|Donte Stallworth and the Pats just couldn’t get it done to claim their fourth Super Bowl title in seven years.(Courtesy of NFL.com)
Well that was a kick in the stomach. Never in a million years did I think the Patriots would come out and play an awful offensive game for 3 1/2 quarters and lose the Super Bowl. The perfect season is gone as is the importance of all the accomplishments and records from this season. Last year after losing in the AFC title game I remember just being sad because we almost pulled off the impossible and it was a heartbreaking loss, today it’s still more of shock that we couldn’t get the job done. Anyways, here’s what we learned:
- IN THE BIGGEST GAME, THE GIANTS JUST WANTED IT MORE: In the post-game, Randy Moss eluded to the fact that the Giants were just more amped for the game from start to finish. I agree with that assessment, but just can’t understand how a team with such veteran leadership could come out lifeless for the most of the game. The Giants came in with absolutely nothing to lose and that’s a dangerous attribute for an opponent, and the Pats found out just how much they wanted to shock the world. From the start Brady seemed almost too serious and you could see the sheer frustration mounting as the game wore on. The Pats defense – except for the final drive – was outstanding for most of the game, keeping Plaxico Burress and the Giants running attack at bay, and if you would have told me they were going to keep the Giants to 17 points, never would I have thought the Pats were on the losing end.
- THE OFFENSIVE LINE IS FAR FROM PERFECT: We said in the pre-game that the most important match up on the field was the Pats offensive line against the Giants defensive front four, and I said the only way the Giants stood a chance was Eli playing perfect and the front four dominate and rough up Brady, which they did. Justin Tuck (five tackles, two sacks) led a D-line which manhandled the Pats O-line and the blocking tight ends (when is the last time you saw Kyle Brady pushed around so much?). Say what you want about Brady’s “injured” ankle, but the reason he was off was the pressure in the pocket. Brady was sacked five times – the most in a game all season – and was knocked down almost a dozen times. He never found a rhythm and blame goes on the O-line. Matt Light had two bad false start penalties and Nick Kaczur had to leave due to injury. Logan Mankins also had an uncharacteristic terrible performance.
- THE GAME PLAN WAS FUNDAMENTALLY FLAWED: For all the talk about Josh McDaniel’s genius, the offensive game plan leaves this fan scratching his head. After scoring on the opening drive, the Patriots seemed content with running on first down, throwing a wide screen on second down and then maybe throwing again on third. Moss wasn’t a factor until the end of the game and Welker tied a Super Bowl record with 11 catches, but where was Moss on the short slants in the first half? Why didn’t Ben Watson have a catch? Why didn’t the Patriots kick a 49-yard field goal in a low scoring game instead of going for it on fourth and 13 but then punt on fourth and three? You can second guess performances all you want, but the game plan simply didn’t make sense after the first drive.
- SOMETIMES GOD IS JUST ON YOUR SIDE: There’s no doubt the Pats have received a lot of lucky bounces this year, most notably in Baltimore and against the Eagles, but when on the final drive Eli Manning miraculously breaks free from two 300+ pound lineman, throws up a prayer on third and 5 with a minute left and David Tyree makes on of the best catches in the HISTORY of the NFL, you know you have more than just the Giants going against you. It was truly an incredible play, and that really set the tone for the final TD pass to Burress.
- NOBODY IS GOING 19-0: Unless the Patriots can somehow re-tool even more, I don’t see how a team will ever go 19-0. We saw something that may never happen again, and in the end, you have to concede that the pressure to go 19-0 did have an effect on the team. Just looking at the league now, it’s tough to see a team that in the future could run the table. I think the Colts can still win a Super Bowl but they’re best chance at a perfect season is behind them, a team like the Cowboys is too inconsistent to win every game and the Patriots may lose Junior Seau, Tedy Bruschi and Asante Samuel before the ball is snapped next year. The Pats were able to overcome injury (played the first half of the season without Richard Seymour, the second half without Roosevelt Colvin and most of the year without Sammy Morris) and suspension (Rodney Harrison for four games due to HGH) and still couldn’t get the job done. The ’72 Dolphins can rest easy because it looks like they’ll be safe for a long time.
- LOSING IN THE SUPER BOWL SUCKS: Talk about totally deflated. Everything that we’ve accomplished in the last six months is for NOTHING. Brady’s 50 TD passes, Moss’ 23 receiving TDs, the most TDs/points scored in a season, perfect regular season, first ever 18-0 team, all for nothing. When I go to Gillette for a pre-season game in August, I’ll look up at the banners and shake my head, knowing we won’t be adding another. There won’t be an NFL kickoff celebration to unveil any banners or have Ozzy Osbourne or Aerosmith play the team onto the field. The Patriots may very well re-tool and go and win Super Bowl XLIII, but we won’t ever see a season like this. Hats off to the Giants for an incredible run in the playoffs and a deserved win last night.
Tags: Patriots, Randy Moss