowed shrine in the NFL and beat up on the Packers like this. They obviously have little respect for history and ought to be ashamed of themselves. Boy, Al, that quarterback’s really something, huh? I really like this guy! What’s his name? Vick?”

For all the accolades paid to Brett Favre over his career, and it has been an exceptional one, few people point out that he still on occasion exhibits some of his wild tendencies of his younger days with Atlanta and his early Packer days. Though he has become more disciplined over the years and is one of the great quarterbacks of his day, the fact remains that Favre has won only one Super Bowl in his career, and that was against a team whose coach wasn’t coaching to win the game. Favre’s only other Super Bowl was the following year, and he was bested by John Elway. In his last two postseason games, Favre has thrown eight picks.

With literally nobody on defense you’ve ever heard of, Atlanta went after Green Bay tonight and beat the tar out of them. Ahman Green was handled with ease, Bubba Franks was held in check, and nobody named Terry Glenn did anything worth stopping the presses over. Keion Carpenter had two picks, and Keith Brooking looked a little like Brian Urlacher out there. Other than that, it was just a fired up defense which did an outstanding job against a decimated Packer offensive unit.

And Vick, absent of monster numbers, did indeed pose great problems for the Packer defense and showed a great amount of poise for a playoff neophyte. Vick is one of those quarterbacks who will always need someone away from the ball to provide containment. Vick has a rare combination of speed in both running and delivering the football. If he is committed to learning the pro game and continues to step up his game, it is scary to ponder what highs this player will scale in his career.

Atlanta could very well become the next 1985 Patriots, making it to the Super Bowl by winning three on the road. They travel to Philadelphia to take on the one-seeded Eagles next week. Should they survive this game (and given the fact that it was cold and snow flurries in Green Bay, the weather in Philly won’t faze the Falcons one bit), a date close to home in Tampa might be their ticket to another warm weather climate, San Diego.

The Jets await Sunday’s Steelers-Browns matchup. In all likelihood the Jets are off to Oakland and a second year in a row of having to play the Raiders on the road. Even with Charles Woodson hurting, the rest of the Raider defense should be up for the Jets. It looms to be a great game, with both offenses posing matchup problems for the defenses.

Sorry, Patriot Nation. Asking the Packers to win last Sunday was too much.

Which gets us back to the basics. Specifically, all they had to do was finish 11-5 again. The division was lost when they lost to Tennessee and the Jets, plain and simple.

After what Green Bay and Indianapolis went through today, going out the way the Patriots did wasn’t all that bad.