The Case Against Marshall Faulk 'Cheating' Comments, and Other AFC East News

Erik Frenz@ErikFrenzSenior Writer IJanuary 31, 2013

New England Patriots fans have long wondered if NFL Network analyst and former St. Louis Rams running back Marshall Faulk has an axe to grind with the Patriots. 

They now have their answer: an unequivocal yes.

Faulk created quite a stir among Patriots fans in comments given during the Super Bowl media day festivities. He spoke to Tom E. Curran of about his emotions over losing Super Bowl XXXVI, and explained why he felt "cheated" out of the Super Bowl:

Am I over the loss? Yeah, I'm over the loss. But I'll never be over being cheated out of the Super Bowl. That's a different story. I can understand losing a Super Bowl, that's fine...but how things happened and what took place. Obviously, the commissioner gets to handle things how he wants to handle them but if they wanted us to shut up about what happened, show us the tapes. Don't burn 'em.

He talked about his bewilderment over the Rams' ineffectiveness in the red zone and on third down. He explained that the team had practiced plays that they hadn't run in games, and that he was mystified as to how the Patriots were able to stop those plays.

The only explanation, in his mind, is that the Patriots taped the Rams' walkthrough. There was a report in The Boston Herald that the Patriots had done so, but there are multiple problems with his theory.

Never mind that the Herald ran a retraction of their story, and that the league found no evidence that such a tape existed, but Faulk's memory is a bit fuzzy. The Rams only made it into the red zone one time in the entire game, and they actually scored. There were two straight runs right up the middle—not exactly the stuff of offensive innovation—and Michael Hurley of CBS Boston points out what happened from there:

On that possession, on third-and-goal from the 3, Law let an interception go through his arms in simple man-to-man coverage on Isaac Bruce, who showed little interest in fighting for the football.

On the ensuing fourth down, Warner scrambled right when he had no open options. Roman Phifer stripped the ball on the 1-yard line, and [Patriots safety Tebucky] Jones ran it 99 yards back for a touchdown that would have secured a Patriots win. However, because [linebacker Willie] McGinest very clearly held Faulk, the play was called back.

Faulk was then stuffed on a run up the middle. It wasn’t exactly a revolutionary play run by the Rams, so Faulk couldn’t have been complaining about that one. Then, apparently the videotapes failed the Patriots, because Warner ran a sneak right up the gut for a Rams touchdown that cut the Patriots’ lead to 17-10.

Faulk also complained about some third downs; the Rams went 5-of-13 on third down (38.5 percent). However, they missed on three conversions of 17, 18 and 20 yards. Not sure how much the videotape helped on those, but without those three instances, the Rams would have converted 50 percent of their third downs—eerily similar to their 49.7 percent conversion rate in the regular season.

So, without much of a leg to stand on, it looks like Faulk is running out of excuses.

The easiest way to explain it is sour grapes. Curran hints at that in saying, "At one point in the conversation, Faulk said, 'I don't even know why you brought this up now.' In fact, Faulk was the one who broached it."

It's not at all unfair for Faulk to wonder what went wrong in that Super Bowl loss, but to base his logic and contempt for the Patriots off evidence that never even existed is as juvenile as it gets.

He even hinted at that in his closing comments: "If you lost a game and your brother cheated you, you'll remember that." 

Here's some more news from around the AFC East.


New England Patriots

Neil Hornsby of delivers a one-of-a-kind look back at Super Bowl XXXVI through PFF's grading lens.

Mike Reiss of ESPN Boston delivers his weekly P.A.T. with a look at the murky situations surrounding cornerback Aqib Talib and wide receiver Wes Welker.


Miami Dolphins

According to Ian Mohr of the New York Post, former Dolphins quarterback Dan Marino had an illegitimate child with a CBS Sports production assistant back in 2005.

Bleacher Report Dolphins featured columnist Devin Noonan lists some of the biggest questions surrounding the Dolphins this offseason.


New York Jets

Jenny Vrentas of the Newark (N.J.) Star-Ledger points out that 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh was one of the lead candidates for the Jets head coaching gig back in 2009.

According to Rich Cimini of ESPN New York, former Jets running back LaDainian Tomlinson had less-than-kind words for former GM Mike Tannenbaum, and said the Jets would be wise to hang onto cornerback Darrelle Revis.

T.J. Rosenthal of points out that the departure of Brad Smith expedited the firing of Mike Tannenbaum.


Buffalo Bills

John Murphy of points out that the Bills coaching staff is currently working through their evaluations of the roster.

Jay Skurski of The Buffalo News reports that the Bills are raising prices for individual tickets.


Erik Frenz is the AFC East lead blogger for Bleacher Report. Be sure to follow Erik on Twitter and "like" the AFC East blog on Facebook to keep up with all the updates. Unless otherwise specified, all quotes are obtained firsthand or via team press releases.


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