October 16, 2005
Patriots Show Grit Despite Loss
BY: Kevin Rousseau
“That’s my job, to keep getting up and keep fighting. We showed some resiliency. I don’t think we hung our head. We thought we had a chance to make some plays there at the end.”-Patriots QB Tom Brady after being asked how he keeps getting up after being knocked down.
Sure, there are no medals for trying in professional football. But if there were, the Patriots would have been fitted for big, fat shining one after nearly pulling off an improbably 25 point comeback against Denver on Sunday.
There is no need to review the putrid first half display put on by the Patriots. You could choose between alarming lapses of secondary coverage, having little success stopping the Bronco running game or the fact that Tom Brady spent more time on his rear end than Archie Bunker.
We collectively hung our heads at halftime and into the third quarter, thinking “Well, here’s another San Diego-style blowout to cap off my rain-infested weekend. Great. Can’t wait for that boring meeting tomorrow morning in the office. Is dinner ready, hon?”
So the Pats get a field goal to make it a 28-6 game - maybe it was arrogance or naïvete, I’m not sure really - and suddenly the Patriots had the momentum. Down by 22, mind you. It was as if you could tell what was going to happen before it happened. Deep inside your gut you knew the Pats would score a few touchdowns to make the game play out for a full four quarters.
And that’s just what this JV-version of the Super Bowl Patriot dynasty almost pulled off.
By the way, I can’t go any further before mentioning the JV MVP of Sunday’s game: Patrick Pass. Pass maybe the equivalent of the girl in high school that you didn’t give a second look to for three and a half years and then suddenly come senior prom time, she’s on the top of your list. He did everything within his means to give his team a chance to win on Sunday. Many of those tasks were outside of his realm of expertise. And for that, he turned me on.
The cynics among us will say “The Pats didn’t make enough plays to win. It doesn’t matter whether they lost by eight, 25 or 73 points. A loss is a loss.” And they are indeed right to a certain extent.
But consider the following extenuating circumstances before passing judgment on the pre-bye week, JV version of the 2005 New England Patriots: they had only two healthy running backs for the Denver game as Corey Dillon was a late scratch and the secondary and offensive line had about as much cool as a student teacher settling in for his first day.
For sure, the bye week couldn’t have come at a better time. We’ll follow the Tedy Bruschi comeback, hope that Richard Seymour and Corey Dillon get healthy and - if we cross our fingers - maybe even Matt Light. And maybe the Patriots will re-discover their time-proven technique of tackling opposing players.
Keep in mind also that besides the looming Indy showdown on Nov. 7, the schedule gets much, much easier in the second half. How does the thought of Tampa Bay and Miami coming up to Foxboro in the final three weeks of the season turn you on? I knew it would. Mix in Vinny and the Jets, the Bills, the Saints and you have the makings for a run that will get the Patriots into the playoffs. Maybe not a first-round bye, mind you (man, we’ve become snobs around here) but it will get them into the dance.
Maybe the glass is half-full in my eyes but I have to believe that the worst football is behind them. If you had to bet whether they would get better, worse or stay the same, where would have them? Right now, past team history, a favorable schedule and the improbable return of #54 has got to have you believe that they will be heard from come January.
Do they have problems that will most likely keep them from a third consecutive Super Bowl title? You bet. Dead last in red zone defense is no way to go through life, son. Or how about three measly takeaways for the defense through the first six games?
And in Super years, there seems to be a knack for making a big play at a big time. If that was the case this year, Jarvis Green’s hand would have been four inches the other way and he would have batted down a Jake Plummer pass to Rod Smith late in the fourth quarter. Instead, it went for a first down and sealed the game for the Broncos. Or Chad Brown blocks a Todd Sauerbrun punt in the third quarter instead of the punt somehow getting off without a hitch.
Ask anyone associated with the NFL and they’ll tell you, it is indeed a game of inches. Sometimes they go your way and sometimes they don’t. For a long, improbable time those breaks have gone the Patriots way. This year they haven’t been.
No one at One Patriot Place will tell you anything but “a loss is a loss” yet heading into a long two week break, they have got to believe that they are a lot closer to righting the ship than letting it drift out to sea.
Funny how losing by only eight points can make things look okay.
Idle Zinger thoughts while believing that trying to remove wallpaper is the most mind-numbing home improvement task known to man:
It’s the bye week and that means one thing around here. The lovely and talented Mrs. Rousseau’s practically world-famous “Bye Week Guest Column.” It’s her annual chance to take her shots at me for all of my strange behavior throughout the last year. With a new baby and another on the way and regular TV gigs on my plate, I am sure that I am in for a beating.
You’re a big fat liar if you think Pete Carroll was going to be this good at USC.
If you are a boat operator on Lake Winnipesaukee and get a call from area code 508 this week looking for a charter cruise for 30 or so football players, please do all of us in Patriot Nation a favor and tell the caller that you are all booked up.
News item: Jets sign 42 year-old Vinny Testaverde. In a related matter, Richard Todd has been contacted about a backup role.
Mediocre former NFL quarterback Gary Hogaboom is lighting it up on “Survivor.” What’s next? Former Lions signal caller Eric Hipple appearing on “Fear Factor?”
Forget about a litmus test built around your support (or lack thereof) for the war. You are un-American if the first five notes of the Monday Night Football theme music don’t raise the hair on your arms.
If the Globe’s Mike Reiss’ Patriots blog isn’t on your favorites list and getting hit two times a day, you need to re-think your life’s priorities, friend. During the Denver game, he provided instant analysis at halftime and had post-game transcripts of Brady and Belichick up in lightening quick fashion. Mark my words: Work like the stuff Reiss is doing is the future of sports journalism. Print media is going the way of the dinosaurs I’m afraid.
This column also appears in the American Journal (Westbrook/Gorham, Maine), the Current (Scarborough/Cape Elizabeth/South Portland, Maine), the Lakes Region Suburban Weekly (Windham/Naples, Maine), the Citizen (Sacopee Valley, Maine), the Reporter (Waterboro/Hollis, Maine), the Sun Chronicle (Saco/Old Orchard Beach, Maine), and online at VillageSoup.com (Belfast, Camden, Rockland, Maine).
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