Some thoughts in the wake of New England's runaway win...
Anthony "Guaranteed" Smith
Picture this: It's the year 2011. Al Michaels and John Madden (assuming he's still semi-coherent) are introducing the starting lineups for the Sunday night game.
Suddenly, a familiar name bumbles out of Madden's mouth: Anthony Smith.
Will Madden discuss Smith's important role on whichever team he's playing for in 2011, or gush about his athletic ability?
No and no.
The first thing out of Madden's mouth will be, "You might remember Smith from that 2007 game versus the undefeated Patriots in which he guaranteed victory."
There won't be any need to dissect Smith's stats or talk about where he played college ball. Anthony "Guaranteed" Smith will forever be known as the no-name who shoveled more coal into the Patriots' undefeated freight train.
Smith got caught in the media web, failed to follow through, and probably sulked by his locker for three hours after the game.
By the way, Anthony—if you decide to make another guarantee in the future, do it with some conviction. Guarantees followed by the word "if" aren't exactly resounding.
Not that I expect you to ever open your mouth again.
(Oakland Raiders fans may want to skip this one.)
Okay, now that they're gone, let's talk Moss.
The guy is unreal. Sure, he was dominant in Minny—but nothing like this.
Remember when Michael Jordan left the Bulls to do his baseball thing? When he returned, everyone had forgotten how good he could be.
It's the same thing with Moss—except he never went anywhere but Oak-town, where dreams go to die.
Now that Randy's out of "Vince Carter Tank Mode," he's making up for lost time in a big way.
I never thought the day would come when we could say it—but Moss isn't only dominant, he's disciplined. He was problem child once upon a time, but he's realized the error of his ways and pulled a 360.
As it stands, Moss has more touchdowns now than he had question marks coming into the season. That's saying a lot.
(On a side note, I find the battle between Moss and Terrell Owens intriguing. I don't ever recall T.O. jabbing at a player who wasn't on his team. Perhaps he's threatened—there's no question the guy is insecure. In any event, Owens pays more attention to Moss's game than his own. Maybe that's why he's leading the league in drops for the second year in a row. Hmm.)
'72 Fins No-Show
In a previous column, I touched on the subject of Mercury Morris and Don Shula's being more involved in the Patriots-Ravens game than the players.
But both were no-shows at Foxboro this weekend. I guess New England isn't the ideal destination for the duo these days.
Morris sounded pretty tough with his "on my porch, not in my neighborhood" speech on ESPN—which he gave adorned in a goofy golf get-up. Shula was similarly riveting in the announcer's booth, where he chattered about past events that no one under the age of 35 would remember.
The '72 Dolphins charade is flat-out tired. I understand they're a legendary team, but parading them on national TV in hopes of a Patriots loss is absurd.
Shula seems nice enough, but Morris has done nothing but act like a punk. His three minute anti-Patriot rap on SportsCenter had me longing for the days of the XFL.
ESPN's decision to grant Morris a (hopefully) part-time gig is awfully timely. In fact, it rivals giving David Beckham the 2008 ESPY for "Tool of the Year."
Brady Off Mute
The Patriots' dominant opening drive against the Steelers was nothing new. Neither was Brady's ensuing TD pass to Moss.
What was surprising, though, was Brady's trash talk after the play, directed at Anthony Smith and the Steelers' D.
Brady has shown some emotion this season, but nothing that compares to what he mustered on Sunday. He was legitimately fired up.
Before the game, Brady told the press, "Well done is better than well said." That's true, but sometimes it feels right to join in on the banter when the adrenaline is pumping—especially when you know that after the game you'll leave the trash at the door.
Can't say the same for most NFL teams.
The Underdog Status
The Patriots reclaimed their coveted "underdog" status this weekend—and had everyone believing they were going down.
It's easy to get caught up in all the pregame chatter on ESPN. The so-called "analysts" concoct a formula for beating the mighty Pats—and suddenly every NFL fan in the country gets to thinking they're doomed.
Underdog Status activated.
The result is generally a two- or three-touchdown win—or, occasionally, a slaughter. The Pats have thrived as underdogs since their dynasty began. Of course, it's a tad tricky to be the underdog when there's a bulls-eye on your chest—but every week New England manages to pull it off.
The formula for beating the Pats is still up for debate. What's clear is that it starts with a vow of silence.