November 24, 2004
Grogan's Grade: Week 10
BY: With Steve Grogan & R.R. Marshall
R.R. Marshall: Steve, you expected a wide open, high-scoring game between the Patriots and Chiefs on Monday night. Did the 27-19 final score in favor of the Pats surprise you?
Steve Grogan: I wasn’t surprised that the Patriots came out on top, but there weren’t as many points put up by the two teams as I thought there would probably be. I thought both defenses played much better than expected, and I was impressed the way the Patriots defense played considering they kept losing cornerbacks as the game wore on. The Patriots were a little more consistent in picking up third down conversions (8 of 12); Brady converted three in a row on their opening drive that led to a touchdown and I thought that was a big key.
I was thinking last night the Patriots have almost become like a machine. They were losing defensive backs right and left and had guys playing hurt out on the corner against a team like the Chiefs that can throw the ball as well as any team in the National Football League and they just keep getting it done. Troy Brown ended up playing even more time on defense than he has the last couple of weeks because of the defensive backfield being all dinged up. It doesn’t to matter who’s playing what part, they just go out and win and it’s been a lot of fun to watch.
RRM: If there was a key sequence in the game it occurred at the start of the second half where the Chiefs held the ball for over eight minutes on a long, 15-play drive that netted them three points only to see the Patriots take the ball and put up seven in only four plays. That had to be discouraging to the Chiefs?
SG: I thought that was a big factor in the game. The Chiefs were just methodically chewing up yardage to start the third quarter, and for the Patriots to hold them to a field goal there was really important. Then for them to turn around and score themselves in such quick fashion really took the wind out of their sails.
RRM: I know every team has the chart on the sidelines with all the numbers that tells them when to go for two points, but when the Chiefs went for two trailing 24-19 with so much time remaining it left me scratching my head. What did you think of the decision?
SG: I thought the Chiefs made a couple of tactical errors in the game and that was one of them. The other was not kicking the field goal at the end of the first half because that eventually ended up costing them points. I just thought it was too early to go for a touchdown there when you have a guaranteed field goal. They went for it on fourth down and got it, but then Trent Green ended up throwing the interception in the endzone to Rodney Harrison so they ended up with no points at all. You just have to take points when you get the chance because it will come to back to haunt you.
RRM: The Kansas City Chiefs have one of the better if not the best offensive lines in the NFL, but I thought they were totally outplayed by the Patriots defensive line in this game. What was your take?
SG: The front four was getting some pressure against the Chiefs, and even though they weren’t getting to Trent Green to sack him they were in his face and caused some problems for him. They also succeeded in totally shutting down the running game for Kansas City, which kind of surprised me. They were missing their Pro Bowl running back Priest Holmes but his replacement Derrick Blaylock had run for 186 yards the week before. He got absolutely nothing against the Patriots, as their defensive front played just an outstanding game and that was another big key in the game.
RRM: The Chiefs gained over 380 yards in the air and you would think that would have translated into a few more points than they actually had?
SG: Trent Green put up a ton of yards throwing the ball, but when his team needed to score the Patriots kept them out of the endzone. I thought they did a good job on the Chiefs’ tight end Tony Gonzalez. He had seven catches for 86 yards but nothing that really killed them. It sounds simple but their gameplan was to keep the Chiefs out of the endzone and aside from two poor plays by their substitute corners they did what they set out to do.
RRM: It’s strange but this Patriots’ defense still isn’t talked about when the great defenses in the league are brought up. Do you feel they are still underrated?
SG: It’s funny but when you hear people talking about the great defenses in the NFL they bring up the Ravens and then maybe the Steelers, but I just don’t think you hear that much about the Patriots’ defense or if you do it all revolves around Bill Belichick and how he can outthink the other coaches. A lot of times the players aren’t getting the kind of credit they deserve.
RRM: You know what is, the Patriots defense needs a nickname! All the great NFL defenses of the past had one, like the Steel Curtain or Orange Crush, so why not one for this Patriots’ defense?
SG: There you go. I guess we need a contest. Get everyone on the message board busy today and come up with a good one.
RRM: Deion Branch had a big game in his first game back after being out since the second week of the season, making six catches for 105 yards. His touchdown in the fourth quarter really made the difference in the game?
SG: Deion Branch was out for so long I think we all forgot about how much of a big playmaker he is really is. He wasn’t supposed to play that much against the Chiefs but he ended up making a couple of huge plays, including the touchdown that had one of the best runs after the catch that a Patriots’ receiver has had this season. That touchdown gave the Patriots the cushion they needed to keep the Chiefs at arms length the rest of the way and really was a pivotal play in the game, so having Branch back after some 9 weeks was a big plus for this team.
RRM: We have to give a mention to David Graham who had three big catches in this game for the Patriots. He has been used more in blocking situations the past few games, but wasn’t it good to see him used as a receiver in this game?
SG: You knew eventually Graham would get involved in the offense at some point and on Monday night he got involved again. He made a couple of big plays, particularly early in the game where the Patriots picked up the blitz and he was wide open. I think the reason they felt they could do that was they were pretty confident about their pass protection against the Chiefs. This week when they are playing against a team like the Ravens where you are concerned about pass protection Graham will probably not be a huge factor in the pass offense again. The priority is keeping Tom Brady clean and they were able to do that against Kansas City without using Graham in the pass blocking scheme.
RRM: Speaking of our starting quarterback, Brady picked up what I’d like to call a very “quiet” 300-yard passing game against the Chiefs, if there is such a thing?
SG: I know what you mean, it really didn’t look like it was a 300-yard game just sitting there and watching it. Like I mentioned before he picked up some really key third down passes during the game that kept drives alive. Even if they didn’t result in points it burned time off the clock, and I thought Brady did a great job in that respect.
RRM: After losing the shutout to Buffalo last week on a kickoff return that went for a touchdown you had to wonder how the Patriots’ special teams would do against the Chiefs’ Dante Hall. How do you feel they fared?
SG: Kansas City has a very dangerous kick return specialist in Dante Hall and the Patriots coverage units did a pretty good job containing him. He had a couple of decent returns but nothing that was a killer. Both Adam Vinatieri and Josh Miller did a really good job of kicking the ball toward the sidelines and not giving him a lot of room to work with. When you can pin a kick returner like him on the sidelines or when your punter can kick the ball out of bounds inside the 20-yardline you’re really giving your team an advantage.
RRM: The sports world is still reeling from the aftermath of the riot involving Ron Artest of the Indiana Pacers and half the city of Detroit. Did you ever have anything happen like that during your time as a player?
SG: I saw the footage and if it wasn’t the most outrageous thing in sports I’ve ever seen it’s pretty close to it. This is still sport and it’s supposed to be fun for both the fans and the players but things are being taken much too seriously and there’s just no need for that kind of thing to take place. We’ve seen for years how the fans are out of control in Europe with the soccer brawls but we consider ourselves a more civilized country because we don’t do those kinds of things, but it’s starting to happen here now and it’s unfortunate.
During my playing days we had some brawls between players but never with the fans, although there were a few times I would have liked to have gone in the stands after a couple of guys but you just can’t do that! If you are a player you just have to be far more professional.
RRM: The Baltimore Ravens invade Foxboro on Sunday as the Patriots return home. Their young quarterback Kyle Boller is coming off a big game last Sunday, will he be a key in this game for the Ravens?
SG: Kyle Boller really doesn’t scare me much. He’s a good young quarterback and he had a pretty good game on Sunday, probably the best game he’s had so far in the NFL, but the Ravens are a team that is going to come out and pound you on the ground. Jamal Lewis hurt his ankle on Sunday and right now his status is up in the air for this game, but that is not going to change Brian Billick’s philosophy. They are going to try and run it down your throat and they are going to play great defense and try to win 10-7 or 13-10. The Ravens are a good football team but for them it all revolves around their defense, and I think their defense is scoring about as much as their offense. I just don’t think Kyle Boller will be a huge factor in the game, it’s going to come down to whether we can stop the Ravens’ running game and get enough points on the board to outscore them.
RRM: How will Thanksgiving be celebrated in the Grogan household this year?
SG: We’re just having a small family get together and for me it means a day off so I’m looking forward to it. We’ll all have dinner and later when my wife tells me it’s okay I’ll turn on the TV and watch the football games. I imagine that’s the procedure in a lot of households!
RRM: What are Grogan’s Grades win over the Chiefs in Week #10?
SG: They played a good overall football game, there’s no doubt about it. But even though the Patriots played well the Chiefs helped out by shooting themselves in the foot most of the night. They were very undisciplined and committed a lot of penalties at inopportune times, and that helped the Patriots. If Kansas City hadn’t made those mistakes things may have turned out differently. It wasn’t the best game the Patriots have played all year but they played solid football on both sides of the ball so I’ll give them A-‘s all around. Ty Warren made a lot of plays in this game (seven tackles, two sacks) and I thought both he and Richard Seymour played really well. Right now the Patriots are just playing really well on both sides of the ball and on special teams, and it doesn’t seem to matter who is out there. They’ve won 24 out of 25 and they keep finding a way to win. Let’s hope that formula keeps working.
Steve and all of us at PatsFans.com wish all of you a very Happy Thanksgiving. See you back here next Tuesday.
Steve and all of us at PatsFans.com wish all of you a very Happy Thanksgiving. See you back here next Tuesday.
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