November 15, 2004
What A Cakewalk
BY: Kevin Rousseau
Well, that one was over before it began, wasn’t it?
Sunday night’s game against the Bills was over by nine o’clock and had the Bills warming up the bus by halftime. Usually, I take notes as the game progresses. It helps me to look back at key plays and trends that are useful when I put together this column. On Sunday night - for the first time in recent memory - I closed the notebook at halftime, knowing full well that this one was in the books.
So much for the NFL’s third-ranked defense. Tom Brady and company made them look like a junior varsity squad. So much for Willis McGahee and his ability to help the Bills control the clock. And most telling, so much for a revised Drew Bledsoe who was due to beat his old team at some point, right?
Drew’s 4th quarter interception to his old favorite target, Troy Brown, may be a candidate for ESPN.com Bill Simmons’ Unintentional Comedy Hall of Fame. Dear God, how many times have we heard Gil Santos announce “Bledsoe to Brown” over the years? Hundreds perhaps. Well, one more time for old time’s sake sure elicited quite a chuckle, didn’t it?
Before I try and describe just how far the former Patriot star has dropped off, let me just say that he does not deserve this fate. He is a decent man, a class act and a good quarterback at times. He could have easily divided the team during the 2001 season but he put his personal feelings aside for the good of the team and it brought the Patriots their first championship. But yeesh, has he become predictable or what? You feel a sack coming when an opposing pass rusher is still a few yards away from him. Nor do you have to worry about him marching his team down the field to beat you. Not anymore. Just how does he go 8 for 19 for 76 yards and throw three picks against a depleted Patriots secondary? This certainly isn’t the same quarterback who I pinned my hopes and dreams on for the better part of a decade. Those old #11 jerseys now collect mothballs in my closest while the #12 jersey gets a workout every weekend. Unfortunately, Drew will either be a backup next season or out of football. It’s a cruel business and it hasn’t been fair to Mr. Bledsoe over the last few years.
On to a happier subject, Sunday’s game proved again that the 2004 New England Patriots will go only as far as Corey Dillon takes them. Without him, they can be assured of a playoff position and nothing more. With him however, you can dream about extolling a pound of revenge flesh against the Steelers in January and looking into hotel reservations for the Jacksonville area in early February. Dillon allows the Patriots to control the time of possession (41 minutes to Buffalo’s 19) and not allow other teams to jump back into a game after the Patriots get a lead like they did on Sunday night. He does this by doing so many little things extremely well. For example, out of his 151 yards rushing, over 100 of them came after contact against an ordinarily good tackling Buffalo defense.
The other takeaway message from Sunday night is that this just about locks up another AFC East crown for the Pats. Currently, they have a two game lead over the Jets and own head-to-head tiebreakers with them. Hard to believe that it isn’t even Thanksgiving and it may be time to start focusing on securing that precious first-round bye and home field advantage, isn’t it?
And lastly - and especially for those of you watching in Allegheny County - please look at what happened to a team that Bill Belichick and the Patriots had a second crack at on Sunday night. Does the same fate await the Jets, Colts, or Steelers that the Bills ran into? Perhaps. The Steelers are rightfully ranked number one right now. But in January, Mr. Roethlisberger may not look like such a world beater under such a scenario.
Don’t believe me? Just ask Mr. Bledsoe.
Idle Zinger thoughts while rediscovering the Zen teachings of Grover from Sesame Street:
First off, I am pleased to announce that I am going to be a part of Channel 8’s (Portland, ME) “Patriots Game Day” program leading into next Monday night’s tilt between the Patriots and the Chiefs. We have an excellent program lined up including a live remote from Arrowhead Stadium, in-studio analysis with former player Ed McAleney and much more. If you want to see me walk the high wire on live television and you live in the Portland market, the program starts at 8 p.m.
Regular season MVP trophies are nice but Super Bowl MVP trophies actually matter. I say this as ammunition for your next sports bar discussion on the virtues of Peyton Manning versus Tom Brady.
Two games apiece Mr. Tagliabue, for those knuckleheads from Cleveland and Pittsburgh.
If you are a lukewarm college football fan (hello, self), you could do much worse than take in a LSU football game while channel surfing on a Saturday. Chances are that you will see a future Patriots player before your eyes.
Do you miss the referee who used to shout out “First Down!” as much as I do?
News item: The Bills have announced plans to revert back to their normal jerseys next year as opposed to continuing with their current get-ups. Our eyes thank you, Ralph Wilson.
Is there a more ridiculous piece of analysis that is given during a game than “That guy is a football player!” Huh. And all this time I thought I was watching a bass fishing program. Go figure.
Do you too get the feeling that a lot of these players who are “miked up” during a game are not really acting as they normally would?
Profootballtalk.com had an item where Steelers receiver Hines Ward was lobbying his team to go with an all-black look for a game a la the Ravens. Steelers Owner Dan Rooney responded by saying “Tell him I thought they (the Ravens) looked like they were in their underwear.”
And speaking of the Ravens, why do I have such a disdain for this team? Is it the nature of their relocation, the sandpaper personality of their head coach Brian Billick, or the University of Miami-style attitude?
And even if you don’t have a soft spot in your heart for a furry, friendly monster who also happens to be a clumsy waiter, 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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