It's got to be destiny!
A perfect season for the New England Patriots has to be written in the stars or preordained. How else could that final drive of their Monday night game against the Baltimore Ravens be explained? It could not just be dumb luck. Could it?
With less than two minutes to go in the game and the Pats trailing the Ravens 24-20 on Monday night and a fourth-and-1 at the Baltimore 30, Patriots quarterback Tom Brady failed in his attempt to get the first down on a quarterback sneak. The Ravens defense stepped up and stuffed Brady and the perfect season was over. But to the chagrin of the Baltimore defenders and as a result of the Hand of God himself, there was a whistle on the play.
Ravens defensive coordinator Rex Ryan called time out prior to Brady snapping the ball. You would have thought Ryan had kicked their dogs as the Ravens defensive players rolled on the ground and flailed their arms in distain at their own sideline. There was nothing they could do to stop the inevitable.
Angry at the time out, the Ravens were ready again, albeit in vain, to stop the Patriots on fourth-and-1 and they did, stuffing Pats running back Heath Evans. But some mystical power caused Pats guard Russ Hochstein to false start prior to the snap negating the play.
"We false started on a fourth-and-one," said Pats coach Bill Belichick. "There was no doubt about that, you could see that on the line of scrimmage. Then they called a timeout."
"Any time you get a false start penalty, it's not good," said Hochstein. "Normally, that's a terrible spot for that to happen. But, if that's what happened, it happened. It worked out because we made a play on the next down.
"I can't ever remember that happening before," he said. "We kept making play after play and kept our hopes alive. Finally, we were able to score. The Ravens deserve a lot of credit. They played hard and they played a great game."
On the time out call on fourth down, Brady with a sly smile said "I heard the whistle blow and I stopped. I would've made the first down if the whistle didn't blow."
The Patriots then lined up and tried it again on fourth-and-6. Brady promptly scrambled up the middle of the field for 12 yards and tack on five more yards for an illegal contact call against Samari Rolle, who literally tackled Randy Moss on the play.
There was nothing the Ravens could do at this point to stop Brady and the Patriots. Three more plays and the Pats had the ball on the Baltimore 13 and a fourth-and-5 to come. Brady tossed an incomplete pass down the middle of the end zone, but tight end Benjamin Watson was grabbed by Jamaine Winborne and the Patriots were alive and well.
Sure the Ravens whined and complained, but you can't grab the receivers in the NFL and you can't stop the Patriots with destiny on their side. "It's a travesty," said Rolle following the game. "When you go out there and play that hard and refs decide the outcome." Someone should tell Rolle you can only tackle receivers after they catch the ball, not before. Sour grapes is an even bigger travesty Samari.
Even the touchdown pass to Jabar Gaffney in the back left-corner of the end zone raised some eyebrows. After a review of the play, Gaffney maintained possession of the ball, despite sliding it from his left fingers to his right palm without the slightest bobble.
The gods, not short of a sense of humor, allowed the Raven and Kyle Boller to complete a 52 yard "Hail Mary" pass to Mark Clayton to the Patriots three yard line. But it was all for naught. It was just sand in the face for the Ravens and their dismal season.
|New England Patriots Tom Brady calls a play at the line of scrimmage against the' Baltimore Ravens' Monday, Dec. 3, 2007, in Baltimore .(AP Photo/Nick Wass)|
It really wasn't destiny or luck or the refs or the Hand of God that caused the Patriots to win. It really was just a Baltimore Ravens team not good enough to close out a game against a good team. They gave it their best shot, much like the Eagles the week before, but bad teams find a way to lose. The Ravens were undisciplined against the Patriots receivers in that final drive and Brady is too good to be given second and third chances.
"It was one play right after another," said Pats safety Rodney Harrison. "I know we don't have nine lives and we only have three but we kept the ball moving. We have a great quarterback and we have a great offense. We have the kind of guys who can make plays at the end of the game."
The Ravens called this game against the Pats their Super Bowl. That's what losing teams do. The Super Bowl is in Arizona in February and it's not written in the stars for the Ravens. Only losing teams would call a regular season game their Super Bowl.
In the fourth quarter, Ravens coach Brian Billick could be seen blowing kisses to Harrison. All he was doing was kissing the game and his team's season goodbye.
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