In case you hadn’t heard, our New England Patriots defeated the Baltimore Ravens in the AFC Championship Game. But just barely. The Pats survived 23-20 to advance to Super Bowl XLVI on February 5 in Indianapolis. The Patriots will face the New York Football Giants in a rematch of the Super Bowl That Shall Not Be Named.
(If you’re headed to Indy be sure to check out Fanzooloo’s SuperBowl page HERE)
On a day when (in his own words) the Best QB On The Planet Tom Brady “sucked pretty bad” the Patriots made just enough plays to earn a hard fought victory over a tough Ravens squad. The Pats had to dodge two real big bullets in the final gut wrenching moments of the title tilt. Rookie Corner Back Sterling Moore earned himself lifelong cult hero status in the hearts of New England sports fans when he knocked an apparent game winning touchdown pass out of the hands of Baltimore receiver Lee Evans with only 22 seconds left in the game.
After Moore defended another pass inside the 5 the Ravens lined up for a chip shot 32 yard field goal try by Billy Cundiff to send the game to overtime with 15 seconds left. He missed it. He missed it. Cundiff said that it was a kick he’s “made a thousand times” but really it wasn’t. He never had to make a kick like that in that situation with that much at stake. And he blew it. Cundiff is taking all the blame but he’s not alone. It appears that the Ravens didn’t even know what down it was before the kick. There was clearly some confusion on their sideline among the coaches. They were late in sending in the field goal team. They snapped the ball at the last possible moment. Incredibly they still had a timeout to burn but somehow chose not to use it. Perhaps Ravens Coach John Harbaugh can use that time out on the golf course. They rushed a kick of this magnitude and he missed it. He missed it.
Most every coach in the NFL would have called a timeout to “ice” the kicker in that situation without even thinking about. Belichick observed the Ravens confusion and decided it was best to let them rush and handle it under pressure rather than give them a chance to settle down and get it all lined up properly.
Situational football … making plays … The Patriot Way.
Speaking of the Patriot Way, there’s been a lot of talk of divine intervention in the NFL this year thanks in large part to Denver QB Tim Tebow’s devotion and evangelism (I’m contractually obligated to mention Tebow in every blog entry). The Patriots jumped on the bigger forces at work bandwagon in crediting the late Myra Kraft with intervening from beyond to influence the outcome of the AFC Championship Game in Foxboro.
Mrs. Kraft passed away in July and the team has dedicated the season to owner Robert Kraft’s “sweetheart.” Myra Kraft left an unrivaled philanthropic legacy that will survive her for generations. By all accounts she was the team mom beloved by the players. The team has rallied around the owner and his family since her passing and her spirit is alive in their hearts and minds. It’s a nice story and the players have truly embraced the win it for Mrs. Kraft idea.
Now it’s on to the Super Bowl and New England fans are screaming for vengeance against the Giants as their Patriots try to atone for the only real blemish on the Brady – Belichick – Kraft legacy. But it won’t come easy. The G-Men are a very good team that matches up well with New England. This one will be tough as nails.
We will have plenty of time to break down the Patriots –Giants match up. We’ll also try to figure out how a bunch of no-names and castoffs on the Pats roster are gearing up for another shot at the Super Bowl while “Dream Teams” sit at home and watch.
There’s more to come Pats fans … keep your eye on Fanzooloo as we gear up for the Big Game.