Monday, January 06, 2020


JANUARY 6, 2020

Well, Patriots fans knew that their team was in trouble this playoff season. An offense unable to generate many points unless helped by its defense and special teams was an ominous sign. This Patriots’ fan thought that they’d at least get by Tennessee. Wrong, Ducko! Can’t remember the last time that a Patriots team did not score any points in the 2nd half, especially in the playoffs. But so it was on Saturday night, even after a Duron Harmon interception gave the team the ball on their own 41 at the beginning of the 4th quarter. It might have been 3 and out but for a penalty that gave them a first down. Instead it was 6 and out. No way to win.

The next series after that failure to capitalize on the turnover proved most costly. A look at Game Book shows that the Titans got the ball with 12:45 left in the 4th quarter. Tennessee then used the running of Derrick Henry (a beast all game) and the conversion of two 3rd downs (pass to Dion Lewis, run by Ryan Tannehill) before the Patriots finally stopped the Titans who had a 4th and 5 from the NE 36. However their coach, ex-Patriot Mike Vrabel, then used a Bill Belichick ploy (sure to be changed in the off season) to take time off the clock. Vrabel purposely took a delay of game penalty on 4th down. Then his lineman Woodyard got a penalty for a false start (by order of Vrabel?). Patriot Justin Bethel then accidentally contributed with a neutral zone infraction. Those 3 events took 1:01 off the clock. When the Pats got the ball at their 11, there was only 4:44 left. That Titans drive that started at 12:45 lasted until 4:44. With a team having trouble generating offense, the reduced minutes meant reduced chances. When the Pats went 4 and out, the window for a comeback had closed. The next time they got the ball was with 15 seconds left.

The other key series came just before the Half. The Patriots had a 13-7 lead with 2:16 left. Tennessee had 2 timeouts and the ball at their 25. But Derrick Henry ripped off a 29 yard run on the very first play. Then came runs by Henry of 11 yards, 9 and 3. The crusher was a pass to Henry, his only catch of the game, for 22 yards to the NE 1. Henry then ran it in and there was only 38 seconds left. The Titans led 14-13 in a Half that the Patriots had pretty much controlled. The vaunted Defense let them down.

The Patriots started the game well with scores on 3 of their 4 possessions. Trouble was that two of those scores were field goals. On their very first series, the Pats had a 1st down on the Titans 25 and then a 3rd and 3 from the 18. Incomplete pass to Harry. 36 yard FG.

After Edelman’s 5 yard end around for a TD made it 10-7 NE, the Defense held Tennessee, forcing two 3 and outs. After the second of those, the Pats got all the way to a 1st down on the Titans 1. Then Sony Michel lost a yard. Rex Burkhead ran for a yard. On the critical 3rd and goal from the 1, Michel was stopped for a 2 yard loss. All 3 runs went off left tackle, the last with Elandon Roberts and Marshall Newhouse in to block. That lost opportunity for 7 in the Red Zone was a crusher. A 21 yard FG wasn’t what they needed.

In between the Pats first two scores, the Titans, behind Derrick Henry’s running, got to the NE 12. On a 3rd down and 10 from there, Ryan Tannehill hit TE Anthony Firkser for the TD. The play before that, Patrick Chung was hurt trying to stop Derrick Henry, and had to come out. Chung usually covers the tight end. Vrabel would know that.

Tom Brady’s elbow might have had an effect on some of his passes, though Julian Edelman had a crucial dropped pass that would have been a 1st down. N’Keal Harry also had a bad drop.

The game plan by Josh McDaniels seemed way too vanilla. Outside of a failed 1st half flea flicker on their very first possession (hand off to Burkhead, lateral back to Brady, long pass to Sanu who was well covered), the Pats had no wrinkles, no special plays. Well they did have a 3rd and 1 run by Elandon Roberts on their 3rd possession but that was stopped. Of their 4 pigskin possessions in the 2nd half (not counting that last one with 15 seconds), there were no special plays. NE was down only 3 points all this time.

One other play that could have had an impact came on the Pats 1st possession of the 2nd Half. Brady hit TE Ben Watson with a 38 yard play to the Titans 25. It was negated by a penalty on RG Shaq Mason for being an ineligible player downfield. How the hell was Mason downfield on what he knew to be a pass play???

Originally I thought Mike Vrabel was putting salt in the wounds going for 2 points at the
end. Foot Joy pointed out it was to go up by 9 in case the kickoff was returned for a TD.
Yeah, cheesecake, then the Chippendales became beefcake.
Tom Wallis
Hi Tom, yes I left out that when I said cheesecake, 'you mean women? Foot Joy said 'You mean beefcake?’ I laughed and said 'No, that's men.' - Z
Just heard this fact. Don’t know if it’s Zine worthy. Name the only team to win a Super Bowl in each of the last 4 decades.
Jim Dwyer

And this bonus question comes from Pal Al. Name the years.
Jim Dwyer
Yes Jim, this is Zine worthy. Readers – Answer at the end of the Bullets column. - Z

Re: Brissett. Jacoby back to Patriots?
Ken Forestal
Ken, I don't think so but you've been pretty much ahead of the game on a lot of these sports moves. The Colts will keep Brissett next year and see what they have. He had been playing well for them. Did that O Line protect him enough?
Not sure what the Patriots think of Stidham but I wouldn't be surprised to see them get him some competition, probably in the draft.
One thing for sure - the Pats better draft two TEs.
I'm still stunned that Brady could have almost an 80% completion rate vs the Bills (w/ a better D) and play so poorly vs the Dolphins. Elbow? The Bills didn't blitz him much. Flores and the other ex-Pats coaches (like Chad O'Shea) had an advantage knowing the personnel and doubled Edelman. One thing that Scott Zolak pointed out - the Pats played zone much of the game instead of man to man. That may be why DeVonte Parker had a field day vs Stephon Gilmore. - Z

It used to be that I set aside New Year’s Day to watch 4 great NCAA football games: the Orange Bowl, the Cotton Bowl, the Sugar Bowl and the Rose Bowl. Now there are so many meaningless bowl games because of corporate greed that few are worth watching.

With that in mind, sports writer Ken Schreiber had a recent column in the Pro Jo (12/21) in which he wrote that he has been campaigning for a Rhode Island Bowl. Schreiber suggested some sponsors: the Coffee Syrup Bowl, the Del’s Lemonade Bowl or the Calamari Bowl.

Answer to Jim Dwyer’s trivia question: the New York ‘Football’ Giants who won Super Bowls in 1987 (’86 season), 1991 (’90), 2008 (’07) and 2012 (’11). I had to look it up, but should have guessed since Jim Dwyer and Pal Al are huge NY Giants fans. - Z

Sportzine is also available at thanks to Buffalo Steve Lenz
My brother Brad was in town just before Christmas and we, of course, headed to the Hot Club where we met up with the Bear, Fleet Feet Pete, Pal Al and Jim Dwyer. Brad came up with an interesting question for all of us: If you were stranded on an island and could get either all the music that you wanted or all the sports, which would you choose? I’ll reveal our answers at the end of the Hot Club section.

We were talking about comedies that we liked and I mentioned to Captain Jack, Making His Mark and Special K about the Canadian series The Red Green Show. They had never heard of it. I told them that it ran for 15 years (1991-2006) and sometimes pops up on PBS. Told them to look for it on the Internet. Home spun humor from Red Green and the Possum Lodge bunch. Their motto: ‘Quando omni flunkus moritati’ - which is mock Latin for “When all else fails, play dead.”

Told the Friday gang that my Dad was a very good amateur artist. He often did portraits of sports figures. He did one of Celtics great Dennis Johnson and brought it to the Boston Garden before a game to give it to DJ. I told him that they never would let him in the locker room. Well he got in and gave it to Dennis Johnson who was very pleased. Reggie Lewis looked at my Dad’s drawing and said, “You don’t have enough freckles.”

Re Brad’s question: We all said that we’d pick music over sports except for Jim Dwyer. I said that music can take you any place that you want to go. Which would you choose?

I asked you to name the American band that initially only had success in the UK and Australia, but had four #1 hits in the US in the ’70’s and ’80’s, and if you counted the UK, had a 5th #1 hit in the ’90’s. The band is in the Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame and is still active. No one got it except for Dave Mayo, a Patriots season ticket holder who sits behind us at Gillette. Dave gets partial credit because I gave him an extra clue – the lead singer is a woman. The answer: Blondie, which had #1’s with Heart of Glass (4/79) Call Me (2/80), The Tide is High (11/80) and Rapture’ (1/81). The 5th #1 was Maria (2/99).

This song originated as a Christian hymn. A country legend changed some of the lyrics, and it has been a staple ever since, recorded by various artists and included in TV and film scores. Name that tune.


Post a Comment

<< Home