Refuse to win (cont.)
Posted: Tuesday December 4, 2007 11:13AM; Updated: Tuesday December 4, 2007 11:48AM
It got so bad that on the Patriots' last two plays of the game, the holding call that moved the ball, on fourth-and-5, down to the Ravens' 8, and the pseudo-TD to Jabar Gaffney (sure looked like a juggle to me), I put a stopwatch on Tom Brady to see exactly how much time that three-man rush afforded him.
He had 3.43 seconds to deliver the ball on the penalty play. On the TD it was 3.72 seconds. He was in perfect balance, he even had enough time to give a little pump fake to the other side, buying enough time for Gaffney to run an in-out pattern that left his defender, Dawan Landry, sprawled in the end zone. Three and a half seconds for Tom Brady! I mean are you nuts?
Tom Landry always blitzed a team that was near his own goal line. The theory was that the risk of giving up a long play because of excessive boldness was nonexistent, so you might as well bring plenty of heat. Buddy Ryan just brought the heat all the time. Rex decided not to.
In his postgame analysis, Steve Young talked about great teams that experience a certain lull at various points in the season. And that's what the Patriots had gone through for two straight weeks -- first Philly, then Baltimore, both games they could have, and in the Ravens' case, should have lost. I think there's more to it.
The defense got walloped. Adalius Thomas, playing against his old mates, made a few plays in the first period. After that he could have been in the witness protection program. In the third quarter, when the Ravens keyed their offense to the thundering hoofbeats of McGahee, the only notice you took of Adalius, was the way he was getting driven backward. The Ravens keyed their thrust to the right side of the Patriots' defensive line, which came out in a base 4-3 precisely because their coaches feared what actually happened.
And the guy who took the major heat was all-pro Richard Seymour. Oh my, what a job Baltimore' bowling ball of a left guard, Jason Brown, did on him. And Jonathan Ogden on whoever manned the DRE spot was a heavy overmatch. And Tedy Bruschi in the middle looked like a little guy who was getting overrun. These chaps aren't getting any younger.
It will be interesting to see what Pittsburgh does to the Patriots linemen on both sides of the ball. Particularly distressing was the sight of my all-pro left guard, Logan Mankins, getting eaten up by 340-pound Haloti Ngata. Hey, the Steelers have some big guys, too.
Well, maybe Steve Young was right and this was just a downbeat period for the unbeaten Patriots, and once they've righted themselves they'll go back to covering their 14-, 16-, 20-point spreads. But maybe the Ravens opened up a window to something more sinister, something that could be exploited by a big, muscular, physical team, coached by people who aren't terrified by the prospect of scoring a major upset.
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