By Bruce Allen
Here is a sampling of the reaction from network TV analysts during and after the Patriots 38-35 win over the New York Giants on Saturday night.
Don Shula, a live remote guest on the pregame show when asked by Rich Eisen his thoughts on Bill Belichick:
“He should be given credit for what the Patriots have done. I think Bill is a great coach. The Spygate thing was unfortunate but that is over and done with. That was after the first ballgame of the season. And since then they have been playing with the same rules that everybody else has been playing with. They should be given credit for that. I have known Bill for a long time. I knew his Dad at the Naval Academy. I knew Bill when he was an intern with the Colts when Ted Marchibroda was the head coach. He’s paid his dues. He’s come up the hard way. He had a tough experience in Cleveland. He has rebounded from that and now he is at the top of the coaching profession and he deserves all the recognition he is getting.”
Quotes from the Game Broadcast on NFL Network:
“This is the best way of course to beat the Patriots. Keep that man on the sideline.”
-Bryant Gumbel while the Giants are driving on their opening drive and cameras show QB Tom Brady on the bench.
“How often do you get three NFL records fall on one play?”
-Gumbel after Randy Moss catches a touchdown pass from Tom Brady five seconds into the 2nd quarter. Brady ties Peyton Manning single season touchdown passing record (49); Moss ties Jerry Rice single season touchdown receptions (22); and Patriots break single-season scoring record.
“That is ticky-tack at best and referees can’t dance.”
-Cris Collinsworth on the official throwing a flag after Randy Moss touchdown celebration.
“Looked like a Moe, Larry, Curly deal.”
-Gumbel after cameras catch Patriots Vince Wilfork sticking his fingers in the eye of Giants running back Brandon Jacobs.
“For Vince Wilfork that is pretty nasty right there. There’s no question on the intent of that.”
-Collinsworth on the Wilfork flap.
“That looked like intent to annoy, not to injure.”
Gumbel on the Wilfork flap.
“The Patriots are facing their largest deficit of the season.”
-Gumbel after Manning hooks up with Plaxico Burress to put the Giants up by 12 with 9:12 left in the 3rd quarter.
“The clock for Tom Brady is getting a little quicker now.”
-Collinsworth on Patriots QB Tom Brady being hurried by the Giants pass rush forcing him to speed up getting rid of the ball.
“He is one of the unsung heroes in the NFL.”
-Collinsworth after Patriots wide receiver Wes Welker makes a key block on Maroney TD run.
“Hold the champagne in Miami, it’s not over yet.”
-Gumbel after Patriots running back Laurence Maroney scores to get the Patriots back to a one score game.
“Big money guys make that play right there. That is a killer drop.”
-Collinsworth on Patriots wide receiver Randy Moss dropping a long pass.
“And Brady and Moss hook up on a record catch.”
-Gumbel on Tom Brady’s 65-yard TD pass to Randy Moss.
“It’s absolutely incredible what he has been able to do.”
-Collinsworth on Tom Brady, after he threw his 50th touchdown pass of the season.
Booth Nugget: Gumbel notes Patriots QB Tom Brady brought a video camera on this trip and notes it is the first time Brady has brought a video camera to a regular season game.
Statistical Graphic with 7 minutes remaining in 4th quarter:
Patriots have an 83-1 regular season record when leading in the 4th quarter.
“Make that 22 unanswered from the Patriots.”
-Gumbel after a Laurence Maroney touchdown puts the Patriots up by 10 with less than five minutes left.
“Yes. It’s a great achievement; I don’t want to say that [about going 16-0]. But when you are comparing it to the Dolphins you can’t.”
-Collinsworth after Gumbel asked him if the Patriots have to win the Super Bowl before they can match the Dolphins success of 1972.
“Now you get to watch the clock tick a little bit and dream about what is about to be.”
-Collinsworth after Patriots Mike Vrabel recovers the onside kick with 1:04 left, virtually sealing the Patriots victory and 16-0 season.
“Their final hurdle may have been their toughest.”
-Gumbel on the Giants making the Patriots earn their final regular season victory.
FOX NFL Sunday
New England Patriots linebacker Junior Seau joined FOX NFL SUNDAY via satellite to answer a few questions following the Pats becoming the first team to reach 16-0 in the regular season. Co-host Terry Bradshaw asked what the one difference is in this team compared to others that the 18-year veteran has played on: “The structure. Bill Belichick has done a great job of going about it his way. He makes sure that there aren’t any grey areas. If you need an answer, Belichick has it.”
Analyst Jimmy Johnson on the possibility of the Patriots losing a game: “If they lose a game now, it won’t just be disappointing. It will be devastating. Bill Belichick cannot allow himself to be a fan of this team. He can’t tell them how great they are. He has to be the bad guy and demand that they get better.”
CBS – The NFL Today
Interview With New England Linebacker Tedy Bruschi On Going Undefeated In Regular-Season
(On feelings after game)
Bruschi: I was glad it was over and that we had won. There was an incredible sense of accomplishment. But I think this week more than any other, there was a lot more pressure. In our locker room we talked about it (going undefeated) a little bit this week. We acknowledged what we could accomplish, in being the first team that ever went 16-0. It was like a relief. It was like a relief, and at the same time just a sense of, “Wow, we did something that’s never been done before.”
(On whether there was any doubt when Pats were down by 12 in third period)
Bruschi: I don’t think we had time to let doubt creep in, because I think the experience we have that we have been in many close games before, in bigger games before, we focus on what’s next. Those are the things we were thinking about. We think about. We don’t think about are we going to lose this game or not. We’re worrying about what we have to do next.
(On having to go 19-0 for a “successful season”)
Bruschi: I think that has to be talked about. I think regular-season has to be the two words that have to be emphasized because what we did was in the regular-season. And we do have bigger goals that we want to accomplish. We want to win the Super Bowl. We want to perform well in the playoffs. We recognize what we did was historic, and to enjoy that for a couple of days, and maybe take a day-or-two to accept all those phone calls and accept all the congratulatory wishes. And then put it behind us, and then move on.
(On message to Don Shula and ’72 Dolphins)
Bruschi: I think the first thing I would say is we have a tremendous amount of respect for that team, for what they were able to accomplish. Of course, we’ve matched them now, for the regular-season. But I think they would tell you, first and foremost, that it matters what you do in the post-season. Every time we talk about the 1972 Dolphins, it’s something to where we talk about they were the best team in NFL history.
(On Patriots going undefeated)
Dan Marino: If you asked them, to a man [they would say], 16-0 is great, celebrate that, but it’s all about finishing – going 19-0 and winning that Super Bowl.
Bill Cowher: Kudos to Tom Coughlin and the Giants. You gained confidence with that game going into the playoffs. But the New England Patriots, they don’t beat themselves. They don’t turn the ball over. They put tremendous pressure on teams to play the perfect game and I believe the only thing that can stop the New England Patriots is divine intervention by the weather gods.
Shannon Sharpe: I don’t want to go back to pre-free agency, but when you talk about free agency, I look at the Dallas Cowboys of the mid-‘90s and this team. I think that mid-1990s Dallas Cowboys team could give this team a run for their money. But offensively, this is the best football team I’ve seen with my own two eyes. And I have good eyes.
(More on Patriots going 19-0)
Sharpe: For them to go 19-0, they could possibly have to play a 14-2 team in the regular season in Indianapolis; a14-2 Cowboys; a 13-3 Green Bay Packers; a 12-4 Jacksonville Jaguars. So for them to run the table, they will have completed the greatest season, I think, in the National Football League history.
ESPN Sunday NFL Countdown
What’s Most Impressive about the Patriots 16-0 Season…
Tom Jackson: “The Patriots played their best ball in the fourth quarter (against the Giants) … Last night they asked him (Tom Brady) to throw the ball 43 times. He didn’t make a single mistake during the course of the night and that’s what he’s done all year.”
Mike Ditka: “They’re flexible and they make adjustments.”
Keyshawn Johnson: “They stayed on course. The task at hand was to win all their football games and break some records. They did that and went 16-0. Now they have to move on and try to win the big one. … I would rather be 14-2 and losing the Super Bowl or the playoffs than having this type of pressure on me. If they had lost that football game last night (against the Giants), that pressure wouldn’t be on them. They could play two games and lose the Super Bowl and everyone would say they had a good season. When you set the bar as high as they have and then you go out and lose, I may have to get off the bus.”
Emmitt Smith: “This is a true testament to the mental toughness they have, the great physical condition they’re in and their focus. … Failure is not even an option for them. They have loaded the ship, they have left the port and now they’ve landed. They got off the boat, burnt the boat off and looked back and said we can’t go back. They have accepted the challenge and the calling from history. They think they’re time is right now and there’s no looking back.”
On Tom Brady and the Patriots Record-Breaking Season …
Johnson: “I look at him (Tom Brady) now as the face of the National Football League. He’s elevated in my eyes past Peyton Manning. He’s got all the records now, in terms of passing Peyton Manning. He’s got three football championships and will probably put MVP on his resume. He’s a celebrity quarterback, but still winning football games. A couple of years ago it was all about (Peyton) Manning, but right now it’s all about Brady.”
Jackson: “My perception of Tom Brady hasn’t changed. He’s always been a great quarterback and has won three championships, but my perception of the football teams has changed. When I look at them now, there’s a bit of a chippiness to them…and at some point it’s a negative form. That little bit of chippiness might cost them in the end on the field.”
Hall of Fame Dolphins Coach Don Shula Joined the Show Live from the Dolphins Stadium Giving his Opinion on the 2007 Patriots
On the Giants vs. Patriots game …
“It was a real credit to the National Football League. The way the Giants went out to play. It was a meaningless game to them, but they went out with the idea to play the best game they could play and knocking the Patriots down from their perfect season.”
What has impressed him the most about the 2007 Patriots …
“(Against the Ravens, Eagles and Colts), in all three of these games, they were down and behind, but they kept their poise and knew they had the confidence to make plays at the end.”
On the Patriots repeating the undefeated 1972 Dolphins season…
“You have to forget about 16-0 because each game now is sudden death. 16-0 won’t mean much if they get beat in he playoffs and don’t win the Super Bowl … That’s what’s going to make it a meaningful season, going 19-0.”
I saw a spot yesterday where Tom Jackson of course had to throw a little cold water on the Pats. This is just about word for word>>>>>>
“This Patriots team is different from the others though, in 2001 they came out as a team and weren’t concerned about breaking records or going undefeated. Now they seems to be a chippy team and it’s possible it will cost them in the playoffs”
Well, of course “they weren’t concerned” about going undefeated and “breaking records in 2001, because they DIDN’T have the opportunity to do so.
Ok let me state, for the record, right up front: I too believe that they have to go 3-0 the rest of the way to fully validate the 16-0 season. I would ABSOLUTELY trade 16-0 for a Superbowl. However…
Isn’t it funny that we all know if you asked any of these guys about any team going 16-0 back in August, they would have said how that would be incredible, nearly impossible and it would be a great accomplishment? Fast forward to now and all anyone can say is: ‘means nothing… they have to win the SB or they will be chokers.”Gee, congratulations, but you haven’t really done anything.’ or my favorite: ‘So what?’ Unbelievable.
Jackson made another comment on the pregame showed and said that ‘The Pats are 3 games from immortality… and 1 loss from infamy’. Really? People around the country are just begging to pounce on this team… let’s hope they never get the chance, because their mouths will be full of humble pie.
Finally, everyone has said these things, but what got me was when Strahan said before the game, ’16-0 means nothing unless you win the Superbowl’… and I thought to myself… hmmmm, no matter what happens Michael, I still think I would rather be 16-0 than 10-6, like you losers. Enjoy the bye week, all.
The Pets (Pretty reliably pro Pats)
Kornheiser (his ludicrous and calculated World Wrestling Federation-like rant against Belichick on MNF notwithstanding, he generally slurps the Pats)
The Pros (Struggle mightily to be fair)
(these three guys waaay over reacted to Spygate and seemed like loss causes by mid-season, but all three have reeled in their moral outrage to provide pretty balanced coverage by the end)
Schlereth (always benefits by being paired with Hoge the Idiot who, to his credit, was hating on the Pats long before it became fashionable)
Trey Wingo (Mr. “Fair Enough”…he beats that damn expression into the ground, but lives by it on-air)
Parcells (surprisingly so, though one never knows what he’s feeding his media buddies behind the scenes)
Jaws (reverse of the first three; seemed to be tending toward the Dark Side as the year came to an end)
The Punks (throw up in their mouths whenever they mention the Pats)
Costas (the WORST, a heartbroken 13-year old Rams fan trapped in the body of a big-time announcer)
Ditka (a dick, Pats or no Pats)
Mortenson (the day after they go 16-0, he goes on radio to talk about how classless they are…irredeemable)
Gary Meyers (BB’s Inspector Javert)
Wilbon (bias against Boston is pervasive…still thinks the Celtics are playing five white guys)
The Sharpe Bros
Marshall Faulk (did you hear him say before the Pats-Giants game that if not for spying the Pats would be 14-1 the other night and we wouldn’t even be talking unbeaten season…keeping the Whiner seat warm on the NFL Network until little LT retires)
Tom Jackson (if the story is true that Chris Berman tried to get BB and Tommy together to bury the hatchet and BB refused, then I’m willing to cut the guy some slack, but still…)
Fantastic, Dan. Spot on. Thank you.
I watched a ton of the NFL network pregame coverage all afternoon, (though I did take a break a few times, because if I saw that ‘Put Up Your Dukes’ promo one more time, I was going to set myself on fire), but I missed that Marshall Faulk comment. How uninformed can one be?
Apparently, very. Though no surprise, he also said after ‘spygate’ that they should be banned from the playoffs for 2 seasons. He’s a lost cause and still bitter about ’01. He really should direct his anger at Martz, not the Pats.
The networks have done a very poor job recruiting analysts. Gone are the days when objectivity reigned supreme. Now all that is considered is how opinionated can get in order to crank up the ratings. The flavor of the day all season was “hate the Pats.” Now it seems that half are trying to jump on the bandwagon and the other half are voicing their personal vendettas.
Why is it we HAVE to have former NFL players as analysts? They are horrible at objectivity and wear their hearts and agendas on their sleeves. Of course most of them hate the Pats, as the Pats have ruined most of their dreams at one point or another. Maybe in ten years or so it will be different, and we can listen to the likes of Brady and BB giving their analysis of the games.
I think the “playoff ban” comment was from Terrel Davis, not Faulk.
The media heads get too much exposure on several outlets, run out of material and start creating stories. Look no further than Peter King. He had a very good football notes column, his daughter’s softball updates notwithstanding, but Peter got too big for his own good. All he does these days is drop names and tells everybody “what he thinks he thinks”.
This is precisely the reason why blogs, particularly fan blogs are becoming more and more popular. Again, look no further than Mike Reiss and BSMW empire.
And Dan, you forgot to add Frank Gifford of SI to your punk list. He compared Camera-gate to Water-gate and called Belichick this era’s Nixon (on NPR). Somebody should remind Frank that Nixon tried to get an edge in a presidential election and not a football game.
I say just enjoy this historic season and many more such seasons ahead. Ignore the negative nancies.
JC, I’m sure you meant Frank Deford of SI.
You know who surprised me with his comment? Emmitt Smith. I’d pretty much thought of him as an empty suit, not adding or detracting much from a broadcast. They type of guy who’ll be replaced the next time some big name retires and “wants to go into broadcasting”. But I thought his analogy was perfect. Thats exactly the way the Pats have been all season. After spygate, the national media all believed they should be be contrite and submissive. Instead, the national media got the middle digit from the organization. I think Smith nailed it. They HAVE stormed the beaches and burned the boats behind them. They have no fallback position. They spit in the eye of “conventional wisdom” when it said to rest the regulars and dont run up the score. Instead of shrinking from the pressure of an undefeated season, they embraced it. These cowardly media types whose asses have to covered at all costs, cant believe someone like BB who’ll go all in to achieve perfection.