About the Pats Game

OK, a couple comments.

Tuesday Morning Quarterback said:

There was a colossal hidden play at the endgame — hidden plays being ones that never make highlight reels, but stop or sustain drives. Game tied with 8 minutes remaining, New England had first down on the Indianapolis 18. Reclamation project Reche Caldwell, who’s had a fine year, lined up right and was uncovered by any Colt. He waved madly for Brady to snap the ball and toss it his way. When Brady finally did — nothing but turf between Caldwell and the end zone — Reche dropped the pass as if it was a live ferret. New England settled for a field goal, four lost points helping determine the outcome.

That’s as true as far as it goes. But this was not a hidden play, it was an in-your-face oh-my-god we-just-blew-it are-we-really-the-Patriots why-don’t-we-pay-for-a-real-reciever play. What’s more, it was Caldwell’s second play like that. Earlier he had dropped another perfect pass when he was wide open. Luckily for him, the Pats scored a touchdown anyhow, so it was quickly forgotten. But when your number one reciever can’t catch a ball that’s right to him, you are in trouble.

I am also annoyed at the Manning is better than Brady talk. Manning deserves every bit of credit for this game, but it doesn’t take away from Brady that the last-second miracle didn’t happen this time. Brady scored 34 points against Indianapolis. That’s a lot of points. Only one other team did better (Jacksonville, week 13, 44 points). Any other week, 34 would have been plenty. The fact that the defense gave up 38 points doesn’t take away from this achievement.

And finally, the Pats defense. Still giving Manning and the Colts their due, but that was not the Patriots defense out there in the second half. That was a bunch of tired old men. The team was still exausted from their upset over the number one team the week before, and they had the flu. Anyone who has watched the Patriots defense play throughout the season could tell this was not the same thing, not at all.

At any rate, no matter how it happens, you got to hand it to the Colts, they finally got to the big one. I have no doubt they will eviscerate the Bears. And if nothing else, I’m going to enjoy watching Prince at halftime.

8 thoughts on “About the Pats Game”

  1. A good topic for conversation. Manning vs. Brady. In my opinion, Brady wins — which I’m sure the heavy Pat-fan Muttroxia readership will agree with. If Manning wins this Super Bowl, then he at least can enter the conversation. If you really look at the guy, it’s truly amazing. He has never missed a pro game in 9 years — never. He has averaged over 4K yards a season for his career. 2 MVPs. Second best QB rating of all time. Add a Super Bowl, and this gets him in the conversation. What tips the scale to Brady, however, is a staggering stat (I may have this slightly off, but you will get the idea). Belichick’s career record without Brady at quarterback — 42 and 58, with 5 losing seasons out of 6. With Brady, 82 and 26, no losing seasons out of 6. Belichick gets a lot of credit, for good reason, but without Brady he’s hardly an immortal. This stat alone puts Brady on another level. The only remaining question — why couldn’t Brady have blossomed as a Wolverine?

  2. It goes without saying that both are great quarterbacks. Manning is much better in the regular season. Brady is much better in the playoffs. This year changed Brady’s “much better” to “significantly better”, really evening things out. It’ll be curious to see if Manning chokes against the Bears (I don’t think he will).

    This still leaves open the question of how Brady would prosper if he had quality recievers. Brady has never had a good reciever for more than one season. And after those recievers left the Patrios, they were never heard from again, implying that it was only Brady that made them that good. Every year, like clockwork, the Patriots release the best reciever on the team. They don’t even trade, they just dump them.

    I still think of the millions in salary cap the Pats just left on the table. $8 million can buy you a lot of talent, and we decided just not to bother. Simply surreal.

  3. Good point on the lack of receivers for Brady. Manning has a Hall of Fame receiver and another damn good one, and also has dome conditions to pile up statistics. Of course, what he hasn’t had is a really good defense, and Brady has. For the 3 Super Bowls that the Pats won, their defense was never worse than 6th in points allowed.

    Hell, for me, they both look light years better than Aaron Brooks or whoever my team has decided to put on the field in the last few years.

  4. Well, it’s a year out of date, but the Cold Hard Football Facts disputes your point about the Colts defense.

    Manning fans cry “look at Brady’s defense” every time someone mentions New England’s superior teams and Super Bowl championships in recent years. The heartless Cold, Hard Football Facts are here to extract a few more tears.

    Brady certainly has the support of a better defense than Manning. But they have hardly been suffocating defenses like those that have carried certain other teams to Super Bowl championships. In fact, New England’s 2001 defensive unit ranked just 24th in total defense, making it the lowest rated defense ever to win a Super Bowl. The 2001 unit did rank sixth in scoring defense, surrendering 17.0 points per game. But 31 of the 39 teams to win a Super Bowl had a better scoring defense that the one Brady played with in 2001.

    New England’s 2003 defense was markedly better. It ranked sixth in total defense and No. 1 in scoring defense, surrendering 14.9 points per game. That puts New England’s 2003 unit smack-dab in the middle of the championship pack: 18 Super Bowl winners boasted a better scoring defense than the 2003 Patriots.

    “Even Trent Dilfer won a Super Bowl with a great defense” say the teary-eyed Brady critics. Of course, the Baltimore defense that Dilfer played with was one of the best in NFL history, surrendering just 10.3 points per game – more than 40 percent fewer per game than New England’s best defense. Last time the Cold, Hard Football Fact perused the Super Bowl scoring books, we found that the Ravens beat the Giants in Super Bowl XXXV, 34-7, thanks to a punishing defensive performance (four sacks, four interceptions). Needless to say, Dilfer was never called upon to bail out his team with a last-second drive. That was good news for Baltimore: Dilfer completed just 12 of 25 passes for 153 yards and 1 touchdown.

    Additionally, Brady has been the undisputed top player on a team that’s now won three of four Super Bowls. Dilfer was a part-time role player on a team who’s historically powerful defense led it to Super Bowl victory. In fact, Dilfer wasn’t even the primary starter for Baltimore in 2000. Tony Banks was. In nine appearances that season, Dilfer completed 133 of 225 passes (59.1%) for 1,502 yards, 12 TDs and 11 INTs and a 76.6 passer rating — nearly 11 points lower than Brady’s career passer rating and almost 10 points lower than the number Brady posted in his worst season.

    The comparison between Dilfer and Brady, in other words, is laughable.

    Meanwhile, Indy has had at least one Super Bowl caliber defense during the Manning era. In 2002, the Colts fielded a defensive unit that ranked 7th in scoring and 8th in total defense. It was, in other words, a unit that was statistically superior to New England’s 2001 Super Bowl winning defense, which ranked 6th in scoring and 24th in total defense – which, as we mentioned, was the lowest rated defense ever to win a Super Bowl.

  5. I’m not sure I buy the argument in the article. First of all, the impact of a defense is clear:
    2001 (Brady’s 1st year): NE is 6th in scoring defense, they go 11-5.
    2002: NE is 17th in defense, they drop to 9-7
    2003: NE is #1 in defense, they go 14-2 and win 2nd Super Bowl.
    2004: NE is #2 in defense, they go 14-2 again and win 3rd Super Bowl.
    2005: NE is #17 in defense, they drop to 10-6.
    2006: NE is #2 in defense, they go down to Indy 38-34 after a 12-4 season.
    So NE are #1 or #2 in 3 of Brady’s 6 years, and 6th another time — and the article compares this defense, which I would call pretty damn good at the least, with a single year of Indy’s defense in 2002 when they happened to be 7th. I don’t see much comparison. (Note that Indy are #23 in scoring defense this year).

    Second, the article tries to downplay the quality of the NE defense by comparing it to other Super Bowl winners. This is like saying that Andre Agassi was only a decent tennis player because he won only won 2 U.S. Opens, which only ranks in the middle of the pack among champions in the Open era, which includes many players (McEnroe, Connors, Federer, Lendl, Sampas) who won more. Come on, who are you fooling?

    I still think that Brady is better than Manning (the Dilfer talk is just ridiculous). I also don’t dispute that Brady is the best player on the team. Hell, he’s also got a better alma mater and a hotter girlfriend. But to support a Brady vs. Manning argument by trying to pass off the NE defense as average or comparable to Indy is a little off base.

  6. OK. Now that we’re done with that, we need another debate. Let’s debate global warming. I’ll take the Bush side. Those thousands of scientists don’t know what the hell they’re talking about … it’s all a conspiracy … 🙂

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