November 10, 2009
No More Excuses. Patriots Must Beat Colts
BY: Kevin Rousseau
You know the history. You've lived it. You've been in the stands in Gillette's finest moments during the playoff wins against them in '03 and '04. You looked around the living room in stunned disbelief after watching the AFC Championship in 2006 slip away in Indianapolis after going out to 20-point lead. You don't need any more stats heading in to Sunday. You know the history.
What you also know is that much more is on the line for the Patriots than the Colts on Sunday night. No more excuses. It's time for the Patriots to win a big game again against Peyton Manning and his Colts. No more decimated secondaries, leg cramps, flu bugs, butterfinger receivers or blown time management. No more excuses on how the Pats coulda, woulda, shoulda won this game or that game.
The modern day sporting equivalent to Ali-Frazier never disappoints. You know something dramatic is going to happen on Sunday night. It's just the details that have to be filled in. Will it be a late pick by one of these two all-time great quarterbacks? Will it be an unlikely hero making a play or a video replay that decides the game?
Indeed, on Sunday night we will find out whether the 2009 Patriots, who are out to an expected 6-2 start, can be considered an elite team with an excellent chance to represent the AFC in the Super Bowl or just a second-tier team with warts that will make the road to Miami in February that much harder to hoe.
The blueprint for Sunday night should be similar to the one the Patriots used in last year's matchup. They will have to shorten the game in order to keep their defense fresh so that they have the legs to chase down the Colts offense in the fourth quarter. The success of Laurence Maroney's ability to gain big yards in the running game is the biggest indicator as to whether the Patriots will be successful with such a game plan.
On our side of the house, it's easy to root against the Boy Scout Colts. They never get tarnished with untidy things like Spygate. They are from the wholesome Midwest and they got that guy Manning who is the football equivalent of the kid in school who all the teachers fawned over no matter what he did when they weren't looking. Can this guy ever do anything wrong in the eyes of the national media?
Conversely, there are few more satisfying sights in my life--admittedly, this is a juvenile emotion--than seeing Manning walk off the field yelling at his teammates or shaking his head in disbelief when things don't go quite his way.
A loss for the Patriots would be devastating. Don't underestimate the psychological toll it would take on the team if they walked off the field with a loss on Sunday night. Indeed, it would be safe to say that the tables would have been turned and that Manning would be inside Brady and Belichick's head.
I know the history. And I know some more will be made on Sunday night.
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