Shawna Kisell/Metro Vancouver
The Patriots lost more than a football game on Sunday.
As hard as it is to believe, New England lost more than a Super Bowl, more than an undefeated season, and more than the title of “Greatest Team Ever”.
The New York Giants not only stripped the Patriots of all of those things, they stole the mystique that previously defined the most recent dynasty in NFL history.
Yes, this Patriots’ regime had lost important playoff games before, but the reasons were far different.
Until Sunday, Both Bill Belichick and Tom Brady both had an aura of invincibility about them; though the Pats would lose a big game, both coach and quarterback were seen to be devoid of blame.
That all changed in Phoenix. Belichick and his staff were out-coached on the biggest stage of all by Tom Coughlin, a man that most felt should not be a head coach in the NFL just six months ago.
Belichick’s decision to go for it on fourth and 13 in the third quarter instead of attempting a 49-yard field goal was both arrogant and incorrect. The Pats were also unable to make the necessary adjustments on either side of the ball despite holding leads at halftime and late in the fourth quarter. Such adjustments have been Belichick’s calling card in the early part of this century.
As for Brady, he, like the Patriots, appears perfect no longer. Never the biggest, fastest or strongest quarterback in the fraternity, Brady was always viewed as the most composed; a field general that could be shaken but never stirred.
Though he engineered what most felt would be the game-winning drive, Brady was ordinary for the first time on such an extraordinary stage. He threw errant passes and made poor decisions that were previously reserved for mere mortals.
The Patriots may be the odds-on favourites to redeem themselves in February 2009, but they have shown themselves to be vulnerable and that’s far bigger than the loss of the Lombardi trophy.
•The Vancouver Moose will be the underdogs when they take to the ice in Dallas this evening.
Already without the services of Kevin Bieksa, Willie Mitchell, and Lukas Krajicek, the Canucks’ black-and-blue line is in even worse shape tonight. Sami Salo may still not be ready to go with that tweaked groin, Aaron Miller has a foot injury that could keep him out tonight and Mattias Ohlund will not play after flying home to Vancouver for personal reasons.
Those six defencemen were billed as the Canucks’ top six when this season began. The only good news is that Alex Edler will be familiar with all of the call-ups from his days in the minors last season.
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