Sunday, January 20, 2008

18-0, one more to go: Pats defeat Chargers, 21-12, to reach SB XLII

It wasn't pretty, and Tom Brady wasn't at his best, but the Pats took care of business and defeated the whining crybabies from San Diego to make it to their 4th Super Bowl in the last 7 years.

Brady threw three picks and was forced to rely on the running game more than usual to seal this win, but with the key Chargers banged up, it was basically a foregone conclusion that New England was going to win this one, it was only a question of 'how'.

The answer was on the ground, as New England relied on the running game for the second week in a row instead of the potent passing attack that has been their hallmark all season. Lawrence Maroney rang up his second consecutive 122-yard game, 116 coming in the 2nd half when the Pats adjusted their gameplan to compensate for the Chargers' decision to take away Randy Moss & the receivers.

Although Moss had just 1 catch for the second consecutive game, the combination of Maroney's herculean effort combined with some clutch catches by unheralded yet invaluable situational back Kevin Faulk provided the Pats with enough firepower to bring send the Chargers home from the playoffs for the second year in a row.

Faulk had 8 receptions for 82 yards, none bigger than his 14-yard grab on 3rd & 3with just over 5 minutes to go in the game and the Pats nursing the 9-point lead. The catch allowed the drive to continue, and New England ran out the clock on San Diego's season after that. In fact, after the Pats got the ball back with 9:13 to play, San Diego never touched the rock again.

Perhaps the Chargers could take a lesson from the Pats backs, as the dynamic duo of Faulk and Maroney outgained the Chargers combo of LaDanian Tomlinson and Michael Turner 221 total yards to 77 total yards. Most of that differential can be attributed to the fact that king crybaby Tomlinson played just one series, carrying the ball twice and recording one catch, before his bad knee forced him to the sideline for the rest of the day.

There he sat like little Dark Helmet, on the bench bundled up and pouting while his teammates tried to pull off the miraculous upset.

Too bad even on a day when Brady (22-33, 209yds, 2TD, 3INT) looked mortal, the Chargers were made up of too many walking wounded players to put up much of a fight against what is shaping up to be the best team in NFL history.

Maybe next year, SD.

So now the Pts will head to Arizona to meet up with those pesky Giants again after the G-Men pulled the upset against the Packers in Lambeau. Get ready for two weeks of stories about how New York "almost" beat New England in the last game of the regular season, and how they have a good shot at upsetting the Pats in the Bowl.

To that I say bring it on, New York.

Cause Boston's ready to make you our bitches in two sports, boys.


AFC Championship Game: Chargers @ Pats

Quickie Prediction:

Chargers all banged up, had little chance of winning if healthy. Factor in 0-degree temps and the greatness that is Tommy Brady, and what you have is hello, Super Bowl XLII.

MY PICK: Pats 34, San Diego 17