Sunday, October 17, 2010

Momentum Trade

As the Patriots and Ravens just proved, momentum in football is very real. It's just called by the wrong name, so people misunderstand it.

Momentum is aggression, that's all. On every play, one team's pushing, and the other's getting pushed. One team is first to the ball with the most men on defense, and first to open space on offense. That's aggression.

Aggression is hard to maintain in a close game between teams that are reasonably equal in talent. That's why it's important to take of care of it, and nuture boldness with the tender desperation of a farmer caring for the newborn calf of a prize cow. Because once lost, aggression is almost impossible to recover.

The Ravens had third and less than a yard around midfield, and tried a pusillanimous quarterback sneak. Then on fourth and inches, they went for the outright craven punt. And from then on, whatever the scoreboard said, the Ravens were losing and the Patriots were winning. It took awhile for that result to be finalized, but that was really foreordained.

Look back at every risk Bill Belichick has taken in his coaching career, and there have been some doozies. All of them stem from a primal desire never to let aggression stray from his sideline.

Hard to blame when you see what happens when it does.


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