Time Out for Sports Talk: Patriots Fail to ‘Pick-6’th Championship
Todd: If it wasn’t for yesterday’s victory parade through downtown Philadelphia, I might have thought Super Bowl 52 was played five weeks as opposed to five days ago. What a wild week to follow up one wild football game.
Despite how hideously the Patriots defense played Sunday night, how many of you felt fairly optimistic when Tom Brady (who ultimately passed for a NFL playoff record 505 yards) and the offense had the ball with 2:21 left, trailing by five points with one time out remaining plus the two-minute warning? How many of you even got up from your comfortable couch and anticipated yet another game-winning touchdown drive by the greatest QB we’ve ever watched?
Two plays later, that possibility was squashed thanks to Brandon Graham’s strip sack of Brady, the only sack of the entire game for either team. Too early to tell, but years from now we might look back at Graham’s huge play as a turning point for the Patriots franchise. Much like Mo Lewis’ huge hit on Drew Bledsoe in 2001 unofficially ushered in the Pats dynasty we’ve enjoyed these last 17 years, could the Graham strip sack mark end of this incredible run?
Much has already happened since the Eagles emerged victorious on Sunday night. Pats’ defensive coordinator Matt Patricia officially became the head coach in Detroit. Offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels became the head coach changed his mind at 11:59 and 59 seconds to remain part of Bill Belichick’s coaching staff, which in turn will keep a few other Pats coaches in place. Josh’s 180 ranks right up there with Bill himself stepping down as ‘HC of the NYJ’ back in 2000.
Then there’s the player news of the week. Will Rob Gronkowski—who led the Pats in SB52 with 15 targets, 9 receptions and 2 touchdowns—decide to become the next Dwayne Johnson, either on the big screen, the WWE squared circle or both? Will we ever find out the truth about why Malcolm Butler never saw the light of day from the sideline, save for one special teams punt coverage? Let me answer that last question myself—likely not.
Put me in the minority with this point of view, but I’m not convinced Butler’s presence on defense would’ve changed the final result. No doubt the game plays out a little differently with defensive coverages and the like, but I can recall more than a handful of plays this season where Butler got burned by taller receivers, of which the Eagles have a few. And while Eric Rowe had his problems in SB52, he still wound up with as many tackles (4) and two more passes defended (2) than Butler had combined in New England’s two playoff wins.
Still, I’m somewhat surprised, as the Pats’ defense was getting shredded to the tune of 538 total yards, that Belichick didn’t consider putting Butler into the game during the second half when the D couldn’t have gotten much worse.
So instead of the Patriots tying the Steelers for most Super Bowl wins (6), they’re now tied with the Broncos for most Super Bowl losses (5). Instead of Brady becoming the first regular season passing yards leader to win a Super Bowl, those QBs are now 0-6 all-time in the big game. Not to mention NFL MVPs are now 0-8 in the Super Bowl this century, with Kurt Warner the last league MVP to win a SB in the same season (1999). Oddly enough, it was Brady’s Patriots who began this streak by shocking the Rams in SB36, when Warner had earned his second league MVP. Brady has now won 3 MVP awards, but in none of those seasons did he win the SB as well.
If Graham’s strip sack of Brady ultimately proves to be a turning-point play in Pats history, think how it has changed the symmetry of Brady/Belichick-led Pats dynasty. Here we all thought it would be bookended by a pair of 3-Lombardis-in-4-years runs each ending with a win over Philadelphia. But instead, the symmetry turns out to be a franchise winning its first-ever Super Bowl in improbable fashion with a second-year head coach and a QB who did not begin the season as the team’s starter. An apt description for both the 2001 Patriots and the 2017 Eagles.
Ten years ago I was stunned and angry when the Pats lost to the Giants because of everything at stake, and that I never expected them to lose that Super Bowl. A decade later, I’m not mad, but definitely disappointed the Pats couldn’t add another Lombardi to the trophy case. Brady is going to be 41 next season and Belichick will be 66. How many more times will they play in February?
More to say, but space is limited. Try and look on the bright side, Pats fans – at least this time our team didn’t lose to New York. Philadelphia is New England’s kindred spirit in terms of passionate sports fans. Hopefully that makes this loss a little easier to swallow.
Mike: Leading up to the game, I had a nagging feeling that I tried to ignore, that the Patriots were going to lose.
Sure, it looked like they were on a roll heading into the game, but something, i don't know what it was, was bothering me about it. Obviously, it wasn't bothering me enough, since I picked the Pats to win, but still.
That's why on the final drive before the strip sack, I was much more subdued than in previous Super Bowl comeback attempts. And when it happened, it wasn't as hard to take as the two to the Giants were. Oh, and an aside to Todd, I don't know what you're talking about when you say "try and look on the bright side, Pats fans – at least this time our team didn’t lose to New York."
The Pats can never lose to New York in the Super Bowl, because New York's lone team, the Buffalo Bills, plays in the AFC. That team they lost to in the Super Bowl, was from New Jersey no matter what they say. But come to think of it, losing to New Jersey could be worse than losing to New York, so never mind.
Also, I also disagree with your thought "Philadelphia is New England’s kindred spirit in terms of passionate sports fans."
Nope, not buying it. We've never booed Santa Claus, and our stadiums are conspicuously free of jail cells and courtrooms.
I know this is going to sound like sour grapes, but I would hope that New Englanders would show more class than Philly did, with the destruction that went on in that city. And what's with the pole climbing? Freud would have a field day with that, but I digress.
I've been to games in Philly, with Todd as a matter of fact, and while we met some good fans, they do seem angrier than most. Not sure why that is though. Maybe it's because the city's most famous statue is actually simply a leftover movie prop of a fictional character. Yeah, that could be it. I mean, they do claim Ben Frankiln, but he WAS born in Boston, so we had him first.
Enjoy your title Philly. Just remember, you still have a long way to go to catch up to us.
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