October 01, 2006
Why Did I Write The Patriots Off?
BY: Kevin Rousseau
“Never in a million years did I think that they would blow them out,” my dad said as we left Foxboro Stadium after a shocking 44-13 win over the Colts on September 30, 2001. You may recall that the Colts were a team on the rise at the time and that the Patriots were still reeling from their franchise quarterback being seriously injured the week before against the Jets.
As surprised as we were on that day by the performance of Drew Bledsoe’s temporary replacement, I was just as equally thrilled after Sunday’s 38-13 throttling of the Bengals. Bob Ryan of the Boston Globe (BTW, I’ll take him as a columnist. You can have everybody else.) recently wrote that the best moments in sports come when, not expecting greatness, it suddenly appears right in front of you. Think of the 1999 Ryder Cup in Brookline, that 2001 Patriots season, or Rosie Ruiz (sorry-just seeing if you are paying attention) and you get the point.
Chalk Sunday’s victory up as one of these happy days for this citizen of Patriot Nation. Like many of you, I thought the Patriots were going to get killed. Let’s look at what lead up to the game: The Bengals beat the Steelers in Pittsburgh the week before. The Patriots offense looked like a fire drill the first three games of the season. Two starters in the team’s secondary are scratched in a game against an excellent passing attack. You can fill in some of your own disaster scenarios.
For sure, it will be difficult not to overreact over this amazing victory. Keep in mind that it’s just one game in a sixteen game season. Many of us (present company included) were ready to blow off the season after last Sunday’s 17-7 loss at home to Denver. And look how that turned out. As we have learned over the years, the win over the Bengals will mean little if the Patriots can’t build on it this coming Sunday against the 1-3 Dolphins at home. A win over Miami will put the Fins in a serious three game hole in the AFC East.
Only the most faithful or delusional fans (I heard from plenty of you last week after my rip job over the Denver game) could have imagined a scenario that saw the Pats win in their now-patented fashion. Two touchdowns that sealed the game were scored off turnovers in the fourth quarter. The defense kept things manageable at 6-0 well into the second quarter before the offense got going. The Patriots coaching staff out game-planned the Bengals and put their team in a position to succeed.
But if I take away two characteristics from this run over the last five years, it’s will be ability of this team, on both sides of the ball, to win the battle at the line of scrimmage and also have success on third down. The Chad Jackson reverse on 3rd and 6 in the 2nd quarter was a momentum swing for the Patriots. Two plays later, Laurence Maroney’s 11 yard TD run made it a 7-6 game. Later in the quarter on 3rd and 5, Doug Gabriel grabbed his touchdown pass and the fun was on. As for the line of scrimmage battle, chew on 236 rushing yards against a supposedly tough bunch of Bengals. And for the defense, they looked like their old selves on plays like when Jarvis Green caused a fumble on a critical 3rd down in the fourth quarter.
Let’s keep in mind that it was only one game and not get too excited…Oh, never mind. Forget that last line of rationale.
Let’s get pumped and jacked as a former head coach would say. Your Patriots weren’t ready to hand the AFC torch over to the Bengals on Sunday. They showed the rest of the League that despite their vulnerabilities shown in the first three games, they aren’t dead yet. And we saw a running game that could be fatal to opposing teams as the weather gets colder and nastier.
Professor Rousseau is here to tell you that defense and running games win championships, kids. On Sunday, we saw that the Pats still have both.
Idle Zinger thoughts while realizing that Van Morrison’s “Tupelo Honey” is the best CD to write a column to:
Separated at birth: Adam Sandler and Bills quarterback J.P. Losman.
Jets Head Coach Eric Mangini needs to be wearing a sweatshirt like his mentor Bill Belichick while roaming along the sidelines. He’s the first place winner in the NFL Man-Boobs competition.
Reche Caldwell got a lot more rope from me on Sunday after returning to the game after that helmet-to-helmet cheap shot.
It says all you need to know about who's the biggest Patriots rival when I find myself rooting for the Jets over the Colts as I did on Sunday.
You know the field goal kicker is going through a rough spell when you mutter “Well, at least he got that one off” after a failed field goal attempt.
Only the NFL would have a penalty for something called “Excessive Celebration.”
You know T.O. is a basket case when Terry Glenn is pointed to as someone that should be looked up to as behavioral role model.
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