Han Solo: "I call it luck."
Obi Wan: "In my experience, there's no such thing as luck."
-Star Wars. Episode III: A New Hope
Throughout most of my thirty-one years, in times of self-doubt, I have turned to quotes from the Star Wars family of movies to help me understand certain happenings on the "third planet from the closest sun." Once again, Star Wars has provided me with the quote for the situation at hand.
THE 2003 NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS ARE NOT "LUCKY." As a matter of fact, they're pretty darn good. They have earned everything that they got coming to them whether it's a Division Championship this Sunday or a first-round bye. They are 10-2 and currently sit in a better position than 30 other teams as the season head into the home stretch. Apparently, many of us either have a bad case of worrying about style points or are waiting for the Patriots to lose just so they can prophetically tell everyone "A hah, See! I told you so"
Friends, co-workers, or so-called "experts" who are part of the "You just wait…." crowd take a certain bit of strange pleasure in watching the local team, whether it be the Red Sox or Patriots, eventually lose so that they can demonstrate their so-called intelligence in the matter.
What a terrible way to go through life; waiting for the other shoe to drop. If the Patriots team of 2001 taught us Boston sports fans anything, it was that the shoe sometimes doesn't drop. In fact, sometimes the glass slipper fits perfectly. Sometimes a team has a certain karma around it. Perhaps this Patriots team has "it" just like it did two years ago. Why can't these people just enjoy the ride and worry about the consequences later?
Does a "lucky" team soundly beat the Philadelphia Eagles on the road after the devastating events surrounding the Milloy release and the throttling in Buffalo?
Does a "lucky" team intercept a Vinny Testaverde pass attempt and return it for a touchdown to seal a victory?
Does a "lucky" team beat up the Titans less than a year after they were completely dominated on by them on Monday Night Football? Ask the Titans who was the most physical team they played this year and you might hear it was the Patriots on that day in October.
Does a "lucky" team get key interceptions from Ty Law to seal victories against the Giants and the Browns?
Does a "lucky" team go into Miami in October, hold their own, block a kick, and beat an excellent Dolphins secondary on deep pass route to end the game in overtime?
Does a "lucky" team have the smarts to take an intentional safety in Denver and drive down the field for a last second touchdown pass to David Givens?
Does a "lucky" team stop the Dallas Cowboys on 4th and inches to seal a big-hype game?
Does a "lucky" team lose all of those starters during the season and somehow still win games?
And, finally, does a "lucky" team make a goal line stand like they did last Sunday in Indianapolis?
The answer to all of these questions is a resounding NO! A lucky break may be having a receiver knocked unconscious, landing out of bounds, and being ruled to have possession as the ball rests under his foot (See: David Patten @ Buffalo, 12/16/01). "Lucky" cannot be used to describe a team that has an uncanny knack for making plays at the critical times during a game. A football game is usually decided by 10-12 big plays throughout the game. This year, the Patriots are sensing when these plays are happening and they are responding.
Perhaps all of this talk about luck is a blessing for the Patriots and their fans. Much like in 2001, the Patriots are not receiving their due respect from their peers and the national media. This can be used as a terrific motivational tool by Bill Belichick and his players, much like it was in 2001.
The Patriots have given us a terrifically entertaining season that has gone beyond all of our expectations. Enjoy it. Most fans from 30 other teams who would trade places in a second with you right now. The Patriots might lose the rest of their games. They might even lose in the first-round in the playoffs or at the last second in the Super Bowl. Or just maybe, they might win the whole thing again and put the franchise's name in the same breath as the other NFL dynasties. Remember, only one team out of thirty-two ends the season happy.
Take a deep breath and enjoy this great ride. No matter how long it lasts. It's been more than we could have ever hoped for after losing to Buffalo 31-0 on the opening Sunday.
Feel free to drop me a line. I can be reached at [email protected].
Don't forget to check me out at 8:20 on Monday mornings on Bangor, Maine's sports radio leader, WZON 620 "The Zone." You can listen over the internet at www.zoneradio.com This column also appears in the Waterboro (ME) Reporter, the Maine Standard Times (Lewiston/Auburn, ME), and the Lakes Region Suburban Weekly(Windham, ME).
More News Headlines: