A great deal will be written about the game on Monday night against Pittsburgh. Many people will focus on the physical play of the Patriots or the lack of execution by Kordell Stewart. However, the real story Monday night was the amazing results that the Patriots offense had by running the same no-huddle, five receiver formation TWENTY-FIVE times in a row. Of course, your first thought, like any rational person, probably was "Well, this will be cute for a series or two and then we'll get back to a balanced attack," right? Wrong! Apparently, Pittsburgh thought the same thing. They kept rushing their base down lineman and occasionally a few linebackers. They never figured to put their dime or nickel defensive back packages into the game. Of course, like the rest of us, they must have figured this obsurdity had to end on the next play.
But it kept going on. And on. And on. Eventually, as Brady was able to pick and choose which of the five targets to throw to, the Steelers defense began to run out of gas. Pass rushing is no fun and when you have to constantly do it in a no-huddle rhythm on a warm night, it can be hell. By the middle of the third quarter, you could see the Pittsburgh defense began to clutch, hold, and facemask anything in sight. They were out of gas, the game was effectively over, and the rest became academic (including that ridiculous final drive by Pittsburgh).
It was a "rope a dope" that Muhammad Ali would have been proud of. I have never seen anything quite like it and probably never will again. But it answered a lot of questions about whether the Patriots and Mr. Tom Brady will be "respected" this year. I'm pretty sure all of that talk about a fluke and a one year wonder will be put to bed. At least until next week...
And now, onto everybody's favorite part of my column (yep, you guessed it), the Zingers! The inspiration for a few of the Zingers this week comes from my tailgating buddy, Jessie-the Prince of New Bedford. So if they bomb, blame the Prince! Okay, here we go.
My pal Duane (the Enhancement Man)and I are still trying to figure out what was the point of the recent Sports Illustrated article about John Gruden. All we learned about the man is that he doesn't sleep and has a very tolerant wife. Join the club, Monsieur Gruden.
Speaking of Tampa Bay, does Warren Sapp annoy you like he annoys me?
The only thing the prevent defense ever prevented is the offending party from actually winning the game. I don't understand what is wrong with playing the defense that gave you the lead for the first fifty-eight minutes of the game?
As a courtesy to Zingers readers, from time to time throughout the season, I will translate Bill Belichick post-game press conferences. Here's my first stab at it. "The Steelers are a great team and we were fortunate to win" actually means in English "Stick that in your smokestack, Steel Town. Keep talking about the best team not winning all the way back home. It was worth the wait to make you look like the Sisters of the Poor High School JV team tonight."
Doesn't it seem that the Seattle Seahawks are picked every year to make the playoffs? And every year, they don't.
Suzy Kolber and Andrea Kramer of ESPN are following in the footsteps of Lesley Visser as very competant female sports reporters who happen to be attractive. They both know more about football than I ever will.
Speaking of Suzy Kolber, Edge NFL Matchup on ESPN should be must see programming. Unlike any other show,they have access to NFL game film and break down a number of different plays and scenarios on each show. The next time you need to impress the wife with talk of a "Cover Two" defense, tune into this show.
Deion Branch is going to be all that and a bag of chips!
I was pleased to see Drew Bledsoe play effectively on Sunday. But I cringed every time his inexperienced line became a human turnstile. At this rate, we may not have to worry about Drew returning to Foxboro in December.
Idle thought in the fourth quarter of the Monday Night game: Who, in that group of patrons, is the designated driver?
The difference between the discipline of the Steelers and the Patriots became crystal clear on two occasions Monday night. First, the unsportsmanlike conduct penalty that negated a Steelers 1st and Goal from the one. And secondly, Jason Gildon of the Steelers doing a little dance after stopping Troy Brown for no gain in the fourth quarter.
Impress dinner guests with a new way of saying 3rd and long courtesy of my new neighbor at the stadium. "It's 3rd down and Cleveland."
I miss Norm Chad's hilarious predictions that used to appear every Friday in the Boston Globe.
Okay, that's it for this week. Special thanks go out to everyone out there for being so supportive of this endeavour of mine. In a strange way, it's a dream come true for me.