There are times when sports analysts say things that literally make me shake my head; the last few days has me bordering on whiplash from all the head shaking.
The phenomenon started when at halftime of the Patriots-Colts game Dan Marino declares that ‘the Colts are outplaying the Patriots’.
Huh? Based on what?
I suppose that perhaps we were all supposed to ignore the interception and punt return that were both run back for touchdowns – though even then that makes Marino’s statement (which was made in the tone of voice that suggested there was no room for debate) the sports equivalent of ‘other than that, how was the play Mrs. Lincoln?‘
Here is the thing though: even if you do remove those two plays the Colts were not outplaying the Patriots. Yes, Indy did score touchdowns on their first two possessions – but for the entire half the Patriots stopped them from realistic scoring opportunities in three of their six drives (50%): two touchdowns, a punt, an interception, a field goal, and what would have been another punt (except the Colts changed their minds and decided instead for a hail-mary FG attempt with no time remaining). The Patriots offensive possessions on the other hand resulted in a touchdown and two short field goal attempts (100%).
If Marino was mostly watching the Broncos game, that’s fine; but if that was the case then he shouldn’t be making such a definitive statement about what was occurring in the Colts game. The only other explanation I can think of is that he looked at halftime stats like total yardage and time of possession. As a professional analyst and former professional football player he should know that those numbers can be very misleading. There is a much higher correlation between winning and turnovers than winning and either of those other two stats; to suggest Indianapolis was outplaying the Patriots is careless, absurd, and just plain unprofessional.
Then there is the self-proclaimed world wide leader. Look, I get it that they are an entertainment business primarily interested in securing profits for their shareholders, but did you catch any of their pre-game show Monday night?
Shows have segments, which are basically the part of the in between commercials. At the end of a segment the audience is left with a teaser in order to entice them to not change the channel; usually it is information on what the panel will be talking about next. At the end of one segment the teaser was about the Patriots and the implication that Rob Gronkowski should not have been playing late in the 4th quarter of the game against the Colts. Back from commercial break, next segment, and no Pats discussion – though they did end that segment with the same teaser.
Next segment, guess what? Yep, no Pats talk, but a third straight Pats teaser.
They have to bring it up next time, right?
Wrong – though they were sure to end it with their 4th straight teaser about the Patriots.
Finally, 29 minutes and four commercial breaks after they first mentioned it, TWWL did indeed talk about it.
Now there are plenty of messageboard discussion on whether or not Gronk should have been out there, but let me ask this: how many of these people that are declaring the Pats were wrong to have him out there said anything prior to this?
Did Cris Carter say anything about it in the win against the Rams? No.
Did Cris Carter say anything about any other starters still playing near the end of any game that had been decided? No.
Did Cris Carter say anything about the 49ers still playing Patrick Willis, NaVorro Bowman, Carlos Rogers and Donte Whitner on the final possession against the Bears? No.
Did Cris Carter say anything about Andrew Luck or Reggie Wayne playing until the final possession Sunday? No.
Did Cris Carter or anyone else say anything when it was announced Luck hit 300 yards passing on the Colts’ final possession, or that when it was announced that on the same play Wayne had eclipsed 1,000 yards receiving – and suggest that instead of stats that they should be kept out of harm’s way on the sideline? No.
What this tells me is that Cris Carter and everyone else that is complaining about Rob Gronkowski being on the field is a hypocrite.
They’re not complaining about the decision, because if they were they would have also complained about those other examples.
What these people are whining about is the outcome, not the decision. Spare me the moral indignation, please. If you’re not going to bring up the subject every time it occurs to every team when the outcome of a game has been decided, then you are a hypocrite.
To utilize the benefit of hindsight to question a decision is lame, petty and small-minded when you don’t apply the same standard to others.
Carter further displayed his bias and ignorance by suggesting that Bill Belichick was placing Brady in harm’s way by having him play in the 4th quarter and passing the ball on the next to last possession. On that drive Brady did indeed throw it – twice. The two passes that Brady did throw were of the extremely quick, three-drop variety; one to Wes Welker and one to Shane Vereen. If he was referring to the previous drive, Indy had just scored to make it a 21-point game and the 4th quarter had just started. Were the Pats supposed to just start taking a knee at that point? Carter’s lumping them in with seven step drops and implying that the Pats were slinging the ball 40 or 50 yards downfield was reckless and erroneous.
This was just another in a long list of espn pandering to casual fans with gossipy tsk, tsk finger pointing.
As for Bob Ryan and Dan Shaughnessy pooh-pooing fans who booed Adam Vinatieri, all I can say is get over yourselves. Their pro-Red Sox/anti-Patriots prejudice act grew stale long ago. First of all the Pats paid him plenty of money, placing the franchise tag on him twice; perhaps Shank forgot that unlike baseball the NFL has a salary cap. Second of all Vinatieri didn’t just leave, he signed with what was then the Patriots’ biggest adversary and competition. What do these guys want fans to do, cheer for the opponent to score against the Pats?
One last thing on the subject matter: to the allegedly impartial and oh-so-tough New York press that is pandering to their fan base by blasting Belichick for his decision to have Gronkowski on the field, thank you. Patriots players are extremely loyal and supportive of Belichick. To portray this event as something that is going to lead to a Jets’ victory on Thursday is simply going to be a little extra incentive for the pats to kick butt.
This Day In Patriots History
November 20, 1964:
Boston Patriots 12, Denver Broncos 7 at Fenway Park
Babe Parilli‘s 25-yard pass to Gino Cappelletti turned out to be the game-winner as the Pats beat the Broncos for the third straight time and improved their record to 8-2-1.
Cappelletti, who would go on to be named the AFL Player of the Year by both the AP and UPI this season, added a 51-yard field goal in the second half to give the Pats a bit of a cushion. A field goal of that length doesn’t raise an eyebrow today, but back then it was almost unheard of; to put that into perspective there were only three successful field goals of 50+ yards in the league for the entire season.
November 20, 1966:
Boston Patriots 27, Kansas City Chiefs 27 at Municipal Stadium
The fired up Pats played the ’66 league champion Chiefs to a standstill thanks in large part to Art Graham, who had 11 catches for 134 yards and two touchdown receptions. Babe Parilli threw for 252 yards and three touchdowns, and Jim Nance ran for 107 yards on 22 carries for the Patriots.
Late in the 4th quarter the Chiefs led by 3 when Nick Buoniconti intercepted a Len Dawson pass, for the 4th takeaway by the Pats defense. Parilli led the Patriots on a 13-play drive deep into Kansas City territory but the Pats were unable to cross the goal line, and had to settle for 19-yard field goal by Gino Cappelletti with 24 seconds left to play to tie the game.
November 20, 1977:
New England Patriots 20, Buffalo Bills 7 at Rich Stadium
Sam Cunningham broke open a defensive stalemate with two 4th quarter touchdown runs to give the Pats their sixth win of the season.
The Patriots controlled the game, rushing for 256 yards and running 23 more plays from scrimmage than the Bills did. However the Pats settled for field goal attempts and found themselves down 7-6 entering the 4th quarter before Cunningham broke off a 31-yard touchdown run to give the Pats the lead.
November 20, 1983:
Cleveland Browns 30, New England Patriots 0 at Sullivan Stadium
The Browns posted their second consecutive shutout, upsetting the Patriots in Foxboro. The Cleveland defense confused and confounded the Pats (who had won four of their previous five games), finishing with five turnovers on the day.
November 20, 1988:
New England Patriots 6, Miami Dolphins 3 at Joe Robbie Stadium
On Sunday Night Football the Pats defense held Dan Marino to 169 yards and held the Miami offense to a field goal to upset the Dolphins, who were favored by 3, for a rare win in Miami. John Stephens led the Patriots with 88 yards rushing on 20 carries, and Russ Francis had three receptions for 40 yards.
November 20, 1994:
New England Patriots 23, San Diego Chargers at Foxboro Stadium
For the second week in a row the Patriots knocked off one of the NFL’s elite teams, this time 2-loss San Diego, who would go on to play in the Super Bowl at the end of the season.
The Patriots opened up scoring when Drew Bledsoe caught the Chargers in a blitz and hit Leroy Thompson for a 27-yard 1st quarter touchdown; Matt Bahr‘s 39-yard field goal made it 10-0 at halftime.
After Bahr’s 38-yard field goal with 38 seconds to go in the 3rd quarter, San Diego returned the ensuing kickoff for a touchdown to make the score 13-10 Patriots. However the Pats responded with a 64-yard, 12-play drive capped off by Marion Butts‘ (88 yards rushing) 1-yard touchdown run to give the Pats a 10-point lead.
From there the defense took over; first Chris Slade, who had 3½ sacks, tackled Stan Humphries for a 10-yard loss. Vincent Brown then intercepted a Humphries pass and returned it to the San Diego 13-yard line. The Pats settled for another field goal but it gave them a 13-point lead. San Diego was unable to score until there was only 55 seconds remaining, and the Pats recovered the onside kick to seal the win.
Maurice Hurst had two interceptions for the Pats, and Michael Timpson was the leading receiver with 8 catches for 82 yards.
November 20, 2005:
New England Patriots 24, New Orleans Saints 17 at Gillette Stadium
On the day after Steve Belichick died, Eugene Wilson intercepted an Aaron Brooks pass intended for Joe Horn in the corner of the end zone to give the Pats back-to-back victories for the first time this season and improve their record to 6-4.
Tom Brady threw three touchdown passes and newly acquired Heath Evans, starting due to injuries to three other running backs, rushed for 74 yards on 16 carries. Andre Davis scored on a 60-yard pass from Brady to give the Pats a 21-7 lead entering the 4th quarter but New Orleans made it close when Donte’ Stallworth scored his second TD for the Saints. Deion Branch and Mike Vrabel both had first half touchdown receptions and TE Ben Watson was the leading receiver for the Pats with 66 yards on four receptions.
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November 20, 1947:
Joe Walsh was born in Wichita
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