The Patriots Take Down Baltimore, The Rematch Is Set

By Ryan Whitfield

    On Sunday the Patriots took down the Ravens in a tough, defensive, ulcer causing game. My voice is still hoarse from screaming in misery as I saw the season fading away and from screaming in joy in the biggest team choke job I can remember. It has been a few days since the game, but I wanted to take the time to look at the game reasonably before I posted about it. I did say the Ravens choked, but unlike media members in this town; Tony Massarotti, Dan Shaugnessy, Tom E. Curran, Mike Giardi, to name a few, I don’t take this game as a lucky win. The theory that I have developed is simple enough, so lets see if you can follow. The first point is that when analyzing our teams many members in this city play both sides, but I do understand to a degree. When the Pat’s were winning with a high powered offense everyone said this is the same team as last year and we need to win a tough, defensive game if we are going to win it all. Considering our recent post-season history this is a more than fair assessment. So this weekend put all of these skeptics to bed correct? No. Now we are just lucky apparently. This is where I grow frustrated. Football is a team sport, and teams are part of an organization. From top down, the organization helps teams be put together, prepare and play for championships.

     For example, some people are now talking about how both teams, meaning the Patriots and the Giants, reached the Super Bowl on lucky botched plays. Kyle Williams two botched punt returns led to 10 points and the game winning field goal in San Francisco’s loss to the Giants. But it isn’t luck. This 53 man roster did not come together by chance. A General manager scouted Williams, San Francisco drafted him, and Harbaugh selected him as the back up of his depth chart. Some reports have now surfaced that Williams had a history of ball control problems at Arizona State and still he was the man out there on Sunday. This is not luck, this is a place as an ORGANIZATION that San Francisco was weak. They made a mistake and New York capitalized, because they played better football last Sunday.

       Now in the Patriots game lets hash out that final drive starting with Boldins success. I pose this question to start, is it luck that Flacco did not exploit the matchup of Eddleman on Boldin until the final drive, or is it a statement about an organization that puts Flacco at the helm of their offense, and employs Cam Cameron as the Offensive coordinator? I say it’s the latter. Then down in the redzone Flacco hits Lee Evans for the game clinching touchdown until Sterling Moore swats the ball out of his hands before he completes the catch. Now Michael Felger might be the only local media member to give even close to enough credit to Moore for this play where “he played the ball”, something Massarotti harped on this secondary about all season. And when in a huge moment, a member of this secondary does it, he comes back with “Lee Evans should have caught the ball.” But this is a fundamental difference in haves vs. have nots. Maybe had the Ravens kept Mason he would have held on, but they didn’t, and Evans didn’t and this is due to choices and execution of that organization. On the final play, Ravens kicker Billy Cundiff was not prepared, a whole side issue with the scoreboard I’m not going into, and rushed on to the field late to kick a potential game tying field goal. With the freezing temps, you could see Cundiff’s breath pouring from his mouth showing an obvious fatigue. Harbaugh decided to hold on to his timeout for some reason and then Cundiff performs one of the worst 32 yard misses in the history of the game, in fact he kicked from the right hash mark and missed even the net off to the left. Divine intervention, horse shoes up their butts, and I think all of the Patriots players staff, coaches and management were carrying their lucky rabbits feet. Or maybe, just maybe there is another explanation, luckily supporting my thesis. It was not luck that prevented Harbaugh from calling a time out allowing Cundiff to get his bearings and make a good kick. It was either stupidity, or the fear of “icing” his own kicker. Regardless it was a choice. It was not God pushing Cundiff’s kick wide left, it was his inability to make a kick under pressure. And if he lacks that capability that it is the Ravens front office’s responsibility to find a kicker who is clutch. The point here is that I have never believed that teams regularly lose games as opposed to teams winning them. The team was built by the organization, thats why they have GM’s and scouts. Last year when many people around here said well if Brady didn’t get picked off and Crumpler didn’t drop that touch down on the first two drives we could have been up 14-0. But they did, thats the point. On that day the Jets played better than us and they won. In the end it’s not about QB ratings, yards, completion percentages etc. It’s how is the more complete team and organization on that day. As Felger says “scoreboard”. You can call it what you want, but at the end of the day I’m not taking one damn thing away from this team. They seized opportunities, made plays when they needed too, and played the best in all three phases as a whole. Everyone has been saying we cannot win a game where Brady isn’t perfect, including myself, and we were wrong. Im eating my words, now eat yours as well.

     Regardless of what side you take on Sunday’s game, the stage has been set. The Patriots have their opportunity to avenge the Super Bowl that must not be named. The devastating end to our chance at infamy in 2007 still hurts, in fact until Tuesday night I had never watched a clip of that game since I watched on February 3rd 2007. The teams are both mainly different and this game is more of a rematch from earlier this year when New York beat the Pats at home on another last minute drive by Eli. But man, this is the game we all wanted. Losing to them again might drive me to suicide, but a win will take some if the 07 sting away. We in all likeliness will never see the Pats go 19-0 now, so it can’t make it go away for good, but it can ease the pain in at least giving us some form of payback. Stay tuned for our Super Bowl preview later this week and continuing coverage all leading up to next Sunday February 5th.

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