There are a couple of links that I wanted to pass along that some folks may have missed while waiting for the big college football games to kickoff.

 

Jeff Howe analyzed the positive effect of turnovers for the Patriots with his article, Turnovers Pump Attack. The Pats have now scored 109 points on the possession following a turnover, which works out to about ten points per game. It is also worth noting that after the 32 takeaways by the Pats, the offense has had to punt it back on the ensuing drive just eight times.

Consider how much importance Bill Belichick places on turnovers:

“I think (Thursday) night is the Exhibit A on how quickly the game can change. Turnovers are a huge part of the game, and other than points, they’re probably statistically the highest correlation to winning. We had a lot of turnovers earlier in the year and we didn’t get enough point production out of those turnovers. A lot of times, we’d turn the ball over and end up leaving with not many points. So even though we had a turnover differential advantage, that didn’t really translate into a big point advantage with those turnovers.

“The past few weeks, that number has changed more in our favor where the turnovers have been converted into points and in a lot of cases, touchdowns. We all saw how quickly that a very competitive game (Thursday) night, that was a scoreless tie, a battle back and forth, then all the sudden it’s 35 points up there. But that’s what happens. A big play, a turnover, score, another turnover, another big play and when you get all those yards in one play, whether it’s on a big play or a turnover, then that’s what defines explosive plays.”

 

Tom Curran on the other hand asks Can A Team Count On Turnovers? Frankly it is a valid question – although I totally disagree with the opinion that turnovers are “ephemeral, a product of luck”. I think just like anything else, whether or not you can count on turnovers depends on how well you are at executing what it takes to make it happen, just like a pass, a block, a run or a tackle. The issue is that when you go up against better teams in the playoffs it is more difficult to complete your tasks effectively due to the better level of competition.

One final thought on the matter: considering the performance of not only the Patriots, but other defenses like the Bears, isn’t it about time people stop judging defenses strictly on yards, and give turnovers greater consideration when forming an opinion about a team’s defense?

 

To the people that bring up Tom Brady replacing Drew Bledsoe as a comparison to the 49ers Jim Harbaugh apparently replacing Alex Smith with Colin Kaepernick: the two are not remotely close to being the same situation. Bledsoe was playing poorly and had been for a couple years; Smith just came off a game where he completed 18 of 19 passes. With Bledsoe at QB the Pats were 0-2 and were coming off a 5-11 season; with Smith at QB the 49ers were 6-2 this year and won 14 games last year.

 

Charles Siebert has an excellent article in the New York Times about The Hard Life Of An NFL Long Shot. It is a very detailed, in depth piece on life for a bottom of the roster player, well worth the time it will take you to read it (be prepared: it is lengthy). Considering how many players come and go on the Pats roster it does hit home for fans of the Patriots.

 

So Florida fans were counting on Georgia losing to Georgia Tech, then beating Alabama, while Notre Dame lost to USC and the Gators beat Florida State … oops, Georgia 42, Georgia Tech 10. So much for that idea.

Regardless, today’s game between the Gators and ‘Noles should be another in a long list of classic battles between these two schools. Nice to see both of them being in the Top Ten for their annual meeting.

 

Conference realignments in college football have delved into the surreal, bordering on absurd. The Big Ten has twelve teams, soon to be fourteen. The Big Twelve is the reverse, with ten teams; soon defections will drop that to eight teams and they can be known as the Big Eight … which is what they used to call themselves. The Big East has a team in Idaho, and Colorado is nowhere near the Pacific Ocean.

So why don’t the conferences change their names? Please don’t say tradition, because there is nothing traditional about these leagues.

Conference commissioners are all 21st century (i.e., all bout the money) when it comes to these realignments, but stuck in century old thinking when it comes to what they call themselves. AT&T became Comcast, GTE became Verizon, Cabletron became Enterasys, Lucent became Avaya … if fans are going to be stuck with these megaconfernces, how about giving us new names for them?

Personally I prefer the idea that a high school or college league or conference was smaller, about 8 or 10 teams: everybody played each other once in football, twice in all other sports each year. Winner goes on to play other league/conference champions. Those days are gone forever though.

 

Every NFL team has that one WTF game where they just come out flat and play awful, no matter how good that team is. Seems to me that the Denver Broncos are way overdue for that game, aren’t they?

 

I thought the post-race celebration that Brad Keselowski had after winning NASCAR’s Sprint Cup was amazing. It was so genuine, I can’t imagine anybody complaining that he admitted that he had a little buzz going as he drank a few of his sponsor’s Miller Lite beverages from a ridiculously oversized mug. In just his third full year on the circuit he went head-to-head against the guy who when all is said and done will go down as the best stock car racer ever, Jimmie Johnson – and won.

I also found it interesting to find out after the fact that he received words of encouragement before the race from an unlikely source: Baltimore Ravens‘ linebacker Ray Lewis, saying that Lewis gave him ‘an awesome speech’ that was very powerful and inspirational.

 

 

 

This Day In Patriots History

 

November 24, 1968:
Miami Dolphins 34, Boston Patriots 10 at Fenway Park

The Pats took an early lead but Miami broke the game open in the 4th quarter. The Patriots drove inside the Dolphins ten yard line but settled for a short field goal by Gino Cappelletti; when they got the ball back rookie Aaron Marsh scored on a 60-yard touchdown pass from Tom Sherman, and the Pats led 10-0 after one quarter. In the 2nd quarter Larry Csonka scored on 9-yard pass from Bob Griese and the Dolphins added two field goals to head into halftime with a 13-10 lead.

Another short Griese TD pass put Miami up 20-10 after three quarters. The Pats appeared to be about to close the gap when they drove deep into Miami territory, but Dick Anderson intercepted a pass by Sherman and ran it back 96 yards for a touchdown; the 14-point swing effectively ended the game.

 

November 24, 1974:
New England Patriots 27, Baltimore Colts 17 at Memorial Stadium

Jim Plunkett passed for one touchdown and ran for another in a 17-point 2nd quarter, and the Pats cruised from there to improve their record to 7-4 to keep their playoff hopes alive.

Plunkett completed 17 of 26 passes for 194 yards with no interceptions, including a two-yard scoring toss to John Tanner to put the first points of the game on the board in the second quarter. After the Colts scored in the 3rd quarter to cut the lead to 17-10, Mack Herron found the end zone on a one-yard run, and then John Smith‘s second field goal put the game out of reach. The Pats defense came up with the turnovers to stifle Baltimore, including interceptions by Jack Mildren and John Sanders.

 

November 24, 1985:
New York Jets 16, New England Patriots 13 in OT at the Meadowlands

The Pats six-game winning streak came to an end when Pat Leahy kicked his third field goal of the game in overtime.

Steve Grogan, who had taken over for the ineffective Tony Eason after a 2-3 start, suffered a broken leg early in this game. The Jets moved into sole possession of first place with a 9-3 record while the Pats dropped one game behind them at 8-4.

After the Jets opened up a 13-3 lead on an 88-yard pass from Ken O’Brien to Wesley Walker the Pats tied it up in the 4th quarter on a 29-yard touchdown pass from Eason to Cedric Jones, and Tony Franklin‘s second field goal of the game. Craig James rushed for 108 yards on 14 carries and added another 58 yards on six receptions for the Pats; on defense they sacked O’Brien six times, including three sacks by Julius Adams.

 

November 24, 1991:
New England Patriots 16, Buffalo Bills 13 at Foxboro Stadium

On Steve Grogan Fan Appreciation Day the Pats ended a four-game losing streak in which all the losses came in the final minutes, upsetting the heavily favored Bills and handing Buffalo just their second loss of the season.

The Patriots defense was spectacular, intercepting four Jim Kelly passes and also sacking the Bills QB four times. Kelly’s longest completion went for just 14 yards and the Pats blanketed James Lofton, limiting him to just one catch – and then forcing and recovering a fumble on that play.

Buffalo led 10-0 but the Pats came back with a 46-yard field goal by Charlie Baumann and then a 50-yard touchdown from Hugh Millen to Irving Fryar to cut the lead to 10-9 at halftime. A 34-yard pass from Millen to Fryar set up the game-winning score, a two-yard quarterback sneak by Millen with 13:09 left to play.

Millen finished with 263 yards passing and Fryar had six receptions for 134 yards and one touchdown. Fryar was named the AFC Offensive Player Of the Week for his performance in this game.

 

November 24, 1996:
New England Patriots 27, Indianapolis Colts 13

Curtis Martin rushed for 141 yards on a season-high 35 carries as the Pats got their fifth win in six games and improved to 8-4. The victory allowed the Pats to stay within one game of first place Buffalo, while opening up a two-game lead over the third place Colts.

The Patriots dominated the whole game, leading 17-0 before the Colts had made a single first down. Martin had 92 yards rushing by halftime and set a team record with his 16th touchdown of the season.

The Colts were without RDT Tony Siragusa and the Pats made a concerted effort to run at his replacement behind LT Max Lane. The effective running set up play action passes, with Drew Bledsoe throwing touchdown passes to Shawn Jefferson and Terry Glenn to put the Pats up 17-0.

The Patriots were just as productive on defense, holding Marshall Faulk to 25 yards on 10 carries and knocking QB Jim Harbaugh out of the game; the only Colts touchdown came with less than three minutes to play and the Pats up by 21 points.

 

November 24, 2002:
New England Patriots 24, Minnesota Vikings 17

Tom Brady threw three touchdown passes and the Pats recovered three Minnesota fumbles to improve their record to 6-5.

The Patriots jumped out to a 21-0 lead when they scored on each of their first three possessions, ending in Brady TD passes of 9 yards and 1 yard to Christian Fauria and 5 yarder to Troy Brown. For Fauria that was his sixth touchdown of the year, after totaling seven touchdowns in his previous seven years in the NFL combined.

Up by three scores the Pats got the ball again when Richard Seymour recovered a Randy Moss fumble with 2:14 left to play in the half. Unfortunately the Pats could not deliver the knock out punch. Due to a strong wind the Pats went for it on 4th and 10 rather than attempt a field goal, and Brady was sacked at the 39; Minnesota drove down the field and scored to make it 21-7 at halftime.

The wind came in to play again in the 3rd quarter when a Ken Walter punt travelled only 24 yards; the Vikings took advantage of the field position and scored on Daunte Culpepper‘s second touchdown pass to make it 21-14.

Turnabout was fair play though as Minnesota had the wind in their face on their final drive; a long pass from Culpepper to Moss fell short with 25 seconds to play, and on 4th down Culpepper’s next pass sailed wide of his target.

 

 

 

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November 24, 1939:
Jim Yester was born in Birmingham; was guitar player and original lead singer for The Association (Windy, Along Comes Mary, Never My Love).

November 24, 1941:
Donald ‘Duck’ Dunn was born in Memphis; was bass player for Booker T & the MGs and also for The Blues Brothers.

November 24, 1941:
Pete Best was born in India; was the original drummer for the Beatles.

November 24, 1991:
Freddie Mercury died; was the lead singer for Queen.

November 24, 1993:
Guitar player Albert Collins died; is considered to be one of the greatest and most influential blues musicians of all time.

 

 

 

 

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