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I served in the US Navy from 2002-08; four of those years were as a Nuclear Propulsion Operator aboard an aircraft carrier. I engage in political activism in various Democratic circles when I am able to. I have a cat, and I am an uncle.

All opinions that I express are my own and do not reflect the views of any organization that I represent.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

PATRIOT GAMES (THE FINAL ENTRY OF THE 2014 NFL SEASON)




On Sunday Night the New England Patriots won their fourth Super Bowl overall and denied the Seattle Seahawks the chance to repeat as champions.


The score was eerily similar to what the Madden NFL 15 simulator predicted. Not only was the score correctly predicted, but also the winning touchdown was thrown by quarterback Tom Brady to wide receiver Julian Edelman.



Super Bowl XLIX started with both teams trading possessions. Brady was intercepted by cornerback Jeremy Lane on the Patriots second possession of the game.


Last time I checked arms don't bend like that.


The game's final two minutes was an exciting finish and came down to the Seahawks final offensive play.

The Seahawks made a wise gamble to go for a touchdown before The Katy Perry-Lenny Kravitz-Missy Elliot Experience took the field.

With Seattle having their full complement of first half timeouts and trailing 14-7 with 31 seconds left in the half after a touchdown pass to tight end Rob Gronkowski. A deep pass to Lockette for 23 yards and a facemask penalty adding 15 yards to the play set up a key play for the Seahawks. It appeared that Seattle was going to kick a field goal and go into the half trailing by 4.

Instead on the next play, host of MSNBC's Hardball Wide receiver Chris Matthews caught an 11 yard touchdown pass to tie the game at 14 at the half.


In addition to his touchdown catch, Matthews finished the game with 4 passes for 109 yards.

After the musical number exited stage left, Seattle received the second half kickoff and drove down the field. On the sixth play of the drive, defensive end Rob Ninkovich tackled running back Marshawn Lynch for no gain. Facing 4th and 1 at the New England 8 yard line, Seattle trotted out the field goal team and kicked a Steven Hauschka 27 yard field goal for a 3 point lead.



In the fourth quarter, Patriots quarterback Tom Brady proved why he was worthy of his third Super Bowl MVP. Facing the #1 ranked Seahawks defense, Brady went 13-15 for 124 yards and two touchdowns in the fourth quarter. The two touchdowns put Brady ahead of quarterback Joe Montana who tossed 11 touchdowns in the 49ers 4 Super Bowl wins in the 1980s.

On the first Patriots drive of the fourth quarter, the key play was on 3rd and 14 from the Patriots 28 when Brady found Edelman for a 21 yard gain to keep the drive alive. It is believed that Edelman might have suffered a concussion on that play.

Brady capped the drive with a 4 yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Danny Amendola to bring the Patriots within 3 with 8 minutes left in the game.

The ensuing Seahawks possession was a three-and-out that gained 5 yards and chewed up 1:08 on the clock. With 6:52 to play in regulation, Brady led the Patriots on a 10 play, 64-yard touchdown drive that put the Patriots up 4 with 2:02 to play. On the drive, New England passed 8 times and Brady completed all 8 passes for 54 yards.

During the game, the Patriots went with a short passing game to try to neutralize the Seahawks Legion of Boom secondary. For the game, Brady completed 35 passes for 285 yards and three touchdowns in passes caught under 20 yards including completing all 12 passes for 76 yards in passes caught under 20 yards on the right side of the field. All of Brady's passes on that final drive were under 20 yards or less. The longest play on the drive was a short pass to Rob Gronkowski that went 20 yards and put the Patriots in Seahawks territory.

After the touchdown that made the score New England 28-24 and with all three timeouts remaining and the two-minute warning, it was Russell Wilson's time to make history. Seattle's final three offensive plays are as follows.


This play probably made Patriots fans sick thinking back to David Tyree's catch 7 years ago in Super Bowl XLII.



Lynch had 24 carries for 102 yards and a touchdown. He had a 31 yard reception at the start of this drive.

Instead the Seahawks opted to pass.


(speechless)
         
The question on everyone's mind, including mine, after that play is…

WHY DIDN'T THE SEAHAWKS RUN LYNCH?!

Seattle had the #1 rushing offense in the NFL. They could have given the ball to Lynch or have Russell Wilson run it in.

WHY DIDN'T THE SEAHAWKS RUN LYNCH?!

Cris Collinsworth on the NBC broadcast couldn't believe the call and said "You have Marshawn Lynch. You have a guy who's been borderline unstoppable."

And he played in two Super Bowls (XVI Part 1 & 2, XXIII) and lost both of them with the Bengals.

WHY DIDN'T THE SEAHAWKS RUN LYNCH?!

Even the Patriots radio team were in shock about the final Seahawks play.

Also included in the link is the Seahawks radio team with their reaction.

YOU HAVE THE BALL ON THE ONE YARD LINE!! YOU HAVE THE NUMBER ONE RUSHING OFFENSE IN THE NFL!! LYNCH HAD OVER 100 YARDS RUNNING IN THE GAME!!

WHY DIDN'T THE SEAHAWKS GIVE THE (SERIES OF EXPLETIVE DELETEDS) BALL TO LYNCH?!

Instead of Beast Mode, Seattle went with Least Mode.

That play will be discussed for years to come. There is already dissection and analysis about this play.


In the interview after the game, Seahawks coach Pete Carroll offered this word salad. Maybe he was caught in the moment of losing this game and knew that he and his coaching staff were going to be criticized for this call until the end of time.


This game came down to a lot of factors. After Seattle went up 10, their final four possessions: punt (#2 from Jayson Jenks of the Seattle Times), punt, punt, interception. Had they sustained a drive on one of those possessions that ended in a punt, there is no way Brady completes the comeback and Seattle is Super Bowl champions.

Had they gotten a first down on third down on their first drive of the third quarter or even gone for it on fourth down, it might have kept the drive going and resulted in a touchdown. Ask Packers coach Mike McCarthy about taking field goals inside the five yard line.

Boy those four points Seattle passed up in the third quarter would have come in handy later in the game. Instead of going for a game winning touchdown on that last drive, Seattle is driving for a field goal at that point to win the game.

Seattle would be anointed the new dynasty while Brady's resume would take a hit. He would be praised for throwing a fourth quarter touchdown in five of the last six Super Bowls he played in, but the Patriots would be dinged for coming up short in the big game yet again due to various fluke plays. The Helmet Catch in Super Bowl XLII. Manning to Manningham and letting the Giants score in order to have a chance at winning Super Bowl XLVI. And now The Leg Catch in Super Bowl XLIX.






I have said many times in the playoffs, "woulda-shoulda-couldas" don't win games. That is the lesson for the Seahawks and every team in all this.





This was a career defining performance for the Brady-Belichick Era. Having their fourth Super Bowl championship slip away in Arizona seven years ago and then three years ago in Indianapolis, they completed their redemption story.

Bill Belichick is one of two coaches to have won four Super Bowl titles. The other is the late Chuck Knoll of the Pittsburgh Steelers having won 4 in 6 seasons.

Tom Brady becomes the third quarterback to win four Super Bowls joining Montana and Steelers quarterback Terry Bradshaw. It should be noted that Montana and Bradshaw went 4-0 in their Super Bowl appearances.

Brady also matches Montana's three Super Bowl MVP awards.

In the 6 Super Bowls that Tom Brady has played in, he has passed for more yards (1,605), more touchdowns (13), attempted the most passes (247), and completed the most passes (164) in Super Bowl history. Brady set the single-game record for completed passes in a Super Bowl (37). Brady is one of four quarterbacks to attempt 50 or more passes in a Super Bowl (McNabb, Kelly twice, Marino) and is the only one to achieve that feat and win the Super Bowl.

If the Hall of Fame has not started sculpting Brady's bust, they better get on it.




However those instances occurred in the first half. New England's comeback was in the second half. Teams trailing by 10 or more at the start of the fourth quarter were 0-29 before this game.

Well, there is a first time for everything.

Many will question the Patriots tactics and methods. Spygate and Ballghazi. The use of bizarre formations in their playoff win over the Ravens.



What is Commissioner Goodell going to do?

If it is discovered that the Patriots altered footballs in their AFC Championship blowout win over the Colts, probably the thing that will happen will be a fine and possibly a removal of a draft pick. The NFL might look into reforming the rules regarding the custody of their footballs during game weeks so that there is no chance of something like this happening again.

And if you think that your team follows the rules, think again. The Falcons are under investigation for pumping in artificial crowd noise. The Colts when they played in the RCA Dome were known to do that as well. Dallas and Washington were hit with fines after they were caught manipulating the salary cap during the uncapped 2010 season prior to the league lockout in the offseason. The Jets continue to masquerade as an NFL franchise. How many players have popped for banned performance enhancing items?

Yes, I picked the Seahawks to win this game and thought they would repeat, but I am an adult. I can't count how many elections I have participated in where the candidate I supported did not win. Guess what? There will be another election coming up soon like there will be another NFL season. The new season starts 10 September 2015 with the Patriots opening the season against one of these eight teams at home (my money is on the Steelers).

And the 31 teams whose 2014 seasons did not end with winning the Lombardi Trophy will try to unseat the Patriots as champions.

In closing, is this not a fitting end to a bizarre NFL season that was overshadowed in various controversies off the field?

Domestic violence and the tone deafness of the commissioner as well as the hypocrisies concerning punishments



The so-called controversy over the first openly gay player being drafted, his subsequent release by the Rams, and ending up in practice squad limbo with the team with probably one the best stories of 2014, the Dallas Cowboys.

Even heading into the offseason, former longtime Buccaneer defensive tackle and Hall Of Famer Warren Sapp was arrested for soliciting two prostitutes early Monday morning in Phoenix. Immediately after his arrest, the NFL Network terminated their contract with Sapp.

Despite all this, Super Bowl XLIX might be one of the better Super Bowls played. It was the most watched television program in US history surpassing Super Bowl XLVIII and dominated social media (guilty).

Rolling Stone summed this game and season up best in their thoughts on Super Bowl XLIX:

Was it one of the greatest football endings we've ever seen, or one of the dumbest? Were the Patriots really the best team in the NFL this season, or were they criminally devious and lucky, deflating footballs and benefiting from truly mystifying play calls? Honestly, I don't know the answer here. I'm writing this shortly after game's end, and I imagine in the days and weeks and months and years to come, this whole thing will congeal into an NFL Films storyline, and I imagine the Seahawks' play call will take its place in the halls of Super Bowl infamy, amid the drop of Jackie Smith and the lovable foibles of the Buffalo Bills.

After such a season, there is only one thing to ask:




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