Patriots Commentary Writer Bob George
      November 25, 2002      
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      A win is a win, but then.....
    By: Kevin Rousseau/PatsFans.com

    The way that you analyze Sunday's game against the Vikings depends on whether you are an optimist, a pessimist, or a realist when it comes to our local eleven. Each of these varying points of view can make a strong case based upon what happened on Sunday.

    The optimist would say that a win is a win in the NFL these days and you should take it and move on. A case could be made that an experienced team like the Patriots wins ugly games like they did against the Vikings and doesn't blow them. An optimist would also point to the way that the Patriots defense (finally) started to successfully put pressure on Vikings' quarterback Daunte Culpepper when the game was on the line late in the fourth quarter. And lastly, an optimist would mention three beautiful touchdown passes from Tom Brady and say that as long as he is in the game, we should like the Patriots chances.

    A pessimist (hello, much of Boston sports radio) would look at Sunday and says there is no way this team will have any success in December and January if it can't put teams away in the third and fourth quarter with a decent, time-consuming running game. They would also argue the fact that the Patriots could not deliver a knockout punch in the second quarter after two quick Minnesota turnovers and make the game 28-0. He or she could even submit as evidence the decrease in Ken Walter's punting performance this year(5 punts for an average of 32.6 yards on Sunday) and how it is often giving Patriots' opponents good field position. Lastly, the pessimist might say that without even some semblance of a decent pass rush and run defense, the Patriots are dead ducks as they head into December.

    Finally, the realist might say that all of the above is true and cannot be disputed. The realist says, even with all of this, the Patriots are one game behind having the best record in the AFC and just about every other team has gone through a very similar roller coaster ride during this crazy season. He or she might also mention that the Patriots are 3-1 so far during their grueling 5-game-in-25-day November stretch. A win against the hapless Lions on Thursday would put them at 7-5 with three of the four remaining games at Gillette Stadium. They could probably also say, realistically, this is not the same team with the same fire and discipline that we saw a year ago. But then again, last year was a season for the ages and perhaps only happens once or twice in our lifetimes. When you are the world champion, you have a large, large target on your back and everyone is bringing their best when they meet up with you. Given all of this, the realist might conclude that there is certainly worse things in life than having your team finish 10-6 or, God forbid, 9-7 in this crazy, entertaining, unpredictable NFL season.

    Okay, its Zinger time...

    The abbreviation NFL this year stands for Not For Long. As in, don't get used to your team being #1 in any Power Ranking.

    In honor of throwback week in the NFL, Redskins head coach Steve Spurrier has decided to start Billy Kilmer at quarterback on Thursday against Dallas.

    Incidentally, I'll be celebrating throwback week by driving around in a crappy 1976 Chevy Nova, listening to INXS and Def Leppard, and calling Mr. Excitement Bill Penta to see if he wants to do emergency brake spinouts and donuts late at night in the Bradlees parking lot.

    If you didn't read Rick Reilly's column two weeks ago in Sports Illustrated about the mentally-challenged kid who ran for a touchdown in an Ohio high school game, you are missing out on a powerful, wonderful story.

    Quietly, going into Sunday's game Willie McGinest was leading all AFC defensive ends with 45 tackles.

    Thankfully, those days are gone around New England but what is the point of the antiquated television blackout rule. Perhaps it made sense thirty years ago when pro football was trying to establish itself as the true national past time and needed to fill seats and generate ticket revenue. In today's revenue-sharing world (especially with young people), if a team is blacked out in its home market on a consistent basis, the chances of a potential new fan becoming interested in a local team diminish greatly.

    It might be blasphemy to say this but....the Colts' Mike Vanderjagt's two field goals of 54 yards at the end of regulation and 51 yards in overtime on Sunday night in snowy Denver may have been every bit as good as Adam Vinatieri's famous Snow Bowl kick. Even though the air is paper thin in Denver, it was about twenty degrees outside and made the ball that much harder to kick. I wouldn't say that these kick's were better than Adam Vinatieri, but they were close.

    For my money, the most intimidating places to play a road game are in Green Bay during the December cold, Miami in the September humidity, and Oakland at night. What a freak show!

    Lastly, this internet column is paying real personal dividends. And I'm not just talking about the constant marriage proposals that Mrs. Rousseau has had to fend off. Zinger groupies will recall a few weeks back that I mentioned how happy a Tom Brady throwback jersey would make me this Christmas. Well, to heck with Christmas, my beloved brother and parents splurged and bought me one for my birthday.

    I'm always looking for Zingers at patsfansince72@yahoo.com. Have a nice Thanksgiving.


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