Now the media can say what it wants about the call. They can dub it the worst call of Belichick's career if that'll make their story that much better. But the fact of the matter is, who wouldn't have had faith in that offense in that situation? And who wouldn't have wanted to keep the ball out of Peyton Manning's hands? The game was over if they get that first down. And ya know what? I'm pretty convinced Kevin Faulk got that first down. Yeah, he bobbled it, but only for a split second. If you look at it from both angles you can see he gained control as his left foot first hit the ground. At that time Faulk and the ball were still across the 30 yard line. The referee marked the spot just ahead of where he landed on the ground, short of the 30 yard line. The more and more I look at it, the more and more it is clear Faulk got the first down. Where the Patriots lost the game was when they had to use a time out on the first play of the drive without even breaking the huddle. That cost them the chance to challenge the play, which ultimately may have cost them the game.
But you cannot fault Belichick for making that play call. Manning had just picked the Patriots defense apart on a 79-yard TD drive in a minute 45 seconds. Odds are, he would have done the same if the Pats kicked the ball away. He's done it all year. The Patriots were in a position to win. Belichick saw this. He knew they could end it. Had it not been for a bad spot they would have ended it. The call defined Belichick, though. I loved it. I bet if he had the chance to do it again, he would. And probably 9 times out of 10 (90/10), the Patriots get that first down. Heck, they got it Sunday night. But hey, it's a chance Belichick was willing to take that didn't work out.
Don't be surprised next time if it does.
So what did we learn about the NFL this week?
1. The Patriots are better than the Colts. The Pats had Manning confused all game. When's the last time an offense with Manning at quarterback punted the ball six times in the first half? Unless you're talking about Eli Manning, which this probably happened to last week, the answer is likely never. The only reason the Colts won this game was because the Pats handed it to them on a platter. The Pats led by 17 on two occasions and never really seemed flustered. I took the Pats to win last week and in a postseason battle, I'd take them to win again.
2. The Colts are no different than they have been in the past. Although, throughout the regular season they may look like the best team in the NFL, let's be honest, come playoff time, almost any AFC team is a threat to beat them. With a weak defense, do we really think this team can win it all? I certainly don't.
3. The NFC East is still bipolar. The Eagles beat the Giants by a kajillion points. Dallas beat the Eagles. The Giants beat the Chargers for 59 minutes and 30 seconds two weeks ago. So you figure, the Eagles should beat the Chargers right? No, they got shelacked (made it closer than it was at the end). The Cowboys lost to the Packers, who just came off a loss to 0-7 Tampa Bay. The Giants didn't lose for the first time in five weeks, because they, thankfully, had a bye. And the Redskins, that's right the Redskins, took down the 6-2 Denver Broncos. What will next week bring for the NFC East? No one knows.
4. Fantasy owners regret taking Maurice Jones-Drew. His knee gave me the W this week though, so you don't see me complaining. And it made the Jets lose. This guy is the man!
5. Denver is going to blow it to San Diego...againnnnnn. In their crucial match-up this week, expect Phillip Rivers to be a d-bag if the Chargers win, and LT to complain and fight with people after the game if they lose.
6. Cincinnati has done it again. They made it through the tough part of their schedule at 7-2. Still to come: Raiders, Browns, Lions, Chiefs, Jets. You got this Cincy. I still believe. Every viewer of Hard Knocks still believes. No let downs. And don't let Larry Johnson play.
7. Who's better at being wildly inconsistent: the Texans or the Jaguars? It's really just a toss up, but I'm gonna take the Texans. I would compare them to Dip n' Dots. Dip n' Dots has been the ice cream of the future since it came into existence. At what point will the future become the present, and we'll actually prefer Dip n' Dots over all other forms of ice cream? At what point will the Texans go from being that team on the cusp of being an elite contender in the AFC, and actually become an elite contender in the AFC? I'm gonna say never for both cases.
8. Vince Young > Kerry Collins. For those of you that listen to my radio show, I've been saying all year: Vince Young should be the starter. And what do you know: Titans w/ Collins: 0-6, Titans w/o Collins: 3-0. I should be the owner of this franchise. At least I wouldn't flip off opposing fans.
9. There's a 99% chance Al Davis will call a play that entails a Raider going long this week against the Bengals. And there's a 90% chance Davis will make the executive decision to put JaMarcus Russell back in when he realizes Gradkowski can't throw as far. I wonder how Russell's inability to play quarterback will factor into Davis' draft choice next season. Will he draft a new quarterback that can't throw quite as far as Russell, or will he find a guy at wide receiver with a faster 40 time than Heyward-Bey (4.30)? I'd personally go for the quarterback. Russell over- and under-throws receivers by 20 yards. He would have to find a college standout that could run a 1.6 if they're gonna track down those balls. The lesson to be learned: Don't draft a quarterback no one has heard of until after his bowl game, especially when he's on a team everyone knows. If he's #1 pick quality and plays for LSU, we should know about him before the Sugar Bowl.
Just a thought.
Image taken from Yahoo! Sports