“Super Bowl XLI ½” is over and NFL fans were treated to a “good” regular season game, but would I call the Patriots (9-0) come from behind 24-20 win over the Colts (7-1) an Instant Classic, “No”. Unlike all of the hype surrounding the game it never lived up to the greatest game I ever watched the January 2nd 1982, San Diego Chargers 41-38 overtime win over the Miami Dolphins in the divisional playoffs. Sure the Patriots “survived” as they broke a three-game losing streak against the Colts and now seem poised to move on their merry way to their perceived undefeated season. But it was a struggle to the end as they had to wake up to score two touchdowns in a four-minute span of the final quarter to overcome a 10-point deficit. The game wasn’t over until Patriots LB Roosevelt Colvin recovered a Peyton Manning fumble on a sack by DE Jarvis Green with the Patriots nursing a 24-20 lead. New England linebacker Junior Seau said after the game, “We were going against a hostile crowd, an undefeated team, we took our hats off to them. But we still played well enough to win”. The boxscore will tell you Randy Moss (9 catches for 145 yards w/ 1 TD) and Tom Brady (21-32, 255 yards, 3 TDs, a franchise record 33 for the season and continued his record of 3 TDs in a game) did all the work, but credit for the big win should be spread around to all the Patriots from the first guy (Brady) to the fifty-third player. After a first half where the Patriots were outscored 13-7, demoralized by an incredible Joseph Addai 73-yard touchdown catch and run right before halftime, and outgained 114 total yards to the Colts’ 229, they turned the tables around in the second half gaining 228 yards to the Colts 100 yards plus produced 17 points.
Linebacker Tedy Bruschi said after the win “Some victories do mean more than others” and This is one we’re going to remember.” Well don’t languish on this win too much Tedy as regular season wins are good for morale and playoff seeding, but playoff wins are the only thing that matter. The hype machine surrounding the game told us that the NFL season should have stopped with the winner of this game, but remember the season is only half over and there is a lot of football still to be played. The mighty Patriots were supposed to destroy the Colts as they had been scoring more than 41 points a game plus beaten their opponents by an average of over than 25 points. But the Colts led by a dominant game by running back Joseph Addai — first Colts player to record 100 yards on the ground (112) and 100 yards receiving (114) in the same game, franchise record 226 yards from scrimmage –- were in control for over three quarters. The Patriots also had a very bad 10 penalties for 146 yards in the game and seemed to be dominated physically at the line of scrimmage by the Colts in my opinion. I know the Colts will be back to face the Patriots again probably in the AFC Championship game, so round two is inevitable. Some may now want to anoint the Patriots as the future successors to the 1972 Miami Dolphins season-long undefeated throne and hand them the Super Bowl XLII trophy, but they need to show me more before I am a full believer. Each week team after team will get hyped to fight the town bully –-1985 Bears and 1998 Vikings, both finished 15-1 with lower level teams rising to knock them off for their only regular season losses.
What we did learn from the game was that the Colts are not as good without receiver Marvin Harrison and left tackle Tony Ugoh, that field goals instead of touchdowns come back to bite you (sorry Colts), pressure is good but sacks are better (Colts only had 2 sacks by Robert Mathis –– Where was the 72 Million Dollar man Dwight Freeney ??) and Randy Moss proved once again why he is the best receiver in the game when motivated. Moss was incredible making one-handed catches, catching alley-oops, providing a spark (55-yard catch on a 2nd and 10 with the Pats trailing 20-10 in the fourth quarter), and I even saw him “BLOCK”.