February 07, 2005
Immortality for the Patriots
BY: Kevin Rousseau
It turns out Ricky Proehl was right.
Minutes before Super Bowl XXXVI, the Rams’ Ricky Proehl confidently said to a NFL Films camera “Tonight, a dynasty was born.” Well, he was right; he just had the wrong team in mind.
We can sit here and argue about whether or not winning three Super Bowls in four years is a dynasty. I suppose it depends on just what your standard is. Is it the Canadiens, Celtics, or Yankees teams that have dominated over decades and not just a few years? Or is it dominance over a four or five year period? Who cares? You’re arguing over style points and semantics.
But what we do have on our hands tonight, Patriots Nation, is immortality. No more talk about a “lucky” Super Bowl win against the Rams or this or that. No more talk about the Patriots being vulnerable. No matter what happens from this point forward, the Patriot teams of the first part of this decade will forever be remembered for their dominance and will have to be mentioned in the same breath with the other great teams in the history of the NFL - the Packers, Steelers, 49ers, etc.
And I don’t think that I am buying a subscription to Hyperbole Weekly when I propose that all of our dreams and hopes have been fulfilled by this franchise on this beautiful evening in Jacksonville. I mean, come on, what else can we ask for? We have come to a logical conclusion to our thirst for league-wide respect among fans from other teams and the national media. For many of us (my father comes to mind), we have invested a great deal of emotion, money and sanity over the last thirty or forty years in search for the quenching of this thirst. Mission accomplished, folks.
And isn’t it amazing how our mentality has changed over the last few years when it comes to situations when a championship is on the line. A few years ago, we would be slitting our wrists and looking for a local bridge when the Eagles got the ball back with 46 seconds left in the game and a chance to tie or win the game. Now that we own the corner market on professional postseason hardware in New England, we have the confidence that our team is going to make a play or two that is going to seal the deal. Tonight’s offering was late fourth quarter interceptions by Tedy Bruschi and Rodney Harrison. Such big playmaking is the true mark of a champion.
I don’t know what it is about these Patriots and Super Bowl wins. As a comparison to the two previous Super Bowl wins, this one was a blowout. A three-point lead with less than two minutes left? Time to warm up the bus, gang.
The Patriots didn’t warm up the bus by themselves, though. They have the Eagles coaching staff and Donovan McNabb to thank for turning the key on the ignition as they played the final 8:40 of the fourth quarter like it was the fourth exhibition game in August. Hey guys, you are down by 10 points in the latter half of the fourth quarter in the Super Bowl and you are taking your time getting in and out of the huddle? Thanks very much, Andy Reid. No need to send us flowers this Valentine’s Day. You gave us our sweetheart gift a week early this year.
But the game sure didn’t start out with the Patriots giving us a whole lot to be confident about, did it? Perhaps it was big game nerves or a good Eagles defensive game plan, but the offense was stagnant in the first half. When was the last time the Patriots had five penalties in the first half including a few false starts? And a red zone turnover? Come on, guys!
Yet despite this subpar first half, you had to like the Patriots chances as they headed into the half tied up at 7-7. To play that bad, and be even with thirty minutes to play, you figured that they would use the long halftime to make the necessary adjustments while figuring out how to gain the lead in the third quarter. After sitting through a lifetime of Super Bowls, it appears that more times than not the first and sometimes second quarter is a big feeling out process between the two teams. Think about the first few rounds of a big prize fight and you’ll start to see my point.
Not to be forgotten when thinking back to halftime is Eugene Wilson’s late second quarter, game-ending injury. Thanks to Sir Paul’s four song set, Eric Mangini and Romeo Crennel had plenty of time to work with Dexter Reid and make sure they were well prepared in the secondary. There would be few defensive breakdowns like we saw at the end of last year’s Super Bowl win against Carolina. Sure, he got beat on a deep post late in the game but a game ball has to go to Reid for coming into the Super Bowl as a rookie and not being heard from very often. If you dare to take a minute to think to the future, the Patriots have a darn good, young secondary to carry them forward into the future.
How do I try to put a bow on this column and the season to finish it off? I could thank Bill Belichick and company for making a lot of dreams come true. Maybe I’ll remember the frantic cell phone calls I made after it was over to some of my dearest friends as we shared the moment. Maybe I’ll remember having an incredible experience down here in Jacksonville. Or just maybe, I’ll thank you, our loyal readers, for making this column such an enjoyable endeavor this season. I write this for you and hope you feel as blessed as I do right now.
As the old Chinese proverb wishes, we do live in interesting times. Appreciate and savor it, gang.
Idle Zinger thoughts while thinking Ricky Proehl must be kicking himself right now:
First off, this column is proudly dedicated to a young Patriots fan, Ethan Carlson, who went through a pretty tough procedure at Children’s Hospital in Boston last week. Hearing about his struggles humbles me and helps keep Super Bowls and other material matters in their right perspective. I am with you, guy.
And a big thanks to Comdoctor out of Augusta, Maine for providing with the laptop that I’ve used while I’ve been down here covering the game. Check them out if you need a new computer or service on your existing one.
ESPN.com Page 2’s Dave Fleming is a modern-day Nostradamus. In a fantastic January 27th column he rightly predicted “The media in Jacksonville will be staying at a nice, new downtown hotel, will be fed with extravagant buffets roughly every two hours, will be bused to the front door of every event, will be showered with freebies, will be force-fed quotes, notes and anecdotes, will be admitted to the best parties and will be given a sweet seat inside the stadium for the game. And by Thursday of next week, everyone will be whining about what an absolute nightmare it is in Jacksonville.”
The thing about Andrea Kremer is that when you see that her segment on ESPN is about to begin, you just have to stop and watch because you know that it is going to be good.
The Commissioner of Agriculture in Florida is a Charles Bronson. No kidding.
Bostonsportsmedia.com was at its absolute best this week as it was all over the Ken Powers plagiarism story. The former Patriot beat writer from the Worcester Telegram & Gazette was caught stealing a bunch of stories from other writers, called home from the Super Bowl and subsequently fired a few days later.
Let me let you in on a little Super Bowl merchandise secret. If you are in town for the game, go to a local Wal-Mart or supermarket for the most reasonable prices on trinkets. For large apparel items, don’t pay retail like the rest of those fools. Wait until the Monday after the game and assault the downtown souvenir stores for deep, deep savings.
I just wanted to let you know that I love the sound that the muskets make when they are fired by the minutemen hanging out in the end zone of Gillette Stadium after a Patriot score.
Speaking of NFL merchandise, did you know that sales of apparel to women has tripled in the last year.
I am told by some folks that if you are not a Patriots club seat or suite season ticket holder, your odds of being chosen in the lottery for Super Bowl tickets are pretty slim.
While in Orange County, California, you can feel like you are at home when you watch the game with the Orange County Patriots Fan Club at the National Sports Grill in Santa Ana.
I half felt like Clark W. Griswold knocking on his long, lost relative’s door in Germany during “European Vacation” when I rolled onto Eunice Rd. in Jacksonville Beach at 10 p.m. on Friday night. I am pleased to report that things turned out better for me than they did for Clark and Ellen.
The NFL Experience - Disney Land for football fans - is worth the trip itself.
I think the thing that takes my breath away while watching NFL Films is the way they slow the game down to about half speed.
It must be a law in Philadelphia that you can’t own a Donovan McNabb jersey without holding a beer in your hand.
And even if you aren’t yet sick of that Philly accent, 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 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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