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Saturday, September 11, 2004 

Blunder Bowl

Both teams made plenty of mistakes, but the Patriots survived and outlasted the Colts 27-24 Thursday night. The Patriots started the game with an empty backfield and kept the pressure on all night. Corey Dillon got fewer carries than he's used to, but had a nifty 38-yard run to set up Tom Brady's first TD pass.

Unfortunately, the defense was shredded on the ground, particularly in the first half. But the Patriots were clearly playing to stop the pass, and rushed only 3 linemen most of the game while their LBs dropped into coverage. An obvious exception was Willie McGinest's key sack of Peyton Manning at the end of the game...

After Mike Vanderjagt missed his first field goal in 43 attempts, he stuck his foot in his mouth by declaring that the Patriots were clearly not the better team. How does he explain that the Colts, who supposedly have the better QB, a better RB, and arguably the best WR in the AFC, keep losing to the Patriots? In today's Providence Journal, Tom Curran quotes Bill Belichick:

In this league, a lot of times you play 58 or 59 minutes for the right to play just a few plays to determine the outcome of the game. That's what those 58 or 59 minutes are for.

We all know there can be a fine line between a 12-4 team and a 9-7 team - and it's generally decided by whether you can make the key play when it matters. In the Super Bowl, John Kasay clearly outplayed Adam Vinatieri until the final minute, and Vinatieri's two missed field goals and botched squib kick would have been legendary if the Patriots had lost. But then Kasay kicked the ball out of bounds and Vinatieri made the winning field goal - and no one cares about how they performed in the first 59 minutes.

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