Thursday, November 1, 2007

Colts vs. Patriots, What else?

No one else seems willing to talk about the upcoming game between the Colts and Patriots, so I guess I'll have to take up the slack. I have a new theory that accounts for the Patriots running up the score in all their games this year. The consensus opinion is that the Patriots are upset about (1) getting busted for cheating and (2) having their championship seasons called into question because they'd been cheating all along. The more extreme opinion, and one that I cannot in good conscience deny, is that Bill Belichek is the devil, and the devil does things like run up the scores of opponents and steal all the deposit envelopes from ATM machines. But I have a new theory, which I developed after watching the replay of last year's Colts-Patriots AFC championship game. (Yes, I watched the entire replay of a game that took place last year. Isn't that cool?) In that game, the Patriots went ahead 21-3, the Colts came roaring back to tie it at 28-28, and then the Colts finally won it 38-34. From what I saw, four things cost the Patriots that game:

1. One slow linebacker too many 

There was some guy named Alexander whose name was constantly being called, but in negative ways like "Alexander pushes Fletcher out of bounds after a 22-yard gain." The Colts were busting up the Patriots with routes up the middle between the linebackers and safeties. And Alexander was often seen running after them.

2. The inability to shut down the running game 

The Colts offensive line pounded the Patriots, especially in the second half. On their final touchdown, the center drove the Patriots' 340-pound noseguard five yards down field and then pancaked him. Several other Patriots found themselves on their back during that play. If the Patriots blow out the Colts this Sunday, Colts fans may want to put that play on a continuous loop for a few hours.

3. Mediocre receivers 

The leading Patriots receiver dropped two passes in the second half that him him right in the stomach. Late in the fourth quarter, with the Patriots up by three and with a chance to put the game away, a receiver ran the wrong route, and Tom Brady had nowhere to throw. Punt. Touchdown. Interception. Game over.

4. A lack of killer instinct 

After the Patriots went up 21-3, they seemed to go soft. I think you see where I'm heading. If you watch that game again, you have to think the Patriots had them down and let them up. There may be something to the notion of playing intensely for all four quarters. Forget sportsmanship. The Patriots have retooled for one reason -- to beat the Colts. To win, they have to get a lead early, build the lead, and keep building the lead. They have to suppress any urge to let up at any point.

I know what you're thinking: The Colts barely beat the Patriots last year, and the Patriots have gotten way better with their new receivers; therefore, the Patriots are better than the Colts and should crush them. But you forget, sports fan, that the AFC championship had gone against recent form. The Colts had learned to beat the Patriots. During last year's regular season game against the Colts, the Patriots were overmatched in a home game. They looked desperate as they went for it on fourth down and tried onsides kicks early in the game, and they still took a 40-21 beating, their second in a row to the Colts. 

I know what else you're thinking: Who do I, Bob, think is going to win? I think the Patriots are going to take a lead, and build that lead, and keep building that lead. They know how. The bastards.