October 10, 2004
Our Time Is Now
BY: Kevin Rousseau
These are the good old days.
It’s never been this good if you are a fan of the Boston sports scene. Someday, you will look back on the early part of this young century and wax philosophical to those who were here (and those who weren’t) about characters like David Ortiz, Tedy Bruschi, Larry Izzo and Johnny Damon.
Days like these are the ones that remind us why we didn’t join the masses and move to Phoenix, Fort Lauderdale or San Diego. You walk into that old barn down at the apple stand and that smell of apple cider reminds you of being a kid. The changing leaves blast out in a kaleidoscope as you could just drive in the country for hours and hours while listening to the radio.
But these are just small reminders as to why you live here. Perhaps the biggest reason why you resist the urge to phone U-Haul when you slip on your rear end for the fourteenth time during an icy March is because you just couldn’t walk away and abandon the Red Sox and, over the last decade, the Patriots. You need the Globe, Herald, NESN, FSNE, or that everyday conversation with your barber which brings a sense of togetherness that a winning team brings to a community.
Regardless of whether the Patriots are technically the all-time consecutive wins record holder after this victory, they have done something that no other team in the eighty-five years of professional football has accomplished. It’s difficult to put such an accomplishment into perspective but an analogy came to mind as I was stuffing just-bought corn stalks and hay into the Camry this morning:
If you figure that over the course of eighty plus years that there have been about twenty-five teams in the League each year, that comes out to approximately two thousand individual seasons played by individual teams. NONE OF THOSE TWO THOUSAND OR SO TEAMS HAVE DONE WHAT THE 2003-04 PATRIOTS HAVE ACCOMPLISHED.
Swallow that morsel up for a second and then chew on this: They have done this in the period of parity, with players being in top physical shape while in the era of free agency mobility. They have done it with few superstars, unselfish play and superior preparation. And now, they have a record that may perhaps last for the rest of our lives and then some.
As for the game, the story was the same as it has been for many of these nineteen victories. The offense converted 21 points off of Miami miscues (an interception, a botched punt and a Jay Fiedler fumble). Sunday’s game was a texbook example of the old adage that turnovers mean points the other way. Without these turnovers, who knows what this game would have looked like. Especially when the Patriots offense only gained 204 yards the entire game and three receivers (Brown, Branch, Johnson) were held out of the game.
And the defense did what it always has done. Namely, making plays when it absolutely had to in the fourth quarter to put teams away. Two late Miami drives deep into Patriot territory could have made things a little interesting if Miami had actually scored. Yet just like late in last year’s blizzard at Gillette, it was Rodney Harrison putting the hurt on Jay Fiedler during a critical play to seal the victory. Meanwhile two rookies, defensive back Randall Gay and defensive tackle Vince Wilfork, contributed greatly to the win. Gay had his first career interception and was around the ball all afternoon while Wilfork is beginning to make us forget about Ted Washington.
If the Patriots were honest with you, they would say that it’s a relief that all this record talk is behind them. It’s a great thing, but it is indeed a distraction. I’m sure Belichick is concerned that the Patriots have yet to play a complete game but keep hearing about how great they are. They have had a number of penalties in the first few games. Sometimes the defense hasn’t been up to the task (Indy). Or it’s been the offense (Arizona) and then even the special teams (Buffalo) that hasn’t been so hot. It should be alarming to you that we have yet to see all three phases of the team play a complete, cohesive game so far this season. “We’re gonna have to play better than we did today if we are going to keep on winning,” said Tom Brady after the game.
We’ll find out plenty about this team next week when the Seattle Seahawks come to town. They are currently considered the toast of the NFC and will be a good measuring stick of just where this team is right now. But for the time being, let’s enjoy this one.
Victories like this one only come around once every eighty-five years or so.
Idle Zinger thoughts while transferring some money around at my credit union for that nice man from Sub-Saharan Africa who needs my assistance after that unfortunate coup:
Tom Brady isn’t the only one has a new favorite receiver. I took the plunge and bought Sirius satellite radio and it’s been fantastic. Not only do you get an insane amount of music and talk, you get the NFL channel and all of the radio broadcasts from around the League. Despite it not being totally synched up with the television broadcast, it is a treat to be able to pop in on a Chiefs or Saints game during a commercial.
And speaking of watching the game on TV while listening to the radio, it’s that time of year again when we mute that past-his-prime, Yankee apologist Tim McCarver and punch up Joe and Jerry on the radio during the ALCS and the World Series.
And if you need a reminder that the Sox-Yankees ALCS is nothing more than a battle of good vs. evil, may I suggest that you try to dial up 660 AM WFAN New York at night and listen to Yankee fans try to make an articulate point.
Don’t you love it when referee Bernie Kukar says “First Down” in that thick Minnesota accent?
That Michael Vick Nike ad where the guy runs through an amusement park ride has to be one of the funniest, most enjoyable football ads we’ve seen in some time.
During their halftime update, the Fox crew threatened to bring their pre-game show to Foxboro for this Sunday’s matchup against the Seahawks.
I’ve always enjoyed listening to Dick Enberg call a game. He may have had the line of the year when he said that it could be devastating if Tom Brady got his dimple cut up when he was being bandaged up on the Patriots sideline in the first half.
And even if you aren’t yet sick of these annoying e-mails that ask you to transfer money in order to save a third-world dictator, 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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