January 30, 2005
Caution Patriots Fans: Don't Get Too Cocky
BY: Kevin Rousseau
“The Patriots got this one in the bag.”
“No problemo. Start printing off those dynasty t-shirts,” I caught myself thinking while shoveling my driveway virtually every day last week. “There’s no way the Eagles are going to do what the Colts or Steelers couldn’t do. And if you give Bill Belichick two weeks to prepare for a team, well, it’s as good as a done deal.”
And so has gone my thinking as we look ahead to next Sunday and Super Bowl XXXIX. I like the Patriots balance on offense. I also like the way they step up in big games. And I really like the fact that Richard Seymour will be back for the big game.
But then, unfortunately, I sat down and watched the University of Maine hockey team on television last Saturday night and my outlook on the tilt with the Eagles took a sobering turn for the worse.
How could a college hockey game that was taking place in Orono, Maine affect my thinking on the biggest game on the entire planet? After reading this you’re probably thinking “Now you’ve really gone over the cliff this time, bucko. I’ve put up with your fifty-cent analysis long enough, Rousseau. Have some more cough syrup, why don’t ya!”
You see, I was just as confident (perhaps, even more so-if you can believe it) before Maine played in last year’s NCAA national championship game against the University of Denver. “They’re practically playing in their backyard here at the Fleet Center. They just knocked off BC in the semis and this Denver team had no business winning its semi-final against Minnesota-Duluth. I can’t believe I am going to see Maine win another national championship with my own eyes.”
Well, a funny thing happened on the way to the coronation that night. Maine somehow lost 1-0 despite having a 6-on-3 advantage during the final minute of play. The shocking loss made for a very, very long ride back up the Maine Turnpike and a surreal scene at the Kennebunk rest area as bummed out Maine fans looked to drown their sorrows with a Whopper with cheese.
“You’re comparing apples and oranges, Kevo. College hockey and pro football are on two different planets.” Well, perhaps. But what is comparable is the feeling of (over) confidence that seeped inside of my being before each of these championship games. Let’s face a fact. Winning past championships brings about an arrogance to the fans of a team. Whether it’s '93 and '99 in the Black Bears case or Super Bowls 36 and 38 in the Patriots case, you just know your team is going to pull through again, don’t you?
Still think I’m smoking something a little funny? Okay, how about the more topical example of Super Bowl XXXVI. Go ahead and ask a Rams fan how they were feeling heading into that game as a fourteen-point favorite against a team that “shouldn’t have been there.” Remember that at the time, Mike Martz was considered an offensive “genius.” Now he’s just considered plain offensive.
If the Rams and Patriots played ten games against each other in 2002, I would guess that the Rams would have won probably seven or eight out of those ten games. They were just that explosive on offense and their defense wasn’t too shabby either. The trouble for Martz and the Rams was that the whole enchilada was decided in the span of three and a half hours. And the Patriots seized the opportunity of a lifetime from an over-confident Rams team that night. My point is this: anything can happen when it’s one and done like it will be this Sunday.
Now, do I think the Patriots are going to pull a Rams/Black Bear special this Sunday night? No, I do not. This is a team that is always well prepared, confident and experienced playing in the spotlight. Besides, this is a team that is far more balanced on offense than the Eagles. But am I just a little more tempered in my enthusiasm for a Patriots victory. I sure am. Donovan McNabb is no Ben Roethlisberger. And Andy Reid doesn’t have brain cramps like Bill Cowher seems to when the game, and indeed the season, is on the line like he did early in the fourth quarter of the AFC Championship game.
In many ways the two week break before the Super Bowl is a good thing. It gives the two team’s followers adequate time to line up travel and ticket arrangements. The two weeks also allows banged up players time to heal in order that the teams can present their best possible squads for the game.
But the down side of the two weeks is that it gives fans, analysts and the players too much time to think. Given two weeks, we’ll all have twisted and analyzed this game six ways to Sunday. The two weeks has gotten me off my high horse.
Take a cue from your team and don’t get over confident, Patriots fans. Remember, there’s a difference between a quiet confidence and being overconfident.
Choose wisely this week.
Idle Zinger thoughts while appreciating the comedic genius that was Vic Tayback in TV’s “Alice”:
What’s the deal with Bill Belichick’s Duran Duran headband that he’s been spotted wearing lately? Perhaps Jon Bon Jovi gave it to him.
For the life of me, I still can’t figure out who got the better of the draft day trade that landed Michael Vick in Atlanta and Drew Brees and LaDanian Tomlinson in San Diego.
All these old timers keep telling us about a fair catch kick. I’ve never seen one and frankly, these things occur about as often as a State of Maine budget surplus. That is, never. If one actually does occur (I’m talking about a fair catch kick now and not a state surplus-that comes around with the occurrence of Haley’s Comet), “the receiving team has the option to put the ball in play…with fair catch kick lines established ten yards apart.” No tee would be used and the defensive team couldn’t rush the kicker. I’m pretty sure that the only time this would likely occur is at the end of a half and no time left on the clock. Don’t hold your breath.
Foxboro Sports Tavern in Naples, Florida is a home away from home for a lot of expatriates living in Florida. If you stop in, say hi to Joe and tell him his old neighbor from Section 305 in Foxboro Stadium says hello.
There’s been a lot of baaaaaaaaad ads featuring NFL players over the years. I won’t make you bring up your lunch by mentioning any of them. But the one I remember as being a riot was when Steve Young and George Seifert were set in Japan doing karaoke to “Bossa Nova Baby.” As a side note, I’ll have you know that they didn’t call me Karoake Kev in college for nothing. It’s true. For example, I knocked them dead with a stunning rendition of “Welcome To The Jungle” one night during dinner at Fox Hall. If memory serves me right, that was the last time they had karaoke in the dining area.
With a win on Sunday, the Patriots would tie the Redskins, Raiders and Packers with three Super Bowl wins apiece. The Cowboys and 49ers have five titles and the Steelers have four. Do the last two sentences take your breath away? They should.
The Arizona Cardinals have finally upgraded their look. They introduced a meaner looking Cardinal on a black helmet last week. Now how about upgrading the players?
Tim Fox and Pete Brock have become welcome, articulate additions to the rotation of Patriot talking heads that grace the local television airwaves. I appreciate the fact that they can make their point without having to shout down their fellow panelists.
And even if you don’t want Flo to tell Mel to “kiss her grits,” 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).
Site-specific editorial/photos Copyright 2001-2004 PatsFans.com. This website is an unofficial and independently operated source of news and information not affiliated with any school, team, or league.