September 13, 2004
Trying Not To Get "Trapped" Into Looking Ahead
BY: Kevin Rousseau
Week one of the season is in the books and its time to take toll of what has gone down and what to look forward to as we head into the second week.
The first point about opening week (and it’s been made ad nauseum in these parts) is that it is just that; opening week. The fact that the Patriots beat the Colts does not mean that they are heading to Super Bowl XXXIX in February. Nor does it mean that the Ravens, Cowboys, or Bengals seasons are lost. Keep in mind that the Patriots lost to the Bills last year 31-0 and then went on to win the whole shebang. The year before, the Patriots dominated the Steelers 30-14 yet failed to make the playoffs as defending champs.
Certainly, there were a lot of good things to take away from the Colts game. Namely, Brady’s breathtaking accuracy, the re-emergence of a running game and the defense still having the knack for causing big turnovers at critical times.
However, the Patriots inability to stop Edgerrin James from running all over the field last Thursday night is a cause for concern. Could it be that they miss former nose tackle Ted Washington more than they thought they would? Perhaps. Yet the Patriots were 6-1 last year while Washington was injured. And even when Washington was active, he only played about 30 plays a game. So the jury is still out as to whether the absence of Big Ted will be a long-term issue for the Patriots.
Sunday’s game in Arizona has “trap” written all over it. The oppressive heat will be just as stifling than what we see in early season Miami. The Cardinals are the perennial doormat of the League, and have a young quarterback in Cade McNown, a 63 year-old Emmitt Smith, and new head coach, Dennis Green. Do the Patriots need to be worried?
Sure they do. Now, I’ll admit that over the last few years that I have drank the Bill Belichick-flavored Kool Aid. Any team can beat any other team on any given Sunday. Especially in the parity-driven, modern NFL. And the Cardinals will surely be waving a ride of emotion as the team remembers the life and bravery of Pat Tillman at halftime.
Nonetheless, there shouldn’t be any reason that the Patriots will leave Arizona on Sunday night without a win. The Cardinals have been hurt by injuries during the preseason to star wide receiver Anquan Boldin, safety Dexter Jackson and others. Dennis Green has been releasing veterans like guard Pete Kendall in order to put his stamp on his new team.
By taking it one game at a time and beating the Cardinals on Sunday, the team will be within two wins of breaking the all-time NFL consecutive win record. Let me try to put this into some perspective. The League has been in existence for eighty-five years. It has seen great teams like the ’67 Packers, the ’72 Dolphins and the late-seventies Steelers. Tom Landry? Nope. Vince Lombardi? Didn’t do it. Paul Brown. Him neither. All of them (and many other great coaches and teams throughout the NFL’s history) could not put together nineteen straight wins. Not until now. The Patriots have to beat the Cardinals, Bills, and the Dolphins to place their name into immortality.
Not like I’m looking ahead or anything.
Bonus mid-week Zinger thoughts while unfortunately, finally seeing the versatility that a minivan can give to a growing family (Where did my ’87 Camaro attitude go?):
I suppose the medieval man in me loves ESPN’s “Monday Night Countdown’s” Jacked Up segment. Who doesn’t love seeing bone crushing hits? But my beef is that they sometimes glorify illegal and dangerous hits like the one that the Broncos’ John Lynch laid out on the Chiefs’ Dante Hall on Sunday night.
If the first thing that aliens did when they landed on earth was turn on sports radio and listen to some of these callers, I shudder to think what their first impression of our society would be.
It was a fantasy football conundrum on Sunday when the Steelers’ Jerome Bettis had five carries for one yard and three touchdowns. Huh?
News item: The Vikings are 1-0 after thrashing the Cowboys. Sometime this week, I expect my pal from work Todd to stroll downstairs and give me a dissertation on how the Vikings will be going undefeated this season. After he did this last season, his Vikes proceeded to collapse faster than a house of cards.
I am told by the lovely and soon-to-be-a-mommy Mrs. Rousseau that I shouted “Apparel is everything!” defiantly while in a heavy sleep one night last week. There’s no need for Freud to analyze this one. Truer words have never been spoken.
And even if you can understand Michael Irvin when he shouts over his colleagues on ESPN, I would still like to hear from you. I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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