October 03, 2004
Just Another Division Win, I Suppose
BY: Kevin Rousseau
And watching Patriots football is supposed to be fun and relaxing, right?
True to their championship fashion, the Patriots didn’t blow out the Bills on Sunday; yet made enough key plays in the fourth quarter to seal up their record-tying eighteenth consecutive victory in a row. But didn’t it feel like it took eight hours for this game to play out with enough twists and turns to make you think that you were spending the day at Six Flags?
Didn’t it have the feel of a shootout early on with Drew making big plays deep against the Patriots secondary with the Bills bringing a lot of pressure up the middle on Brady to take him out of his rhythm?
The key to this victory was the adjustments that were made by the Patriots at halftime. “Buffalo kept us off balance” in the first half Bill Belichick said afterwards. The offense picked up Buffalo blitzers and controlled the tempo in the second half while the defense didn’t let Drew get into any type of rhythm like he was in early on Sunday.
Yet, it’s a win in Buffalo, against a division opponent and on the road; so as citizens of Patriots Nation, we’ll take it. But after three games, there are certainly a few areas of concern that must be addressed if the Patriots are going to make another Super Bowl run. Namely, their continued lack of execution on special teams. Having anyone but Troy Brown back receiving punts is like watching Kevin Millar trying to chase down a foul pop up behind first base. You just close your eyes and hope he somehow catches it.
The Bills had 191 yards on five kickoff returns, with an average start at their own 36 yard line. And on top of this, Mr. Reliable Adam Vinatieri booted one out of bounds to give the Bills the ball at their own 40 yard-line. Special teams coach Brad Seeley is going to have his hands full trying to correct these mishaps especially if Bethel Johnson, Troy Brown, and Kevin Faulk have to sit out any more games.
And like in the first two games against the Colts and Cardinals, the Patriots had too many penalties that stalled their own drives or kept wavering Buffalo drives from dying. Let’s review: Ten penalties on Sunday, twelve against the Cardinals and 8 against the Colts. Not a recipe for a third Championship, my friends.
Yeah, I know. I’m putting a wet blanket over another victory; a record tying one at that. Maybe I’m just worried about style points. Every team in this League has flaws, right?
On the plus side, the Patriots ability to continue to convert at a clip of about fifty percent on third down, keeping Tom Brady from getting his backside dirty, and the defense’s ability to make that big play in the fourth quarter will keep Belichick’s team in every game this season despite any flaws.
The more I think about it, the more I think that we’ve been spoiled around these parts. Like our team, let’s just enjoy “another victory against a division opponent” for a little while.
Let’s just hope that little cracking we hear beneath our feet isn’t thin ice starting to crack.
Idle Zinger thoughts while wondering just who exactly enjoys salt water taffy:
First off, last week’s bye week guest column by Mrs. Rousseau was, unfortunately, a work of non-fiction. I will say in my defense that a) I was not crying when the Super Bowl 36 jester bobblehead broke and b) the jester bobblehead and I formed a quick bond after I bought him on Bourbon Street.
I suppose if you are having trouble conceiving, you should just take a job as a female meteorologist at the The Weather Channel.
When I recently asked my brother what he thought of the new Bengal uniforms, he replied: “Early 80s California Roller Derby Genre.”
News item: The Chicago Bears are releasing a 20th anniversary version of the Super Bowl Shuffle. Trouble is, it’s only been 19 years since 1985.
Why is rookie P.K. Sam running around out there with Steve Grogan’s old #14?
Once again, the Patriots have outsmarted the rulebook and the NFL has caught up. Stunts like Mike Vrabel’s signaling for a timeout when the team has none left in order to distract a kicker will now result in a penalty.
File this under the Stats Can Tell You Anything You Want Dept.: The Dolphins’ Jay Fiedler is 36-18 as a starting quarterback.
Heading into Sunday’s game, the Vikings Dante Culpepper had 69 fumbles in 61 games.
Keyshawn Johnson was referred to on ESPN radio as the Paris Hilton of the NFL. That is, much ado about nothing.
The Strange Website Name of the Week Award goes to www.footballinjuries.com.
And even if you aren’t yet sick of everybody “interfacing” during a meeting at work, regardless of the subject at hand, I would still like to hear from you. I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Don’t forget to check me out at 8:20 on Friday 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), the American Journal (Westbrook, ME), the Current (Scarborough/Cape Elizabeth/South Portland, ME), and the Lakes Region Suburban Weekly (Windham, ME).
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