Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

AFC Championship Overflow Thread

This thread is for continued discussion of the 2007 AFC Championship game.

Comments

301
by Rick (not verified) :: Mon, 01/22/2007 - 1:09am

re: 289

OK, I'm officially completely baffled. Are you related to the Pats' defensive coordinator or something? Blaming the offense for not staying on the field long enough to give the defense rest? It's just not much of an argument. If the defense wanted a rest, a 3-and-out does the job.

Was it the offense's fault that the defense was tired for the first drive of the second half?

Again, I'm just baffled.

302
by Bill (not verified) :: Mon, 01/22/2007 - 1:09am

299 - Don't worry. There's always A-Rod for them to fall back on.

303
by Yaguar (not verified) :: Mon, 01/22/2007 - 1:10am

Well, I shouted so much at the TV in the last few hours that I can't speak above a whisper. Not only is my team going to the Superbowl, but a "choker" led his team to come back from an 18 point deficit, and his "clutch" counterpart threw a game-ending interception with less than a minute left while behind in opposing territory. It kind of proved what I, and probably most other people have known deep down all along - that postseason outcomes are really pretty unpredictable, that the Pats have been good and lucky while the Colts have just been good, and that dynasties and legends are often just the products of small sample size. (I think many Pats fans know this deep down, too, and that's why they're so defensive about Brady.) I guess I'm supposed to feel validated or something.

Well, the truth is that I don't care so much about that as I thought. I really just want to win the Super Bowl. And with all of the teams better than the Colts gone, (yes, the Ravens, the Chargers, and maybe even the Patriots are better teams than the Colts are) it seems like it should be possible. But the lesson I've learned from years of Colts fandom is that the playoffs can be really flukey, and I still feel like even Rex Grossman could steal the Super Bowl away from us on a good day.

Furthermore, I know that even with clear-cut evidence that "clutch" is meaningless, there are still going to be idiots out there who think that Terry Bradshaw is better than Dan Marino and David Garrard just wins games. And even people who will say that Brady's a better quarterback than Manning because three is more than one. So whatever, this probably won't end up convincing anyone of anything.

But still, that was the greatest comeback I can remember, and it was in the biggest game against my team's biggest rival. Do I think it's a miracle?

Nah, I'm a Colts fan. I don't believe in miracles. I believe in Peyton Manning.

304
by Pat (not verified) :: Mon, 01/22/2007 - 1:10am

They scored 13 points in the 2nd half against possibly the worst defense in the NFL.

Indianapolis's defense is many things, but at least with Bob Sanders in, they are not the worst defense in the NFL. Worst defense in the playoffs, maybe.

305
by Puzzled (not verified) :: Mon, 01/22/2007 - 1:10am

#298 no, just using the asterisks to emphasize 2001. That way I wouldn't have to explain the bombings, patriots, and the whole country being brought together = uniting the people = people as one = team is a bunch of pepole as one = patriots being introduced as one instead of individually equation.

306
by Rich Conley (not verified) :: Mon, 01/22/2007 - 1:10am

297

Nichomachean ethics was totally obnoxious.

307
by J (not verified) :: Mon, 01/22/2007 - 1:10am

Soooooo....does Manning own Brady and Belichick? He's won three straight, y'know

308
by Gus (not verified) :: Mon, 01/22/2007 - 1:11am

A-Rod's a fucking choke artist!!!

309
by Not saying (not verified) :: Mon, 01/22/2007 - 1:12am

297

I found Aristotle better when I switched translations, although I'd still faver Plato, too.

It's 5 in the morning and I can't deconcentrate enough to sleep yet, so I feel your pain.

310
by throughthelookingglass (not verified) :: Mon, 01/22/2007 - 1:12am

New RPS= Chargers beat Colts beat Patriots beat Chargers.

311
by throughthelookingglass (not verified) :: Mon, 01/22/2007 - 1:13am

TJ just said "you can't script this stuff"

312
by Pat (not verified) :: Mon, 01/22/2007 - 1:13am

Oh, and by the way? That whole "no home field advantage in the championship round" thing? Yup. Both home teams win.

For the record, there's no evidence for less HFA in the championship round than in the regular season. The sample size is just too small (you need at least ~50 games before you can say anything, and 150 games before you can make a strong statement).

313
by Rich Conley (not verified) :: Mon, 01/22/2007 - 1:16am

"OK, I’m officially completely baffled. Are you related to the Pats’ defensive coordinator or something? Blaming the offense for not staying on the field long enough to give the defense rest? It’s just not much of an argument. If the defense wanted a rest, a 3-and-out does the job."

When your entire defense has the flu, and your down to Erik Alexander, Ray Mickens, and Rashad Baker playing because your offense can't give your defense more than 2 minutes to sit down during the second half, yeah, I blame that on the offense. The defense forced a bunch of 3 and outs in the 2nd half.

Remember, they forced one with 3:22 left in the game up 3, and all it would have taken to end the game was a single first down?

314
by JMO (not verified) :: Mon, 01/22/2007 - 1:16am

#305 LOL what you were trying to say in fewer words was this maybe * The patriots winning the superbowl was a symbol of the american people coming together in unity* .Maybe true, but once again prove itwas fixed.

315
by slo-mo-joe (not verified) :: Mon, 01/22/2007 - 1:16am

Puzzled - you don't go far enough. Have you ever considered that maybe the Patriots organized the 2001 bombings to get the country and the NFL behind their team? They also totally manipulated Bush into going to war in Iraq, to stir "patriotism", but it seems to have back-fired.

Look for a nuclear attack on North Korea before start of the next season, man. They're out there, and they're out to get you.

316
by snik75 (not verified) :: Mon, 01/22/2007 - 1:17am

12 men on the field... 12 men on the field....

317
by Rick (not verified) :: Mon, 01/22/2007 - 1:17am

re: 292

It's not "conceding that luck has something to do with who wins a football game." But those of us who have been Pats fans for along time have just gotten tired of people invoking "luck", because we have to hear the same "explanation" EVERY YEAR!

Every year, the Pats are underrated for much of the season, and usually they have gotten further in the postseason than was originally forecasted (last year being a notable exception). Yeah, being lucky plays a role. But when you hear for the 17th time that "the Pats won last week because they recovered more fumbles than their opponent", your eyes just roll.

Think on this: the Pats came within a whisker of making their fourth Super Bowl in six years, and they still only got one Pro Bowler. (And the guy they are sending wasn't even particularly strong this year.)

318
by Gus (not verified) :: Mon, 01/22/2007 - 1:17am

Puzzled, 315 just owned you.

319
by Raskolnikov (not verified) :: Mon, 01/22/2007 - 1:18am

Awesome game.

When this Pats-Colts/Brady-Manning thing started, I had no rooting interest. I may have even pulled a bit for the Pats since they were often the underdogs.

But over the years, I became more partial to the Colts. Somehow the Patriots have gone from a team that an outsider admires for their ruthless efficiency and great teamwork to being a team that became less and less likeable.

But the part that I hated the most was the mainstream media and their fawning over for the Pats. The clincher was absolutely classless piece Bill Simmons wrote on Manning back during the regular season. After that piece, I pulled as hard for the Manning Colts as I did for any team other than my own.

Then Simmons goes over the top with his most recent piece, which was the worst piece of drivel I've read yet from him. All the Boston paper scribes were becoming intolerable with their fawning.

So perhaps this was justice after all. Manning lays these ghosts to rest, and I don't have to read stupid, crappy articles about how the Patriots .. just win games. The Gods have decreed the Fates and the Patriots will be heading home.

320
by Rick (not verified) :: Mon, 01/22/2007 - 1:18am

"When your entire defense has the flu, and your down to Erik Alexander, Ray Mickens, and Rashad Baker playing because your offense can’t give your defense more than 2 minutes to sit down during the second half, yeah, I blame that on the offense."

I suggest you blame the virus instead.

321
by Puzzled (not verified) :: Mon, 01/22/2007 - 1:18am

#315 You're RIGHT! it *has* backfired!! now most of the country hates Bush, and by extension, his definition of patriotism, and from that, the PATRIOTS! You've nailed it! I was having such a hard time seeing why they'd be seen as the "bad guys". (the NFL did a good job of having them act like jerks against the chargers to really give people a reason to hate them for this game though)

322
by Pat (not verified) :: Mon, 01/22/2007 - 1:19am

Think on this: the Pats came within a whisker of making their fourth Super Bowl in six years, and they still only got one Pro Bowler.

Pro Bowl voting is very early in the year, mind you. Had Pro Bowl voting happened at the end of the season, Jeff Garcia would've been a Pro Bowler over Tony Romo. And bunches of Patriots would've been in.

323
by Not saying (not verified) :: Mon, 01/22/2007 - 1:21am

Re: 312

How many championship round games have there been? It seems to have started with championship games before Super Bowl 5. We're at 41 now, which would give us 37 rounds, times two games apiece. Isn't that more than 50? (I know that in some of the games home-field wasn't decided by regular season record, but that shouldn't seem to matter.)

324
by Devin McCullen (not verified) :: Mon, 01/22/2007 - 1:23am

#304 - No, Pat, you forgot the Jets made the playoffs.

And Puzzled, if it was scripted, the Saints would have won. (I actually have a friend who was saying the Saints this year and the Pats winning in 2001 were fixed, sounding at least half-serious. The weird thing is he's a Pats fan.)

325
by Pat (not verified) :: Mon, 01/22/2007 - 1:23am

#323: Most people who say "no HFA in the championship round" (or less) usually use a recent cut. If you do full NFL history, where you do have enough statistics to start to say something - (note that 50 games still, statistically, means basically nothing - it just doesn't mean completely nothing) home teams do win more frequently.

326
by Rich Conley (not verified) :: Mon, 01/22/2007 - 1:24am

320

So you think the Patriots offense played a good game in the second half?

I dont count two 3 and outs in the last 5 minutes of the game as good.

327
by Not saying (not verified) :: Mon, 01/22/2007 - 1:24am

RE: 319 All the Boston paper scribes were becoming intolerable with their fawning.

Do you read the Boston papers? Because that is definitely not entirely true. Look at Borges, for example, always going out of his way to say that Belichick is an idiot. Boston papers are never fully behind anyone for more than a minute or two.

328
by stan (not verified) :: Mon, 01/22/2007 - 1:24am

The SportsCenter asshole doing the highlights is such a Patriot homer it makes you want to vomit.

329
by Pat (not verified) :: Mon, 01/22/2007 - 1:24am

#324: Good point. Considering the offenses the Jets faced compared to the Colts, they're very, very obviously a worse defense.

330
by Yaguar (not verified) :: Mon, 01/22/2007 - 1:25am

317: Sure, Asante Samuel is probably a little better than Chris McAlister, and maybe even Rashean Mathis, too. Maybe Logan Mankins should have gone instead of Will Shields. And sure, Brady put up numbers nearly as good as Rivers', despite having a bunch of who-dats at receiver. But really, only goofy homers think that's a sign of "disrespect."

The Patriots are based around having two great players, a bunch of good players, a few mediocre players, and no true weakness. They aren't like the Chargers, who have a large number of superstars, but also a bunch of crappy players like Drayton Florence and Marlon McCree. The Chargers will get more Pro Bowlers, and it doesn't mean anything.

331
by Rick (not verified) :: Mon, 01/22/2007 - 1:25am

If today's games had been fixed, we would have been looking at a Patriots/Saints Super Bowl. With all due respect to the Colts and Bears, that would have been the matchup with the greatest story line potential.

Though I have to concede, having the first two black coaches make the Super Bowl at the same time is a nice twist...

332
by Rich Conley (not verified) :: Mon, 01/22/2007 - 1:27am

The pats offense did EXACTLY the same thing they did last week. When the game was on the line, they went three and out, and then the next drive they threw a pick. Last week they just got lucky.

333
by Puzzled (not verified) :: Mon, 01/22/2007 - 1:27am

#324 I think they are playing up the saints as being amazing just for making it this far. They wanted to tie up a bunch of storylines this year, and to have the colts lose again would have taken another year. I'm not sure where they're headed next year though (the nfl's scripts), but I'm sure the Saints will get back to being mediocre, since there's no need to push them anymore. Plus, they had to finally have the first two african-american head coaches, who are also best buds, for the superbowl story and if the saints had won, they couldn't do that.

334
by Not saying (not verified) :: Mon, 01/22/2007 - 1:28am

Re: 325

Okay, so you're basically arguing against others cherry-picking statistics. That makes more sense. At least there's the beginnings of a trend showing.

335
by Rick (not verified) :: Mon, 01/22/2007 - 1:29am

re: Rich
No, I don't think the O was that great in the second half. But they scored points. I just think they did their job a LOT BETTER than the defense did. I'm not fixated on the idea of blaming the shortcomings of the defense on the offense.

To turn this around, the offense was doing just fine until the defense insisted on staying on the field for fifteen minutes at a time, which threw off the offense's rhythm, and let the Colts' D recover and get their strength back.

:P

Sometimes it's just simpler to blame a bad defensive effort on the defense. I have sympathy because so many of their key people were injured or ill, but that doesn't change the fact that they let the Colts rip off 15-yard gains at will in the second half.

336
by Peter Libero (not verified) :: Mon, 01/22/2007 - 1:29am

330: Given the number of people who believe him to be top 5 (or even top 2/3) I'd say Asante Samuel counts as a third great player, at the very least. I'd love him on my team, that's for sure.

337
by Not saying (not verified) :: Mon, 01/22/2007 - 1:31am

1,065 and counting. That's close enough for me.

I hope all you Colt fans enjoy your victory. I hope we will get our revenge next year. (Hopefully, with a healthy secondary, but now I'm back to being petty.) Good game.

338
by cd6 (not verified) :: Mon, 01/22/2007 - 1:32am

Are any players on the Colts or Bears from Miami?

As we all know, that's the most dramatic news angle super bowl week can take.

339
by Pat (not verified) :: Mon, 01/22/2007 - 1:32am

#334: No, not really - note what I said above. In order to say anything of real substance, you need 150 games, not 50.

50 games is the point where you start to pick the side of the coin that's biased better than half the time. Assuming a small bias (i.e. HFA in postseason = HFA in the regular season).

You definitely can't say anything with only, say, 20 games, for instance. Absolutely no way.

340
by Gus (not verified) :: Mon, 01/22/2007 - 1:32am

We're going to sign Randy Moss and Michael Vick next year and kick your asses, Colts fans.

341
by Rick (not verified) :: Mon, 01/22/2007 - 1:33am

re: 317

The Pro Bowl choices are made largely on reputation for the non-glamour positions. I don't know why the Pro Bowl voters didn't notice the fact that Ty Warren had the best season of the three Pats' linemen. But since Richard Seymour has been the best defensive linemen for the Pats for the balance of the last five years, he goes and Warren doesn't. That's how linemen choices are made. It's really hard to be kicked off the team, esp. in favor of a teammate.

342
by Yaguar (not verified) :: Mon, 01/22/2007 - 1:33am

336: One of their good players became a great one during a contract year. If they let him go, that model still holds. If they pay him a monster contract, then he's done enough to be treated like Brady or Seymour.

It's not that they specifically want to have exactly two players with monster contracts. It's just that they don't give them out easily, and that's happened to land them with two great players at the moment.

343
by Pat (not verified) :: Mon, 01/22/2007 - 1:33am

#338: Several, actually. Who was the guy with the Ferrari?

344
by Puzzled (not verified) :: Mon, 01/22/2007 - 1:33am

Ok, I'm done. one parting shot -- what's the best *story* for next year? Only thing I can see is colts losing the sb and having to come back again for peyton to get his ring. That, or they crush next year too and become the new "dynasty". either way, colts SB is all I can see right now for stories next year.

345
by Rich Conley (not verified) :: Mon, 01/22/2007 - 1:34am

335

The offense had 2 chances in the last 5 minutes to put the game away. They blew both. The defense made 2 stops in that time.

No defense is going to stop the colts every drive. The offense has to actually do something for you to win though.

346
by stan (not verified) :: Mon, 01/22/2007 - 1:34am

338,

Reggie Wayne played at the U.

347
by Gus (not verified) :: Mon, 01/22/2007 - 1:35am

344: The best story would be Peyton Manning--fresh off a super bowl loss--being eaten by cannibals while Patriots fans refused to help him, citing that said cannibals were "just born that way."

348
by young curmudgeon (not verified) :: Mon, 01/22/2007 - 1:37am

Re 317: Rick, I don't think you are really disagreeing with me. I differentiated between recognizing that luck plays a role and stating that luck is totally determinant. You and many other Pats fans have gotten sick of hearing people assert the latter. Some Pats fans--not you, as your post indicates--have overreacted by denying the former. I'd just like both sides to keep things in perspective. (and I'm an idiot for arguing for perspective on a Pats/Colts thread!)

349
by Pat (not verified) :: Mon, 01/22/2007 - 1:38am

#345: True, though, to be fair, it's not like the defense stopped the Colts basically at all in the second half.

Funny statistic: the Patriots offense scored on three drives in the second half, and was stopped on every other one.

The Patriots defense stopped the Colts on three drives in the second half, and allowed a touchdown on every other one.

That looks like a pretty even collapse to me. Of course, given the Colts offense is much better than the Colts defense, yah, the offense played worse.

But hey, who knows: the Colts defense has been much better than the Colts offense for the rest of the playoffs. So maybe it really is the defense's fault! :)

350
by Rich Conley (not verified) :: Mon, 01/22/2007 - 1:39am

"Some Pats fans–not you, as your post indicates–have overreacted by denying the former."

Young Curmudgeon, we dont deny luck plays a factor. We just realize, that the patriots game plan always manages to keep a superior opponent close scorewise, and generally when they get that lucky break, they take advantage.

351
by Raskolnikov (not verified) :: Mon, 01/22/2007 - 1:39am

Man, who would have thought the Patriots D would have been counting on key stops with Stephen Alexander as one of their LBs? Bruschi and Vrabel have lost a step too.

352
by Devin McCullen (not verified) :: Mon, 01/22/2007 - 1:41am

Oh, since I wasn't around here at the time, what was the consensus on the Colts kicking the FG at the end of the first half instead of going for the TD? I thought they should have gone for it, they needed the points. (If you can tell me why I should have expected their defense to be that good in the second half, I'll admit I was wrong.)

353
by Gus (not verified) :: Mon, 01/22/2007 - 1:41am

351: No one likes to talk about it, but since his stroke Bruschi has not been the same player. Vrabel is still who he always was, it's just that he needs some faster supporting guys to be most effective. IMHO.

354
by cory (not verified) :: Mon, 01/22/2007 - 1:42am

As a Colts fan, I want to point out something that I believe in strongly, and that I believe many other fans believe it too. Most people don't hate the Pats. We hate the attitude that their fans have when it comes to other teams. Simmons column this week talked about how he couldn't believe that people called the Pats the NFL's version of the Yankees. There is a huge difference between the two; people hate the Yankees because they spend WAY more than most teams in addition to having one of the most arrogant/ignorant/cocky/etc. fans in sports. People don't hate the Pats because they are just like any other NFL team but they seem to operate at a higher level. We just hate the arrogance of the fans thats all.

355
by cory (not verified) :: Mon, 01/22/2007 - 1:42am

As a Colts fan, I want to point out something that I believe in strongly, and that I believe many other fans believe it too. Most people don't hate the Pats. We hate the attitude that their fans have when it comes to other teams. Simmons column this week talked about how he couldn't believe that people called the Pats the NFL's version of the Yankees. There is a huge difference between the two; people hate the Yankees because they spend WAY more than most teams in addition to having one of the most arrogant/ignorant/cocky/etc. fans in sports. People don't hate the Pats because they are just like any other NFL team but they seem to operate at a higher level. We just hate the arrogance of the fans thats all.

356
by Pat (not verified) :: Mon, 01/22/2007 - 1:43am

#352: Kicking the field goal made it a two-score game. Knowing that they got the ball first in the second half, you have to kick the FG. Then you get the ball, hope to score a TD, and it's a one-possession game. Then you just hope that your defense gives you one more stop than their defense allows, and you're back in the game.

You never want to go into the half three scores down.

357
by Rich Conley (not verified) :: Mon, 01/22/2007 - 1:44am

"People don’t hate the Pats because they are just like any other NFL team but they seem to operate at a higher level. We just hate the arrogance of the fans thats all."

Thats bullshit. Pats fans are no more arrogant than Steelers fans, Colts fans, Eagles fans, etc. Everyone thinks the fans of a team that wins are assholes. Its simple jealousy.

358
by Gus (not verified) :: Mon, 01/22/2007 - 1:44am

355: (arrogant tone of voice) Shut the eff up.

Just kidding, but I'll remind you that that attitude serves to annoy the Patriots fans who don't fit the 'arrogant' mold, so it shouldn't be a universal attitude...

359
by throughthelookingglass (not verified) :: Mon, 01/22/2007 - 1:45am

How great is the Pat Hruby column (storyline madlibs) now?

360
by Raskolnikov (not verified) :: Mon, 01/22/2007 - 1:46am

The other obvious point I want to raise is that Bob Sanders is a damn good football player. Great instincts for the game and he does seem to get involved in all the key plays.

The pass defensed he had on Brady-Brown was the type of play I've seen the Pats execute so often that I was shocked when the Indy D delivered.

361
by Yaguar (not verified) :: Mon, 01/22/2007 - 1:47am

A lot of Pats people say that the team is young and all that, but I don't really buy it. The two first round picks will go a long way towards fixing that.

Honestly, as much as people want the Pats to regress to the mean, I don't think it's going to happen for a while longer, because they're well-managed. And as much as people hate Pats-Colts hype, it won't happen to the Colts, either, because they have Peyton Manning.

362
by cory (not verified) :: Mon, 01/22/2007 - 1:48am

I don't know the exact reson for it, but I think the single biggest factor in deciding this game was the deterioration of the Pats D in teh 2nd half. I don't know if it was flu related, cross country travel related, or age related, but it seemed to me like the Pats were just gassed in the 2nd half. In the first half Peyton threw at least three passes to WR's who were absolutely blanketed by Pat's DB's. In the 2nd half the WR's were getting more separation, and the Colts made some (half time) adjustments to pass more to the Rb's in the flat & the TE's in the middle where the Pat's were forced to use LB's to cover them.

363
by throughthelookingglass (not verified) :: Mon, 01/22/2007 - 1:49am

If the Colts win XLI, does Manning start getting 'greatest ever' hype?

364
by Devin McCullen (not verified) :: Mon, 01/22/2007 - 1:49am

Yeah, I wasn't thinking about their getting the 2nd half kickoff at the time.

365
by Pat (not verified) :: Mon, 01/22/2007 - 1:50am

Honestly, as much as people want the Pats to regress to the mean, I don’t think it’s going to happen for a while longer, because they’re well-managed.

Actually, I think it's going to happen because other teams are getting more well managed, as well.

Has a lot to do with managing the salary cap - I don't think teams are going to follow the Titans/49ers mold anymore. Especially considering there are rules in the CBA to prevent that sort of thing now.

366
by MMM (not verified) :: Mon, 01/22/2007 - 1:52am

What an intriguing matchup next week? Can the Colts score more against the Bears' D than the Bears can against the Colts' kick coverage?

367
by Raskolnikov (not verified) :: Mon, 01/22/2007 - 1:52am

I think the Pats and the Chargers are going to be the class of the league for a while. Bengals, Colts, Ravens, and Broncos make the next tier. Bills and Jets are going to be good much sooner than people expect.

Which is to say, the AFC will be loaded for the near future.

368
by throughthelookingglass (not verified) :: Mon, 01/22/2007 - 1:52am

ten comments to go

369
by Yaguar (not verified) :: Mon, 01/22/2007 - 1:53am

365: Pat, I would almost agree with you, except I live in Washington.

So, yea, some teams are still pretty clueless.

370
by cory (not verified) :: Mon, 01/22/2007 - 1:53am

#357 I will admit that jealousy plays a large role in it, but some prominent Pat's fans (Simmons obviously comes to mind) are just so arrogant. They talk of Brady/Belichick as Jesus/God.

#358 Point well taken; stereoptyping is definately wrong.

371
by throughthelookingglass (not verified) :: Mon, 01/22/2007 - 1:54am

367
not to mention the Jags and Titans, and the Steelers

372
by slo-mo-joe (not verified) :: Mon, 01/22/2007 - 1:54am

328 "The SportsCenter asshole doing the highlights is such a Patriot homer it makes you want to vomit."
Come on, Stan - enough with the beaten puppy shtick.

You've won - act like you've been there bef... oh wait.
;-)

G'nite y'all.

373
by Balaji (not verified) :: Mon, 01/22/2007 - 1:56am

367: You mention the Bills and Jets and not last year's SB winner? Ouch.

374
by Raskolnikov (not verified) :: Mon, 01/22/2007 - 1:56am

How much of an impact would Deion Branch have had in this game?

Enormous, I say. Pats win this with Branch at wideout.

375
by Raskolnikov (not verified) :: Mon, 01/22/2007 - 1:58am

I think losing Cowher is going to have a heavy effect. Cowher was so much a part of the Steeler's identity. I think for that organization, he was irreplaceable.

376
by throughthelookingglass (not verified) :: Mon, 01/22/2007 - 1:58am

374
Yeah, I think that trade turned into a lose-lose situation.

377
by throughthelookingglass (not verified) :: Mon, 01/22/2007 - 1:59am

1,113th!

378
by Yaguar (not verified) :: Mon, 01/22/2007 - 1:59am

376: Agreed. If I were the Seahawks, I would much rather have my first-rounder back.

379
by Andrew (not verified) :: Mon, 01/22/2007 - 2:00am

355: I don't think you can totally write off the idea that the Pats == the Yankees. Although there's a salary cap, how many players have wanted to play for the Pats at a reduced salary? Dillon sticks in my mind, he totally screwed over the Bengals by demanding a trade the way he did. The Junior Seau thing this year was the worst, though - I don't like to say that I was happy he got injured, but I'm glad he won't be on a Super Bowl team this year. Retiring, signing a one-day contract with the Chargers, then signing with the Dolphin's division rivals? That was pretty terrible. Hopefully, the practice of vets signing with the Pats for way less than market rate will cease pretty soon.

380
by stan (not verified) :: Mon, 01/22/2007 - 2:01am

I'm glad for Tony and Lovie. But if I have to listen to ESPN assholes for 2 weeks tell me that blacks are discriminated against in NFL head coaching jobs, I'm gonna puke.

381
by Rich Conley (not verified) :: Mon, 01/22/2007 - 2:01am

Pat, the patriots have almost every important player on the team (except samuel) locked up through 2010. Why would management have anything to do with them regressing?

382
by cory (not verified) :: Mon, 01/22/2007 - 2:01am

374 I waa trying to make a similar comment after Caldwell's drop at the 15, but the site went down.

For you Pats fans, I know many people dare not to question BB, but if I were you I would start passing around a petition sheet to give to BB/Kraft/Pioli to make sure they know that Assante needs to be getting paid this offseason by the Pats, and not some other team. I know that they have made some very smart decisions over the years, but I think their ego is getting the best of them recently when they are refusing to pay "their players" and allowing them to walk away.

383
by Rich Conley (not verified) :: Mon, 01/22/2007 - 2:02am

379

Seau was going to be cut by the dolphins. Whats wrong with him signing with someone else.

Andrew, do you ever have anything good to say about the patriots? Theyre not the boogeyman, you know?

384
by Rich Conley (not verified) :: Mon, 01/22/2007 - 2:04am

374

That same Deion Branch who had 6 drops in a playoff game 2 weeks ago?

385
by cory (not verified) :: Mon, 01/22/2007 - 2:04am

Andrew - I guess that is a similarity, but the Yankees tend to overpay aging veteran stars to come get a championship, while the Pats are able to get them at below market value.

386
by Rich Conley (not verified) :: Mon, 01/22/2007 - 2:06am

"but I think their ego is getting the best of them recently when they are refusing to pay “their players� and allowing them to walk away."

The only player they let walk was Branch... and from the way hes played this year, I dont blame them. hes not good enough for Reggie Wayne money.

They've got tons of cap. Asante is young. I wouldnt be surprised to see them sign him. When they let Ty Law walk, he was 32, wanted $12m a year, was just coming off a broken foot, and was 20 lbs overweight. This isnt the same situation.

387
by Pat (not verified) :: Mon, 01/22/2007 - 2:07am

Pat, the patriots have almost every important player on the team (except samuel) locked up through 2010. Why would management have anything to do with them regressing?

Ah ha! You're falling into the same trap I mentioned in the "Patriots have Equation for Success" thread.

In order for something (say, X) to be a reason why the Patriots will win, you need two things:

1) X has to lead to winning. This is usually difficult to prove, and so it frequently gets ignored. But it's fair to say that good management leads to winning.

But here's the kicker:

2) The Patriots (or any team you're trying to support) have to do X better than other teams in the league.

So if the management improves in the rest of the league - which I think it is, aand the salary cap is preventing some of the more destructive management styles now as well - then good management becomes less of a factor for them winning.

In other words, the Patriots aren't moving down - the mean is moving up.

388
by Rich Conley (not verified) :: Mon, 01/22/2007 - 2:10am

"In other words, the Patriots aren’t moving down - the mean is moving up."

Again, prove it. Prove the mean is moving up. I see the same teams at the top every year, and the same teams blowing it every year. I've seen no evidence that destructive cap strategies are going away, and I dont see that happening until the worst teams in the league are no longer forced to gamble $10+m guaranteed a year on unproven talent every year.

389
by cory (not verified) :: Mon, 01/22/2007 - 2:13am

Rich Conley - they also let Givens walk, McGinnest walk, Vinatieri walk. I realize Law & McGinnest (and Vinatieri to some extent) are aging vets who could be upgraded, but you would think they would reward at least some of their players. I think that BB believes he can plug anyone in his "system" and achieve the same level of output. I also think that fans such as yourself, and members of the national media, often refuse to call him on these decisions because of his past success. It's good to show loylaty to the guy who brought you 3 SB's, but not questioning him in the future will lead to the organization's downfall.

390
by Pat (not verified) :: Mon, 01/22/2007 - 2:16am

I’ve seen no evidence that destructive cap strategies are going away

Read the new CBA. Teams can't hang nearly as much money as they used to over the cap. That's going to go a long way to preventing things like the Titans/49ers again.

and I dont see that happening until the worst teams in the league are no longer forced to gamble $10+m guaranteed a year on unproven talent every year.

Honestly, I think a lot of people don't really realize how little a $10M/year contract is, especially when it's a 6-year contract structured intelligently.

And no team ever risks $10M/year guaranteed on a rookie pick. The guaranteed money is typically $5M/year.

Not particularly surprising, considering it allows you to cut the person loose at year 4 with only a few M$ cap hit.

391
by Independent George (not verified) :: Mon, 01/22/2007 - 2:17am

#357 - It's not envy (at least, it's not always envy). I know you're not guilty of this, Rich, but anecdotally, it seems to me that Pats fans aren't content to just celebrate their own team - they have to actively disparaging their opponents at the same time.

Simmons' columns are a perfect example of this. It's not the recurring 'Manning Face' joke (which I actually find pretty damned funny), but the way he'll rip on Manning for anything.

I think the fact that Simmons is a pretty high-profile writer (particularly amongst the demographic that reads FO) makes the anti-Pats faction here that much more common. I'm not naturally a Pats hater; I have enormous respect for the organization (and for Brady/Belichick). But whenever Simmons writes a hatchet job on Manning/Dung/the Colts, I want the Pats to lose by 50.

Irrational, I know, and also unfair, but that's the reason for a lot of the anti-Pats vibe you get here.

392
by throughthelookingglass (not verified) :: Mon, 01/22/2007 - 2:19am

The Sportscenter guy sounded like his dog just died.

393
by throughthelookingglass (not verified) :: Mon, 01/22/2007 - 2:23am

If the Colts win, will they move Manning's cap hit (scheduled for 08 I think) forward, and blow this thing up? Will they do the same thing next year? Because I think they're headed for cap hell soon.
Correct me if I'm wrong.

394
by Bobman (not verified) :: Mon, 01/22/2007 - 2:24am

So what's up with the GUTS and STOMPS theory?

I guess next week will see how it falls out--who had the most squeaker wins (esp over "inferior" teams) this year: Indy, by a mile. Don't know who had the most STOMPS, but my guess includes SD and Chi, maybe NO and NE.

Maybe instead of GUTS/STOMPS, the tide will turn back to the old NFC East "battle tested" theory that had NYG/WA/Dal hammering each other all season but one of them would go all the way.

Still not sure how a team that lost to Hou with playoff seeding on the line and, well, all the rest we've read and heard, how they get to the SB and will likely be favored.

Crap, two more sleepless weeks, and I have deadlines at work! Arrrrgh, life, you are toying with me!

395
by Trieu (not verified) :: Mon, 01/22/2007 - 2:30am

Sigh. Well, that was a bummer.

Earlier in the week I questioned Mike Tanier's claim that the Colts were a better team. If one game proves anything, he was right on. Indy played better on offense and on defense (maybe?). Actually, the Colts played significantly better on offense, given that they were giving up a massive field position advantage due to their poor special teams play.

After the Pats D had forced a Colts punt with about three minutes to play, I thought the game was over. Ugh.

The Colts offense was awesome to watch. Even as a Pats fan, I found myself enjoying that display of power.

The two most costly mistakes for the Pats:

(1) Giving up 3-6 points before the half with those two penalties. If not for the penalties, they get a first down, keep the clock running, and at the very least get another figgie.

(2) Reche Caldwell dropping that pass when no one was covering him. He had wide open field in front of him. The Pats left four points on the field on that drive.

In the end, the Colts D did just enough, but they obviously weren't the world-beaters they'd been in the two previous playoff games. Regression towards the mean, anyone? Thankfully for Indy fans, the same thing happened for the Colts offense: regression towards a truly spectacular mean. (Thank you, Aaron Schatz.)

396
by throughthelookingglass (not verified) :: Mon, 01/22/2007 - 2:30am

394
Be glad it's two weeks. After this game, I think the Colts are so drained that they would get crushed if they played next week.

397
by Pat (not verified) :: Mon, 01/22/2007 - 2:34am

#393: They probably will. Manning's the kind of quarterback that can continue to play for a long while, and if they structure things intelligently, they can make him cuttable in the later years. Besides, with the cap growing as fast as it is, Manning's cap hit when he's no longer worth it is going to be nothing compared to the problem of finding a new Manning.

398
by Bobman (not verified) :: Mon, 01/22/2007 - 2:35am

BTW, Anybody think Marlin Jackson learned something from McCree's fumble in SD last week?

Catch the ball, secure it, fall on ground. Close eyes. Grit teeth. Make the refs drag you off to make sure nobody tricks you into fumbling. Win game.

Thank God he didn't try to run it back.

399
by D-Wil (not verified) :: Mon, 01/22/2007 - 2:35am

Anyone notice how not even the announcers commented on the phantom roughing the passer call?

If there was a roughing penalty for hitting Manning in the head it should have been on third down of the previous three and out. With that call, the Colts score the go-ahead TD - what bunch of crap.

400
by DoubleB (not verified) :: Mon, 01/22/2007 - 2:37am

Re: 391

I couldn't agree more about Simmons. His knowledge of football is poor at best (anybody who thinks the teaser is a good wager is an idiot). For whatever reason he disparages Manning and praises Brady to high heaven despite the fact there are 48 other players and god knows how many coaches on an NFL team. In other words, TEAMS win football games--not players. And frankly, the Patriots had the better football team in 2003 and 2004 (much better defense, special teams, and coaching--offense not as dynamic, but it definitely didn't cover up the above three). Simmons also seems to think everyone other than Brady sucks on offense which couldn't be further from the truth. The Patriots are incredibly well-coached and have always been a very deep team. It's why they have remained competitive despite some key injuries.

401
by navin (not verified) :: Mon, 01/22/2007 - 2:38am

Thank goodness this game is over. I had stayed away from the site and threads earlier this week cause I couldn't deal with all the emotions that always seem to flare up. I (niners fan) was cheering for the Colts, mostly because of the media perception of Brady even after a dreadful performance like last week.

1) PBP only lists two colt fumbles. I guess the Wayne bobble doesn't count. Including that I thought there were around four, even though two of them weren't actually fumbles (on the kickoff returns)--so two ends up being right.

2) Luck was actually against New England in this game. Saturday matched NE's lucky touchdown, and it seemed like the Colts kept trying to hurt themselves during the comeback only to get lucky and have it not happen (Wayne's bobble, not covering Caldwell, going three and out down by 3 with 3 minutes left).

3) Marvin Harrison was both horrible and great. He dropped what would have been a TD on a long pass in the first half and is at least partially responsible for Samuel's TD return. But he made an excellent play on the two point conversion and and some nice passes while falling out of bounds.

4) I thought Manning got hit late a couple times, but not on the one they actually called. I've never really been a fan of the Bill Carollo crew. Thank goodness Ed Hochuli is doing the Super Bowl after last year's debacle.
Also, it was absolutely not PI on that Wayne play at the end of the half, and it was PI against Hobbs--face guarding is PI in the NFL. And I thought it was a close call when Caldwell didn't get PI in the end zone in the second half.
The league needs to reevaluate PI this offseason even though I understand it's a hard task because play in the NFL is so fast now.

5) I'm surprised New England didn't run more misdirection plays in the first half. After that draw that got them to 4th and inches early in the game, I thought they were going to kill Indy on the ground. I guess they were hurt because the offense didn't really get that many plays later in the game.

6) I think I saw a nervous Belichick for the first time ever when the Colts were knocking on the door at the end of the game. I commented on this to my wife and she couldn't remember ever seeing him nervous either.

7) The FO guys who mentioned that Manning's biggest improvement this year was dealing with pressure were absolutely right again. Kudos to them for commenting on this, it's something I noticed too, but the mainstream media has no clue about it. I saw him make some pretty good plays again today, not as good as the earlier game this year, but still good. I think it's finally time that we admit that he's the best QB in the league.

That is all for now.

402
by throughthelookingglass (not verified) :: Mon, 01/22/2007 - 2:39am

397
First thing I thought when I saw that.

403
by Zug Zug (not verified) :: Mon, 01/22/2007 - 2:39am

398: I recall that they did, I believe it was Simms who said something to the effect of I dont know, that was just a hand coming down.

404
by Bobman (not verified) :: Mon, 01/22/2007 - 2:41am

#395: I thought the same thing after the Balt win. But you are right, those guys are nicked up (I love how we talk about exhaustion, dehydration, and acute pain as if it's a paper cut--if I were nicked up like that I'd call in sick to work for the next month).

405
by Pat (not verified) :: Mon, 01/22/2007 - 2:43am

#400: Also kudos to FO for noticing the huge disparity between Indy and New England's kickoff return/coverage (though as people noted, it probably should've gotten more attention in the article). Very, very nearly was the entire difference in the game.

406
by stan (not verified) :: Mon, 01/22/2007 - 2:45am

392,

Have you EVER heard so much love for the losing QB as SportsCenter handed out in the highlights? Usually, the winning QB was great, clutch, got the job done, whatever and the losing QB lost the game. Despite throwing a pick in crunch time the last 2 weeks, Tom Brady is described in the most incredibly glowing terms that you might have to wonder if the broadcaster has a contract clause requiring him to utter certain glowing phrases every time Brady is mentioned.

Hell, they even hammered Manning for "happy feet" on a play where he got away from the rush and threw a long completion.

ESPN, based in NE, really is a home town cheerleader for the Pats and Red Sox.

407
by throughthelookingglass (not verified) :: Mon, 01/22/2007 - 2:47am

BTW, with that hockey coach story, with the wording they were using, I thought that he had killed someone 40 years ago.

When I found out he was illiterate, I was like "that's it"?

Not that it wasn't important.

408
by navin (not verified) :: Mon, 01/22/2007 - 2:47am

Pat, agreed on the special teams. I was thinking of ways that the Colts could kick off and not give the Patriots the ball at midfield or even closer--maybe bounce it around like the Bears did.

It was huge for the Colts to make Brady go 80 yards at the end. I was almost sure that Brady was going to start at his 40 or even at midfield.

Without the kick returns, Indy probably wins going away in the second half.

409
by Pat (not verified) :: Mon, 01/22/2007 - 2:49am

Hell, they even hammered Manning for “happy feet� on a play where he got away from the rush and threw a long completion.

Actually, I have to agree on that one. Manning had happy feet early on quite a bit. Later in the game he settled down a lot.

I was really surprised to see that. Makes me think that Manning really did have a monkey on his back regarding the Patriots.

410
by Bobman (not verified) :: Mon, 01/22/2007 - 2:49am

398/402, Just saw coverage on SportsCenter and the commentary went something like "But no wait, the play is called back for a penalty. I... guess... that's... roughing.... I guess if you want to go by the letter of the law...."

Hey, a hand hit his helmet. Looks like they got semi-lucky on that one (it forced them to run 3 times to eat clock and stil left a minute on the board). I was hoping for a score with about 5 seconds left.

But as noted above, the refs could have called it with more justification a few other times earlier. It all evens out.

411
by throughthelookingglass (not verified) :: Mon, 01/22/2007 - 2:49am

To echo Pat and Navin, I was scared to death Hobbs was going to break one on that last kickoff.

412
by throughthelookingglass (not verified) :: Mon, 01/22/2007 - 2:52am

408
I've noticed that Manning has 'happy feet' alot. I read somewhere that it's to lessen the C. Palmer-Kimo injury effect and he'll plant just before he throws.
I didn't see the first half, though.

413
by Peter Libero (not verified) :: Mon, 01/22/2007 - 2:53am

400: Except the roughing the passer call was on the same play as the Wayne bobble, so it doesn't matter if he does drop the ball, it's still the Colts' possession. The 12 yards were nice, but the Wayne fumble was inconsequential. I think it doesn't count as a fumble because it never touched the ground, and the Pats didn't get it.

397: It really wasn't quite the same situation, because the Colts could kneel out the clock, and the Chargers couldn't. McCree also said that he would get down if it were in a 2 minute situation. Obviously, getting down was the right play here.

414
by sippican (not verified) :: Mon, 01/22/2007 - 2:53am

We're being lectured that our team is supposed to "reward" our players by taking money from other players on the team, because even though these volunteer cap geniuses can't spell the player's names, they've heard of them, and that would be swell.

You could have kept Ty Law! You're cheap! You could have kept him by getting rid of Asante Samuel! Wash, lather, repeat, wipe hands on pants. The Patriots just came within a whisker of going to the superbowl with the 5th and 6th man listed at safety on the field. Maybe we should have given all their money to all those players you listed that did absolutely fargin' nothing on the teams they went to besides cash checks. In the annals of trades, except for Herschel Walker and the Ricky for the Saints draft, giving Deion Branch all that money and giving the Pats a first round pick for the last fourteen games of his contract might be the dumbest trade in the history of the league. Yes! That guy that refuses to play! I must have him! I've heard of him! I confuse him with david patten and troy brown and david givens and dedric ward and bethel johnson and all teh other guys that catch 70 balls a year, but hey! Maybe we could have given Bledsoe a raise, and told Brady to shove off. We should reward Bledsoe, shouldn't we?

There was four years worth of cap relief in last year's salary bump. That won't happen again soon. Any team that's right at the limit this year is looking at shedding players next year, including teams that weren't flu shots away from the super bowl.

415
by Trieu (not verified) :: Mon, 01/22/2007 - 2:53am

By the way, because misery loves company, I thought I'd mention this:

There's now only one game left in the season.

416
by Raskolnikov (not verified) :: Mon, 01/22/2007 - 2:56am

Re: Happy feet

Actually I thought Manning did a fantastic job dealing with the pressure (Brady's forte) - which came at different key points in the game. He bought himself a couple of extra seconds on several plays, which were the key to them happening. I believe the Fletcher play and the Clark play were due to Manning buying some time under intense pressure.

That's a skill that you rarely hear QB evaluators talk about, and yet so crucial to the position.

417
by navin (not verified) :: Mon, 01/22/2007 - 2:56am

Archie taught Peyton and Eli to always move their feet until they throw to avoid injuries. I once read about it in an interview with Peyton. He's been doing it consistently since at least college.

Re: Wayne bobble, you can't rely on roughing calls to bail you out of fumbles. Wayne was lucky that he didn't lose the ball, regardless of what else happened on the play. This is similar to that San Diego player "head banging" and giving New England a first down after a fumble.

418
by throughthelookingglass (not verified) :: Mon, 01/22/2007 - 2:58am

413
Not to restart the dreaded Branch threads, but Deion played very well considering he was traded during the season, and considering the, um, fluidity of Seattle's qb situation.

See post 376 for my views.

THIS IS OUR COUNTRY

419
by Raskolnikov (not verified) :: Mon, 01/22/2007 - 2:59am

Umm, so is the flu the excuse this year?

Geez, give credit to the Colts. It was a great game between two excellent teams.

420
by Compucrazy (not verified) :: Mon, 01/22/2007 - 3:02am

I can't resist. Anyone think Deion Branch catches that ball if he gets half the field to himself?

421
by Independent George (not verified) :: Mon, 01/22/2007 - 3:02am

#409 - I agree that the roughing penalty was iffy, at best, but I also think that it helped the Pats by moving the LOS up to the 11. Without the penalty, I think the Colts still score the TD, but eat up clock in the process.

422
by DGL (not verified) :: Mon, 01/22/2007 - 3:02am

397: What was even funnier was that Jackson didn't immediately fall to the ground - he ran like five yards, then dove. It was like you could see the wheels turning in his head -- "Interception! Runback! No, wait! Fall down!!"

423
by Peter Libero (not verified) :: Mon, 01/22/2007 - 3:03am

416: If you get relatively little benefit from it, and the risk was nullified, and it's not a predictive event, why do we count it as luck?

424
by Raskolnikov (not verified) :: Mon, 01/22/2007 - 3:03am

Re: Letting players walk

I agree with the general principle of letting veterans go. Teams tend to make the mistake of hanging on to a player *too long*, I would say 3x more than letting go too soon.

Having said that - there was something not quite there this year about this Patriots team. They were great at time, but not as infallible as in previous years. I thought they really missed Branch and Harrison. They were a couple of players short of their usual standards.

425
by Andrew (not verified) :: Mon, 01/22/2007 - 3:05am

385: Yeah, it's not an exact analogue, but it's still one of those things where they're able to upgrade their talent relative to other teams by methods unavailable to other teams. Most people probably don't see it as the same as the Yankees overpaying, but it's a similar effect.

426
by Peter Libero (not verified) :: Mon, 01/22/2007 - 3:06am

Sorry, that was miscast: obviously it's luck, it just doesn't matter, so we shouldn't really care about it as a "lucky break" that made a big difference for the Colts.

427
by Pat (not verified) :: Mon, 01/22/2007 - 3:08am

#415, 416: No, I know the 'jitter around to avoid getting injured' part, and Manning was definitely good in moving in the pocket. But in the first half, he wasn't getting his feet set, and that's what 'happy feet' really is. When you see the two side-by-side, they really look different.

Moving around in the pocket doesn't mean much if you throw without getting your feet set. Brady looks like a genius throwing a TD pass from his butt, and then looks like an idiot the next week.

428
by navin (not verified) :: Mon, 01/22/2007 - 3:10am

Peter, I guess we agree that it was lucky but didn't end up mattering. Even though it didn't matter, it was lucky that Wayne caught his own fumble on the same play with an unrelated roughing call.

What I was originally trying to say was that the Colts also kept trying to hurt themselves with dropped passes and by bobbling the ball.

429
by Peter Libero (not verified) :: Mon, 01/22/2007 - 3:15am

427: Heh, no disagreement on that point. It was an amazing contrast from the regular-season matchup, when Harrison/Wayne went absolutely bananas, including the catch of the season (Harrison's tipped, toe-dragging TD. Even he got psyched about it.). Shocking, really, how different it was tonight, with Clark taking the center stage.

430
by sippican (not verified) :: Mon, 01/22/2007 - 3:19am

I can’t resist. Anyone think Deion Branch catches that ball if he gets half the field to himself?
I bet he catches that ball 99 out of 100 tries.

I also bet in a thousand years he could never make the play Jabbar Gaffney made in the back of the endzone.

431
by Independent George (not verified) :: Mon, 01/22/2007 - 3:20am

Yay! NFL Primetime is back!

432
by throughthelookingglass (not verified) :: Mon, 01/22/2007 - 3:27am

Either Rex or the Colts' alleged run defense will win a super bowl. I'm just starting to wrap my mind around this.

433
by Raskolnikov (not verified) :: Mon, 01/22/2007 - 3:29am

Re:I also bet in a thousand years he could never make the play Jabbar Gaffney made in the back of the endzone.

Well, maybe Gaffney could never make that play either. Who knows if he would have been able to stay inbounds. Branch can make jumping catches too.

The Pats WRs weren't very good tonight.

434
by Puzzled (not verified) :: Mon, 01/22/2007 - 3:38am

Ok, well, I’m prepared to have a team that doesn't win anything again for the next 30 years. It was fun while it lasted. At least the Madden Pats are good.

435
by Trieu (not verified) :: Mon, 01/22/2007 - 3:38am

Last year's Superbowl saw two well-rounded teams playing in what turned out to be dud of a game.

This year's Superbowl will feature teams with big strengths coupled with big weaknesses. Here's hoping for an interesting game.

436
by NF (not verified) :: Mon, 01/22/2007 - 3:43am

Peyton Manning played well, and he played with an iron will. Did you see him talking to Sorgi on the sidelines when he thought he might not be able to go back in? If Harrison and Addai caught more than 50% of the passes thrown to them, Peyton would have absolutely burned down the house. Also, the Colts D and special teams is still really bad.

My biggest regret about this Eagles season is not that they lost in the 2nd round, but that they didn't beat the Colts in Indy. The recent versions of the Eagles have already beaten most of the top teams in the NFC, but have yet to have many marquee wins against AFC teams. Next year they play at Foxboro, hopefully I can attend that game.

437
by Peter Libero (not verified) :: Mon, 01/22/2007 - 3:48am

436: Well he definitely looked like he was going to burn Sorgi's house down if he had to play and screwed the game up. If I were Jim I would have been pretty terrified.

438
by Papa Narb (not verified) :: Mon, 01/22/2007 - 3:55am

I actually thought Pats did a bad job in time management at the end of the game. Belichick should’ve called timeout with 1:34 to go and Pats wasted a lot of time getting to the line on the final drive. It’s almost as if they forgot that they’d need a TD, not a FG.

Also, how many times are we going to hear about the flu now as an excuse? There wasn't any commentary about the flu-ravaged Pats when they were up 21-3.

439
by NF (not verified) :: Mon, 01/22/2007 - 3:56am

437: Could it have been that the real reason Vinny Testaverde was signed was that Matt Cassell was suspected to freeze up if he was put in at QB in a close playoff game?

Also, the world was this close to Vinny Testaverde going to a Super Bowl.

440
by Purds (not verified) :: Mon, 01/22/2007 - 4:06am

Some observations (PS: I never post during games -- too intent on the action--but I read the WHOLE thread!:

1) I'm happy as a Colts fan, but I am especially happy for the Colts players. Wish, in some way, that Edge could have been a part of that game.
2) Lots of great analysis (sprinkled with the occasional idiot comment), but no one, I think, mentioned Nick Harper going out with injury. He's had a GREAT post-season, with two picks and forced fumble, and he even played well last post season against the Steelers, just hours after his wife knifed him in the leg. His loss meant Marlin Jackson was trying to stop the runs tot he outside, and not doing it well.
3) Luck/breaks evened out, and it sure seemed like it COULD have made a big difference. I am thinking about the fumbles into the end-zone, the PI's (I thought both should have been called -- Wayne and Pats WR in endzone). If either team gets both of a set there, they win.
4) Listened to NFL network of Dungy interview. He was very worried about the last kickoff, and AV convinced him he'd send it deep and high. Dungy said his initial thought was to squib.
5) While age, the flu, and injuries could have played a role in the NE D getting gassed, I think Rich is right -- his offense didn't help the D at all. But, I would add this one point: Manning was extremely patient and ran some very long drives early in the second half, and that had to tire the NE D out.

Finally, a completely separate observation/question. I want to ask this one question that Pats fans can answer much better than I. Let me give a set-up: when Brady/NE got the ball with 1 minute and 2 TO's, I told my wife (who never watches but indulges my rooting) that if Brady won that game, I would forever consider him better than PM. Here's my observation: it seems that all of Brady's most memorable game winning drives have come when breaking a tie, not coming from behind. I think of the first SB, last week (I am talking about LAST drives), and the other SB when AV hit the FG. In other words, the pressure is there to win, but failure doesn't mean a loss (as it would have for PM tonight).

Question: What are Brady's top last drives when he was BEHIND at the start of the drive? (I know they exist, but I couldn't think of them.) Did he do that in the Oakland game?

441
by throughthelookingglass (not verified) :: Mon, 01/22/2007 - 4:07am

Still watching ESPN, anyone else really like that VW commercial?

442
by Trieu (not verified) :: Mon, 01/22/2007 - 4:10am

A couple of things that stick out from the box score for the game:

(1) The Patriots had a total of 93 yards rushing. IIRC, they had 85 in the first half. What the hell happened at halftime?

(2) The Colts had 32 first downs, versus 17 for the Pats.

443
by Joshua (not verified) :: Mon, 01/22/2007 - 4:21am

Some of my thoughts on the game:

The 3 and 2 on NE's first drive of the second half was the turning point of the game. At that point, NE had to eat up at least some clock, their defense had been on the field for 7 minutes, and the Indy offense was starting to roll.

Not really sure what happened to the Pats running game, but it flat out disappeared in the 2nd half. Maroney continued he horrific performance in the playoffs with an 8/13 night.

The Pats secondary did a good job containing Wayne and Harrison for much of the game, but their real weakness was passes to the TE's and slot receivers. I think that was because the Pats LB's and Safeties were out of gas in the 2nd half.

Manning played a great game, and this game would have been a bloodbath if the Pats had not played insane man defense in the first half. Oh, and if Marvin Harrison had not continued his disappearing act in the playoffs.

It is pretty obvious that NE is in serious need of youth and depth at LB. The average age of their LB corps has to be 30, right? They looked really, really tired in the 4th quarter.

I can't believe Belicheck didn't go for it on 4th down more. Making even one of those conversions would have kept his defense off the field. The Pats offense blew it in the 2nd half because they failed to establish themselves and eat up time.

One final note, how long have Lovie Smith and Tony Dungy been black coaches? I am going to be really sick of ESPN beating that horse to death over the next two weeks. I don't think that race is an issue at all with NFL coaches. There are good coaches and bad coaches. Smith and Dungy are two of the better ones. Can't we just leave it at that?

444
by marxistrevolution (not verified) :: Mon, 01/22/2007 - 4:27am

Re: 441; Yes. Of course I even liked Peter Stormare in Armageddon.

445
by Travis (not verified) :: Mon, 01/22/2007 - 4:32am

Question: What are Brady’s top last drives when he was BEHIND at the start of the drive? (I know they exist, but I couldn’t think of them.) Did he do that in the Oakland game?

As far as I could tell (some of these, strictly speaking, might not have been the Patriots' last drive of regulation):

Chargers, 2001: Down 26-19, Brady throws the tying TD pass with 36 seconds left.

Bills, 2001: Down 9-6, Brady drives the Pats to the tying FG with 2:45 left.

Oakland, playoffs 2001: Down 13-10, Brady drives the Pats to the tying FG. (Two negatives: The FG was a 45-yarder in the snow, at the very edge of Vinatieri's range, and the drive featured the infamous Tuck).

Chicago, 2002: Down 30-25, Brady throws the winning TD pass with 21 seconds left.

Miami, 2002: Down 24-21, Brady drives the Pats to the tying FG with 1:09 left (drive went all of 9 yards, with no completed passes; the previous drive was more impressive).

Denver, 2003: Down 26-23, Brady throws the winning TD pass with 30 seconds left (this was the intentional safety game).

Houston, 2003: Down 20-13, Brady throws the tying TD pass with 40 seconds left.

Miami, 2005: Down 16-15, Brady throws the winning TD pass with 2:16 left.

446
by Bobman (not verified) :: Mon, 01/22/2007 - 4:36am

Purds, any more news on Harper's ankle? I'd love to have him back in two weeks. He really is a decent, underrated player.

Also, the past two weeks Herm "I am an easy target" Edwards and Brian "Arrogant Former Genius" Billick were pilloried here and elsewhere for not running enough, abandoning the run, running the wrong plays etc against Indy.

The Pats came out with what looked like a good game plan, draws, misdirection, Corey Dillon juking like his old UW husky days. And then it was over.

The Colts, who held nobody under 100 yards all season have done it in all three playoff games (and face a stiff two-headed challenge next game, BTW). Is Belichick also suddenly a moron? Or did Indy play well in those first two games?

I admit that it's insane and insanely fortuitous that their run D jelled between weeks 17 and 18, but it seems to have, but please don't blame it all on the opponent.

Finally, Purds, I HAD to comment during the game, it was the only way to keep sane in that bad early stretch. Think about typing, about this, about that, not about the pick-six.... Not sure how you cope, unless you were strangling a voodoo doll....

447
by Jason (not verified) :: Mon, 01/22/2007 - 4:46am

Was this a "big" Game?

;)

Go Colts.

Fan since 91!

448
by MFurtek (not verified) :: Mon, 01/22/2007 - 4:50am

Re: Purds
That thought has marred the Brady-Montana comparisons for me. I can't remember Brady coming from behind in the postseason... save last week.

Here is what I can find on that question.
2001 playoffs.
Raiders, trailed 13-3 entering 4th quarter.
Pittsburgh, never trailed.
Rams, never trailed, tied. (Patriots up 17-3).

2003
Titans, never trailed, tied in the 4th.
Colts, never trailed.
Panthers, Trailed 22-21 late in the 4th.

2004
Indy, never trailed.
Pitt, never trailed.
Philly, trailed 7-0 in 2nd quarter.

I'll put this out here... for TD drives to tie/win in the playoffs, Montana has had "The Catch", another 1983 comeback victory over the Lions, John Taylor Super Bowl, and 2 in the 1993 season with the Chiefs.

Brady has the Panthers Super Bowl, and the Tuck Rule game.

I don't think it matters, but to some it might matter. That doesn't take away from Brady at all, he's given his team the lead...

I think the Colts unsung MVP is their holder. Their long snapper nearly blew at least 2 kicks... Smith made a great play on one "chip shot".

449
by Biffy (not verified) :: Mon, 01/22/2007 - 4:52am

First, what an amazing, amazing game. The Colts showed heart, grit, clutchitude or whatever it was they purportedly lacked. The Patriots played a great horror movie monster, almost (almost) impossible to kill off no matter what the Colts tried.

The Patriots corners played out of their minds most of the game. Those defenses on the long passes were spectacular and clean.

That said, a couple of game questions and thoughts, if anyone can shed insight I'd appreciate it.

1. On the Mankins recovery touchdown, it looked to me like Maroney knocked the ball forward into the end zone, where it was recovered by his teamate. I thought that an offense recovering a fumble knocked forward by the offense was illegal. (Fumblerooskie rule?) Am I misunderstanding it, or was the rule changed? If it hasn't changed, shouldn't that have been a penalty instead of a TD. As I understand that rule, the intention of the offense has nothing to do with it, only the outcome.

2. On the Wayne fall, flag pick up, "no PI" play, does the logic of the flag pick up mean that any cornerback can simply run up the back of a receiver and call it incidental, even if it materially affects the outcome of the play?

3. On the "force out" TD (Gaffney by the way, might end up a good WR for you Pats, he was a 2nd rd Texans pick, with strong talent, but a work/attitude problem.) I thought the idea of the force-out call was for the ref to call passes inbounds that WOULD SURELY (in the ref's opinion) have been in-bounds if not for the defenders action, but not for plays that MIGHT have been in-bounds.

To call it for very close plays to me produces an odd circumstance for the defender. If a guy leaps for a catch in the middle of the end zone, a defender is doing the right thing by knocking the receiver silly in mid-air. BUT if the WR is by an endzone sideline, the defender should simply watch and hope the WR doesn't get his feet in-bounds if the WR has leapt? How does that make sense?

4. The Patriots totally gashed the Colts on kick returns. That seemed a big part of how the Patriots stayed in the game in the 2nd half.

If you're the Colts, why not just kick it out of bounds? Sure it's the 35, but that's better than the 50+, and not all that much worse than the Colts expected coverage result stopping the runback at the 25-30.

5. Do the Patriots strike anyone else as being more of a bunch of jailhouse lawyers than the average team? It seemed like anytime a flag was thrown 5-6 Patriots (Bruschi especially) were relentlessly in the ref's faces, whining and pleading. And it seemed to work fairly often.

Other teams' players seem to jump around and shout at the refs, I get the idea that the Pats players are quoting the rulebook, chapter and verse at them.

Personally I think players should stay 10 yards away from referees conferences or get an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty.

6. Puzzled - what was the dramatic logic behind the Colts/Ravens FG thrill fest? I'm anxious to hear why it was dramatically necessary.

Let the cannibalism begin!

450
by MFurtek (not verified) :: Mon, 01/22/2007 - 4:59am

The play that really made me think the Colts would win was the 3rd and 10 draw right before Pats kicked the FG. I didn't understand the call, as you are giving Manning the ball back with ~ 4 minutes to go.

I suppose if the Pats gained a first down we'd still not hear the end of that 3-out.

Also, on the game thread I'd agree with the people who were were ragging on the Colts WRs. It doesn't seem like they adjust to the deep balls really good... at least not to the Steve Smith, Santana Moss level. Maybe I just don't remember when they've had to do that... Manning doesn't normally throw a lot of jump balls. Wayne does have a good vertical... seemed like it was a hard fall on that one he missed late in the game.

Also, I don't think they threw at Asante Samuel in the 2nd half. Dallas Clark is quite a weapon to have... and Reggie Wayne. Looking forward to Clark/Manning-Urlacher in 2 weeks...

451
by throughthelookingglass (not verified) :: Mon, 01/22/2007 - 5:01am

446
One thing that's surprised me in the Colts' playoff run is how good their corners have been, especially in run defense. I think they're better tacklers than the linebackers.

452
by MFurtek (not verified) :: Mon, 01/22/2007 - 5:10am

Re: Biffy
1) I think it's only a rule with

453
by Bobman (not verified) :: Mon, 01/22/2007 - 5:13am

Biffy, Going back in time I am thinking of Dave Casper of the Raiders--somehow while trying to recover someone else's fumble, he batted one about 15 yards in for a finally recovered TD and the rule subsequently put into effect was along the lines of only the fumbling player can advance his own fumble--anybody else gets it where they recover it. so in the EZ, not an issue. But check me on that, folks.

I agree on 2 and 3, but on #4, I think Adam V his a kickoff OB late in the season and it hurt them bad. Not as bad as a runback, but the other team had such a short field. When was this.... the KC game, maybe? Their only TD. And on #5, naah, my impression is that everybody works the refs the best they can.

454
by MFurtek (not verified) :: Mon, 01/22/2007 - 5:13am

Re: Biffy
1) I think it's only a rule with "LESS THAN" 5 minutes left in the game... or a certain time period left.

2) Yes, it does. Just don't make it look obvious... if a DB is burnt like that, how is he goin to catch up? Wayne tripped over his own feet as well... we only got 1 angle from CBS though.

3) Your logic makes sense. The officials can go either way with forceouts, and the ruling is not reviewable. If they think the receiver would've landed in bounds, its a forceout. I think in this case it would've been a worse call to rule it incompelte.

4) It's not the 35, it's the 40... and the Colts must've covered some kicks well.

5) Yes, we all noticed Bruschi calling every pass incomplete and lobbying every call. I don't know why more players don't.

6) To build drama for today. The Colts hadn't scored a TD until the 2nd half.

455
by Bobman (not verified) :: Mon, 01/22/2007 - 5:16am

454: Isn't that insane--no TDs for 6 quarters, then they rip off 32 pts on the Pats in the second half. A team that only allowed a max of 27 all season--in a full game at home to Indy.

This just in: This can be a weird weird game.

456
by Biffy (not verified) :: Mon, 01/22/2007 - 5:33am

453,454 -

#1 Those both sound right, or elements of the answers do, anyway. I was just curious mainly if there had been a huge missed call that people could complain about for decades.

#2 There's an interesting rule call in rugby union. Basically, its if a player fouls a ballcarrier to stop him from an otherwise almost certain score, the ballcarrier can be awarded a "penalty try" or TD in NFL terms, by the ref.

This rule is meant to punish "professional fouls", such as facemasking a runner down on a breakaway ((in NFL terms again), where 15 yrds is better than a score. I wonder if such a rule would work in the NFL?

#4 - It is the 40. Oops.
#5 - I'd like to see a lot less lobbying myself, rather than more opportunistic player-refereeing of games.
#6 - Ah of course. But, um, wait, weren't the Chargers supposed to...

457
by Andrew (not verified) :: Mon, 01/22/2007 - 6:40am

Does anyone with more football knowledge than I know whether some receivers play better against the zone than against man coverage? I think the idea that players would have certain strengths against certain types of coverages makes sense; for example, on my favorite team (Arizona), Boldin seems to be able to shred a zone but does less well with man coverage, while Fitzgerald is better against man than zone.

I bring this up here because it seems like the Colts receivers and Harrison in particular are much more comfortable against zone than against man coverage. I don't have anything more than anecdotal evidence for this, though, and I was wondering if someone else knew more about it than me. It also seems like the Bears are a zone-heavy team on D and this could affect the SB matchup.

458
by BadgerT1000 (not verified) :: Mon, 01/22/2007 - 9:47am

Andrew:

Absolutely. Man coverage requires that the receiver generate a clean release from the line of scrimmage which demands a combination of strength (to fight through the hand checks) and quick moves to shed the defensive back.

Defensive backs like Al Harris and Mike McKenzie survive (and thrive) in the NFL because they excel at jamming and then working the angles to keep a receiver from getting clear. Harris in particular is VERY poor in zone coverage because he simply is not quick enough nor has the recovery speed to close the gap between him and a receiver. I write this based on observation, commentary from coaches in the NFC North, and Harris HIMSELF. When asked about his ability to handle zone coverage Harris responded, "I s*ck." Hence the reason the Packers just point to the team's number 1 receiver and tell Al, "cover him".

459
by Purds (not verified) :: Mon, 01/22/2007 - 10:01am

Andrew:

While you're right, some WR's do better versus different coverage schemes, I think the best conclusion to draw from last night is not that the Colts WR can't adjust, but that the NE DB's were GREAT in coverage. I am not sure we'll hear about how bad the DB's are in NE any more, unless they're unable to sign Samuel. (And, wow, he's going to be able to demand a very high price based on his play this year and post season).

460
by Rick (not verified) :: Mon, 01/22/2007 - 10:13am

Ron Borges (Boston Globe) with a report on the aftermath. (Click on name for link.)
He seems to think the Pats should have been using a nickel defender a bit more often. Of course part of the problem is that the Pats' secondary was so depleted by injury, flu, and fatigue they may not have had the personnel to do this. But it's interesting that somebody is at least addressing the question of why the Pats' coverage, which was stellar for the first few drives, fell apart in the second half.

At the risk of repeating myself, I think the Pats really need to bring back Sammuel, or they'll have little chance of stopping the Pats, Chargers, Bengals or any other high-powered passing attack next season.

461
by Ilanin (not verified) :: Mon, 01/22/2007 - 10:38am

Samuel may well get an absolutely insane contract this year. I didn't see much Pats in the regular season, but after watching his playoff performances I'm amazed he didn't make the Pro Bowl. Champ Bailey's contract is $63 million over seven years, and with cap inflation I think Samuel will be aiming for at least that.

462
by DGL (not verified) :: Mon, 01/22/2007 - 11:13am

#448: "I think the Colts unsung MVP is their holder. Their long snapper nearly blew at least 2 kicks…"

OK, so how high would ROBO-holder go in the draft?

463
by Judy B. (not verified) :: Mon, 01/22/2007 - 11:16am

Don't the Pats almost have to franchise Samuel, even if it's only to wind up trading him?

464
by Mike J (not verified) :: Mon, 01/22/2007 - 11:23am

Im not a football expert (none of us are, but me less than you guys!) but when I watch Marvin Harrison I see a guy who is technically exquisitely excellent but who seems due to his build ( he was never a TO type ) and his age to have reached a point in his career where he is primarily a mistake-capitalizer. Since Marvin runs exceptional routes and is very smart, he will burn someone who cheats on him or who doesn't play exceptional defense when they slip or make a mistake.

He doesn't seem to have the strength to fight through the jamming nor the heights of his youth athleticism to reliably beat a DB who is playing excellent coverage and not giving him a mistake to use. Perhaps thats why Marvin seems to vanish when covered by guys like Samuel, at least the last couple years here.

Keep in mind I both know nothing and really like the guy, he just doesn't quite seem to have the explosiveness or strength/height to beat a guy playing him well without making a mistake anymore.

Marvin was never the most athletically gifted guy in that regard (compare him physically to TO), so theres a certain sense to be made here.

465
by Independent George (not verified) :: Mon, 01/22/2007 - 11:24am

#462 - But Adamatica never misses!

466
by Erasmus (not verified) :: Mon, 01/22/2007 - 11:28am

face-guarding is not a penalty in the NFL...I hope this stops the Patriots get all the calls.

Many years ago, there was a penalty on pass plays for "face guarding." What you describe is face guarding. There is no penalty under current NFL rules for this act, unless there is physical contact. If the ball hits the defender, as you describe, the play would be legal. It is dangerous for a defender to turn his back on the direction that the ball is coming from. If he contacts the intended receiver, it would be pass interference because the defender is not playing the ball. You seldom see what you describe, but it would not be a foul."

from ask a ref in Chicago Tribune...link on name..

467
by Purds (not verified) :: Mon, 01/22/2007 - 11:46am

Re 464:

Mike, you're right on. However, I would give Harrison this one bonus that you miss: teams do fear his ability to break open plays against single coverage, and while he disappears in stats, he still takes up defenders. Manning repeatedly said after the game that the Pats rolled the safeties over to Marvin all night (as on the Samuel INT, where the Pats safety was playing over the top, which allowed Samuel to take the chance. If he hadn't come up with the INT, he had a helper would would have stopped Harrison).

Marvin is similar to Freeney, in that they might not get the numbers, but they alter the way opponents play, and that has to help you.

468
by Judy B. (not verified) :: Mon, 01/22/2007 - 11:48am

#465-I'm really, really glad it didn't come down to that in the end. It wasn't so much the potential "Adam kicks the game winner" scenario I was dreading, but the "Gostkowski misses the potential game winner" scenario would have really been ugly. Mostly because I really like the kid, and it's not his fault they picked him to replace the greatest living legend of all kickers.

469
by MFurtek (not verified) :: Mon, 01/22/2007 - 11:57am

Re: 466
Wow! I didn't realize face guarding was not pass interference. I think I've heard it called out more than once.

From this game I can't remember if there was contact or not before the ball arrived... if a defender is in that position, it's really hard defending a pass.

I always thought it was DPI... only because it wiped out an incredible interception by Bill Romanowski in one of the San Fran SuperBowls. When was the rule changed?

470
by Pat (not verified) :: Mon, 01/22/2007 - 12:03pm

#460: Ha! Philly tried that plan. Doesn't work too well. Since the Colts can shift from a passing formation to a running formation without you being able to change personnel, you can really get abused by staying in nickel.

Can't really outscheme the Colts. You have to outplay them.

471
by Pat (not verified) :: Mon, 01/22/2007 - 12:05pm

#468: Especially because Vinatieri's kickoffs are half the reason the Patriots were still in that game. Well, Vinatieri's kickoffs, and whatever that freaking bizarre kickoff formation that the Patriots were running was.

472
by Pat (not verified) :: Mon, 01/22/2007 - 12:06pm

er, Colts. Not Patriots. Colts had everyone bunched up near the kickoff kicker. I've seen a few teams run that scheme, and it always seems to correspond with the teams that suck at kickoff coverage. But that's just anecdotal.

473
by young curmudgeon (not verified) :: Mon, 01/22/2007 - 12:06pm

Re 350 & 357: Rich, I'm agreeing with you: what I said originally (292, I don't expect you or anyone else to go back and re-read earlier posts.) was:Foolish losers will claim that the winners “just got lucky;� astute winners will recognize that they DID “get lucky,� but they didn’t “JUST get lucky�–they had to put themselves in a position to take advantage of the breaks that came their way and then be good enough to seize those opportunities. The Patriots have been masterful at that over the past few seasons; pointing out that some of their wins included elements of luck is no insult.

You're also basically right in 357. The reason we find Patriots' fans to be arrogant about their team is because they are winning. When the Steelers (the team I root for) win, Steeler fans come across as arrogant. When the Cowboys win, their fans seem insufferable. When the Giants win, their fans appear obnoxious. There is something about rooting for a team that has lost and hearing the crowing from the fans of a team that has won that really, really annoys people. That being said, since the Pats have been successful recently and since many people posting on FO come across as unwilling to entertain any questioning of the Pats' overall wonderfulness, Pats fans are the ones who currently seem arrogant. (Exception--I think if the Arizona Cardinals won the Super Bowl, the combination of confused disbelief and gratitude would prevent their fans from seeming arrogant...for the first year.)

474
by Rick (not verified) :: Mon, 01/22/2007 - 12:16pm

re: 460
Brain freeze, replace last appearance of word "Pats" with "Colts".

475
by Not saying (not verified) :: Mon, 01/22/2007 - 12:19pm

Re: 470

I noticed that coverage, too. At first I thought they were trying to disguise the timing of the kickoff, maybe even a surprise on-sides or something. But I did notice that they didn't use it every time. Can't remember if they used it on the last one, the one they were sucessful on, or not.

476
by Pat (not verified) :: Mon, 01/22/2007 - 12:40pm

Well, I know on a few of the ones the Patriots had nice returns on, it was that kickoff coverage. I think they're trying to disguise the angles the gunners are going to be coming from, but it ended up just giving them crappy angles to take.

477
by Pat (not verified) :: Mon, 01/22/2007 - 12:44pm

Oh, and I'm also glad that Manning finally realized that the Patriots have been leaving the underneath stuff open for years now to compensate for average safeties. The two-minute drill at the end of the first half, and most of the second half as well, was just "hey, you wanna give me 5-10 yards each passing play? I'll keep doing this all night."

478
by Judy B. (not verified) :: Mon, 01/22/2007 - 12:50pm

#477-Well, if they'd actually had their normal, "average" safeties on the field, they might have survived, but I think the lack of depth both at safety and LB finally came back to haunt them. Who the hell is Baker, anyway?

479
by Pat (not verified) :: Mon, 01/22/2007 - 12:53pm

Heh. That's reminiscent of the Philly-Patriots Super Bowl, when the Pats lost a DB in the beginning of the second half, and Philly responded by targeting his replacement for the entire rest of the game.

Of course, that replacement? Going to the Super Bowl. Again. On the Colts.

480
by Judy B. (not verified) :: Mon, 01/22/2007 - 1:04pm

#479-It happened against the Panthers in that Super Bowl, too. Yeah, you guys don't want to be seeing much of Dexter Reid in the Super Bowl.

481
by stan (not verified) :: Mon, 01/22/2007 - 1:14pm

457,

Absolutely.

WRs have to read coverage and convert their routes based on the read. The intent of the conversions is to get the receiver into a seam in the zone.

Couple of examples:

1) Simple quick game read -- QB takes 3 step drop. He and WR read CB (and S and LB). If the corner presses him, WR releases on a quick fade down the sideline. If the CB drops, he runs a hitch (may also slide toward the sideline to increase distance from the underneath defender coming from inside. If the CB drops and the LB or SS is flying out to the flat, he runs a slant with the QB looking for him after he clears the LB. Both he and the QB have to make the same decision in the time it takes him to take a couple of steps.

2. Simple route adjustment -- curl. Against zone, WR is reading the drop of the LB into the curl zone/hook zone as the WR releases and gets depth. As he makes his break, he can bring it back tight (almost like a hook), if the LB drop is close to the middle of the field. If the LB is taking a wider drop toward the sideline to get under his curl, his break becomes more like an in route to clear beyond the dropping LB.

The skills to do these types of conversions and learning to sit down in a seam are much different than the ones needed to beat man coverage.

482
by Pat (not verified) :: Mon, 01/22/2007 - 1:21pm

#480: Well, if any team has draft depth (i.e. tons of recent, high draft picks) at DB, it's Indy - of course, that's why I'm amazed Dexter Reid is on the team.

483
by stan (not verified) :: Mon, 01/22/2007 - 1:23pm

477,

Excuse me. Did you actually watch the 2003 and 2004 games? Underneath stuff wide open??!! You call having Bruschi and Vrabel draped all over receivers and hanging onto them with claws in their jerseys wide open?

In 2003, the Pats got great pressure and a bunch of sacks with a 3 man rush against 6 blockers. They had 8 defenders blanketing 4 receivers. Open underneath?!!

Hell, they had to fight thru double coverage to get to the bathroom at halftime.

484
by Pat (not verified) :: Mon, 01/22/2007 - 1:27pm

#483: The underneath coverage is in the majority of their games, not the Patriots-Colts playoff games in particular.

485
by Raskolnikov (not verified) :: Mon, 01/22/2007 - 1:31pm

Pat,
Disagree with you there. The Pats have always been excellent in coverage, even underneath and intermediate routes. Their LBs used to be the best in the business in covering RBs, TEs, and even WRs in their zones.

The LBs were lousy yesterday and subpar for several games during the year. They're getting old, I think.

486
by Pat (not verified) :: Mon, 01/22/2007 - 1:40pm

#485: The "underneath" stuff I was talking about was "edge underneath". 5-15 yard out patterns, etc. If you think about it in terms of a Cover 2, basically, the hole where the OLBs/CBs/safety zones would meet (I'm using that for positioning, not indicating defensive schemes).

Though I do agree the LBs were pretty meh yesterday in coverage. Even a single WR seemed to pull like 2 or 3 of them downfield a few yards.

Then again, it's difficult to say whether or not that's the LBs trying to cover for the safeties intentionally.

487
by throughthelookingglass (not verified) :: Mon, 01/22/2007 - 1:53pm

Is anyone else looking forward to the Lance Briggs-Dallas Clark matchup?

488
by BadgerT1000 (not verified) :: Mon, 01/22/2007 - 2:07pm

487:

Not just Briggs. Urlacher roams all over the d*mn field. Yesterday he was in coverage against Colston 20 odd yards from the line of scrimmage. And in the playoff game against the Seahawks he was in perfect position against a 'Hawk WR.

I don't know this for a fact, but I suspect the defensive call on the Bears (given by Urlacher of course) applies to the other ten guys. I suspect that Rivera/Lovie tell Brian--seek and destroy.

As evidenced by this and other posts I have a lot of admiration for Urlacher's play. Early in his career you could knock him around on running plays as he couldn't disengage from the O-linemen. Not much anymore.

He literally DOES go sideline to sideline as well as line of scrimmage to deep down the middle. Oh, and he plays special teams in his free time.

Crazy.

489
by MFurtek (not verified) :: Mon, 01/22/2007 - 2:29pm

Listened to ESPN radio this morning. They were insufferable Brady defenders. Naturally, they were shocked at all of the listeners who were so glad that the Pats lost and castigating Brady as average.

I think Brady is above average, but seems like Pats defense and special teams carried their championships... and Brady came through big when needed.

Of course Wingo/Schlereth/Cowherd ALL jumped to Brady's defense. The excuses:
1) Average WRs... BRADY MAKES THE TEAM BETTER.
2) Playing on the road... they weren't expected to win.
3) Manning was GREAT. Did they watch the first half?
4) We can't expect perfection.

I think the offense really let the Pats down in the 2nd half, with field position and everything they should've been able to string together some drives. Does that all fall on Brady? If he gets all the credit he should get some of the blame.

490
by Rich Conley (not verified) :: Mon, 01/22/2007 - 10:34pm

"This rule is meant to punish “professional fouls�, such as facemasking a runner down on a breakaway ((in NFL terms again), where 15 yrds is better than a score. I wonder if such a rule would work in the NFL?"

Umm, we have Defensive Pass interference, whihc is basically the same thing.

491
by Rich Conley (not verified) :: Mon, 01/22/2007 - 10:37pm

"
#

Oh, and I’m also glad that Manning finally realized that the Patriots have been leaving the underneath stuff open for years now to compensate for average safeties. The two-minute drill at the end of the first half, and most of the second half as well, was just “hey, you wanna give me 5-10 yards each passing play? I’ll keep doing this all night.� "

Up until this year, the combination of Harrison and Wilson may have been the best duo of safties in the league. They certainly were in 2003 and 2004.

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by DrewTS (not verified) :: Tue, 01/23/2007 - 12:44am

I realize I'm a day late and a dollar short, but I'll post my thoughts anyway.

As a Colt fan, I'm obviously thrilled. And it feels so much more thrilling to go through the "nemesis". As Coach Dungy said, when you experience adversity, that makes success so much sweeter. I'm sure Red Sox fans know the feeling.

I'd also like to second whoever it was earlier that said, not everyone posting anti-Patriot remarks on here is necessarily a Colts fan. A lot of people just like to see the mighty fall.

And I'd like to make one more probably futile appeal to my fellow Colt fans to please behave with some dignity. For one, we haven't won it yet. But more importantly, you don't want to be that guy -- the jerk off who goes on a little too much about how awesome the Yankees/Patriots are (even Simmons acknowledged that connection), to the point where people want to crack him in the nuts. Be happy that we're in the Super Bowl and enjoy it, without trying to bring other people down. Thanks.