Tuesday Morning Overreactions
You know they say the more things change, the more they stay the same. This was proven true following this year's roman numeral fest that was the Superbowl. Three of the past four years the New England Patriots have found themselves atop the NFL ladder. All three games the Patriots won by a margin of 3 points.
After the 60's and 70's, when only a handful of teams seemed to be realistically able to compete each year, the NFL spent the 80's and 90's trying to find a way to achieve parity. The NFL wanted every fan to believe that his team has a chance, no matter how bad they were the previous season. In the late 90's this was achieved. However, when parity struck the NFL the bobble heads throughout the nation also said that we would never have another dynasty.
Well 9 years after the Dallas Cowboys became the dynasty of the 90's, the New England Patriots proved everyone wrong by becoming an NFL Dynasty. Thus proving that there will always be dynasties in the NFL.
The Patriots aren't the only team to prove that in today's parity-stricken NFL that you can compete consistently. The Philadelphia Eagles, who were on the losing end Sunday, have also proven to be a mini-dynasty in the NFC, after all, 4 consecutive NFC Championships is a great accomplishment as well. Although I'm sure it won't help Eagle fans during the long offseason.
All fans can now take note, not only is it possible to compete one season removed from a poor year, but it is also possible to be competitive and an elite team for many years. You don't have to be one and done.
Maybe the extra week, wasn't a good idea!
After two weeks of hype, and hours of pre-game, the big game was finally here. Apparently the two teams thought the game started later, because the first quarter was sloppy play all around. In the first 4 drives the two teams combined for 13 plays, 37 yards and 4 punts.
The Patriots started hounding Donovan McNabb, sacking him for a loss of 10 yards on the 3rd play of the game. McNabb fumbled during the play but replay showed he was down.
The second play of the game, introduced the Superbowl to everyone's favorite, divinely healed WR, Terrell Owens, who caught an out pattern for 7 yards.
After 7:29 of suprisingly inept play by both teams, the Eagles finally put a drive together, moving the ball to the New England 8 yard line, thanks to a 30 yard reception by T.O. and an extremely stupid personal foul by Patriots LB Roosevelt Colvin. However on first and goal, McNabb would call a first down play action pass and was sacked for 16 yards. On second down and goal from the Patriots 24, McNabb threw a pass for the endzone that was intercepted by Patriot DB, Asante Samuel. However an illegal contact penalty gave the ball back to McNabb with a first down on the Patriots 19. The Eagles had managed to go from first and goal on the Patriots 8, to first and 10 on the Patriots 19. An unusual feat.
The first play after the penalty was an interception by Patriots Safety Rodney Harrison. The two teams then combined 5 plays and 9 yards to finish the first quarter tied 0-0. For being the two best teams in the NFL, both teams started by playing bad football.
Sorry we're late.
The second quarter saw crisper football being played, as the Eagles, on their first posession of the quarter, drove 81 yards and opened the scoring with a 6 yard TD pass to L.J. Smith and a 7-0 lead. The Patriots then marched down the field to Philadelphia 13 where a botched play action turned the ball over to the Eagles. The turnover was only the 2nd turnover by the Patriots in their last 3 Superbowls. I'm not sure but I think that might be a good reason why they won those games.
After forcing a 3 and out the Patriots got the ball back, only this time they didn't turn it over, as Brady found WR David Givens wide open in the End Zone. The score was now tied going into half time.
The Eagles couldn't help but think they had missed good opportunities to pounce on the Defending Champions.
Where the first quarter was sloppy, the second quarter seemed like the early rounds of a heavyweight championship bout, where both fighters are trying to feel each other out.
The 2nd Half Begins.
The Patriots began the second half of the game the way they ended the first half. They drove down the field and scored a TD on their first drive of the second half. The two teams then started showing their defensive muscles as they forced a couple quick drives followed by punts.
The Eagles took their last drive of the quarter and turned it into another TD. For the first time in Superbowl History the Score was tied after 3 quarters.
The Final 15.
However it didn't stay tied for long, as the defending champions began to take over the game at the start of the 4th quarter. Three plays into the quarter, former Cincinnati Malcontent, current Patriots team player RB Corey Dillon scored a TD, to put the Patriots up 21-14.
The Patriots defense then forced the Eagles into another 3 and out. Having the ball, and the lead the Patriots went on an 8 play drive that put them into field goal range. Mr. Clutch, Adam Vinatieri, kicked a field goal to put the Patriots up by 10 with 8:40 left in the game.
The Patriots Defense then came out and stuffed the Eagles once again forcing another 3 play drive that netted 2 yards. The Patriots were beginning to play like a championship team. They've been here before and knew when to take over.
However the Eagles weren't ready to concede just yet, as they returned the favor, and forced the Patriots into a 3 play 5 yard drive.
The Eagles now had the ball back with 5:40 seconds left. They were down by 10, and the Patriots had scored 4 of their past 6 drives. If the Eagles were going to do something, they'd have to do it quickly.
Instead the Eagles came out and started the drive with a 4 yard pass to their T.E. They then threw 2 passes to their WR's for a total of 9 yards, and a pass into the flat for 2 yards to their RB. The entire time they kept going back to the huddle after every play. Rather than be in a hurry up offense, they were settling for short plays, and across the middle and using up time.
They continued to play without any urgency for the rest of the drive. Knowing that they needed to score twice, in the final 5:40 seconds, they instead took 3:52 seconds, and 13 plays before scoring on a 30 yard pass to WR Greg Lewis.
After a failed onside kick attempt gave the Patriots the ball at the Philadelphia 41, the Eagles defense forced a 3 play 5 yard drive. The bad news for the Eagles though was that over a minute was taken off the clock, and the ensuing punt pinned the Eagles at their own 4 yard line.
Three plays later the New England safety Rodney Harrison intercepted McNabb to wrap up the game. The Patriots were champions once again.
One Man Talked the Talk, the Other Walked the Walk.
After talking for the last two weeks about how he would play in the big game, Eagle WR Terrell Owens did just that. Owens turned in a remarkable game catching 9 passes for 122 yards.
T.O. was limited in his play though, as it was apparent throughout the game that he wasn't able to cut on his bad ankle. Most of his catches were out routes. T.O. was also kept out of the end zone.
T.O.'s teammate Freddy Mitchell on the other hand, was unable to back up his talk. After talking about how he didn't know the names of the Patriot secondary, and how he had a surprise waiting for Patriots safety Rodney Harrison, Mitchell proceeded to have 1 catch for 11 yards. During the game one of Fox's sideline reporters even mentioned how some of the fans at the game were chastising Freddy and telling him to make a play.
As for the suprise he had in store for Rodney Harrison, we will never know. But Harrison did get a couple surprises from Eagles QB Donovan McNabb, as Harrison intercepted two of McNabb's poorer passes. The first to end the Eagles very first scoring threat. The second interception ended the Eagles.
Word of warning for Freddy Mitchell. If you're 3rd string, don't shoot off your mouth. If you do, don't respond by making 1 catch for 11 yards.
Fred Belitnikoff, Lynn Swann, Jerry Rice, and...
After catching 11 passes, and 21 in the last two Superbowls combined, Patriots WR Deion Branch joined elite company by becoming the 4th WR to be selected Superbowl MVP.
During the game Branch made 11 catches for 133 yards, and 1 TD. It seemed whenever the Patriots need a big catch Branch was there to make it. In the last two Superbowls, Branch made 21 receptions for 276 yards, and 2 TD's. Not bad for a guy who is unknown to a majority of NFL fans.
As I started by saying, the more things change the more they stay the same. The years may change but it seems the results haven't been lately. For the 3rd time in 4 years the Patriots have ended the season as the champs. For the 4th time in 4 years the Eagles have ended their season thanks to a heart breaking loss.