Sunday, September 24, 2006

Pats look pathetic in 17-7 loss to Denver

"How's that turf taste, Tommy Boy?"

The Denver Broncos continued their trend of embarrassing the New England Patriots with a dominant 17-7 victory Sunday night over the 3-time Champs.
With the loss the Pats achieved a trifecta of futility against these Mile High maulers going back to last year. In their regular season meeting last October the Broncos used 3 TD plays of more than 55 yards each to beat the reeling Pats 28-20 at Invesco. The next meeting was in the AFC Divisional Playoff game again at Invesco, and the Broncs opened a giant can of Rocky Mountain Whup Ass on the boys from Beantown, embarrassing the defending champs with a 27-13 win in one of Brady's worst games as a pro.

And now this. The silence was deafening at The Razor, contrary to what I had believed and hoped. But what do you expect: the Pats didn't score through 3 quarters, the longest they had gone scoreless in a game at home since 1993. Tom Brady looked anything but terrific, although his numbers weren't awful (31-55, 320 yds, 1TD.) But anyone who follows this team knows that they do not want the guy slinging the rock 55 times in a game. Why was he forced to throw so much? Well for one thing they were playing from behind the entire second half, courtesy of a Jason Elam 27-yd FG and a Jake the Fake 32-yard TD pass to off-season acquisition WR Javon Walker. It was the Broncos first offensive TD of the season. Walker (3 recs, 130 yds, 2TDs) also reeled in a dazzling 83-yder a couple minutes into the 4th that put the game away and sent many of the disgruntled fans to the exits.
When RB Always Illin' Corey Dillon went out of the game in the 2nd quarter with an arm injury the Pats were forced to rely heavily on rookie RB Lawrence Maroney; Denver was ready, limiting the Pats to a paltry 50 yards rushing. Ouch. Meanwhile the Broncos ran the ground like, well, thundering horses, to the tune of 144 yds, 123 by Tatum Bell.

Toss in the fact that Brady has not found a rhythm with his merry-go-round of receivers and that he could only throw to one side of the field because Brady & Belichick were clearly afraid to test Champ "100-yd return" Bailey after the playoff debacle, and you had a confused, one-dimensional offense that had but one decent drive the whole game- an 80-yd, 10 play effort that culminated with a Brady to Doug Gabriel TD with 9:00 left in the game.

The whole miserable performance brings up an interesting point: if Brady really is a lost soul now that his buddy and favorite target Deion Branch is grabbing passes in the Pacific Northwest, why on Earth didn't the Patriot brass do everything in their power to retain him? It wasn't the money- the Pats are so far under the cap they look like they have a salad bowl on their heads. It wasn't as if they had a young stud ready to step in and supplant him- this collection of pass catchers is more helter skelter than Charlie Manson. No it was the mere fact they the team has a strict policy called It's Our Way or the Highway. So what if you are one of the most valuable players on the team, a Super Bowl MVP and clutch playoff performer who was grossly underpaid by these standards? We do what we do, which is to deny you the right to a raise until your rookie contract runs out. Well look where that got them. Branch's new team, the Seahawks, put up 42 points against the tough Giants yesterday with Deion just getting his feet wet with 2 grabs for 23 yards. Tom Terrific looked like a shell of his former self.
The Pats could only muster a measly 7 points against a squad that now has beaten the Pats 5 out of 6 times and that Brady has a 1-5 record against. Wouldn't it have been worth it just to keep Branch for Brady's sake? Or is foolish pride more important than winning championships and keeping the franchise player happy in New England these days?

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