January 17, 2012

WHO WASN'T ROOTING FOR THE PATS TO FINISH WITH 666 YARDS OF TOTAL OFFENSE?:

Learning to Love the Antichrist: In praise of Bill Belichick (Charles P. Pierce,  JANUARY 16, 2012, Grantland)

 Tim Tebow is a lovely young man, his faith an unquenchable fire. He also throws the ball like Jed Clampett and, facing a defense that did not stupidly line everyone up in the box to stop the vaunted Denver "option offense" -- Sell-By Date: November 5, 1951 -- he got himself chased out of the pocket on a number of occasions in ever-widening circles until he came dangerously close to standing in a beer line behind the seats in the lower bowl. He is decidedly Not Ready, and that is the sum of him at the moment.

He also unfortunately was facing Bill Belichick on a night when Belichick decided that he would act like Gandalf the Grey beyond simply dressing like him. This was apparent at the 13:50 mark of the first quarter, when the Patriots lined up tight end Aaron Hernandez in the backfield. Along with burly budding teen idol Rob Gronkowski, Hernandez is one of the two gifted tight ends with whom Belichick can make all kinds of monkey mischief on unwitting defensive coordinators. While Gronkowski is a powerful runner with surprising athleticism -- his flat-out bobbling touchdown catch in the corner of the end zone was one Andre Johnson would have been proud to claim -- Hernandez is a speedy athlete with surprising strength. This gives Belichick a lot of options for creative thinking. So he put Hernandez in the backfield, and the latter cracked one off for 43 yards around the left side of a gobsmacked Denver defense to set up the first New England touchdown.

Then, of course, with three minutes left in the game, at a tense moment with his team leading by a mere 45-10, Belichick boldly had Tom Brady quick-kick from his own 43, pinning Denver back on its own 10, thereby making it more difficult for the Broncos to score the 35-point touchdown it would take to get back in the game. It is entirely possible -- nay, likely -- that Belichick was just screwing with people here, but isn't that also part of his charm? Shouldn't it be?

For years now, the undeniable fact about the National Football League has been that the whole operation is grimly determined to combine the unpredictability of an Amway seminar with the giddy good humor of the North Korean army.



Posted by at January 17, 2012 4:00 PM
  

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