|Are the Patriots Still Legitimate Super Bowl Contenders Without TE Rob Gronkowski?||Notes and Observations Week 14: Patriots Mount Another Improbable Comeback; Beat Browns 27-26||Connelly’s Top Ten – Patriots Stink but Exciting; Poor Gronk||Patriots Lose Gronk But Complete Miraculous Comeback to Beat Browns, 27-26|
Let’s be frank. The New England Patriots had their chance to stop the Colts from making a run at its record 21 straight regular season wins. They blew it. Since then, The Colts struggled against the Ravens and, thanks to Ed Reed’s stupidity, squeaked away with a win. Then they appeared to be getting blown out against the Texans, only to have Matt Schaub literally hand the Colts the game. So the Colts last three wins have turned out like this:
So then what happens when I say this. The Colts will look to tie New England’s 21 straight by taking on a team that started 0-6. Wow, guarantee the Colts the game. However, there’s an underlying story here, something that seems to get more media attention then the Colts run at history. The Tennessee Titans have turned their hopeless season around and have emerged as the unlikely savior for the Patriots.
Lets go back to Week 7. The Titans have just been torn to shreds by the Patriots, 59-0. Tennessee owner Bud Adams says he wants Vince Young to start, even though Jeff Fisher still wants Kerry Collins. Collins is coming off a game where he threw for negative seven yards. (NEGATIVE SEVEN!!!) The talk of the league is how a team that last year started 10-0, is now 0-6. Fisher’s job was as good as gone (he even wore a Peyton Manning jersey to “feel like a winner”), the defense needed a reboot, and the whole franchise was about to be started over from scratch. So, why not start Young?
Then something happened, the team came together. Better late then never I guess. Young came in to just win games. Chris Johnson, who was the only bright spot during the 0-6 run, is now chasing the single season rushing mark. Kenny Britt, Nate Washington, and Justin Gage seem like a top level receiving unit. The defense has reemerged and Tony Brown, Jason Jones and Kyle Vanden Bosch have made the Titans faithful forget about Albert Haynesworth. They have become the first team ever to start 0-6 and win their next five. They are almost at .500 and are fighting for a playoff sport. So there is really one question that remains to be answered…
The simple answer is yes and they should. The Colts have already clinched a playoff spot, and the AFC South. They have made it clear that they do not care about the perfect season, just the Super Bowl. The Colts will play it safe, but hard enough to make sure they get home field throughout the playoffs. Also, Peyton Manning is going to be great, but without a running game, he will be more likely to play it safe. Just watch out if they’re trailing in the fourth. The Colts have set the record for five straight wins after trailing in the fourth quarter.
Still, it may not even be close. Before that New England game, the Titans got trampled by the Colts at home, 31-9. Johnson was held to a season-low 34 yards. This time around, the Titans will look for retribution against their division rivals. They need a win to keep up in the playoff race and the only streak they want to keep going is Vince Young’s nine straight wins as a starter. Tennessee is coming off a 99-yard touchdown drive to beat Arizona, expect that momentum to follow.
New England fans should be required to. The 21 straight wins is more important then the perfect regular season. To have that consistency over two seasons is the true meaning of perfection. You may not have to love the Titans, or give a damn about Vince Young after Sunday, but for one day it’s time to root for the Titans. For New England to keep their record intact, they might need a miracle…