January 16, 2005
Patriots Show Colts (And The Pundits) Just Who's The Boss
BY: Kevin Rousseau
You’d think they’d learn.
You’d think after seeing the same thing time after time, year after year, they wouldn’t keep drinking the Kool Aid.
Yet, this time they really thought Lucy was going to hold the ball for Charlie Brown’s field goal attempt.
So please allow me to extend warm congratulations to all of the national pundits and members of Colts Nation (even Jared from Subway) who thought they finally had the Patriots' Number. Please allow me to wipe the egg from that 6” sub off of your face.
What’s going to be the excuse this time out of Indianapolis? If you are keeping score (We would never do that here in vindictive New England, would we?), there’s the Willie McGinest fake injury last year in Indy, defensive holding in the AFC Championship game of a year ago and “but for a few turnovers” in this year’s opening game.
No excuses this time, Indianapolis. You just plain got your butt whipped.
Am I being a little boisterous in victory? Yes, you bet I am. I said all the right things all week. I said that there would be no shame in losing to the Colts if somehow that happened. I said I thought the Patriots would somehow win a tight game against a good team - maybe by two points. But deep down inside I was steaming. Steaming that the Patriots were being dismissed with a flick of the wrist. Steaming that winning two Super Bowls in three years didn’t account for anything heading into this game. Steaming that a defensive secondary that has played pretty good over the second half of the season was being pooh-poohed. And really steaming that supposedly home field and a first-round bye weren’t going to make a lick of difference.
Honestly, the hype leading up to the game couldn’t have worked out any better for the Patriots. A liquored-up kicker opened his mouth, the Colts webmaster jumped the gun and put up “AFC Champs” t-shirts for sale on the team’s website and everyone from Mike Golic down to the Dalai Lama picked the Colts to once and for all crush the Patriots. And it all was being fed into the Patriots “We don’t get no respect” machine” for consumption on Sunday.
But we knew better, didn’t we?
We knew that two weeks is a long time to prepare for a team. We knew that teams with a first-round bye have about a .800 winning percentage. We knew the weather would be our friend. We knew that Tom Brady, Willie McGinest, Tedy Bruschi and Co. just plain know how to win in January. And we trusted Bill Belichick and his staff to come up with a game plan that would work.
But what we didn’t know was just how dominating this Patriots performance would be.
In what can only be described as one of the most complete, dominating non-Super Bowl victories in franchise history, the Patriots shocked the experts and once again made Peyton Manning look like a fool.
It’s an historic victory because of its dominance of all facets of the game against a supposedly better team.
You can boil down this game to those two clock chewing drives of 87 yards and 94 yards in the second half that totaled 15:40 of ball control. In my view, both of these drives are right up there in Patriots history with Brady’s 10-for-10 drive against the Raiders in the snow. On the first drive in the third quarter with the Patriots hanging on to a tenuous 6-3 lead, Corey Dillon and unsung hero Kevin Faulk combined for 11 carries for 65 yards. It was a classic, old-school “We’re going to keep running the ball down your throat and there is nothing you can do about it” drive culminating with Brady finding David Givens in the end zone.
But just as demoralizing as this drive had to have been to the Colts defense, it must have been equally frustrating to Peyton Manning. There he stewed on the sideline as the Patriots drove into the snow and denied him a chance to march down the field with the wind at his back in the third quarter.
And then for good measure, they did it again in the fourth quarter to put the game out of reach. All that was left was for the Patriots to see if they could hold the Second Coming to only three points.
To single out any one Patriot player in the rest of the column would do a disservice to any other player on that roster right down to the practice squadders. It was such a joy to see every player play so well with such confidence. If I talked about Randall Gay, I’d be slighting Asante Samuel. If I mentioned Jarvis Green, I’d be dissing Ty Warren.
The reason that the Patriots are going to beat the Steelers next week and win their third Super Bowl in four years is pretty simple really.
Everyone from the trainer to Tom Brady understands their role and executes it within their God-given ability. And then you have a coaching staff that never asks for more than each of them can deliver; that never puts them on an island; that never humiliates them and most importantly, demonstrates to them time after time that old adage.
The power of the team is greater than of any individual. And from the team’s success will come individual accolades and fulfillment.
Corny? Yeah, sure.
But tell me I’m wrong. Go ahead, I’m waiting.
And I’ll still be waiting when I dance down a street in downtown Jacksonville at about 11:30 on the night of February 6th after a supposedly washed up, banged up team takes their rightful place among the great dynasties in the history of the NFL with their third Super Bowl title in four years.
Idle Zinger thoughts while waiting for the R&D department at Fisher Price to develop the “Baby Mind Reader:”
So here’s the scene: Bath and Body Works is having their semi-annual sale and I’m over there last week stocking up. My tailgating buddy Glenn calls me on my cell and asks where I am. Trying to overcome the bad connection on the call, I shout out “I’m being a metrosexual on my lunch hour.” Based on the looks I got, I think it’s safe to say that it was the first time that someone in a Ted Johnson game jersey yelled that out inside a Bath and Body Works.
Please tell me who gets a bigger free pass than Brett Favre? Instead of diving for a 1st down inside the 5 yard-line against the Vikings, he carelessly chucks the ball in the end zone after crossing the line of scrimmage. Afterwards, the Fox TV team of Joe Buck and Co. thought it was funny. That’s not funny. That’s just plain stupid and if anyone else pulled that, they would be rightfully vilified.
I heard the club seats at Gillette Stadium (You know, those primo red seats in the middle of the field) referred to as the “wine and cheese seats.” Perfect.
Is there anything more mind numbing than listening to a radio description of a referee reviewing a controversial play?
Look for a “Best of 2004-05 Zingers” column in this space in the coming weeks. Hey, give me points for learning as I’m going. It’s a quick way to do a column with half the work. I cut out the middleman and pass the savings along to you.
Since 1991, the only other time that 8-8 teams made the playoffs was in 1999 when both the Dallas Cowboys and the Detroit Lions backed in.
Looking for a reason why the NFL remains the number one sport year after year? Since the merger in 1970, on average, about 25% of the games are decided by three points or less.
Why wouldn’t you hire Romeo Crennel?
I’ve got to say that I like the changes in starting times for playoff games. For us East Coasters, you can do your thing during the day and still catch both games.
After seeing all of these playoff placekicking adventures, don’t you appreciate Mr. Vinatieri even more?
These have been heady times but need I remind you of the early 1990s. Well, the folks at Street and Smith’s did. Just as I was about to throw out their 2004 Pro Football issue, it dropped onto the floor and opened to the page discussing the worst teams in League History. Out of 1,310 teams, the 1990 Patriots were ranked second and just beat out the 1981 Baltimore Colts. The next time you complain about Tom Brady, think about this. The 1990 Patriots scored more than 20 points in a game just once all season and didn’t top 14 points in the final eight games.
And even if you would choose Freesia soap over Sea Cucumber, I would still like to hear from you. I can be reached at email@example.com.
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 The Reporter (Waterboro/Hollis, ME), the Twin City Times (Lewiston/Auburn, ME), the American Journal (Westbrook/Gorham, ME), the Current (Scarborough/Cape Elizabeth/South Portland, ME), the Village Soup Times (Camden/Rockland/Belfast, ME), and the Lakes Region Suburban Weekly (Windham, ME).
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