November 24, 2007
Eagles Next To Feel Patriot Wrath
BY: Bob George/BosSports.net
Yes, this is technically a rematch of Super Bowl XXXIX, but only because the history books say so.
It was three seasons ago, in Jacksonville, Florida, that the Patriots won their most recent Super Bowl. The Patriots defeated the Philadelphia Eagles in front of a largely partisan Eagle crowd at AllTel Stadium, 24-21. This game is more famous for Donovan McNabb breaking down physically at game's end, as his clock management was some of the worst in championship game history. Only a botched defensive call by the Patriots which allowed a last-minute touchdown bomb to Greg Lewis made the score close. The Patriots won their second straight Super Bowl and third in the last four years, and everyone on the planet extolled the Patriots as sports' newest dynasty.
Now, three years later, SpyGate has defined the Patriot season, and the Eagles want their share of the controversy as well.
It is pretty well known, albeit unsaid by the principals, that the Patriots are slaughtering their 2007 opponents to send a message to NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, those who incriminated the Patriots, and those who have spoken out against the Patriots. The message being sent is this: Don't anyone out there accuse us of cheating ever again.
Among those who have spoken out have been some of the Eagles who lost to the Patriots three Super Bowls ago. Some of them have been making with some outlandish claims that, to paraphrase, go something like "Wow, now I see why they seemed two steps ahead of us!" Some Eagles are on record as saying that they should be declared the NFL champs for the 2004 season, and McNabb is at the head of the list of those folks who have made that claim.
Maybe it's a good thing that McNabb will likely miss Sunday night's contest at Gillette Stadium. A.J. Feeley, who was the Miami quarterback for that putrid collapse at Miami late in the 2004 regular season (the Patriots turned a 28-13 lead into a 29-28 loss on Monday Night Football), will get the call at quarterback for the Eagles, and just as well. McNabb might have gotten himself killed. Those who remember that Monday night loss at Miami might not want to treat Feeley that lightly, either.
The Patriots are currently an incredulous 24-point favorites against the Eagles, who are 5-5 and recently suffered a humiliating 38-17 loss to Dallas at home on national television. They did ring up 56 on Detroit back on Week 3, but if they think they can ring up 56 on the Patriots, that still won't matter because the Patriots will simply hang 60 on them.
Truth be told, some Patriot opponent between now and the end of the season is going to be the victim of perhaps a new single game point record in NFL history. The current record is 72, by Washington on November 27, 1966 against the Giants.(who themselves scored 41 in that same game, and the combined 113 points is also a record for both teams). Because of all the vorating the Eagles have done regarding the league needing to award Super Bowl XXXIX to the Eagles, they could be the team which the Patriots inflict such damage on, and they likely won't be the last.
Many people shudder when they think what will happen when the Jets and Miami visit Foxborough on consecutive weekends in December. The Jets were the ones who put the finger on Bill Belichick, and Miami has both the unbeaten 1972 team and the crotchety comments from Don Shula on everyone's minds. The Jets figure to get the worst spanking of all, as Belichick will want to inflict as much pain and damage on Eric Mangini and his program as he can. But if the Patriots decide to pay back the Eagles for all the squawking they have done, it could make life even more lousy for the Jets, and also for the Dolphins, when they make their visits to Gillette later on.
The college record for scoring in one game is 100 points, set in 1968 by Houston over Tulsa. Revenge was the seed for that one, because Tulsa upset Houston in 1967 and cost them a top ten finish. Houston coach Bill Yeoman vowed he would get even with Tulsa the following year, and bludgeoned a flu-ridden Hurricane team in the Astrodome in 1968. Houston scored 49 points in the fourth quarter of that game, with the home crowd goading them on towards the magic 100 figure.
Don't discount this happening to either Philadelphia, New York or Miami, or at least a solid attempt in doing so. If any one of those teams cannot stop Tom Brady and Randy Moss no matter what, what may happen could be historic. Moss will be only too happy to try and write his name in the record books on his way to what he hopes will be his first Vince, and though Brady would never come out and say so, he might be thinking that the sooner he gets to 50 touchdown passes and knocking Peyton Manning out of the record books, the better.
Right now, Philadelphia is nowhere near the NFC champion level they were when they last met. Jevon Kearse, Lito Sheppard and Brian Dawkins are the only big names that remain from Jim Johnson's defensive corps from 2004. Right tackle Jon Runyan is still there on the offensive line, but Hank Fraley and Tra Thomas are gone. If the Patriots can stop Brian Westbrook, that will pretty much do it.
The debate rages on as to whether or not the Patriots are running up the score on everyone and playing ungentlemanly football in the process. What this game will hopefully further is the need for the league to leave the Patriots alone and keep their mouths shut. While SpyGate remains a regrettable moment, a moment which really never should have happened, Belichick and the Patriots will continue their mission to tell the rest of the league that they are not cheaters and don't need to cheat to kill you.
If the lack of respect card was the right one to play in earlier years, this SpyGate deal may turn out to be the best single motivating event in NFL history. If the Patriots do indeed carry out their mission to run the table and rewrite the record book in the process, the mission will have SpyGate at its root. You notice that the Patriots don't talk about lack of respect like they used to. It's all about flipping off the rest of the league, how dare they accuse the Patriots of cheating.
Once again, the game will be on NBC, and once again, John Madden will be challenged to come up with new and creative ways to describe the Patriots and Brady. Madden still won't say that the Patriots are the best team ever, only that the offense is the best he's ever seen. That should be no problem for now, but if the Patriots do run the table, even Madden would have to revise his thinking.
As for Al Michaels, if the Eagles should pull off the mother of all upsets, he may begin to have Lake Placid flashbacks. Odds are (24 points, remember) that he won't.
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