Postgame Spread
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Monday, January 22, 2007

Pats-Colts Lovefest    

A few thoughts on the game yesterday...

It was far from the best playoff game ever, as people are trying so hard to argue for.  Those people should have their testicles fed through a cotton gin.  It was an undeniable classic, and definitely one of the better games I've ever seen, but I think what's really going on is that the game was As Advertised... which is about as rare as a hook-and-ladder play.  So a playoff actually lives up to its hype, and everyone gets so excited by the game's effect that they overestimate the game's quality.  In other words, enjoying the happy ending means more, in this case, than watching the game unfold.

Yes, I said happy ending.  I'm actually happy, even though the Pats lost.  There's plenty of reasons for me to be bullshit right now, but I'm not feeling them.  How could a Red Sox fan like me not sympathize with what we just saw?  The Pats didn't blow the game as much as the Colts refused to let the Pats wrestle the game away.  The Colts earned every inch of it, and tore their reputation to shreds in the process.  It even seemed that they'd learned a lesson from the Patriots, and ultimately beat them at their own game.  They tried, failed, learned, and succeeded.  The better team clearly won.  Who couldn't respect that?  The proteges took down the master.  If the Pats were gonna lose, that's the way to go down.  I'm almost proud, for God's sake.  I want to run out and buy a flag or something.

But seriously, America's a better place now that the Colts aren't chokers anymore, don't you think?  One fewer tale of woe, and one more tale of perseverance leading to success.  And I don't despise Tony Dungy or Peyton Manning enough to wish Dan Marino Disease on them... I don't wish them ill.   I think they have to be the sentimental favorites.  Dungy in particular seems like a good guy who never deserved the reputation he acquired.  Manning's still a big dork, but all the Peyton Hatin' from Patriot Nation was the result of his lack of clutchiness.  In my opinion, no choking = no reason to pick on him.  I feel bad for anyone who can't own up to that.  My point is that neither of them is a particularly evil person.  This is not Shawne Merriman going to the Super Bowl.  This is a couple of hard-luck guys who seem to have finally figured it all out.  And I'm happy for them.

As for the Patriots, I'm still pleasantly surprised by their run.  They got way further than they deserved to get, given their secondary and their receivers.  (All praise be to St. Marty.  Amen.)  They had a great year, proving that the franchise is still alive and well, and there is no shame in having lost when they did.  Not that the loss wasn't avoidable (does anyone think Deion Branch wouldn't have bailed out Tom Brady on a couple of those third-and-longs?) but there's definitely no hard feelings from my end of things.  It's a good note to end on.

This is also as good a time as any to appreciate just how special Tom Brady is, and how far he's brought this franchise in just six seasons.  His presence is a gift that I certainly don't appreciate as much as I probably should.  It's partly because he's set the standard so impossibly high, but even a half-assed Brady performance like last week is better than the best we'll ever see from lots of NFL quarterbacks.  It's days like yesterday, where a nearly perfect performance wasn't enough to get it done, that make you realize how amazing Brady's performances have been.  So here's to Tom Brady.  He may not be immortal, but even Larry Bird lost to the Lakers more often than not.

I imagine that there will be plenty of stories out there trumpeting the death of the dynasty after last night, but they aren't dead yet.  This team is in phenomenal shape for next season, given its short and tidy offseason to-do list:

1) Keep Samuel, or bring in a viable #1 corner to replace him.  They have the money for it.  No excuses.
2) Find a middle linebacker.  Whoever's available that can play the two-gap and plug the run, sign his ass up.
3) Then draft another one.  Grab the top guy on the board.  Trade up to get him if necessary.
4) Seriously.  Find a wide receiver.  No more retreads.  Again, they have the money.
5) Maybe a punter who's not 'roided up and shitfaced on gameday?

That appears to be it.  Just a couple linebackers, one corner and one receiver.  And health.  This is hardly cause for wailing and/or gnashing of teeth by anyone.

17 Comments:

  • I challenge you to name 3 better playoffs games since 2000 than that one. I think history between the teams/players really has to be taken into account when judging it. I can't think of 3 better games than this one in recent memory. Maybe the Romo game. The Bills/Oilers huge comeback game was exciting for sure, but that was ages ago. The Tennesse lateral game had a phenomenal finish, but a miracle ending was good, but just b/c of 1 play.

    Anyways, I predict Samuel walks, and the Pats draft a corner with a high pick. I also predict they don't adequately address their WR situation. It isn't their style to pay a lot for those positions...

    By Blogger Kelvin, at 10:30 AM  

  • Easy.

    1) Super Bowl XXXVIII
    2) Super Bowl XXXVI
    3) Niners 39, Giants 38 from 2003

    If you want to retroactively qualify your comment, then yeah, probably just that one game before the Super Bowl within the last seven seasons that was better.

    By Blogger Jeff, at 2:12 PM  

  • Also, I'm pretty much with you on your roster predictions. As they've proven in the past, just because they have the financial wherewithal doesn't mean they'll do it. But I think if Samuel's not as smart as he otherwise seems, he could stay for less.

    As for WR, I think they need a veteran possession receiver better than Gaffney and Caldwell. Troy Brown 2007. If anyone's on the market, that's typically w/in the Pats' price range. If they do that, and grab a high-ceiling guy in the draft as they often do (Branch, Jackson, Bethel Johnson) then maybe that's enough. They may not *need* to get a new Branch immediately (though they could afford to) but they definitely need a plan. Right now, no plan.

    I guess Chad Jackson was sort of the plan, but he was injured on-and-off all year. Maybe that unfairly limited the Pats' capacity. If he's healthy next year, after having a whole year to study the playbook and whatnot, maybe he helps out.

    By Blogger Jeff, at 2:30 PM  

  • The drama wasn't there in those super bowls.

    It isn't like Kurt Warner and Brady had been having these historic battles for 4-5 years.

    Honestly, these games you listed weren't of that same jaw-dropping quality of this one.

    The 49ers/Giants game was excellent, though it was the first round or so. I challenge you to name the starting skill players on the Giants off the top of your head besides Tiki and for the 49ers besides TO and Garcia.

    This Colts/NE was big -- are there 2 bigger stars at QB than Manning and Brady? I think not. My argument is that the history between the stars and magnitude of this being a championship game of a dynasty vs a team that has been on the cusp for a good 4 years made this the best I'd seen in the playoffs.

    By Blogger Kelvin, at 3:17 PM  

  • I'm not that invested in arguing the quality of the game. In fact, if you look at what I actually wrote, I said "undeniable classic." The Niners/Giants game was the only non-SB game I could think of. Maybe I wouldn't go so far as to call it "jaw-dropping," seeing as the only truly jaw-dropping plays were Reche Caldwell's career-threatening drops, but it's definitely a classic. We are not arguing about this.

    What I'm arguing about primarily is that people are so quick to grant it "best ever" status in the 12 hours following its conclusion. Really? Not "best since 2000" or whatever you challenged me to. Best ever. Are you on board with that too?

    I'm just throwing it out there that a playoff game of this quality is so rare that maybe, just maybe, people are overstating their case a little bit when they put it in all-time context.

    However, two things require a response nonetheless:

    1) FYI, I guessed:
    Kerry Collins
    Amani Toomer
    Ike Hilliard
    Ron Dayne
    Tiki (obv)
    Shawkeeeeee
    Garcia (obv)
    TO (obv)
    Tai Streets (saw this one, doesn't count)
    Garrison Hearst
    Kevan Barlow
    Eric Johnson

    Honest to God, Streets was the only one I saw, and that was before your challenge too. I guessed no wrong names. How many did you get? Don't fuck with the Jedi Master, son.

    2) You look really silly saying SB36 had no drama. There's this Bible story that applies to the game story. It's called DAVID AND FUCKING GOLIATH. You may have heard of it.

    Also there are some good movies called Hoosiers, Major League and Rocky that you should check out sometime, they are all about THE NEW ENGLAND MOTHAFUCKIN PATRIOTS OF 2001

    (OK, maybe not Rocky. You know, seeing as the Patriots WON.)

    By Blogger Jeff, at 5:48 PM  

  • "We've talked to them about a new contract. What they offered isn't even worth discussing. It's disappointing. You want to believe that they know what you've done. So you hope for the best, but end up feeling underappreciated. You feel disrespected, especially (with) how they come at you with so much negative stuff. They show you such a low regard. I took it personally at first. You'd think I would have been around this team long enough to realize that it's all about business." -- New England cornerback Asante Samuel, who tied for the NFL lead in interceptions in 2006 and who can become an unrestricted free agent this spring, on contract discussions with Patriots officials

    By Blogger chas, at 7:04 PM  

  • Yeah, that's not so good. But they manage to re-sign players, somehow, sometimes. I wouldn't call it impossible. Just unlikely. Basically, Samuel's gonna have to be stupid to stay, and that quote suggests otherwise. The guy's gonna be RICH, BIOTCH [honk honk]

    By Blogger Jeff, at 7:28 PM  

  • Also, we might want to refer Asante to the Department of Shut Yo Mouth.

    By Blogger Jeff, at 7:29 PM  

  • Last year he was statistically one of the worst corners in the league. This year, he seems to have gotten really good. My guess is that he's somewhere in the middle, and I don't really have a problem with him leaving to play elsewhere if he wants to get paid like a #1. I think we're in pretty good shape, although we could use more depth just about everywhere and we need someone to step up in WR (Chad Jackson) and/or draft someone else. Not bad for what looked like it was going to be a rebuilding year.

    By Blogger chas, at 8:10 PM  

  • Sure, David and Goliath -- Don't tell me you fell into that media trap. The Patriots won 9 fucking games in a row to end the season. That really sounds like a perfect David analogy. It was impressive, sure, but didn't they have a first round bye? I hardly call that a David. Now the Steelers last year, that was a David.

    I only say since 2000 in the playoffs, because I don't remember much before that. Do you?

    By Blogger Kelvin, at 7:54 AM  

  • Since when are you the expert on resisting media traps? Every year you get swept into thinking the Redskins will be good, and every year they blow it.

    The 2001 Pats pulled a bye with an 11-5 record after tiebreakers. It was a shitty year for the conference, and they were lucky to get that bye. It's not a guarantee that a team is dominant.

    It's more than a little disingenuous for you to downplay what a huge upset that game was. They should not have won that game and you know it. Winning streak/subsequent dynasty/media failures or no, they were the clear underdog and beat a better team. Just because you and I knew the whole time that the Pats could win, and weren't fooled by the Media Trap, doesn't mean it wasn't an upset.

    By Blogger Jeff, at 9:18 AM  

  • Ah, a feeble attempt to wind me up.

    SEM A2M 24/7

    By Blogger Kelvin, at 3:41 PM  

  • Boooooooooo

    By Blogger Alex, at 3:50 PM  

  • I second that boo.

    As a parting thought, I saw an Adam Archuleta jersey at the mall on Saturday. Right up there with all the regular jerseys. Didn't check the price, but if it's less than $30, I'm getting it, and you're wearing it K-hole.

    By Blogger Jeff, at 3:58 PM  

  • I am completely speechless about the game. I have been trying to figure out what to say, and really I don't know what it should be. I will say this was biggest drama big comeback I've seen in playoffs, and of course Kelvin is right, the history between the two teams is critical. Although I won't really be happy until we do it in Foxboro after the Patriots have had a good season...ok not true. I'm really happy, I just want that to happen also.

    The thing that's a little weird about it is that both teams look not-as-good as they used to be. The last time they met in Foxboro it felt like a huge titanic clash between the best regular season team people could remember and the guys who had their number in the postseason...this time it felt like two worse versions of the same old teams meeting again. I don't know if that's a better story or a worse story, but it is different, kind of strange.

    That Pats/Rams superbowl felt like a huge upset at the time, but it's hard for me to reconnect to that. I think the Titans near-comeback against the Rams the first time around was a lot more exciting, from an impartial standpoint. But seeing the way that Superbowl really seems to have heralded in a new era in football (even if a short one), it's much more historic.

    Sans-drama, the Indy-KC matchup was mindblowing, and this year's Philly-NO feels like the best game of the playoffs so far (again, sans-drama). Obviously, I've never been happier with a result, and I don't think we've seen such history between two teams in the playoffs in recent memory. But I think in terms of great games, there's a lot of competition.

    By Blogger Jesse, at 2:59 PM  

  • Oops,obviously, not this year's Indy-KC, but the one where there were no punts or whatever, or just one. You could say just bad defense, but I think it was a hell of a lot more than that.

    By Blogger Jesse, at 3:06 PM  

  • That the "classic" lineups weren't playing does affect things, but not really. If we continue with the 2004 ALCS comparisons, does it matter that the Red Sox didn't come back from 0-3 against the 1998 Yankees? Hells no. It decreases its value as the Battle of the Titans? Probably, but it's splitting hairs. Besides, this may end up being the "classic" Colts lineup after all, depending on what happens next weekend.

    Between Rams/Pats and Rams/Titans, those are probably the two best ever, just because of their finishes. Rams/Titans was more exhilarating, but I'd dock it points because the Tits (sic) got cockblocked at the 1, and the game prior to the Titans' drive was no great shakes on the whole.

    (That's actually one area where I will grant Pats/Colts an edge: the game was excellent from start to finish. I would struggle to think of a playoff game that was as good wire-to-wire as that one, just b/c most playoffs are memorable only because of their finishes. Like the Music City Miracle. It was a SHIT game. Rob Johnson was involved for fuck's sake. But that was easily the craziest single play I'll ever see.)

    By Blogger Jeff, at 3:41 PM  

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