Matt Cassel vs. The World: Round One

Jim BouchardCorrespondent ISeptember 14, 2008

Round One of Matt Cassel’s bout with the NFL goes to the challenger. Cassel went toe-to-toe with one of the consensus living legends of the modern game and hung in there, blow for blow; their stats were almost identical, with the one slip on the side of the champ as Favre threw the lone interception.

While it wasn’t an exciting game, it was an interesting one. You’d need to be a veteran football fan to have seen it, but the challenger was the one who looked cooler on the ropes.

When Cassel’s leg was compromised on an awkward hit he jumped up and stomp-tested the leg; no standing eight-count needed. When some of the Pats' offensive players showed some concern, Cassel waved them off.

It didn’t hurt that Cassel had a great corner. I don’t mean a cornerback; I mean the supporting cast of a disciplined Pats defense that forced Favre to try to take the game on his shoulders and an unselfish offense that did exactly what it needed to do to win and nothing more.

Both defenses were aggressive, but Favre was the one who looked like he was pressing. Cassel just kept doing what he needed to do. Maybe a little Brady rubbed off on him over the past four years, after all.

Watch LaMont Jordan in weeks to come. Phil Simms' commentary was that Jordan showed a gear that the Pats didn’t know he had. No; the rest of the league might not have known it, but this is a move reminiscent of Corey Dillon, Randy Moss, Mike Vrabel, take your pick.

A lot of people might not have known that Jordan’s extra gear was fully operational, but you can bet that’s why Bill Belichick and Scott Pioli put him in a Pats jersey. Jordan logged 62 yards running primarily in the second half. Let’s see what he does when he gets more reps.

Randy Moss looked disappointed in himself after dropping Cassel’s lone deep one, but he also played an unselfish game taking slants and in-cuts and throwing a few good blocks.

All in all, this was a quiet start to Cassel’s probable interim reign, but he won. He beat the champ. Cassel hadn’t taken a starting snap since high school; Favre sets a new record every time he steps on the field.

I’m not ready to crown Cassel as the Duke of Foxboro, but he had a nice, solid start. He played within himself; he played with courage and control.

Not much for the rest of the league to talk about, and maybe that’s just what the team needs. The Pats did a pretty damn nice job the last time they were flying under the radar. I’ll take the quiet for a while, especially if they’re winning along the way.