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.”