Monday, January 17, 2011
Drive to extinction: Patriots 7:45 long drive leads directly to demise
Cold, grey January morning here in Dublin. Perfect weather to wake up to a world where Rex Ryan is right, and Braylon Edwards is still in the playoffs. A good friend sent me a short, despairing text which said simply; ‘Brady has lost his magic.’ He’s not alone in thinking that, and all over the globe Patriots fans are questioning how their team lost to the offensively challenged Jets.
However, as with everything in life, the simplest explanation is the most logical explanation.
The Patriots made a key stop with the majority of the fourth quarter remaining. They were only 10 points down. A quick, efficient scoring drive would have given them a Vince Wilfork sized portion of tasty wiggle room. This was easy to envisage as they had sped down the field like an Olympic sprinter on the previous drive, scoring easily after chucking the ball around the park a few times.
The Patriots embarked on their crucial drive, and 7 minutes and 45 seconds later their season was effectively over.
Instead of launching a quick strike attack, something these Patriots are not only famous for, but infinitely well equipped for also, they instead spilled out onto the field into a turgid, slow, painful drive that had players, coaches and indeed fans livid on the field, sideline and sofas. The drive to extinction for the 2010/2011 Patriots started at their own 18. It took 14 plays to make 48 yards (3.4 yards a play) and it ended on downs when Brady and Branch couldn’t hook up down the left sideline.
Side-note, the Patriots could have attempted a 52 yard field goal instead of a 13 yard first down, and you would imagine in hindsight they may have taken that option. But, what is it they say about hindsight?
Two factors on ‘the drive’ would add up to equal fatality. The Patriots looked very, very slow and lethargic out of the huddle. They frequently allowed the play clock to click down to 04, 03 and 02 seconds before running off a play. As the game clock ticked down towards single digits, you were left wondering, ‘what’s the plan here?!’ Secondly, were 7 running plays really going to get the job done at that stage? 7 ineffective run plays, when the Patriots needed to score quickly, stop the Jets and then score again.
You really need look no further at all to find the source of the end of the Patriots season. Brady has not lost his magic, in fact he looked superb on the previous drive. There is no great mystique here. A slow, ultimately ineffective drive killed them off. There is nothing or no one else to blame. The Jets won fair and square, and their class-less, idiotic and childish celebrations at game end were only to be expected from a team as arrogant and mouthy as they are.
The Patriots have only themselves to blame, and that’s what stings perhaps the most.
Now, when do pitchers and catchers report?
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