Given the fact that Patriots thought the game started at 2 p.m. instead of 1 p.m, they were fortunate and still good enough not to let this one slip away. More important than winning yesterday's game against the Chiefs, the Patriots learned a few lessons about being the defending Super Bowl champions and being ranked #1 on everybody's Power Rankings. Namely, when you are in this position, everybody is going to bring their best against you because you are the measuring stick as to how good a team you are. Realizing this, and accounting for it, is far more important in the long-term than getting yet another win.
That being said, even though they did not show up for a quarter and a half and played their worst game on defense in some time, they still put the win in the column. Good teams win handily like they did the first two weeks but yet they also win ugly like they did on Sunday.
The Patriots deserve kudos for yet another stellar offensive performance. The impressive part of this week and the first two games was the variety of offensive skill players who contributed. When was the last time you heard of five different players scoring touchdowns? Brady continues to impress with his ability to choose the open receiver quickly. This was overtly apparent yesterday after the Chiefs figured out that blitzing was the best way to defend against the five receiver formation. While being blitzed in this formation, Brady stayed in the pocket, got the ball away to the open receiver, and then took the hit countless times on Sunday. If the Patriots value their franchise player, you have to believe that we have seen the last of this five receiver formation for a while. Perhaps larger than the results of the five receiver formation yesterday, will be the fact that now every team that faces the Patriots this year will have to spend considerable time in practice working on defending this formation. In some ways, by showing this formation so often, the Patriots are trying to keep teams like the Packers guessing two weeks from now when they have to prepare for the Patriots.
The Chiefs showed a lot of toughness and they will be heard from this year. Their defense is suspect but their offensive line and Priest Holmes will probably get them close to eight wins this year. The Patriots had no pass rush at the end of the game and Holmes made running against the vaunted Patriots defense look easy. The Chiefs rallied from fourteen points down in the fourth quarter by letting Holmes run the football. How about that for ball control? Holmes and his line will disguise many glaring holes on the Chiefs squad, namely their defensive backs. They'll do this by holding onto the ball and keeping their suspect defense off of the field. I was impressed.
Okay, enough of this bull I try to pass off every week as analysis. Let's get right to your favorite part of the column, the Zingers.....
Could someone please tell me what constitutes pass interference? It seems so arbitrary especially when both the defender and the receiver are going after a fifty-fifty ball. Also, the penalty is rather stiff and sometimes unfair. A terrible team can throw a bomb down the sidelines and 40% of the time out comes the flag. What would be wrong with making it a ten yard penalty and an automatic first down?
While I'm on the subject of rule changes, the coin flip in overtime should be done away with. Two teams battle for sixty minutes and many times it comes down to whoever wins the coin toss will win the game. The college system is adequate for determining a winner. Another idea might be to play overtime like it is played now. Except that when a team scores, they have to kick off to the other team and they are given one drive to try to tie or win the game. This would also make the team that scores first think twice about whether to go for a field goal or try for a touchdown.
Geez, you'd think that one of these years the Cincinnati Bengals would get off the schnide and start winning.
Tom Brady's play action skills might be some of the best I have ever seen.
A lot of folks forget that JR Redmond was huge in that game winning drive in the Super Bowl. He did nothing all game and then came out of nowhere and made a few clutch plays to keep that drive going.
If you have to have a meal while in the greater Foxboro metropolitan area, you could do a lot worse than going to Tom's Tavern in Wrentham. It has a no-fuss atmosphere, amazing food, great prices, and lots of televisions to watch whatever is on. On many Saturdays before home games, you can catch me there.
Joe Gaiter (trained federal investigator and North End native) brought the ultimate dessert to Sunday's tailgate. A ricotta pie and cannolis from the North End. You're missing out if you have never had any of this stuff, right Mr. Varney?
Zingers groupies will recall that I criticized the lines in the men's room at the Gillette Stadium a few weeks ago. Early in third quarter of Sunday's game, the Jambalaya from our tailgating feed kicked in and I wearily went in search of a stall to go potty. Imagine my surprise when I found a clean, yes clean, stall (with toilet paper, even) for my usage. This will go down in my janitorial hall of fame along with the time in 1999 when I found a clean public restroom in Manhattan while on vacation.
Last week, I asked Zinger groupies to send me your best Zinger. Scott Duncanson, Bostonian-in- exile, writes to say that we should be "pumped" and "jacked" for Pete Carroll and the job he is doing at USC.
Paul Carr writes to remind us that Kurt Warner stated that he would like to be known as the first quarterback to win five super bowls. The lesson to take away here is to focus on one thing at a time.
Don't look now, but the Patriots are getting dangerously close to a 17-0 run that would match (sort of) the 1972 Dolphins run. They are 12-0 since the loss to the Rams in November. Of course, there would be an asterisk next to this accomplishment given that it occurred over two seasons. Then again, maybe I should just be quiet and listen to my own advice to take one thing at a time.
Okay, that's it for this week. I'm hungry and there is some left over Jambalaya in the fridge with my name on it. Don't forget to send me a good Zinger and I may include it. Please keep in mind that I can't use all of them. My e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org