Monday, February 2, 2015

Patriots Finally Win Their 4th.

Pats fans have watched two superior Patriots teams lose in the Superbowl and tonight a slightly inferior team beats their equal. I don't want to analyze this game but it should reinforce the notion that anything can happen. The game could've been decided by a bunch of plays. The game is 60 minutes long and the first minute is as important as the last minute but we usually only remember the last minute. But because the first minute is as important as the last there really can never be a single play that decides the game. All sports fans have this law taught to them and some refuse to learn it. The Bill Buckner play will haunt Red Sox fans but it took 10 innings to get to that point and lots of pitches, lots of plays. Jim Rice gets thrown out at the plate. Schiraldi pitches his third inning of relief for the first time of the year, after two innings of horrible pitching. Clemens fails on three sac bunt attempts. Oh, I wrote a book about this topic which is mostly unreadable nonsense, but it gave me some closure on the event. If we could do things differently then it's possible the one play we'd change wouldn't be the one everyone talks about. It might be some play in the 2nd quarter that was critical. They are all important plays and it's a team sport and there's always a next season to redeem yourself.

The pats were losing by 10 points with 10 minutes left in the game and they had the ball on the 50. So if Seattle can just hold them to a field goal and then get a few first downs to win without even scoring. But NE scored in the next 2 minutes and then this happened.
  1. 3-S.Gostkowski kicks 65 yards from NE 35 to end zone, Touchback.
  2. Timeout at 07:55.
  3. 1-10-SEA 20 (7:55) 3-R.Wilson pass incomplete deep middle to 83-R.Lockette.
  4. 2-10-SEA 20 (7:48) (Shotgun) 24-M.Lynch up the middle to SEA 25 for 5 yards (96-S.Siliga).
  5. 3-5-SEA 25 (7:06) (Shotgun) 3-R.Wilson pass incomplete short right to 24-M.Lynch.
  6. 4-5-SEA 25 (7:00) 9-J.Ryan punts 39 yards to NE 36, Center-49-C.Gresham, fair catch by 11-J.Edelman.
 So Seattle for some reason tried a deep pass which stopped the clock, a run, and then another pass that stopped the clock. That's horrible with a 3 point lead because they know a field goal ties it. Run Lynch or Wilson and with two first downs then win they game. At the 4 minute mark NE had the ball on the SEA 32 and could tie it with a field goal, but they didn't even need a 3rd down. That tells me Seattle Defense was finished. Scoring with no 3rd down and that includes an offensive Pass interference flag?
  1. (6:52) (Shotgun) 12-T.Brady pass short middle to 34-S.Vereen to NE 44 for 8 yards (31-K.Chancellor; 50-K.Wright).
  2. 2-2-NE 44 (6:13) (Shotgun) 12-T.Brady pass short left to 34-S.Vereen to NE 49 for 5 yards (31-K.Chancellor).
  3. 1-10-NE 49 (5:32) (Shotgun) 12-T.Brady pass short left to 11-J.Edelman to SEA 42 for 9 yards (94-K.Williams).
  4. 2-1-SEA 42 (4:55) (Shotgun) 12-T.Brady pass short right to 34-S.Vereen to SEA 36 for 6 yards (41-B.Maxwell). PENALTY on NE-80-D.Amendola, Offensive Pass Interference, 10 yards, enforced at SEA 42 - No Play.
  5. 2-11-NE 48 (4:47) (Shotgun) 12-T.Brady pass short right to 87-R.Gronkowski to SEA 32 for 20 yards (31-K.Chancellor; 29-E.Thomas) [51-B.Irvin].
  6. 1-10-SEA 32 (4:12) (Shotgun) 12-T.Brady pass short right to 34-S.Vereen pushed ob at SEA 32 for no gain (25-R.Sherman).
  7. 2-10-SEA 32 (4:05) (Shotgun) 12-T.Brady pass short right to 87-R.Gronkowski to SEA 19 for 13 yards (50-K.Wright, 31-K.Chancellor).
  8. 1-10-SEA 19 (3:34) (Shotgun) 34-S.Vereen up the middle to SEA 12 for 7 yards (54-B.Wagner).
  9. 2-3-SEA 12 (2:57) (Shotgun) 12-T.Brady pass short left to 19-B.LaFell ran ob at SEA 5 for 7 yards.
  10. Timeout #1 by NE at 02:52.
  11. 1-5-SEA 5 (2:52) 71-C.Fleming has reported as eligible. 29-L.Blount up the middle to SEA 3 for 2 yards (72-M.Bennett).
  12. 2-3-SEA 3 (2:06) 12-T.Brady pass short left to 11-J.Edelman for 3 yards, TOUCHDOWN.
  13. 3-S.Gostkowski extra point is GOOD, Center-48-D.Aiken, Holder-6-R.Allen.
That made the score 28-24-Pats. 8 minutes earlier it had been 24-14 Seattle. So, don't tell me one play decides this game.

It takes a series of events to give up 14 unanswered points go ask Green Bay,  and it also took several crazy events to put the ball on the 1 yard line and the play call always looks bad when it ends with an interception. To me it looked like he led the pass and Lockett didn't have a play on it as it was too far ahead. I think he gave up on the route slightly and Wilson led him too much but it wasn't well executed. I don't hate the play call because he was open and a slightly better throw is a completion, maybe not a touchdown. At least he was open and that's why he threw it but Wilson was leading him into the end zone and Lockett was just waiting for the pitch and catch. With one timeout in that situation it's just pitch and catch and try to score. Butler gets credit for holding onto the pick after a huge collision...and he even tried to return it a few yards which is something GB should think about. Remember that both losses to the Giants came from short passes to the end zone.

Give credit to the Patriots for not allowing 6 yards to Lynch on the previous play from the 5. They gave up 4 yards. 4. Not 5. Or even 4.5. It came down to inches because those inches made Seattle think a safe pass would be better. And I think it was a case of the pass was too easy, Lockett was too open and Wilson couldn't believe it so he led him to the win, but Lockett was sort of moving slower in order to ensure the catch...and the ball was too far....and Butler went for the ball and not the tackle and he didn't try to knock it down, he tried to catch it...and he held onto it after the collision and he tried to return it. So many things happened here. Patriots were going to have to run a play since they were on their own 1 yard line after a penalty for celebrating. But Seattle encroached and got a penalty that allowed Patriots to kneel. That's a great game no matter what week it was in but coming in the final game of the season should make these teams proud. A huge effort after a long season is only possible from champions and considering Seattle was poised to win back to back championships means these are two teams with big talent, two great teams in a league that's impossible to dominate. I can't credit either team of dominating during the season because I reserve that word for the '85 Bears and the '07 Patriots and I think the '09 Colts or the '13 Broncos. But a history of either winning or losing the Superbowl can't be ignored.

Brady's two picks were horrible and I couldn't award him with MVP after those. You can't be an MVP and throw a pick in the end zone with no chance of reception. The other one wasn't much better. It's Edelman or Gronk or the defensive line that was good enough to make Seattle think about throwing it when both Lynch and Wilson can run two yards in their sleep.

Butler's eyes are closed after this huge collision. Breaking up this pass was good play but catching the ball was superior
Personally, I'd let Wilson run it in because he's pretty much unstoppable with a spread defense. Or Lynch. Those are better options but like I said the Giants were in the same situation and won two Superbowls with two short passes. In this case the pass was slightly errant but that didn't guarantee an interception so that's why Butler gets the credit for holding onto it after a collision. There are no guarantees to anything.

If a few plays were different the Pats could've won 6 championships, but change a few plays the other way (tuck rule) and the Pats may not even make 6 super bowl appearances. Hypothetical debates are really for people with too much time on their hands. And at least there were no controversial ref calls or reversed calls or ridiculous debates about if a blade of grass was touched by someone's chin or if the ball moves slightly in someone's hand. Those kinds of things are really testing credulity. This play on the interception seems to be the biggest controversy but I see it mostly as poor execution and can appreciate the argument that when execution counts the most then go for a run play because that has the highest percentage of getting you a yard or two without a turnover. Wilson had been a receiver Kearse and Mathews making him look good all game but he hadn't thrown an interception nor had be really demonstrated success. His receivers were making him look good but he'd been contained from running it, which was one of the keys to winning for NE.

I remember when NE lost to KC and it looked like the season could fall apart or they could refocus. I remember thinking that losses like that KC loss only come in one of two seasons: either they win a championship or they collapse completely. I felt that because big lopsided loses like that either come when the team really is not good, there is no chemistry, and the loss is used as an excuse for giving up on the season because they know secretly the chemistry/personnel is not there...or a loss like that comes on a team that has great chemistry, the personnel is present, the coaching is present and they simply lost focus because their good chemistry became too evident. When the wins started adding up I knew it was the latter. Still, because of the Ravens comeback and don't forget how Denver was inches away from possibly winning in week 15 and NE doesn't clinch 1st seed and has to play to win in week 16. So many things happen in a season.

No comments:

Creative Commons License
Man in the Van by Oggy Bleacher is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported License.