The Pats Have the Super Bowl All Sewn Up?
Not So Fast…Hunger is Key!
Okay…the AFC playoff game wasn’t exactly a big shocker to many. The Patriots seem to be unstoppable – in fact, most sports writers have already put the Lombardi trophy in their hands. No one can fluster that quarterback, apparently. The offense is so good you won’t get at him anyway, and their defense is taking other teams and turning them into kindling – making them look as if the Pats are on the gridiron by themselves – or, perhaps, having a game with their kids.
However…it’s not a good idea to count the Ravens out. Hunger has long been the reason why most teams have gone all the way. Yes, the Pats want another trophy, but there are teams that haven’t seen the show for a while, people. The Niners are still out there – with the New York Giants to jump over – but they are still very much in the hunt. Don’t believe me? Watch the tears that fell when a ‘picture’ of Montana and Clark rose in front of viewer’s eyes. Trust me, they are not done.
But…yes, the Pats do seem to have all in hand and one of the calmest quarterbacks known to mankind. It’s almost as if he’s robotic, simply heading out play after play to simply throw the ball correctly and then head to the sideline to get oiled up until the next time he hit’s the turf. Saying that their offense is potent is an understatement. But there is a defense on their horizon that has proven themselves more than worthy at stopping quarterbacks and breaking their calm exteriors. Oddly enough, there are a great many critics and sports writers who are saying that the Ravens should not concentrate on that good, old quarterback – that it will be the defense of New England that actually wins the game and sends the Patriots to the Super Bowl.
No one else seems to agree with these critics, especially since the Pats’ defense gave up over four hundred yards per game this season, the second-most yards allowed in the NFL. But the one position that burns most defenses that have faced New England are their extremely fast tight ends. They are the part of the offense that has won the games. Unfortunately for the Pats, the Ravens defense has been able to handle that position and doesn’t seem worried about handling it one more time.
In fact, the Ravens have surrendered the second-fewest yards in the NFL to tight ends, the second-fewest touchdowns, and no tight end has gained more than seventy-three yards against their defense all season long. Therefore, don’t expect the Pats to score forty-five points or better in this match-up, because the Ravens defense is simply not going to make the mistakes that Denver did.
But this is a fair statement on both sides of the ball, people, seeing as that these teams are really quite equal. The Ravens will not be able to achieve four turnovers that turn into seventeen points on the scoreboard against this Pats’ offense, so their own offense will need to step up considerably. The Ravens offense will have to go out on Sunday knowing beyond a shadow of a doubt that they are the ones who will have to move this ball down the field with not a lot of help from their defense.
The Pats will shut down the run – they already showed that – so the Ravens must heap all of the responsibility for this win upon their quarterback, Flacco’s, shoulders. He’s efficient, no doubt. But he’s a lot like putting a normal, everyday quarterback with “good” skills against a Montana who was yet another robot who could never seem to miss.
Flacco was sacked five times, something the Patriots know how to do very well. This will be a passing game for Flacco and the Pats will need to be the enforcers of the turnovers. So, although New England’s offense is a lot of fun to watch, they will not be the dominator’s of this game. Baltimore will have to earn its points…which means – chances are – those Pats will win.
Tom Brady. Although he won’t be the star this week, he certainly is the star to fans and viewers. This is the young man who has played in four Super Bowls, taking home three of them and winning two MVP’s in the process. Seven Pro Bowls, holds the NFL record for most touchdown passes in a single regular season – and he helped set the record for the longest consecutive win streak in NFL history (with 21 straight wins over two seasons.) Under Brady’s skill, the Patriots had their first undefeated regular season, and he has supplied them the fourth-highest career passer rating of all time.
Again, Brady is mentioned in the same sentences as Joe Montana – the only two players in NFL history to win the NFL MVP and Super Bowl MVP awards multiple times in the same years. In 2007, Brady was unanimously chosen as MVP as well as the Male Athlete of the Year – the first time an NFL player has been honored since, you guessed it, the mighty Joe Montana in 1990.
Was Joe Cool always perfect? No. He, like all the rest, had bad days (just not as many as the other guys). So it is very possible that Brady could come out with the flu – or a monumental allergy – something that would take his mind off the game…but it’s unlikely. To add to all this, Baltimore recovered all of its own fumbles inside their M&T Bank Stadium, where they remain undefeated this season. But if the Ravens are to prevent the Pats from advancing to their fifth Super Bowl in the Bill Belichick era – they will need to move their own offense. If the run is gone, Flacco will be a part of the David vs. Goliath story, as he tries his best to have the greatest passing day of his entire life.
BUT…again…here’s the hunger. As the Niners will be with their ancient rivals, the Giants, these Ravens want this with a passion. They are looking to reach the Super Bowl for the first time in twelve years, and they will make sure that every single one of their players is on that field with focus, determination, and a hunger so strong that the Pats may not see what’s coming until it’s too late. My choice? Give me a Super Bowl that is all about hunger. I am tired of the ‘big game’ being a one-way match. It’s time to set the stage for the Niners versus the Ravens. Now THAT would be a game to see!