Monday, November 19, 2007

N.E. Sports Weekend Report

For days and days, well, six days actually, I envisioned myself writing about how incredible a sports weekend this was:  the Celtics remained undefeated at 9-0, as did the Patriots, and New England nation added a second championship on the year, as the Revolution finally captured the MLS cup.  Oh, and BC rolled into the ACC title game.  Unfortunately, these New England teams were a mere .500 on the weekend (wait, didn't the Bruins play?).  Still, I would have to give the weekend an A- for Boston sports.

Let's start with the Patriots.  Was anyone surprised that the Pats absolutely destroyed the Bills (again) last night?  Probably not many, if any.  I, for one, was surprised by two things.  First, the way the Patriots are playing does not surprise me: they are a stacked team, clearly the best in the NFL, quite possibly the most dominant team ever assembled in the history of the league.  What continues to amaze me, however, is the mere level of perfection the Pats play at.  What happens on Buffalo's first drive of the game?  A Gay interception (don't laugh...nothing is funny here) sets up Brady deep in Bills territory, which basically automatically translates into a touchdown, as long as the Pats have the ball past their own 40-yard line (seriously).  What do the Pats do on their first 7 offensive possessions?  That's right - march down the field essentially uncontested and score 7  touchdowns.  Amazingly, the Patriots were 8/11 on 3rd down conversion.  Also, they were 2/2 on 4th down.  Which leads me to my second "surprise."  For the first time this season, I finally thought Coach Bill would elect to kick a field goal instead of going for, as Bill Simmons would say, the "Eff You" TD.  How wrong I was.  Facing 4th and 1 at the Buffalo 10, I thought to myself, "Well, surely THIS time they will just kick the field goal."  After all, the score at this point was 42-10 late in the 3rd quarter.  To my utter disbelief, Brady stayed on the field and promptly completed a 3-yard pass to Moss for the first down.  The first play of the 4th quarter was, of course, the Patriots' seventh offensive TD.  Seriously?!  A 32-point lead apparently was not enough for the Pats, and they cashed in yet again, to the horror of the Buffalo crowd in the stands.  So they were 8/11 on 3rd and 2/2 on 4th - which means 2 of the 3 times they failed to convert on 3rd down, they simply converted on the next play.  And THAT means there was only 1 offensive possession, basically one play the entire game, that failed to produce a first down on a drive.  Incredible.

- Patriots Grade:  A+

I was really hoping the Celtics would beat Orlando just so that I could claim two Boston teams were 9-0 at the same time (the Pats would be in progress at the end of the Celtics game).  Unfortunately, that was not to be.  The C's finally faced a worthy opponent Sunday night, and it showed, as Boston struggled to get points on the board or find any offensive (or defensive) rhythm in the first half.  Remarkably, Boston trailed by 17 at the half, and STILL managed to storm all the way back to take a brief 1 point lead late in the 4th quarter.  If Tony Allen makes that uncontested driving layup in the final minute, the Celtics may well have won that game. Even as it was, the C's were in a position to win, but Pierce could not convert his 3 as time expired (still not really sure why he took that shot - there were still about 5 seconds on the clock, and he's so good at driving to the basket).  Still, 8-1 is not a bad start, and when your one loss is by 2 points to a formidable team after you've trailed by 20, it's hard to be too upset.

- Celtics Grade:  B+

I'm not going to pretend I watched the entire Revolution game on Sunday.  I actually watched maybe about 30 seconds of it as I lay bleary-eyed in bed.  Besides, the game started at noon, an ungodly hour to be awake for any college student on a Sunday, especially when the Patriots don't play for another 8 hours.  In any case, we are blessed by having ABC in awful black and white, fuzzy reception, so I could barely watch and keep my sanity even if I wanted to.  The Revs lost 2-1, but led 1-0 early.  I'm not too big on US soccer, but it is a shame that New England couldn't hold the lead, especially since they are now 0 for 4 in title games in the last several years.  Disappointing is probably the most fitting word, given the strong season they did have, and the potential for another championship landing in the region.

- Revolution Grade:  B-

I'm also not going to pretend I watched the entire BC Eagles game, although I did catch the last few minutes.  That final TD score, however, was simply sweet.  BC needed this win badly to redeem themselves for 2 straight losses.  It looked dicey towards the end, but Matt Ryan's Brady-like drive set up the winning score.  BC, now 9-2, jumped a few spots in the BCS rankings.

- Boston College Grade:  A

I realize I can't really leave without acknowledging that this is only my second post - and first since I praised Manny Ramirez for his game-winning bomb at Fenway in the ALDS.  I think I was just worried about jinxing the Sox if I wrote anything before the World Series was over.  Look for some winter baseball coverage in the next few weeks (I can't possibly jinx the offseason, can I?  It's not like Mike Lowell's going to end up as a Yankee....right?  Right.  Since writing this he has since agreed to a 3-year contract to return to the Red Sox).  I'll probably get to some Bonds bashing and A-Rod smashing, depending on the way the wind blows, if I can.  Until next time....