Pats-Colts Points of Shame
Aright everybody, let’s say it together. Atrocious. Yep, that pretty much sums up the Patriots performance on Sunday night against the Colts.If anything can be taken from this utter embarrassment that doubled as a football game, it is this: once again the Patriots have proven beyond a reasonable doubt that no matter who the foe (see: Miami, Denver, and now, Indianapolis), when the Pats fall it is completely a result of their own doing. Trace it back to the beginning of the 2003 season. The fistful of games they’ve lost (thirteen to be exact) they’ve really, for lack of a better phrase, dropped the ball (or in Tom Brady’s case, repeatedly thrown it to the opposition).
Last night was one of those instances. They turned the ball over five times; committed eight penalties. They consistently gave Peyton Manning the football inside their own territory. They lost their cool at times; had no focus; no semblance of a tempo, no implementation of the game plan they had constructed and honed throughout the week. They pretty much had no chance of winning the football game.
Yet there Tom Brady was, a nifty three picks in pocket, ball in hand, driving down the field with ample time and composure to re-knot this heavyweight yuck-fest and send the game into overtime. Then Kevin Faulk decided to phone into the Pats drop-the-ball-athon, and the line went dead on Week 9 for New England.
On what should have been a seven-yard reception to the Colts 32, the usually unflappable Faulk instead botched the catch, and as if in a tip drill, redirected the ball right into the hands of Cato June. Game, set, match.
In lieu of their usual tape session today, I suggest the entire Patriots team and coaching staff go and see the Borat movie. Not because it is going to make them laugh their tails right off and forget about this pitiful performance. No, rather because it will show them that (alas!) it is in fact possible for a bigger egg to be laid than the one they produced last night. (If you’re scratching your head right now you should join Belichick and Brady at the Dedham Mall cinema.)
But seriously, there’s one question that burns in my dome after this game: just how good are the Colts? Consider this: Peyton Manning threw for over 300 yards and a couple of touchdowns. Marvin Harrison was Marvin Harrison. The Colts defense a) kept the Patriots offense off the field and b) had its second best player, Bob Sanders, play for the first time since week two. Sanders finished with 11 tackles and was in on every run play at the line of scrimmage.
Hmmm, seems to me like the Colts did implement their game plan; did have some semblance of focus and tempo. They were, more or less, the Colts. So why did they have to wait for Kevin Faulk to formally stamp their second consecutive 8-0 start?
Here’s why: THEY’RE NOT THAT EFFING GOOD!!!!!!!!
Bill Belichick is a man of schemes. And while he’ll never articulate such, he knows in the grand scheme all this game determined was venue of the AFC Championship. Nothing more. Granted, it would be nice to have the number one seed in the AFC, especially in light of the way our beloved most-clutch-kicker-ever performed in his return home (the one true negative in the Colts performance).
But playoff seeding aside, this game won’t have any lasting impact. The Patriots are still going to be playing football next Sunday when the Jets come to town. To be honest, I feel like this meltdown was actually well timed. The Patriots, fresh off a statement-game on Monday night in Minnesota, might have had a little too much swagger, least for this point in the season.
New England isn’t used to early season dominance as they’ve only once before started a campaign 6-1 (2004). The Patriots are a team that gets better as the season progresses; through adjustments, hard work, and intellect the Pats prepare schemes week by week to topple opponents. And in that undisclosed grand scheme, they prepare for what they know will be a 19 game season.
The Colts, on the other hand, are quite accustomed to winning in large helpings before Thanksgiving. Peyton Manning has not lost a game before Turkey Day since October 31, 2003. But then again, he’s also never won his last game. Brady has won his last game three times in the past five years.
Congrats Peyton, you devoured a very subpar Patriots-entree. Hope you’re ready for the main course come January.