Fox Mulder would be proud.
I guess my first question would be, did he actually even watch the game? I watched the final drive three times, and whilst it certainly was pretty crazy, only an idiot would say it was fixed. The only hard evidence Mr Dahlberg uses is quotes from angry Ravens players.
His most damning comment over all is probably this. Hypothesising as to whether the game was fixed he says;
''Sure seemed that way Monday night to a lot of casual viewers when the Patriots survived three apparent fourth-down stops by Baltimore on their final drive to score the game winner on a pass that could have been called either way.''
Well, suitably annoyed, I decided to watch the final drive one more time, just to make sure. Let's go over the individual plays as they happened.
Here are the crucial plays
1. 3-10-BAL 39 (1:53) (No Huddle, Shotgun) 12-T.Brady pass short left to 33-K.Faulk ran ob at BAL 30 for 9 yards. Timeout #2 by BAL at 01:48.
What does all that tell you? Well, Kevin Faulk gained 9 yards, leaving 4th and one. As we all know, Brady tried a QB sneak and was stuffed at the line. Baltimore ball, game over. Not so fast. As you can see from the play by play, the Ravens took a last second, panic timeout and the Patriots had one more shot at 4th and 1.
2. 4-1-BAL 30 (1:48) 44-H.Evans up the middle to BAL 31 for -1 yards. PENALTY on NE-71-R.Hochstein, False Start, 5 yards, enforced at BAL 30 - No Play.
This time Heath Evans got stuffed like so many Christmas turkeys. This time it was a penalty on the Patriots, a false start, that nullified the play. To this point, nothing out of the ordinary, except that it was all a little crazy, for sure.
3. 4-5-BAL 13 (:55) (Shotgun) 12-T.Brady pass incomplete short middle to 84-B.Watson. PENALTY on BAL-28-J.Winborne, Defensive Holding, 5 yards, enforced at BAL 13 - No Play.
The big one. On fourth down Brady tries to hit Watson, who has just been bear hugged by Winborne. Mr. Dahlberg claims to have watched the NFL for a given period of time, but for some reason he is unaware that, in the NFL, it is illegal for defensive backs to bear hug receivers prior to them catching the ball. It's a fairly simple rule.
Watch the damn play!!
Winborne grabs Watson from behind and pretty much drags him to the ground. Penalty!! There really is very little room for argument here.
Finally, Mr.Dahlberg makes some mention of how Baltimore were then skewered further with 30 further yards of penalties to be assessed on the kickoff. Why? Only because a Ravens player THREW THE REFEREES FLAG INTO THE STANDS!!
Once again, for those new to the NFL, throwing a referees flag into the stands is not to be encouraged!! Penalty!! What the blazes is Mr. Dahlberg trying to say here? Should players be allowed throw the referees flag into the stands?
Absolutely zero story here, and for actual media types to get involved in this and try and concoct a completely groundless story out of the whole affair just says, to me, they obviously have too much time on their hands.
Give me a break. Want a conspiracy theory? Go ask the President of the United States why he has amassed a personal fortune making business deals with the nation that provided fifteen of the nineteen hijackers on September 11th.
Otherwise, leave the Patriots alone!
Check out this superb, incisive article by a Baltimore based journalist, Rick Maese, on how the Ravens should be looking in the mirror when trying to figure out what went wrong on Monday night.