January 20, 2008


Undefeated Patriots Are Tested Before Overcoming Chargers (Ben Walker, 1/20/08, The Associated Press)

Perfection comes down to one game now. Despite a shaky Tom Brady, the New England Patriots were still too much for the banged-up San Diego Chargers in the AFC championship game Sunday, pulling out a 21-12 victory that sent them back to the Super Bowl for the fourth time in seven seasons.

"I think there will be a time to sit back and reflect," Patriots coach Bill Belichick said. "We'll certainly enjoy this for a few days."

Brady made several stunningly poor throws that fluttered in the chilly wind, Randy Moss was a non-factor for the second straight game and the highest-scoring team in NFL history sputtered all afternoon. Instead, the Patriots (18-0) relied on Laurence Maroney's spins, cuts and helmet-rattling runs.

It might have been an interesting game a few years ago, when LT was still a quality NFL back.

Posted by Orrin Judd at January 20, 2008 8:28 PM

If LT wasn't injured the Chargers win in a walk against the most overrated team in NFL history, is what you meant to say.

It's become clear by now that it's absurd to talk about the Pats as one of the greatest teams of all time given their playoff performances.

For ex, the 86-7 Giants won their two playoffs games 49-3 (vs. Montana's Niners) and 17-0 vs Gibbs' Redskins, two outstanding teams in their own right.

The 85-6 Bears won their games 21-0 vs the Giants and 24-0 vs the Rams.

The Pats barely squeak out wins against average teams like the Chargers and Jaguars.

Posted by: Jim in Chicago at January 20, 2008 10:59 PM

Why denigrate great teams like the Chargers? Let alone this years Patriots?
BTW, they're two teams I loathe from my days as a ProFootball gives a sh-t fan! Now 15 years history.
Best game yet, NYG/GBP. Thank G-d the Giants won, as the Pack is another always loathed team.
S/B a fantastic Super Bowl, and, probably the first I'll watch, in the earlier referenced , 15 years.
Go Giants!!!!!!!!!!!

Posted by: Mike at January 20, 2008 11:15 PM

It would've been nice to have a Farve-vs-Brady Super Bowl, but this is at least as good: the scrappy underdogs who almost spoiled the perfect season come back for a rematch. The Giants are peaking at exactly the right moment.

First Super Bowl to go into overtime? A good game, and Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers for a halftime show--it doesn't get any better than that!

Posted by: Mike Morley at January 21, 2008 8:59 AM

The Chargers were a great team last year. They're rather ordinary now. Indeed, the entire AFC -- other than the Pats and Jax -- took a step backwards this year.

Posted by: oj at January 21, 2008 9:55 AM

Yes, that Bears Defense and Walter were exquisite. Brady and Belichick would beat them 17-14. They never win big games by much, just win them.

Posted by: oj at January 21, 2008 9:58 AM

How many wins does it take for a team to stop being overrated?

Posted by: Bryan at January 21, 2008 10:27 AM

27 World Series rings!

Posted by: Blind-eyed NE Hater at January 21, 2008 12:21 PM

If the NFL had any real leadership. the Cheatriots would have been barred from post-season play.

Posted by: G-Man at January 21, 2008 1:00 PM

Blind-eyed NE Hater:

Allow me to complement you on the cut of your jib.

(Tom Brady would be knocked out in the first quarter by either Lawrence Taylor circa 1986 or Richard Dent circa 1985.)

Posted by: Jim in Chicago at January 21, 2008 1:46 PM

If you ban teams for steroid scandals you'd have to knock out more than just the Chargers.

LT was the second best player off the last 40 years, but the overall team wasn't as good as the Pats.

Posted by: oj at January 21, 2008 4:23 PM

Watching Maroney run was....almost inspiring.

Absent his 122 yards, the Pats would probably have lost. And SD will wonder why they couldn't score just one TD. Two would probably have won the game. Had they taken a 16-14 lead, instead of Seau dumping Turner in the backfield, perhaps the SD defense would have been pumped up enough to win the game. But no.

The Giants can get a rush without having to blitz on almost every down. That is huge against Brady. The key will be covering Welker, as usual.

If they stop Maroney like they did Grant, it could be quite a game. Can Brady throw 50 passes and win?

But Eli has to play the game of his life for the Giants. Brady can throw 3 INTs and still win; Eli has to be perfect.

Posted by: jim hamlen at January 21, 2008 6:40 PM

Cross-era comparisons are rather silly; I doubt any 80s teams could physically match the hulks that are common today. 'The Fridge' was thought a monster DT at 300 pounds; the Patriots spent most of the 2nd half this weekend with two 280-pound *tight ends* on the end of the offensive line, smashing away at the nickel defense Norv stubbornly (wisely?) wouldn't abandon.

Anyway, the '07 Pats are a terrible matchup for those '86 Bears. Remember that their one meaningful loss was to a Miami team that defensive coordinator Ryan grumbled was a bad matchup, due to depth and speed at receiver, a solid O-line, and a Hall-of-Fame quarterback with great accuracy and awareness. Sound like anybody?

Posted by: Mike Earl at January 22, 2008 11:22 AM