Monday, November 05, 2007
The New England Patriots cast all sorts of demonic spells, and summoned countless evil spirits in order to triumph over the angelic Indianapolis Colts on Sunday, in what some dubbed The Game of the Century, but I dubbed Armageddon. The Colts, for their part, were assisted by a herd of friendly zebras, who would throw yellow flags whenever they felt it would help Indy's cause of good and righteousness.
The first instance of questionable officiating came in the first drive. Manning threw a sideline route to Aaron Moorehead, who appeared to catch the ball with one foot out of bounds. However, two officials looking directly at the sideline both called him in bounds and ruled the play a completion. Belichick challenged, and the play was reversed. However, the whole incident cost the Patriots a valuable challenge, not even 3 minutes into the game. Perhaps the NFL should institute replay rules similar to those of college football.
Indy would drive down the field, penetrating as far as New England's 23 yard line. Kenton Keith was stuffed for a 5 yard loss by Richard Seymour. After a false start penalty and a surprisingly conservative Addai run up the middle, the Colts were forced to try for a 50 yard field goal.
When we didn't sign Adam Vinatierri a few years ago, a lot of people were upset. But Vinatierri is no longer a complete kicker. He simply cannot kick long field goals with accuracy anymore. His 50 yard attempt was wide left. It may have been tipped at the line, but I have my doubts. I've never seen a tipped field goal go as long as that one did.
Brady was sacked on the Patriots' first offensive play for a 10 yard loss. They wouldn't recover from that and were forced to punt. Chris Hanson would drop a beauty that was fair caught at the 9 yard line. It was the first time all year that the Patriots failed to score on their opening drive.
Indy moved the ball across midfield, then the referees helped them out once more. Asante Samuel had the audacity to touch Anthony Gonzalez and the refs called him for pass interference, moving the ball 37 yards forward, giving Indy a 1st and goal on the 9. The defense stood firm, however, and forced the Colts to try a field goal. 3-0 Indianapolis.
Hobbs had a nice 34 yard return, giving the Patriots good field position. A 13 play, 62 yard drive ensued, consisting mostly of Maroney runs, and short passes. On 3rd and goal, Brady hit Randy Moss in the back corner of the end zone. 7-0 New England.
The Colts once again drove to midfield, and were once again helped by the officials. Reggie Wayne tackled Ellis Hobbs with surprisingly good form, but it was Hobbs who was called for pass interference. After all, Hobbs was trying to play the ball and make an interception. That's simply too mean for the Colts, so the refs were forced to penalize the Patriots for 40 yards.
The Patriots once again stuffed the Colts on 3 straight plays, forcing another field goal. But the penalty still hurt. If Hobbs had not been tackled by Wayne, he may have made an interception in the end zone. Instead of the Patriots getting the ball back in a 7-3 game, it was 7-6.
Brady led a drive into Indy territory but underthrew a wide open Donte Stallworth. The ball was caught by Antoine Bethea at the 2. Had Brady led Stallworth, the play would have resulted in a touchdown. Instead, the turnover would result in a score for Indianapolis.
After moving the ball downfield a bit, Manning hit Addai on a check down pass. Thanks to some sloppy defense by the Patriots (namely Rodney Harrison pushing down Randall Gay), Addai was able to run 73 yards into the end zone to put the Colts on top 13-7.
The Patriots and Colts exchanged possession a few times to commence the second half. The Pats then drove from their own 9, all the way to the Indy 14. The most amazing play was probably Brady's 19 yard scramble, which was a season high, and the second longest of his career. It actually wasn't a scramble, it was more of a meander on an empty side of the field.
The Patriots would be stopped on 3rd and 1 as the overrated Bob Sanders corralled Maroney in the backfield. The Patriots were forced to kick a field goal, making it a 13-10 game.
The Colts punted on their next drive, then Brady threw an interception to Gary Brackett, who returned the ball 28 yards upfield. The play was bizarre. Brady's pass was underthrown, and tipped by Brackett as he went down. But Brackett maintained his concentration, and possession of the ball, before getting up and running upfield.
The Colts were stuffed on two running plays, but converted a huge 3rd and 15, keeping their drive alive. Eventually, Manning would sneak into the end zone, making the score 20-10.
The Patriots responded very loudly. After a few medium range passing plays, Brady hit Moss with a bomb. Moss was interfered with, but still managed to haul in the ball for a 55 yard gain. On the next play, Moss was called for offensive pass interference. It was one of the worst calls of the game. After guys like Dallas Clark and Reggie Wayne had flat out tackled New England's defensive backs, to call Moss for P.I. because he had a hand on a defender's shoulder was simply mind-boggling. But the Patriots scored anyway. Brady hit Welker, who brought the ball to the 3. Then Welker caught the next pass, hoisting the ball over the pylon for a touchdown. 20-17 Indianapolis.
The Colts deteriorated on their next drive. They received a holding penalty, a false start penalty, and fumbled the ball before punting.
The Patriots took the lead with a 3 play, 0:43 second drive, with a 33 yard pass to Stallworth as the highlight of the drive. Stallworth caught the ball behind his back shoulder, and secured it perfectly.
A 13 yard TD catch and run by Faulk put the Patriots ahead 24-20.
There would be no magical comeback for Peyton Manning, as Jarvis Green forced a fumble that popped out of Manning's hands into the arms of Roosevelt Colvin. The Patriots forced Indy to use their timeouts, and got a 1st down to end the game.
This was the toughest game of the season for the Patriots. It was also, in my opinion, their most impressive. This is the second time they've beaten an unbeaten team on the road, and this time they had to deal with a horrible officiating crew.
The Patriots made plenty of mistakes, and Brady had some inaccurate passes. The defense played well, but appeared slow at times. Then again, they made two goal line stops in the first half after two bogus interference penalties, forcing Indy to kick field goals.
There's also a very interesting story that's just now coming out. It seems as though the Colts might not be as pure and Godly as some have suggested.
Patriots accuse Colts of piping in crowd noise.
If this turns out to be true, it will be very interesting to see how the media reacts.
The Patriots head into their bye week with a 9-0 record. And as of this moment, they are undoubtedly the best team in the NFL.
Colts fans tried to be as evil as us, but they - like their team - just couldn't cut it.