ESPN guys on the Patriots

Posted on December 30, 2007 
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The guys on ESPN’s “NFL Countdown” talked about the Patriots and their pursuit of perfection on today’s show. Here are some excerpts:

What’s Most Impressive about the Patriots 16-0 Season…
Tom Jackson: “The Patriots played their best ball in the fourth quarter (against the Giants) … Last night they asked him (Tom Brady) to throw the ball 43 times. He didn’t make a single mistake during the course of the night and that’s what he’s done all year.”

Mike Ditka: “They’re flexible and they make adjustments.”

Keyshawn Johnson: “They stayed on course. The task at hand was to win all their football games and break some records. They did that and went 16-0. Now they have to move on and try to win the big one. … I would rather be 14-2 and losing the Super Bowl or the playoffs than having this type of pressure on me. If they had lost that football game last night (against the Giants), that pressure wouldn’t be on them. They could play two games and lose the Super Bowl and everyone would say they had a good season. When you set the bar as high as they have and then you go out and lose, I may have to get off the bus.”

Emmitt Smith: “This is a true testament to the mental toughness they have, the great physical condition they’re in and their focus. … Failure is not even an option for them. They have loaded the ship, they have left the port and now they’ve landed. They got off the boat, burnt the boat off and looked back and said we can’t go back. They have accepted the challenge and the calling from history. They think they’re time is right now and there’s no looking back.”

On Tom Brady and the Patriots Record-Breaking Season …
Johnson: “I look at him (Tom Brady) now as the face of the National Football League. He’s elevated in my eyes past Peyton Manning. He’s got all the records now, in terms of passing Peyton Manning. He’s got three football championships and will probably put MVP on his resume. He’s a celebrity quarterback, but still winning football games. A couple of years ago it was all about (Peyton) Manning, but right now it’s all about Brady.”

Jackson: “My perception of Tom Brady hasn’t changed. He’s always been a great quarterback and has won three championships, but my perception of the football teams has changed. When I look at them now, there’s a bit of a chippiness to them…and at some point it’s a negative form. That little bit of chippiness might cost them in the end on the field.”

Ex-Dolphins Coach Don Shula
On the Giants vs. Patriots game …
“It was a real credit to the National Football League. The way the Giants went out to play. It was a meaningless game to them, but they went out with the idea to play the best game they could play and knocking the Patriots down from their perfect season.”

What has impressed him the most about the 2007 Patriots …
“(Against the Ravens, Eagles and Colts), in all three of these games, they were down and behind, but they kept their poise and knew they had the confidence to make plays at the end.”

On the Patriots repeating the undefeated 1972 Dolphins season…
“You have to forget about 16-0 because each game now is sudden death. 16-0 won’t mean much if they get beat in he playoffs and don’t win the Super Bowl … That’s what’s going to make it a meaningful season, going 19-0.”

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