Saturday, January 14, 2006

Patriots "Old Reliables" not so reliable.

And so it ends, for this chapter at least, in the Patriots dynasty. (2 in a row and 3 of 4 in this day in age with the parity in the NFL IS a dynasty), with the loss to Denver.

It'd be easy to blame this one on the refs, who on the surface seemed to "give" Denver as much as 17 points, but it's not that simple. Yes, the pass interference call on Asante Samuel was BS, and there probably should have been a false start penalty on Elam's FG, and a case can be made that Bailey fumbled the ball out of bounds in the endzone (My thoughts: There's a very good chance it was actually a touchback, but there was not enough evidence to overturn the call), but the fact is, the Patriots gave this game away.

The surprising part about it is, it wasn't the young, inexperienced guys that made the big errors. Tom Brady throws an INT in the endzone that leads to a TD. Adam Vinatieri botches a short FG. Troy Brown muffs a punt. These are, as Jim Nantz said, "The Old Reliables."

Now, congrats to Denver, because they really did play well, and they may in fact be the better team. But they had some help in key spots from the refs, and they had some help from Patriots miscues, and to their credit, they did a great job of capatalizing. Jake "Mountain Man" Plummer, much to my chagrin, played a whale of a game. Mike Anderson got some tough yards. They played an all-around good game.

Just a couple of other quick thoughts:

- Deion Branch is a great big-game WR. MVP of last year's Super Bowl. 8 catches for 153 yards tonight. Great performance for Deion Branch.

- How in the heck did the Redskins get this far? I realize the Seahawks defense played well, but the Skins offense is pathetic. Their best play is a WR Screen. Kudos to Joe Gibbs and that defense, because they had a great year.

- Matt Hasselback firmly established himself as a top 5 QB. Great game for him, especially after Alexander got hurt.

- Colts/Steelers and Panthers/Bears tomorrow. Be there or be square. Or be there and be square. It makes no difference to me.