Wednesday, December 23, 2009

We Won't Know Until We See the Films, and We're Not Watching Those

Over 60 hours have passed since the final gun of the Pats-Bills game, and my thoughts on the contest remain the same. I still haven't got any. Nor should I.

The Patriots have played far worse games in the Bill Belichick era, but seldom have they turned in a more forgettable contest on artistic terms. I can call up every play of games from the 2001 season, but in no time at all, the Bills game has become a jumbled blur of obscured memories. There was Randy Moss' touchdown catch, New England's "milling around in front of the flight gate counter" defensive formation (which I quite enjoy watching), and just one hell of a lot of penalties. The rest I can't remember, because I didn't much notice it when it was happening in real time on TV.

A game has to be awesomely dull if a Hall of Fame quarterback pretty much stinks and you only realize it when you read the game stats in the next day's paper. During the game, I was dimly aware Tom Brady was not exactly lighting it up. But it was only Monday when the full horror of his 11-23-115-1 TD-1 INT performance was made visible to me in cold type. Those are backup QB numbers, and in fact are not much different from those posted by Bills career backup quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick. One need hardly point out that a similar performance by Brady in a playoff game will equal instant elimination for New England.

They can't all be fantastic finish fodder, of course, and once a team gets stuck in a snoozer, winning still beats losing it. The Pats muddled through, just as they muddled through against the Panthers the week before. Muddling through (which is euphemized as "finding a way to win" or "grinding" by players and coaches) looks to be New England's default game plan the rest of the way in 2009.

Muddling though is a virtue, not a flaw. It is the reaction of poise and adaptability to adversity. No team has more muddle-through wins this year than the Colts, which is why they're 14-0. But muddling through, as we've seen these past weeks, is not superior entertainment.

A team that STARTS a game looking to muddle through isn't a superior team, either.


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