I dare all the pundits, prognosticators, and haters: Write off the Patriots. Go right ahead. Declare the dynasty dead and buried. That is just what Bill Belichick wants you to do: all the more words and jive to use to motivate his players.
ANATOMY OF A BEAT-DOWN:
Before the season and anticipating the team to be perfectly healthy within reason, I saw the Patriots headed into their bye week with a 4-2 record. Certainly, I never imagined them with 15+ players with injuries significant enough to put players on the bench for at least one of the first six games and many of those players missing multiple games. Even so, I think as long as they were 2-4 and they would fine for the simple reason that after the bye week the Patriots have one, maybe two, games that they are not going to be clear favorites to win.
Now I know I had said that I was on the Belichick wagon and only went one game at a time, blah, blah, blah. Well, I lied. To use the phrase Walt would attribute to his former neighbor, I am dirty dog. I lied, I do not care, and as a fan/observer/recorder I can go back on what I said as much as I want. So there.
Anyway, other than the Colts, and maybe Tampa Bay, two teams that have pounded on the dregs of the league while the Patriots played playoff teams and powerhouses, the Patriots second half includes pansies like New Orleans and all six divisional games against their traditional rivals who all share one trait: all of the teams have no offense and present little challenge to the Patriots and their supremacy in the league.
The Patriots, unfortunately for all you haters, are going to win 11 or 12 games this season, skate into the playoffs (maybe without a bye as Cincinnati and Indy seem to be in line to grab them right now), and beat-up on a couple of teams that deserve a serious smack-down from the champs (your time is coming, Padres oops Chargers fans, yeah, all four of you!) before going into the Indy Dome and humiliating Peyton Manning ONCE MORE. This is the last hope for Indianapolis before the salary cap spells their doom, and the pain and frustration from a beating from the Patriots will likely be the first step to the downward spiral.
Of course, the Jets are way over the cap by almost $30 million next year and were supposed to be built to win this year. Whoops. Gang-Green, cha-cha-cha.
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THE SECOND GREATEST GAME THESE EYES HAVE WITNESSED:
Right after Flutie versus Miami in THE game, USC versus Notre Dame on Saturday was simply the second best college game I have ever seen (I do not count the classic U Cal versus Stanford Marching Band game since I only saw the highlights). Talk about a fantastic finish! We were all glued to the TV as the game came down to the amazing finish. When Notre Dame scored at the end, even though there was almost two minutes left, I thought the game was over. They were just too pumped and jacked and at home. Heck, I thought there was no way USC would convert the fourth down. When Leinart called the audible on the play and hit that long pass down the sidelines, all I could think was that the boy must have nuts of steel.
Most credit goes to Pete Carroll for keeping his team under control on the sideline as the fans and players for Notre Dame stormed the field after the clock ran down from seven seconds when it should have stopped. Carroll knew exactly what was going on, what was right, and kept his team in the right frame of mind. Where was this Pete Carroll in New England?
Also, great call by Pete eschewing the field goal, faking the spike, and calling the QB sneak. He must have been waiting fifteen years for a fake spike opportunity since Marino pulled it on him and the Jets way back when. (J-E-T-S Jets Jets Jets).
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