November 08, 2006
Would The Patriots We Love Show Up, Please?
BY: Kevin Rousseau
Let me start off by saying that I would like to apologize to the ghost of William Faulkner for the stream-of-consciousness style of this week's column. How is anyone supposed to formulate a well thought-out column after wanting to chuck the remote control deep into the woods behind the house just minutes before sitting down to type these words?
I'll give it a try.
Over the past five seasons, this weekly column has done a number of things for yours truly. This week, its purpose is to get Sunday night's maddening 27-20 loss to the Colts out of my system before head back up to bed and face a week at the office. You should get one of these columns yourself. It's cheaper than therapy.
Where to start with this one? First, as humbling as it may be to do so, let's give the credit that is deserved to the Colts. Particularly, Pretty Boy Manning and his defense. Manning and his receivers have a brilliant relationship where their timing and precision give their opponents almost no chance of defending the pass. And as much maligned as the Colts defense was (in this space and elsewhere) last week, they were that good against the Patriots on Sunday night. They were hawkish, aggressive and all over the field. In short, the Colts defense beat the Patriots at their own game.
As for the offense, we must start with #12. Off the top of my head at 12:04 a.m., I cannot think of a bigger egg laid by Tom Brady in his five seasons at the helm than the one he delivered on Sunday night. As sharp as he was two weeks ago against the Vikings, he was that dull against the Colts. The screen passes looked like fire drills and his drive-killing interceptions deep in Colts territory took the air out of the balloon. To be fair, if anyone deserves a mulligan, it's Brady. We forget sometimes that this guy is human. I just wish that the worse performance of his career didn't take place against the Colts. Why couldn't it have been tucked away in meaningless Cardinals game some September?
Moving on, I'm sure that Colts GM Bill Polian was putting on quite a show in the press box Sunday night. Referee Ron Winter and his crew flagged the Patriots for a defensive secondary penalty five times on third down Sunday night. Against a team like the Colts, those five extra lifelines are killers. Let's mix in Winter's crew's bizarre unsportsmanlike penalty against Troy Brown, the phantom hands-to-the-face penalty against Mike Vrabel in the second half, and Rosevelt Colvin's personal foul penalty for having the audacity to stick his arm into a pile that included Colts' running back Joseph Addai. To be fair, the crew did the Colts no favors in giving the Patriots a generous first down spotting on a 4th-and-1 in the second quarter. After Sunday night's performance, I think it's safe to say that Winter and his crew will be nowhere near a big game anytime soon. And in my eyes, that should even include the King Philip/Franklin Thanksgiving day game.
Of course, its bad style to point to the referees after a loss. The Patriots didn't lose this game because of the officiating crew. They were more than adequate in their own right when it comes to that charge. But my point is this: If it's a big game, you want an officiating crew that is seen from but never heard from. Unfortunately, on Sunday night that wasn't the case.
So where do the Patriots go from here? As awful as we are all feeling now, it's no time to be ordering flowers for the wake. They are 6-2 heading into the second half of the season. They are a much, much better team than what showed up on Sunday night. Perhaps on another day, they are even better than the Colts and Broncos. But until then, they have not earned the right to be considered anything better than the third best team in the AFC. One thing is for sure, the way the standings are today will have very little resemblance to what they look like come January. If the Patriots want to atone for their sins against the Colts and Broncos, it will have to wait until then.
Historically, the Patriots of this regime have bounced back with vengeance after stinkers like Sunday night's 27-20 loss to the Colts. You can expect the same this coming Sunday against the Jets. The Patriots will have a chip on their shoulder and will be looking to end the AFC East race on Veteran's Day weekend. Sunday's victory against the Jets will be redeeming to some extent but deep down inside, until January rolls around, they'll all be a little hollow.
Idle Zinger thoughts while trying to figure out why I am so attracted to Pink as she sings the Sunday Night Football theme:
When passing by NESN with the clicker, I am likely to stop and watch an old Bruins game featuring Terry O'Reilly, Jean Retelle and Brad Park. On the other hand, I'll sail right past the current day product on the tube. There are a lot of us out there who used to keep a light on for the Black and Gold.
"Who Dey?" "Dey" are the plummeting Cincinnati Bengals. Enjoy watching the ride that the Patriots started them on.
Colts punter Hunter Smith has the easiest job in America. Show up once a week and do your task once or twice for a total of ten seconds of sweat equity. He must be laughing when he picks up his paycheck.
Don't those Vikings uniforms look familiar?
My biggest pet peeve about going to a game is the numbskulls who get up to go to the john and grab another beer in the middle of a play. The latest example occurred in front of an Olindo Mare field goal attempt a few weeks ago.
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