by Scott Benson
I must be getting soft.
I haven’t been able to work up a bit of hatred for the Broncos this week.
The Patriots long-time nemesis returns tonight for what amounts to the first ‘big game’ of the 2006 campaign. You’d think I’d be beside myself. Yet I cannot summon anything but weary resignation.
My hat goes off to those magnificent bastards. Say what you will about Denver, when it comes to the Patriots, the Broncos have very few regrets.
The Broncos are 25-15 (.625) over the Pats since the two AFL clubs began their rivalry in 1960. And the truth is the Patriots held the series advantage (10-7) prior to the merger, which means New England has dropped 18 of its last 23 (.217) games with Denver.
In that context, Bill Belichick’s 2-4 record (.333) seems robust.
The reason for the futility is clear.
We can instantly think of any number of earth-moving, self-inflicted wounds that the Patriots have suffered in these games – all the way back to Mosi Tatupu and Tony Eason, through Bill Parcells and the eligible Tedy Bruschi, right up to Ellis Hobbs, Troy Brown and yeah, even Tom Brady.
Now do the same drill with the Broncos. Can you think of any? I’m sure there are one or two.
That’s just the point. One or two. Deltha O’Neal muffed a punt once, I think.
You could fill a book (probably by Michael Felger) on the Patriots game-losing miscues at the hands of the Broncos, but you could write Denver’s on one of those microscopic sticky notes and still have enough room to make your grocery list.
Maybe I hate them after all.
One theory this week was that the Patriots may be able to run right at Denver’s defense, which is thought to be more quick than strong at the point of attack. I have no idea if that’s true (does Al Wilson, for example, seem meek to you?), but it scratches me where I itch. Controlling the line of scrimmage and bulling straight ahead with Corey Dillon could go a long way towards backing off the Denver blitz that buried the Pats in the playoffs. And putting the egg in the trusty hands of Dillon (just 17 lost fumbles in 2,455 career carries) is one way of keeping it off the ground.
Speaking of great running games, Mike Carlson of Cold Hard Football Facts wrote a terrific column this week about the 06 Atlanta Falcons, which led into some great memory lane stuff on the 1978 Patriots, the greatest rushing team in the history of the NFL.
It’s awesome, and for me, it has been YEARS since I have thought of James McAllister.
It is going to be one long day. As always, we’ve got Mike Reiss to keep us occupied. He’s sure to be along soon with inactives and the like. As I’ve said before, his blog is an indispensable part of every game day.
Tom Curran ain’t bad either. From Tom, we’ve already learned that today’s track is slick in Pittsburgh.