Sunday, December 31, 2006

New England 40, Tennessee 23

The New England Patriots closed out their regular season today with a 40-23 win over the Tennessee Titans. They had clinched their 4th consecutive AFC East title last week, and were playing for, possibly, the chance to move into the 3rd seed in the East. Whether they'll get it depends on an unlikely victory by Miami in Indianapolis later this afternoon. As I write this, it's likely that the Patriots will be the 4th seed in the AFC, hosting the Jets next weekend.

But there are a couple of things that warrant comment.

  • The Patriots' win brought their record for the regular season to 12-4. It's important to get some perspective on that. New England went 14-2 in both 2003 and 2004. Other than those 2 seasons, the Patriots have never won more than 11 games in a season, until now. I mention that because there's been a feeling in some quarters that the 2006 season has been a disappointment. Many Patriots fans got spoiled during that 28-4 run (34-4 counting post-season) and feel that any loss is a loss that they shouldn't have. This is one of the best seasons in Patriots history, whatever happens next, and it would be a mistake to overlook it.

  • The Patriots, inside the 2-minute warning, with a 10-point lead and Tennessee out of timeouts, threw a touchdown pass. It was a risky thing to do, and one wouldn't blame the Titans for being ... upset about it. But there was a specific thing that the Patriots were trying to accomplish, and the situation allowed them to do it. Vinny Testaverde, whom the Patriots had signed as a 3rd-string quarterback in the middle of the year, finished 2005 with at least one touchdown pass thrown in 19 consecutive seasons, which was an NFL record. When he connected with Troy Brown in the back of the end-zone, it gave him at least one TD pass in his 20th consecutive season.



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