November 08, 2005
The End Of An Era
BY: Kevin Rousseau
Let me help you with that shoe as you try it on the other foot.
We finally got what was coming to us and the entire nation probably couldn’t be any happier. For what seems like an eternity, the Patriots have been the gold standard in the NFL. They could do no wrong. They were well coached, executed plays to perfection and always did the right thing at the right time.
They always found ways to win against seemingly stacked odds (see past Colts, Steelers and Rams playoff triumphs). They would disguise glaring weaknesses and make sure that they weren’t exposed.
The 2005 New England Patriots got exposed as exactly what they are on Monday night in an embarrassing 40-21 smackdown against the Colts. Namely, a mediocre team that is going to have its hands full just to win the putrid AFC East.
If your stomach isn’t churning yet, allow me to submit a few occurrences that symbolize just what a fraud of contender this team has been so far.
During the second quarter, Corey Dillon fumbles in the red zone on a game tying drive. The Colts take advantage of a timely turnover (remember such an animal?) and drive down the field to make it a 21-7 game at the half. Perhaps most nauseating was the successful 3rd and goal touchdown pass from Peyton Manning to Reggie Wayne when everyone in the stadium knew the ball was coming Wayne’s way once it was evident that Duane Starks was out there by himself in coverage.
There are plenty of ways to slice a Patriots defensive blame pie but Starks probably should get the biggest piece. In the first half his primary responsibility, Wayne, had six catches for 65 yards. Starks didn’t see the field in the second half and likely won’t see practice on Wednesday. Where art thou, Earthwind Moreland? We miss you.
After a Daniel Graham touchdown made it a 14 point game in the middle of the 3rd quarter, the Patriots uncharacteristically tried an onside kick (look up “panic move” in the dictionary) that was a cross between a Shrine Circus act and an Australian Rules Football kickoff. The result was a stunning -8 yard kickoff that gift-wrapped at least three points for the Colts after they were awarded the ball on the New England 22 yard-line.
I understand that it is easy to be an armchair quarterback and criticize failed, high-risk calls. But an onside kick in the middle of the 3rd quarter with the real possibility that it may not work out? After the bizarre call, the air was let out of the crowd at Gillette Stadium and the game was effectively over.
For all the times that Bill Belichick and his coaching staff have put his team in a position to win games over the years, on this night they did just the opposite with such a bizarre call.
If you have a shred of decency - and perhaps humanity - you do have to feel sympathy for long-suffering Colts fans (see Red Sox 2004 for emotion verification). The monkey is finally off of their Hoosier backs and they can legitimately put up AFC Champs t-shirts for sale on the Colts website. Nobody is going to catch them.
Speaking of legitimacy, if the Colts wanted it, they sure got it on Monday night. The difference on offense in this tilt as opposed to past encounters was Edgerrin James (34 attempts for 104 yards) and his ability to gain at least three yards on virtually every carry. He was able to do so because the Colts offensive line pushed around the Patriots front seven like they were a blocking sled.
And on defense, the Colts had no need to rush more than their front four down lineman as they, by themselves mind you, were getting plenty of pressure on Tom Brady all night long.
As for the rest of the Patriots season, I offer one observation.
Warning: Objects in the Patriots rearview mirror (namely the Bills, Jets and Dolphins) may be closer than they appear. After watching Peyton Manning finally rip apart the Patriots secondary for 321 yards, how can any objective Patriots observer be convinced that this is a legitimate playoff team in the ultra-boring AFC East.
I hope you enjoyed the Patriots run over the last few years. I know I sure did. It fulfilled all of my dreams and then some. And now the plug has been pulled.
It’s time for a new dominant NFL machine to be juiced up. And that appliance is the Indianapolis Colts. It slices, dices and makes quick work out of other NFL teams.
Just ask the shredded New England Patriots.
P>Idle Zinger thoughts while watching one too many episodes of the “What’s Happening!!” marathon on TV Land last weekend:
You’re not going to believe this, but the Colts are scheduled to come to Foxboro in the 2006 season.
San Diego Tight End Antonio Gates’ hands are so soft he should be doing ads for Palmolive.
Never in a million years did I think I would be rooting for Notre Dame football.
On Ebay this week, I came across Dave Meggett’s Super Bowl XXV ring up for auction. With a little more than a day left to go, it was already up to $40,100.
Or if you have $75,000 to throw around, you could bid on Adam Vinatieri’s custom made Super Bowl chopper.
You’re not going to believe this either but the most interesting analyst on the Sirius NFL channel is John Riggins in the afternoon. Conversely, Sirius is trying to put people back asleep by having Dan Reeves do the “Opening Drive” in the morning.
Another guy that I like a lot but can’t tell you exactly why is Tim Fox on his Sunday night gig with NESN.
I suppose that it’s the same mentality as when you were a kid and was the first one on your block to have the new Star Wars action figure. Such is the feeling I currently have strolling through Patriot Nation wearing a 2005 Tedy Bruschi Pro Bowl replica jersey.
Since 2001, the Patriots are 39-5 (.886) after November 1. Before November 1 in the same time period, they are 22-14 (.611).
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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