Thursday, February 9, 2012

Congratulations to the New England Patriots

In the wake an extremely disappointing loss in the Super Bowl, many local columnists have been "calling out" members of the Patriots as if they have the football background to do so. In his column, Rick Reilly explains why this is ridiculous. But I'll take it a step further: the Patriots overachieved this season by making it to the Super Bowl.
In a season in which there were no true standout teams, the Patriots did a pretty good job posing as a dominant force in the AFC. The holes were obvious from the beginning. New England had weak defense. In Week 1, they allowed Chad Henne, who would lose his starting job soonafter, to throw for 416 as the lowly Miami Dolphins posted 24 points on the Patriots' defense. The defense would play similarly weakly for the rest of the season. Remember that New England spotted Buffalo 21 points in Week 17 (one New York radio station said Belichick did it on purpose but I doubt it). In Week 13, the Patriots allowed the then-winless Colts to score three touchdowns in the fourth quarter. Invincible they were not.
But what about the offense? Yes, it was impressive, but it succeeded through its creativity and toughness moreso than through its talent. Without a running game, the Patriots relied on 5'9" Wes Welker, two tight-ends, and a 32-year-old. Are those four fantastic? Sure, but how many other teams would have been able to use them that effectively?
Rather than look at this as a season in which the Patriots somehow "fell short", it should instead be seen as one in which the Patriots took a team without a strong defense, significant deep threats, or a strong running game, and made it to the Super Bowl. To me, that's a pretty impressive season.
It would have made Myra proud.

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