by Scott Benson
scott@patriotsdaily.com

I turned off the TV before the final seconds ticked from the Super Bowl clock and I haven’t turned it back on since. How long do you think I can hold out?

I hit Reiss’s Pieces pretty hard afterwards, waiting for some post game comment and reaction, but I haven’t been back or looked at any of the other blogs and sports pages. Does this seem like a reasonable plan for the long term?

I’ve been visiting my regular Internet haunts this morning and find many who feel as I do – the shock, this disappointment, the utter fatigue that makes them recoil from sports radio, or ESPN, or the half-wit Nelson Muntz in the next cubicle. I’m not sure I like their chances any better than I like mine.

We can run, but we can’t hide. 

4th and 13

A lot of attention is being paid to this, the final play of the second half’s opening drive, when Bill Belichick eschewed a 48 yard field goal attempt for a fourth down try on 4th and 13 from the Giants 31. The Patriots, naturally, didn’t make the first down or score any points. I admit I never thought of the field goal either. All I could think of at the time was if the Patriots could somehow get a 14-3 lead on the Giants, it would be very difficult for New York to come back and win the game. I was pissed at Gostkowski anyway – that stupid kickoff out of bounds. They dodged a bullet on it thanks to a Ellis Hobbs interception, but I was beside myself at the sloppiness. No matter – he could have very well drained the field goal, and with those three points, there’s your tie game.

Really? Aren’t we talking about something that happened with more than twenty minutes left in the game? I look at it this way – they had a lead with two minutes left in the game, a long field for the Giants, and they couldn’t stop them, and that’s what finally cost them the championship (familiar theme). If issue is going to be taken with Belichick’s coaching – and even he is not immune to it – it seems like an atrocious performance by an offense that was said to be the greatest ever, or a defense that was once a champion ending the season for two years running by giving up a score in the final minutes, or his undefated team’s generally flat performance on the biggest stage there is, all take precedence over a coaching decision made with seven minutes left in the third quarter. He made a pretty good decision to force a review (too many men on the field) and extend the very same drive, but there was still a lot of football to play.

Let’s start with this – you’d rather have Belichick as Patriots coach over any other living person. Still, he had at least half a lousy game plan going in to this game, even with two weeks to prepare. During the game, he and his staff seemed unable to make adjustments to that fatally flawed plan. As far as having his team peak at the right time, forget it. Despite making “sixty minutes” his mantra since last January, his team could only offer 58 in the game they had been pointing to for more than a year.

All that stuff is more important than 4th and 13.

Overconfidence?

I kept telling my wife all week – they look really confident! What an idiot. Tedy Bruschi being interviewed on the sidelines before the game – “I really think – I’ve never seen them so confident. I think they know they’re going to kill them.” Oh, man. It’s good that she’s on my side because she could kill me with that for a good long time.

But were they overconfident? Did they take anything for granted? With the Patriots Super Bowl losers again, anything seems possible, even with their legacy of strong heart and sound mind when it’s all on the line. Something was going on, to be sure: they were merely passengers on that bus last night, never in control. You expect more than that from coaches and players that have been talked about as all-time greats. Patriots fans – which includes me – have gotten fat and happy on the belief that, based on all that they had achieved, and how they achieved it, the Pats would always have the answer for everything. Which is ridiculous, obviously, given recent developments.

That stupid Globe book and the team’s apparent advance plans to trademark ’19-0’and make ‘Three Games To Glory 4′ available for immediate pre-order are a kick in the nuts, just to remind us. How embarrasing is all that stuff now? How many times have we crowed about the Steelers’ travel planning and the Eagles’ parade route? Man, we’ve lost that chip forever.  

It’s Not Like the Giants Didn’t Offer to Share

I don’t know whether I was in denial after the game, but I cannot believe I didn’t call out the fact that the Patriots were in position to make no less than three game-ending interceptions on the Giants final scoring drive, Asante Samuel’s being the worst non-play. Thinking of that now makes me feel kind of ill, actually. But it all goes to my prevailing feeling, right from the time the TV went off last night – this defense, the fulcrum on which three championships were balanced, is no longer capable of doing anything but hanging on for dear life and relying on their guile to make a handful of second half plays to pull out a game. They used to be a dynamic unit that changed games – think Indy in 03, or 04. Compared to then, they’re orange traffic cones now, laid out carefully to mitigate damage rather than to inflict it, and that’s probably because 03 and 04 is a hell of a long time ago in football years. Thing is, the Patriots still have essentially the same defense they had then, especially in the middle of the field. Losing the Super Bowl despite entering it undefeated is probably the right time to think about changing that.

And you have to wonder about the offense, and if all Belichick and Pioli accomplished was to take the the team in the Fouts/Marino direction in their effort to keep up with the times. We saw at the end of the season how Laurence Maroney can be impact player on the level of any they have (though he was not last night) – if he’s reduced to a bystander role at any point next season while four and five receivers get trotted out there for more pinball, we all ought to be screaming our bloody heads off. Because all that fastbreak basketball just ended up making the Patriots soft in the key, didn’t it?

New York, New York

It’s not right that we should go on about the Patriots’ failings without conceding all due credit to the fantastic performance of the New York Giants, who were truly the better team and deserve blah-blah-blah-blah-blah…….my wife just came downstairs and said “You know what? Screw the New York Giants! I’m not happy for Eli Manning, I’m not happy for that %$#&%@# Tom Coughlin, I hope they choke on it! Nobody was ever happy for us when we won!”

She’s a little upset. We both took the day off thinking we’d be able to sleep in and then happily watch winning press conferences and memorable hightlights and parade planning for a few hours. Now we’re boxed into watching HGTV shows about someone improving their deck, or wardrobe, or something. It’s the only safe place.

Seriously, this is a results business, baby. And the Giants got all the results last night, so good on them, for good. As we said repeatedly about our own team on this same morning six years ago: nobody will ever be able to take it away from them.

Another myth that’s been debunked, by the way.

Case Closed

Because they can take it away from you, or at least try, if you’re not a league meeting asskisser or beatific, media-savvy cross between Johnny Appleseed and Christ himself.

So here’s the deal, America – as Patriots fans, we have to suffer the indignity of hearing forever about 18-1, and about one of the biggest Super Bowl upsets in history, and about how the invincible Belichick and Brady ended up looking like saps. Nothing we can do about that, and it won’t go away. We own it, maybe for good. You’ll make sure of that.

In exchange for paying that penance for our real and/or perceived hubris over the past seven years, allow me to suggest that your penance is to stick your halfbaked sports moralizing and national referendums on classiness where the sun doesn’t shine. We’re done listening to a bunch of power-drunk, soccer mom hall monitors, emboldened by the shrieking of ESPN, an unholy alliance of yellow journalists and simmering fusspots bent on advancing their mealy-mouthed vindictiveness while duplicitously wrapped in the flag of ‘fair play’ and ‘honest competition’.

You don’t have an ounce of integrity yourself, so we’re done listening to you talk about it. We’re burying this agenda item today.

Final Thought

I’ve purged sufficiently now, I think, so that ought to be about it for me for a few days, unless some other shoe drops somewhere.  There will undoubtedly be more reaction from other members of the PD staff, and we’ll post that as it comes in.

Soon it will be time to talk about where PD goes from here, what our off-season plans will be, and what we want to do when next season rolls around. One thing we know – we want more writers and more features, and we’ll be back to talk with you about that in the days ahead.

 In the meantime, as I did last night, I thank you all for your support and participation throughout the year.