First and 10: Patriots 28, Bucs 0
1) I've often made the argument in the past that the 2001 Patriots were the least talented team to win a Super Bowl. (Remember Fred Coleman, third receiver?) It's not meant as a putdown, but as a tribute to their unity, perseverance and the shrewd strategizing of Bill Belichick's coaching staff. That considered, if the Patriots continue their current resurgence, overcome all the adversity they have endured this season, and somehow, some way, knock the already-anointed Colts out of the postseason, I'd consider it Belichick's Boys' greatest accomplishment of all. And after what I saw this weekend, truth be told, I'm just about expecting it.
2) So this is what Rosey Colvin must have looked like when he first caught Bill Belichick's eye as a havoc-wreaking force of nature with the Bears. Colvin, who has a sack in five straight games and gave us flashbacks to an Andre Tippett highlight reel against Tampa Bay, finally appears to be fully recovered from the career-threatening hip injury he suffered in Week 2 of the 2003 season. His return to form couldn't have come at a better time, and it's always refreshing to see good things happen to good people. Colvin's one of the gems in a Patriot locker room that has more than it's share.
3) Then again, it can't be coincidence that Colvin, Willie McGinest, and the Patriots pass rush as whole suddenly start playing infinitely better when Richard Seymour returned to the lineup. After the dude in the No. 12 jersey, Big Sey might be the most valuable player on this team, at least in the all-important terms of making those around him better.
4) I'm not saying Tom Brady is the toughest S.O.B. in the NFL, but legend has it he once roundhouse kicked Chuck Norris so hard his beard burst into tears. (Click the link. You'll understand.)
5) It's been apparent to our untrained eyes for a while now, but to hear an old sage like Ty Law say the same thing after the Pats' recent victory over the Jets was enough to put a little bounce in our step: Ellis Hobbs is going to be one hell of an NFL cornerback. Barring any further chinstrap malfunctions, obviously.
6) He's probably TATB's favorite current Patriot - we've rarely seen a wide receiver maul defensive backs with such vicious delight - but even we tend to forget how much David Givens means to the offense until he is gone. He may not be big in stature, but he plays big, and his physical presence makes life easier for the mighty-mites like Deion Branch, Troy Brown and Tim Dwight. Givens, a seventh-round heist in 2002, is a free-agent after the season, and while receivers are generally the most replaceable commodities in the NFL, this particular player is all but irreplaceable to this particular team. Scott Pioli needs to find the cash to keep him in Foxboro.
7) If Tedy Bruschi's hellraising, vintage 11-tackle performance didn't put a smile on your face and a lump in your throat, then maybe you should just take your silly dog and your stupid sled and get your skinny green butt out of Whoville, Mr. Grinch. You are hopeless.
8) Are we sure Chris Simms isn't really Boomer Esiason's kid? He is a lefty. I was actually more impressed by Phil's boy than his reputation suggested I would be. He throws a nice ball, has a better-than-average fastball, and is willing to take a wallop in order to make a big play. Against the Pats, the wallop-to-big-play ratio was heavily in his opponents' favor, yet he hung in there and showed enough skill and poise to make me think he's eventually going to be a fine performer in Jon Gruden's complex offense. I'd always heard Simms was loathed by University of Texas fans, who made a folk hero out of fellow quarterback Major Applewhite (a marginal talent who couldn't make it out of Pats rookie camp a few years ago). The curse of unrealistic expectations, I guess.
9) Packers vs. Ravens tonight on Monday Night Football? Ugh. Get ready for three hours of Michaels and Madden giving Brett Favre a verbal tonguebath. I like Favre - it's hard not to - but the over-the-top fawning he routinely gets from the national media these days is borderline ridiculous. He's a gunslinger! He's a warrior! He'd play the game for free! Puh-leeze. He's a gunslinger . . . who throws more stupid interceptions than any veteran QB this side of Dallas. He's a warrior . . . sure, except that he throws the ball away every single time there's a chance of him get hit. (Just watch. You'll be shocked.) He'd play the game for free . . . even though he talks about retiring constantly and sometimes seems like he's just playing for the coin. The truth is, Favre is a Hall of Fame talent whose skills are rapidly eroding, he's as undisciplined as he ever was, and for all the joy we are told he gets from playing the game, he sure looks like he's going through the motions a lot these days. Something tells me there's a better chance of Madden passing up a slice of turducken than mentioning any of this tonight.
10) As for today's Completely Random Football Card:
Gotta imagine the '72 Dolphins Alumni Association has one massive collective hangover this morning.