The New England Patriots Defied All Odds by Just Making the Super Bowl !!
I cannot take this dumb post-Super Bowl chatter any longer.
Sportswriters and talk show hosts are already framing the Super Bowl in typically stupid, "black-and-white" terms. Discussion has harped on whether Tom Brady's "legacy" is tarnished or if Wes Welker singlehandedly "blew" the game or how Eli Manning is now the Second Coming.
Give me a break! Let's bring some desperately-needed perspective to things: This 2011-12 edition of the New England Patriots over-achieved to an amazing degree simply to get to the Super Bowl. This was a team with one of the worst pass defenses of any team to ever participate in a Super Bowl for Chrissake!
Think about that: The Patriots gave up more passing yardage than any team in NFL history, and yet, they somehow came within a thread of winning the Super Bowl. THAT is remarkable.
Entering the game, the NY Giants had a better team than the Patriots. They had more talent, physicality and balance. I had thought they'd win comfortably. With the Patriots' second-most important player—tight end Rob Gronkowski—playing with a bad ankle injury that left him essentially ineffective, the Patriots faced overwhelming odds to keep the Super Bowl even close, in my view.
Yet, with terrific coaching by Bill Belichick, a fired-up Brady and the whole team playing with a focus and grit, the Patriots took the Super Bowl down to the last play.
So, why is the dialogue so far so empty and frustrating? Why are people criticizing Brady so much? (Oh, yeah, Brady only broke the record for consecutive completed passes in yesterday's game.)
People—particularly sportswriters and fans—have a way of staying in denial and twisting the facts in their own minds about what's unfolded before them. This Patriot team was extraordinarily fortunate to win the AFC Championship vs. the Baltimore Ravens.
When Ravens receiver Lee Evans caught that ball in the end zone at the very end of the game, it certainly appeared for a second that that game was over. Now yes, Patriots cornerback Sterling Moore made a terrific play to swat the ball out of Evans' hands, but, he barely knocked that ball out in time. In fact, I thought Evans held on to it long enough to have the play reviewed.
Then, the Ravens kicker missed a a very easy field goal to tie that game. That was another very lucky break for the Pats. The sequence of events with the Ravens' game reminded me of the luck the Pats got in the Snow Bowl vs. the Raiders in 2001.
In the end, I don't believe games are all about single plays. Usually, the better team wins in the end. The odds have a way of "catching up" to the team that's a bit less talented.
In the end, the Patriots' over-reliance on Brady and their high-scoring offense came back to haunt them a bit yesterday. When Gronkowski went down two weeks ago, the Pats' chances went way down with him. If Gronkowski had played at 100 percent yesterday, the Pats would have had a much better chance to stage an upset. The Giants, knowing Gronkowski was not himself, placed their pass defenders in excellent position to keep the Patriots from turning the game into a track meet.
The Giants offense, meanwhile, was able to move and keep possession of the ball for almost the whole game. Manning kept throwing the short passes the Patriots tend to give up constantly, and that created an imbalance and edge in the game. The Giants' ease in passing the ball made an enormous difference in the game. That the Pats defense limited their scoring was admirable given their porous secondary.
So, it's time to stop ripping the Patriots and start praising them for making it so far with such limits in their talent compared to other teams in the NFL.
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