December 04, 2007
A Fatal Flaw Or Just A Speed Bump?
BY: Kevin Rousseau
The writing gods conspired against me.
Earlier this evening, I put together a canned column that I was going to hit "send" on just after the game. It was about how boring things have become around the NFL and how these night games have become a chore. I still think Terry Bradshaw was right and we'll get to him in a little bit. But first, let's try to make some sense of this lucky/ugly/gritty win against Baltimore.
Like this writer, the Patriots mailed it in for most of the game. Like me, they looked as though the game was getting in the way of the rest of their lives and it was a night of holy obligation to show up in Baltimore.
Imagine being a Ravens fan right now. They did everything to win. They ran down the throat against the Patriots for 175 yards. They made Tom Brady not look like himself just about the entire night. And were it not for their coach Brian Billick calling a time out just before his team stops Tom Brady on a quarterback sneak, the game was theirs. Even though it hadn't played out, the game was over. How about a false start a few moments later on another fourth down giving them another life? Call it fate, amusement or skill. I don't care. Watching the tuna meltdown of the Ravens defense ensue was a welcome comic relief, especially the discuss throw of the yellow flag into the crowd by linebacker Jake Scott. A Ravens' Hail Mary that landed at the 2 yard-line with no timeouts was a fitting end to this day at the cardiologist.
Only the most delusional Patriots fan would deny that the team has been exposed somewhat the last two weeks by two mediocre teams. A thin, older linebacking corps is having its hands full plugging up the run. Jamming Randy Moss at the line of scrimmage is working to a great extent. And throwing exotic blitzes at Brady makes him look harried at times. CFL football is fun, gang, but I would like to have a running game that can be relied upon as the calendar changes to 2008. Can you honestly say that through 12 games it can be relied upon?
And it doesn't get any easier with Pittsburgh coming to town this Sunday. Another bruising, run-first team that should be able to run up the gut of the Patriots' defense. Fortunately, the following two weeks feature scrimmages against the Jets and Dolphins where situational aspects of the game can be worked on.
If you're still interested, I'll attach the canned column as a fitting penance for my sin. Enjoy. I still think there are some salient points in here:
Leave it to the great philosopher Terry Bradshaw to take the words right out of my mouth and steal the topic of tonight's column from right out under me.
In what can only be characterized as refreshing honesty, the Hall of Fame quarterback and Fox pre-game show analyst said on Monday I've never seen a more messed-up season. Football in the NFL is as bad as I've ever seen it in my life. If it weren't for the Dallas Cowboys, the New England Patriots, the Indianapolis Colts and the Green Bay Packers, I would not turn the television on.
This is the most boring football season. Thank goodness New England is going for an undefeated season. But golly, I have never seen anything so bad. You say you can't put your finger on it, well I can: There isn't a lot of talent out there. There are a lot of average teams out there. The NFL is very subpar right now. I mean, coast to coast, there is nothing stimulating out there," he continued.
"I have never seen so many bad decisions made by quarterbacks. I've never seen so many average wide receivers when normally you should always be able to find receivers and develop them. I don't understand that. I really don't. We are football fans and we try to watch the game, but it's not a good product right now."
Let me buy you some lunch, Mr. Bradshaw.
The last three weekends have allowed this NFL follower to survey the rest of the League thanks to the Patriots annoying night game schedule. I have concluded: that being a Lions fans must be a purgatorial sentence; Eli Manning doesn't have "it"; Jacksonville will never get to the next level because of coaching; drafting a quarterback in the first round that doesn't work out (read: Washington, Buffalo) can set your franchise back at least five years, and finally no team in either conference wants to stand up and be characterized as a true "wild card" threat.
On the last few Sundays, I have gone to my camp to close it down for the winter, saw Santa at the Jefferson fire department, and took a trip down to L.L. Bean for some Christmas shopping. Amazingly, I have regretfully discovered that there is life outside of NFL football on Sunday afternoon.
I don't know about you but these night games the last few weeks have become a night of obligation for us. Sure, there was the scare against Philly a week ago but really don't we know what's going to happen before the kickoff even occurs? And in the back of my mind as I leave the 18-34 age demographic is the fact that I have a meeting at work in the morning at which it is expected that I say something half-interesting. Mix in the knowledge that the two kids won't be sleeping throughout the night and will likely turn our house into a nocturnal fire drill in the coming hours and it's tough to get psyched up for these night games. What an old, cranky fart I've become.
Don't you remember the time when we yearned for a night game for the Patriots? It took years for Monday Night Football to come back to Foxboro after years of embarrassing behavior from fans. There were Sunday night games in the Pete Carroll era where there was a huge vibe in the parking lot as you felt something special was going on. Or maybe I should just stop my whining and realize that the Lions don't get too much prime time love.
The truth is, when this incredible run for the Patriots comes to an end and they return to the pack as one of 25 so-so teams, I will yearning for these glory days.
Or should I say glory nights.
Idle zinger thoughts while being amazed that the one and only Evel Kneivel made it all the way to 2007:
Just when did Magnum P.I. become the defensive coordinator for Boston College?
I had Don Shula on mute in the second half. Gil and Gino kept me company thanks to Sirius.
I can neither confirm nor deny that church is a good time to catch up on some text messaging.
Another reason that the Patriots are different in a good way: They don't wear that silly "C" patch on half of the active roster uniforms like the rest of the League.
I got to thinking that Dan Koppen is kind of like the Count from Sesame Street. He's been a solid performer for years but never really gets the props he deserves. The Count just shows up every day, does his job with the Number of the Day and then punches out.
And finally, I have two clips to pass along about "giving him the business down there." The first is from a recent ACC game. The second is a classic from the 1980s and the culprit was the Jets' Marty Lyons.
Site-specific editorial/photos Copyright 2001-2004 PatsFans.com. This website is an unofficial and independently operated source of news and information not affiliated with any school, team, or league.