October 19, 2003
Forget the Sox, The Pats Are Hot!
BY: Kevin Rousseau
Admit it. You're sitting there watching the game against the Dolphins as it headed into overtime and you think to yourself, "Okay, here we go again. Let's see what crazy fluke is going to cause the Patriots to lose this one." It's been a tough stretch for us Boston fans since being shellshocked by last Thursday night's el foldo in the Bronx. But on Sunday, somehow, these Patriots pulled out a miraculous 19-13 overtime victory and told us that it's time to forget about the Red Sox and move on. Going into Sunday's game, the Patriots were 0-13 lifetime in Miami during September and October. Not anymore. At least one jinx was broken this fall.
You cannot say enough about this victory. This was special. Where do you begin? All-pro Dolphin Jason Taylor was kept largely in check by Patriot tackle Matt Light all day long. The defense held the League's best running back, Ricky Williams, to only 94 yards on 27 carries. And what about the two interceptions and a fumble recovery by the defense? The blocked field goal with two minutes to go in the 4th quarter? Or what can you say about Tom Brady avoiding the rush all day long in the pocket and nailing Troy Brown for an 82-yard touchdown to end the game (He can't throw a deep ball, can he?)?
At the risk of sounding like a broken record, the Patriots continue to do all of this with rookies stepping in for so many injured veterans. This isn't supposed to happen. Rookie Ty Warren is now starting to see more playing time on the defensive line as he slowly emerges just like rookie Richard Seymour did in 2001. And Dan Klecko, Asante Samuel, and Eugene Wilson are making us remember Tedy Bruschi, Ty Law, and Lawyer Milloy in 1996. If this keeps up (and there is no reason to think otherwise), Belichick's 2003 draft may go down as the best in the franchise's history.
More importantly, this team is showing as much, if not more, character and heart than that immortal 2001 team. They refused to listen to the naysayers and all the so-called national "experts" who said that they were done after the Milloy release and the rash of injuries that hit this team early in the season. So far, four of their five wins this year have come against teams that made the playoffs last year. If they are winning these games, imagine what will happen when they get to face an average Browns team next week, a fading Broncos team in two weeks, and Houston and Jacksonville later in the season. Yes. It is a long season. But you have to like the way the Patriots are building on their success week after week despite all the injuries. This week, all-pro shutdown cornerback Ty Law was finally held out after sucking it up and playing hurt the last three weeks. And when Ted Johnson and Ted Washington come back in November, it's going to become very difficult for opposing teams to run the football on them and control the clock.
The main reason that the Patriots have made it safe for us to fall in love all over again is that they are working as hard as they possibly can, they believe in the coaching staff, and they are playing for each another. The fact that Belichick did not lose this team after the Milloy disaster is a credit to him, his staff, and perhaps more importantly, the players. It would have been quite easy for the Patriots players to stage a mutiny and undermine Belichick's authority after the opening day 31-0 loss to Buffalo. Instead, they're digging in, playing smart football, and becoming the team nobody wants to face in the AFC.
Idle Zinger thoughts while wondering what possible value did Bret Boone add to the Fox Sports broadcast of the ALCS
Do you remember ESPN's Tom Jackson making a fool of himself by yelling at Bill Belichick in week two and telling all of us that his team hates him? Wow. That was insightful.
Did you know that if you lived in Canada, you could order NFL Sunday Ticket through your cable service and not be forced to subscribe to Direct TV? Yet another good reason to move to Stanhope, Prince Edward Island.
I don't think that there is a better film in the NFL Films archive than the one from Super Bowl IV. It was the one where Chiefs coach Hank Stram was miked up and made his call of a "65 toss power trap" part of Super Bowl lore.
Last year, you could listen to virtually any team's radio broadcast for free over the web at www.nfl.com. Well, this year you're not as lucky. The NFL has come up with the "NFL Field Pass" that allows fans the honor of paying $34.95 to listen to a season's worth of radio broadcasts over the internet.
Conversely, the League has done the right thing by getting rid of the Monday Night game for the last week of the season. This game is always a waste of time as everyone has already begun to focus on the playoffs. There will now be three games played on the final two Saturdays of the season.
The League's new cable channel, the NFL Network, will be launched on November 4th. According to the channels website at www.nfl.com/nflnetwork, it will be the first 24-hour, seven-day-a-week cable and satellite television network dedicated solely to the NFL and the sport of football. NFL Network will feature original programming, the 100 million-foot film library of NFL Films, and preseason games (beginning in 2004).
After getting frustrated with the terrible Fox broadcast in the ALCS, I turned off the sound and turned on Joe and Jerry on WEEI. Unfortunately, it was not synched up so the radio broadcast was an annoying second or two faster than the television feed. Typically, the folks at WBCN do a pretty decent job synching up the Patriots radio broadcast with the television feed.
The Interesting Website of the Week Award goes to my brother who passed along the site www.badjocks.com. Trust me, you'll love this site.
Mercifully, the New York Giants and the Meadowlands abandoned their bid for the 2008 Super Bowl. Look for Arizona and their new stadium to land that game later this year.
The Boston Globe's Ron Borges said on the Patriots pre-game show that Miami coach Dave Wannstedt got "Grady Little-ized" last year during the final two minutes of the December game against the Patriots when they curiously didn't run the ball.
The boys at www.profootballtalk.com have reported that there might be a little bit of a mutiny in the NFL player's union. Apparently, NFLPA president Gene Upshaw was quite reluctant to divulge to his members that his salary has increased 229% since 1999. Meanwhile, whether you are a practice squad player or Brett Favre, you pay the same $10,000 annual dues to the union. If you are a practice squad player, that can be about the same as what you would pay your agent who negotiates your rookie minimum contract.
Does this column stink? Or do you think it is so groundbreaking and amazing that you are finally ready to send along that check or money order. Family members have begun to express grave concern as I have had to resort to roaming the streets of Augusta with a sign around my neck that says "Will Write Football Columns For Food." Please, withhold your regular donation to public radio and give what you can. Either way, I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Don't forget to check me out at 8:17 on Monday mornings on Bangor, Maine's sports radio leader, WZON 620 "The Zone." You can listen over the internet at www.zoneradio.com This column also appears in the Waterboro (ME) Reporter, the Twin City Times (Lewiston/Auburn, ME), and the Lakes Region Suburban News(Windham, ME).
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