October 19, 2017

Shut the Gates

logoby Dan Snapp
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Arizona may have lost in OT, but it wasn’t in vain. For unknowingly, those scrappy, noble Cards provided the league with the blueprint for beating the San Francisco 49ers:

Don’t suck worse.

The league’s collective mood brightened Sunday night. See, while the Philadelphia Eagles didn’t actually win, they revealed the path to not actually winning by a smaller margin than by what previous Patriots foes didn’t actually win.

See the significance? Three points! Why, it’s even within “They must have cheated to win” range. Moreover, it proves the Patriots are mortal. That they, too, bleed. Add the sad news of Rosevelt Colvin’s season-ending injury, and surely the Pats are seen as downright vulnerable.

What heady times we live in when the worst they can throw at us is how empowering a three-point loss is to the opposition. Let’s hope the Patriots empower the remainder in similar fashion.

After the Eagles surged for their final lead Sunday, my sister-in-law called.

“Is your family safe?” she goaded. “Are there any sharp objects in your immediate vicinity? Should we call anyone?”

“I’m not worried,” I told her. “They’ll still find a way to win it.”

Perhaps Ellis Hobbs said it best: we’ve been spoiled by the blowouts. But how comforting that the constant sense of security never went away. It’s surely a residual from the 2003-04 championship years, the feeling of confidence that the Patriots would always find a way to prevail.

Everybody’s thinking the Eagles did the league a favor, illuminating the Pats’ vulnerabilities – and maybe to a degree they did just that. But they did the Pats a favor as well. They reminded  them of the greatness they’re still capable of when not everything’s going their way.

They gave Bill Belichick the fodder with which to belittle his charges. Meanwhile, they gave the rest of the league hope. Tell me, which is more likely to breed overconfidence?

Let ’em have their moral victories. We’re in it for the actual ones.

The Eagles also did Pats fans a favor. Finally, a week where we’re not besieged by Spygate accusations, running-up-the-score moralists, or body language experts disseminating post-game handshakes.

The blowouts and the mad charge toward the record books have been fun, but they messed with our expectations. Instead of focusing on the important things – locking up the division, securing a bye and home field advantage, and winning the Super Bowl – we’ve been force-fed these purely cosmetic goals repackaged as the Holy Grail.

It created an impossibly high ceiling, and with it came a rabid mob salivating at the prospect of the Pats falling short. The perfect season, the team records, the individual records – they should all be “Who cares?” items, purely gravy if they come to fruition, and no big whoop if they don’t. The Pats have bigger fish to fry.

So now maybe the Eagles game will help us get our priorities straight again. We’ve been held hostage all season by the media storylines.

Let’s shut the gates. All of ’em.

We can find comfort in the fact those storylines never set foot in Bill Belichick’s kingdom. Witness this from his Monday press conference:

Q: Does it amaze you the expectation level that seems to be attached to your team? People expect blowouts.

BB: We expect to win every week. I’m not saying we expect to win every game, but each week we prepare for the game, we expect to win that game. That’s the way we prepare for it. You don’t go into any game thinking we don’t win it. We’ll go into this game preparing for it and expecting to go down there and play well and beat Baltimore. That’s the way we go into every game.

Q: But the fact that a lot of people on the outside –

BB: I don’t care what everybody else thinks. I can tell you what this team thinks. Right now we’re thinking about getting ready for Baltimore. That’s how we approach the game. I can’t tell you what anybody else thinks. I don’t care what everybody else thinks. It doesn’t make any difference.

People on the outside? In Belichick’s world, there is no outside.


  1. Maroney no Baloney says:

    I’m like 95% okay with slamming the mediots 95% of the time b/c most of what they have to say about this team is garbage.

    But holy Maroney, is it really that outlandish for someone to write or opine that the Eagles’ play, if not their gameplan, demonstrated that it’s possible for a team to stay in the same stadium as the Pats? Seems like that’s human nature rather than STOOOORYLINE–Goliath gets staggered a tiny tiny bit, that’s what people are going to focus on: smart people as well as the (95%) stupid mediots. To borrow a phrase, seems like it just is what it is there.

    Sometimes I wonder if some of the honorable citizens of Patriots Nation actually enjoy the wins for more than 20 minutes before getting their undies in a bunch anticipating what this idiot or that idiot might write. They’re dummies…be happy we’re watching the greatest team of all time!

  2. I can’t read other columnists this week because of so much drool slipping from their mediocre pens, right onto my keyboard. Never have I read so much crap from experts salivating so much over what was ALMOST an upset; ALMOST good-over-evil…they were downright angry that the hollywood script was altered in the end; that they had paid good money to see what ended up being a less-than-perfect rewrite of a perfect story ending. The headlines the nex morning all but screamed “Patriots Blow Another Game By Winning”

  3. I would take issue with the ‘greatest team of all time’ designation but by and large I think you’re correct. I’m not speaking for anybody else but me here but I do worry from time to time that I (as fans, after all) do spend a lot of time focusing on the coverage of the team over the team itself. Its a hard habit to break, as Chicago once said, particularly with all the controversy surrounding the team this year. I guess I just want to acknowledge your point as having some validity.

    I would point you, though, to Mike Reiss’s afternoon update regarding the ‘blueprint’ and Ron Jaworski’s comments regarding same. He seems equally dismissive as Dan of the subject.

    Thanks for the input.

  4. Point well taken, MnB. Like Scott said, we all do it, and I’ve been as guilty as the next guy. I think the problem is that a big part of the ritual of being a fan is to check what people are saying about the game. And that’s where it’s been hijacked away from actual game discussion into the various gates.

    This week it was the stupid “blueprint” talk. I’m all for talking about how great a game and gameplan the Eagles had. Not to mention having the talented and motivated players to implement it. If they’re going to talk “blueprint”, maybe they should mention having a Lito Sheppard to slow down Moss.

    The Eagles are the ones who should be insulted by the “blueprint” talk. They played an inspired game, and all anyone’s talking about is their scheme.

  5. We’re blessed out here in the desert to have some really good,really smart, sports-obsessed guys on our ESPN affiliate. It probably helps that they all bet on sports, religiously, and tend to break the games down more to get an edge.

    Anyway, all I heard this week was them mocking the “blueprint” meme…To quote one “a blueprint to lose by only 3? I’m sure Belichik will take it”.

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