Monday, November 21, 2016

Some Sundays Are Just for Chores

One of the most difficult feats in pro football is for a good team to play consistently well for 60 minutes against a very bad team. Pushing hard against no resistance breeds slips and falls. In another tribute to the wisdom of Bill Belichick, the Patriots didn't even try to do so against the 49ers yesterday.

Not that the Pats' top priority wasn't winning, mind you. But once New England scored touchdowns on its first two possessions, other priorities came into play. Priorities like "it's raining hard, so why don't we just run the ball" and above all, "let's minimize injury risk, especially to Tom."  Certain that San Francisco's offense was incapable of overcoming a 10-point deficit, the Pats' offense was somewhere between very conservative and timid the rest of the first half.

Defying all expectations, especially mine, the 49ers managed to trail only 13-10 at the half, presenting a dangerously close impression of a competitive professional football game. The chains came off the Pats' offense, Brady was allowed to make plays and hang the risk, and that impression vanished behind the low clouds. Final score: 30-17, one of those numbers that says "not much of a game" if one was lucky enough not to watch it.

There are no morals, lessons or examples to be derived from this one. If Belichick were to say only, "we're on to the Jets," he'd get no argument here. What should have happened did, and about as quietly as anything can ever happen in the NFL. It's going to make for some very hard airtime to fill on sports talk radio and the panoply of Pats-related cable TV shows.

Lucky for those guys there are THREE games on Thursday to talk about.


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