Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Colts-Patriots tilt shaping as battle of Good vs. Evil: Patriots at Colts on Nov. 4 is shaping up to be one of the most attractive and exciting NFL regular-season games ever staged. The pairing is fabulous; the teams are the league's best; and there is a chance both will take the field undefeated. Plus, Patriots at Colts has a powerful, compelling narrative. Namely -- Good vs. Evil.

The fact that I don't even need to tell you which team represents Good and which stands for Evil says a lot about how low New England has sunk. You knew instantly which was which, didn't you?


In the Good vs. Evil narrative of the Colts and Pats, running up the score is a telling factor: It reveals a team's sportsmanship or lack of same, and whether a team shows sportsmanship in public might offer insights into its character in private. New England is scoring so many points the Patriots offense looks like cherries and oranges spinning on a slot machine. The Flying Elvii stand plus-159 in net points, by far the best scoring margin in the NFL. This is supposed to be impressive. But I think it's creepy, and New England's creepy on-field behavior is only underscoring the seediness of the Beli-Cheat scandal.

Easterbrook says what I've been feeling all along. Having only seen two Patriots game all season but having stopped well before the end, I didn't know that they were throwing right to the final whistle. I know that Tom Brady throws a lot, but I didn't know he threw from the shotgun with a five-touchdown lead on Thursday. Calling a play with just 23 seconds left in the game and a big lead, as Bill Belichick did against the Cowboys, is pathetic.

All this, of course, doesn't change the fact that the Patriots are very, very, very good. The average score in seven wins has been 40-17. Tom Brady has numbers that many people struggle to put up in Madden: 73% completion rate, 27 touchdowns against 2 interceptions. We may never see anything like it. Unfortunately, Belichick's visceral disregard for sportsmanship inflates an excellent team into a superhuman team. When most teams jump out to a huge lead, they stop trying as hard. Belichick's players play hard until the final whistle. Normally that would be a virtue, but here, as Easterbrook says, it's just creepy.

No comments: