Sunday, February 06, 2005

First and 10: Prelude to a dynasty

Well, it's about damn time. I was beginning to wonder if they were ever going to play an actual game, especially when the opening kickoff was delayed roughly 20 minutes beyond the alleged starting time. Someone in here in the Globe office claimed the delay was caused when the Black Eyed Peas took up too much time during their pregame performance. If true, there's a dollop of irony there, considering their biggest hit is the ubiquitous "Let's Get It Started."

Anyway, I'm at work, keeping one eye on the game while doing what little work there is to do before tonight's onslaught. So here's a quickie first-and-10 while waiting to see if a dynasty is born . . .

1) The two weeks of jibber-jabber between games can do strange things to your mind. After the Pats dismantled the Steelers in the AFC Championship game, a victory in the Super Bowl seemed a mere formality. But now, after enduring two weeks of mind-melting hype from the likes of Michael Irvin, it's difficult to think clearly and rationally about this game anymore. Which is my best explanation for why I now think the Eagles might win the thing. Mind you, it would take an extraordinary confluence of events - say, three turnovers from Brady, a fumble by Dillon, and a transcendant performance by Donovan McNabb - for Philly to pull off the upset. Unlikely? Sure. But Philly is a damn talented team, with defensive personnel and schemes that could hassle Brady. Yeah, I'm sweating this more than I expected. After all, a historical legacy is on the line.

2) Then again, there's an ancient proverb I like to remember in times of doubt: He who bets against Tom Brady, Bill Belichick and Adam Vinatieri is a friggin' moron. I believe that was a Confucious original. Or maybe Fred Smerlas.

3) Hey, whatever happened to that T.O. guy? He's on the Eagles, right? Didn't he hurt his foot or something? Think he's playing in this game? I really haven't heard much about the guy lately. I wish he'd talk more. Guy's such a wallflower.

4) We hear lots of talk about how Bill Belichick and Romeo Crennel "take away what the opponent does best" and for the most part, the perception is reality. They make you beat them with your weakness, not your strength. I just have to figure there will come a time when they try this approach. . . and the opponent will still do exactly what it wants. Today, popular opinion is that they will be geared toward stopping Eagles scatback Brian Westbrook, easily Philly's most dangerous weapon since T.O. got hurt. It will be fascinating to see how the Eagles counteract the Patriots' approach considering they really don't have too many other options. (In a related story, Todd Pinkston reportedly remains curled up in the fetal position in a corner of the locker room after encountering a frothing Rodney Harrison in the pregame.)

5) I'm wondering which of these is Rodney Harrison's second priority today, his first being, of course, to win the danged game: A) Hitting Freddie Mitchell so hard that he is rendered mute. Or, B) Attempting to give T.O. the Theismann treatment on that wobbly wheel.

6) Tom Brady and Joe Montana. Tom Brady and Joe Montana. Tom Brady and Joe Montana. Yep, sure does look to me like their names belong in the same sentence.

7) It would be a pleasant instance of poetic justice if Rosey Colvin had a big game today. It was in Week 2 against the Eagles last year that he busted his hip, causing him to miss the remainder of the 2003 season, including the Super Bowl. Since returning, to be brutally honest, he's been what Bill Parcells used to call a JAG: Just Another Guy. Colvin isn't yet the cat-quick pass rusher he was before the injury, but doctors say an injury as traumatic as his can take up to two years to fully heal. There would be no better indicator that he will return to form than a strong performance today.

8) I'm always skeptical when I hear that a quarterback has "greatly improved his accuracy" - often it takes only a little bit of frustration to get them to revert to their old scattershot ways, right, Kordell? McNabb has looked atrocious against the Pats in the past, and I think he will again if they can keep him in the pocket. In fact, the Eagles might be wise to let McNabb run with the ball more than he has this season. I just don't think he can pierce the Pats defense with his arm, T.O. or no T.O.

9) Okay, the prediction: Dynasty, 31-13. Corey Dillon (pictured above getting in some pregame legwork) will do the heavy lifting, but Brady claims his third Super Bowl MVP and claims his place in the pantheon of quarterbacking legends.

10) I'll always associate U2 with the Patriots' first Super Bowl victory in 2001; their performance during the halftime show was absolutely transcendant, and I remember it as fondly and with as much awe as I do the game. So, for Super Bowl superstition's sake, it seems right to sign off by cueing Bono and the boys:

It's a beautiful day/Don't let it get away . . .