Monday, November 05, 2007

Patriots 24, Colts 20

Thoughts on "Super Bowl XLI 1/2"...

  • The New England Patriots are the best team in football right now. There are three NFL teams at 7-1 - two of the three losses that those teams have are to the Patriots. Despite the claims that "the Patriots haven't played anyone" or "the Colts have had a much tougher schedule," according to Jeff Sagarin's ratings, the Patriots are now 4-0 against the top 10 NFL teams. The Colts are now 1-1. The Patriots are the only team to have beaten either the 2nd or 3rd ranked team, and they beat both of them on their own home fields.

  • The Colts played a tremendous game, got several gifts from the officials, had a fluke touchdown on a dump-off when three Patriots ran into each other, got the worst game that the Patriots have played this year, and still couldn't hold a 10-point lead with less than 10 minutes left. Now, the excuses from the Colts point of view are legitimate - Marvin Harrison didn't play, Gonzalez went out with a bad thumb early, the Colts were playing without wideouts. There's no question that that's true, and it affected their performance. And it is equally true that much of the Patriots poor performance was forced by the Colts. But there were advantages that offset at least some of that. And the Patriots helped them out for a while. As good a play as the 2nd quarter touchdown was for Joseph Addai, that was poorly played by 5 Patriot defenders who had him surrounded. The Brady interception that set that up was a great play by Bethea, but a great play on an underthrown ball - if that ball is thrown three feet further, it's a touchdown for the Patriots, because Stallworth was behind the defense.

  • If the Colts had won, given the way New England played for 45 minutes, discussion of the the officials would be whining and off limits. Since the Patriots won, we can do this.

    The officials were awful. The first thing was the challenge required on Morehead's first quarter catch. He clearly came down on the sideline, there were two officials right there watching, and the Patriots had to burn one of their challenges in order for the officials to get the call right.

    And the Patriots were penalized 10 times for 146 yards. That set a new team record for penalty yardage. Many of those penalties were legitimate. But there were at least three that were questionable, or worse. I'm willing to give the officials the benefit of the doubt on the Assante Samuel pass interference call for 37 yards that set up the Colts first score. It looked like it might have been legitimate at game speed, though on replay it looked as if Samuel had good position on a ball that was overthrown. But the Ellis Hobbs call was absurd. Hobbs was in perfect position and Reggie Wayne pulled him down from behind. An awful, terrible, horrible, no-good, very bad call. As was the Randy Moss offensive pass interference in the fourth quarter.

    Oh, and I missed a blatant non-call. Gary Brackett hooked Kevin Faulk on a third-down throw, turning his body and preventing him from catching the pass. Faulk and Brady both went off at the officials on that, it was obvious, it was blatant, it was clear. And it wasn't called.

    This isn't just me, and it isn't just Patriot homerism. As the comments from Mike Sando's ESPN blog would attest.

  • There have been accusations for years that the Colts were "pumping in" crowd noise, accusations that were denied, of course, because that would be "cheating." Listen to this and tell me that isn't the sound of pumped in crowd noise. The "loud crowd" starts skipping, and then cuts off instantly. It will be interesting to see whether the people who started in on the Patriots the next day after the camera incident actually start on this.

    I will make one comment here, though - if the Indianapolis Colts were artificially inflating the noise in that dome when the opposition had the ball, and turning it down when the Colts had the ball, that is far more of an advantage for them than anything that could possibly have accrued to the Patriots by videotaping opponents signals.

    UPDATE: There have been a couple of reports that the sound does not appear on the radio broadcasts, which would implicate CBS and exonerate the Colts. Don't know, haven't heard them.

  • Right now, it's tough to picture a realistic scenario that doesn't involve a re-match in Foxborough for the AFC Championship Game.

Update: Welcome to yahoo and craigslist. I've gathered the "Colts cheating" updates into one post here. And for my thoughts on the Patriots "cameragate," as well, click here...

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