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Monday, February 4, 2008

18 Wins and 1 GIANT Heartbreaking (a.k.a. Agonizing, Bitter, Calamitous, Deplorable, Grievous, Joyless, Lamentable, Pitiful, Sad, Tragic) Defeat

Super Bowl Sunday w/ Mikey Filmmaker

11:40 a.m. Arrive at Barney's with Kyle and Julian. Dres and Brian should be here soon.

11:48 a.m. We can't seem to decide where the hell we're going to sit.

11:53 a.m. We start to discuss a strategy on what we are going to eat all day. We have all this money in gift certificates and we have to be economical.

11:59 a.m. We move yet again. I swear we're not playing musical chairs.

12:03 p.m. I feel very isolated up here. We're up top all alone. It's early so I'm sure more people will be joining us.

1:23 p.m. Dres and I have just lost in pool. Damn.

2:39 p.m. This place is beginning to fill up.

3:21 p.m. Game time is really close. I'm really excited.

3:24 p.m. Ronnie Lott tosses coin. Giants call tails. Win. It's time to play football.

3:35 p.m. Giants start off 2/2 on 3rd down. Gay looks hurt. Giants looking good so far.

3:44 p.m. Giants kick FG. Up 3-0. Did a great job with the clock. Took almost ten minutes off (9:59).

3:56 p.m. Pats moving the ball well.

3:58 p.m. Big pass interference call on Giants. Ball moves to the 1 yard line. Pats have to score.

4:01 p.m. Maroney scores on first play of second quarter. 7-3 Patriots.

4:11 p.m. Eli playing like Superman again. Amazing pass to Amani Toomer.

4:14 p.m. Spoke too soon. Eli has been picked.

4:27 p.m. Maybe overreacting, but Brady looks bad. Ankle? O-line? Maybe both. Still 7-3. 6:45 to go in the half.

4:36 p.m. Crazy play with Thomas sacking Manning. Penalty saved a "lucky" first down. Weird game.

4:50 p.m. Brady fumbles. Looking to be 7-3 into the half. What a crazy two quarters. Anyone's game.

5:26 p.m. 2nd half begins. Let's hope Pats made good adjustments in the locker room.

5:30 p.m. Pats offense has been stopped again. Can't get anything going.

5:37 p.m. Huge Pats challenge with Giants 12 men on the field.

5:44 p.m. Big 4th down and Brady misfires. Still 7-3.

5:52 p.m. This game is like a battlefield in the trenches. Double digits may win this due to both offenses struggling. Forget my prediction 38-14 or a repeat of 38-35.

6:00 p.m. Pats fail on 3rd down. 3rd quarter is over. 7-3 into the 4th. Wow!

6:12 p.m. Giants score. 10-7. Unbelievable! Plenty of time, but Pats need to step up.

6:20 p.m. Pats stopped again. Lying if I said I wasn't nervous.

6:25 p.m. HUGE tackle by Harrison. 4th down. Giants punt. Pats NEED to score.

6:31 p.m. Pats moving well. Let's hope.

6:42 p.m. Pats TD! Take the lead. The bar is going crazy.

6:44 p.m. Brian is about to have a heart attack. 1:59 to go in the game. This is it. 3rd down.

6:47 p.m. 4th down. Could be the game.

6:49 p.m. 1:20 to go. This has turned out to be a great game.

6:54 p.m. Great catch with the helmet, but how could the booth not look at that play?

6:57 p.m. No fucking way. Giants 17-14.

7:02 p.m. '72 Dolphins and everyone can rub it in. 4th and 20. 10 seconds to go. Speechless...

7:14 p.m. (Been too frustrated to write.) Yelled fuck a couple times outside. Called home to hear some reaction. It will definitely take time for wounds to heal. Pats sadly join list of great Boston teams that have failed to win the championship.

Personal Thoughts:
How do you write an article about the 2007 Patriots without going on random tangents of frustration? Especially so soon after they failed their final quest. The perfect season is over. Everyone outside of New England can celebrate. Those cheatin' Patriots are done. Those dirty Patriots are done. Those Patriots are done. It doesn't matter how you write it. They're done. D-O-N-E!

I was planning on writing an article about how history was made. How I got to witness it with a couple friends in a bar. It would be a great story to tell years down the road. It wasn't supposed to end like this. Lose to New York? The Giants? Eli Manning? Yet, I go online and all I find is Giants Super Bowl XLII apparel. It's disappointing. It's depressing. It's like a bad dream, but only in reality. However you look at it, you can't change it. The Patriots have lost. Let the New England bashing begin...

I can only imagine being in New England right now. I would do anything to listen to all the sports shows. Tomorrow WEEI will be full of non stop phone calls. People asking the simple quesiton, "Why?" Here's the thing. There is really no one reason why the Patriots lost. I called my family shortly after the game. My Dad said it perfectly. The Patriots just didn't show up to play.

You can scratch your head and say, "How is that possible? It's the Super Bowl!" Again, I don't have the answer for you. Probably never will. The one answer I do have for you is the Patriots join a long list of Boston teams and really teams around the country that were amazing, but failed to win the championship. It's not like they are alone. Does that make it feel better? No.

The Patriots won 18 straight games. They were about to go 19-0. No one has ever gone 19-0. The Dolphins only went 17-0. Throughout its 88 year history, every other team in NFL history has some blemish. Maybe small, but still some number other than 0 was in the loss column. It was going to be a special evening. One that doesn't happen every year.

I can only imagine the '72 Dolphins smiling like a kid who stole candy from a store. If the Dolphins were likable I wouldn't be as mad, but I can't stand them. They are annoying old guys who cling to that season like it's an extension of their body. Otherwise, the Dolphins are just another old Super Bowl champion.

I guess my biggest thing about this situation is the fact that I don't think we'll see this again. Can the Pats go back to the Super Bowl next year? Yes. Can they win? Yes. Can they go undefeated? No. Hate to sound pessimistic, but it's too tough. This was their chance and they blew it. No other way to say it. They blew that game.

They lost the Super Bowl to the Giants. Yes, they have been playing very well recently, but this is a team with six losses. Their quarterback is good, but still not great (one great drive doesn't make you great, yet). Really that is how I look at the whole team. Good, but not great. A playoff team, but not a champion. Still, you have to give them credit that they managed to beat the three best teams in the playoffs this year (Pats, Packers, and Cowboys).

I'd also sound like a hypocrite if I didn't say the Giants were the best team in the NFL this season. You're crazy, right? Well, yeah I'm crazy, but not in regards to this statement. I have always believed the best team in any sport in any season is the champion. So, I tip my hat to them, but my admiration for them ends there. I fucking hate New York. I have and always will.

So, now what? The Red Sox are starting back up again, but part of me doesn't care. I feel robbed these last two years with the Pats. Two heartbreaking defeats in the playoffs. Add that to the 2003 ALCS, and I have completed my true right of passage as a Boston sports fan (born in 1985). I guess though, part of being a sports fan in any city is the balancing act you must do. You take the championships (five of them) with the heartbreaking losses (three of them). It's unfortunately part of life.

2007 will always be a bitter sweet year for Boston sports. The Red Sox won the World Series. The Pats lost the AFC Championship back in January. Then, the following season completed the first ever 16-0 season. They were accused of cheating. Tom Brady, Randy Moss, and the offense set multiple records. Then, to top off the season, they lost in the Super Bowl. The Celtics finished off one of their worst seasons in franchise history. Then, they traded for two franchise players in Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett. They are now regarded as one of the best teams in the league. The Bruins continue to struggle even though this season they have shown potential to possibly make the playoffs. It's been a roller coaster. Plenty of highs and plenty of lows. It ranks up there with 1986 and 2004. Unfortunately, it just didn't have the ending we (Boston fans) hoped for.

Quick Analysis of the Game:
As previously written, the Patriots didn't show up to play. It allowed the Giants to stay in the game all day and eventually capitalize in the end. Eli played the game he needed to play and the pass rush was phenomenal (five sacks and Brady was knocked down 18 times).

I didn't have any of the game stats in front of me during the game, but I was amazed at a couple things. First, the time of possession was almost equal. I think they evened out more in the second half because it felt like the Giants were doing a great job of keeping the Pats off the field. One thing you had to notice very early was the fact that the Pats' offense was never in sync. They drove and picked up a couple first downs, but were never in a position to put any points on the board.

The one question someone could make is why Belichick didn't decide to kick a 48 field goal, but go for it on 4th and 13. It wouldn't have been a "give me" field goal, but it could have been the 3 points to make it a 17-17 game rather than a 17-14 game. Regardless, hindsight is 20/20.

It was also amazing to see Randy Moss continue and finish this post-season very quiet. Hell, the whole Patriots offense was quiet for a good portion of the second half of the season. Maybe it was the weather. Maybe it was just the fact that teams started to figure them out more. Or maybe it was just that no team is capable of playing at that high of a level for 19 games.

To me though, the reason the Giants won was simple. They took Brady out of the "game". Yeah, he was still playing, but he wasn't allowed to play his game. The Giants basically dictated the game even though they trailed for most of it. It was almost like they were toying with the Pats until the very end. Getting up their hopes and then slamming down their fists when it mattered.

Reaction Around the World:
Okay, so maybe just the United States, but there is Patriot bashing going around all over the country. In sports, there is a two way street. Trash talking never ends. Not saying I've never done it before and probably will in the future, but damn. Unless you are from New England, there is absolutely no support for this team. People love to hate teams that are succesful. It wasn't too long ago that the Patriots were loved. Now, they are one of the most hated franchises in all of sports. It makes losing this Super Bowl even worse. Super Bowl XLII should be remembered as the Patriots vs. the Giants and the World. The amount of hatred people have for the Patriots right now is unparalleled to only the Yankees.

The Future:
It's difficult to know who exactly will be back next year. The big questions are Asante Samuel, Donte Stallworth, and Randy Moss. I'd love to keep Samuel and Moss. Stallworth is expendable in my opinion (they are very deep in receivers). The other two guys are easily in the top five for their positions.

Samuel is more likely to be headed out. He was franchised this year and was not too happy about it. He missed all of training camp. It's possible a deal can be reached, but I think he signs a big contract elsewhere.

Moss could very likely be in a Patriots uniform next year. I think the Super Bowl loss may have been the best thing to happen for him in regards to wanting to stay and finish off the deal. It really depends how much money he wants. Other teams could overpay him, so it will be interesting to see if he gives the Pats a discount.

The other big questions are what happens to some of the veterans. The three big guys I'm thinking about are Tedy Bruschi, Junior Seau, and Troy Brown. If the Pats won, I would say there would be a great chance for them to retire on top. Now, I'm not so sure. This game had to leave a bitter taste in their mouths (like last year's AFC Championship). They may want one more shot each (Seau still is looking for his first ring). My only concern would be can the Pats get another linebacker to lessen the load. Hypothetically, if the Pats played in Super Bowl XLIII, Seau would be 40 years old. In baseball that's okay, but football is a different story. As for Brown, he could be used as the fifth or sixth receiver on the team.

The one good thing about the future is that the Pats have a very high first round pick. They really have two options. One is to trade down and get more picks. The other is to pick either a cornerback or linebacker. I'd be shocked if they drafted an offensive player. Their defense is their weakness and it's getting older.

I'm sure they will lose a couple players. They'll probably add some players. The team will be different, but the core should stay the same. If that is the case, there is a good chance this team could be the favorite to win the Super Bowl next year. Hopefully, it will be a different result.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

HI Mike. This is Lou from Boston. Well you are now an official Boston Sports fan. This is how I felt when the Bruins lost to Montreal in 1971, the Flyers in 74 and when the Sox lost to the Yankees in the 78 playoff game and lost to the Mets in 86. This is your first real big loss in sports. It won't be your last. The pain will go away in a few months. I am already looking forward to spring training. Don't care much about the Celtics and will try to watch the Bruins till baseball stars up.