On WBZ’s Sports Final, Bob Lobel led off giving round one to the “apprentice”. He also clarified that the media doesn’t really enjoy it when the Patriots lose. They just get after them when they’re not playing hard. Alice Cook was reporting from Buffalo, and gave the game story. Felger and Cafardo were up next. Cafardo says this is just one game, the Patriots didn’t beat Bledsoe, they beat the Bills. Felger feels bad for Cafardo and the guys at the Globe, every time it really counts, they’re wrong. Cafardo still thinks it was a dumb trade. Felger says it’s working perfect, the Bills can beat other teams in the division, and the Patriots can beat the Bills. Cafardo kept asking if Felger is getting paid by the Patriots, and denied he has any grudge against Belichick. Cafardo sarcastically talked about the Patriots having the “perfect master plan”. He said the Patriots have made the Bills contenders. Cafardo then had to drive home from Buffalo.
DeOssie and Zolak denied they’ve taken any sides in the QB issue. Zolak says the best thing about today is the veteran leaders stepping up their game. Johnson, McGinest, Law, etc. Lobel wondered why the whole region is pumped over a .500 team. He does think Brady came up big today. Zolak said he made the plays they asked him to do, flawlessly. A look at the upcoming schedule. Getting 3 out of the next 4 would be big for this team. The record of the remaining teams is 28-36.
After a “Star Wars” Master and Apprentice themed highlight video was shown, Steve Burton, Ron Borges and Felger were up, freezing. Some pregame video of Bledsoe greeting Bob Kraft and various former teammates. A visibly dejected Borges, shook hands with “the man on his left”. (Felger) He began by saying that the Patriots are a good team when they can get a lead, and they threw the ball sideways effectively. They couldn’t stop the Bills from gaining yards, but like last year, they stopped them from scoring points. Felger objected and said the sideways comment was a dig and an insult at Brady and the Patriots. Borges said “no it’s not, it’s something you don’t understand, it’s a fact”. Belichick didn’t dominate anything today. Burton then ran through the bottom line, 4 TD passes for Brady, blowout win for the Patriots. Felger feels sorry for “these guys” that they have to make these snide remarks when the teams wins. Borges talked about how the record book will say Brady threw a 45 yard TD pass to Faulk, who was 7 yards behind the line of scrimmage when he caught the pass. Felger said Bledsoe can’t do that, when he gets pressured, he can’t dump the ball off like that. Borges also said the sacks weren’t Bledsoe’s fault, that Felger is crazy and blind if he thinks so. He added that if the QB’s switched teams, that the Patriots would’ve won by even more today, and that Buffalo wouldn’t be anywhere near the Patriots in the standings. Neither Felger or Cafardo think that Belichick is breathing a huge sigh of relief tonight. At the end of segment, Lobel remarked about the media choosing sides in this issue, it’s a first in his experience and that it is a very strange phenomena.
Next up was Bob Ryan, joined by DeOssie and Lobel. The question of the media was brought up. Ryan is aghast at this media choosing sides deal. He had his own “dustups” with Herald guys in the past. (He mentioned Bulpett among others) He said Felger seems to have a pathological hatred, which he added isn’t unusual for Herald guys. DeOssie said it’s about stirring things up, but that its deeper than just sports. Ryan and Lobel talked about their arguments over the years, but that it was all in fun, and they always shook hands at the end. Ryan said the football press box has always been peaceable, and all for the team. Now it’s totally different. Both Brady and Bledsoe are terrific guys, which makes it all more weird. Lobel talked about knowing guys who work for Belichick who absolutely hate him, and that’s a factor. They went on to talk about B.C.-Notre Dame.
B.C. head coach Tom O’Brien was in next, talking about the huge win yesterday. Coming back from the tough loss to Pittsburgh the week before was as simple as the opponent being Notre Dame. The Pittsburgh loss hurt the team’s BCS ranking more than the Notre Dame win will help it. B.C. hasn’t had winning seasons 4 years in a row since 1977, their goal is getting to a big bowl game. West Virginia coming up next week, top running team in the country. Lobel is glad that BC can occasionally break through the pro-oriented Boston sports market.
WHDH’s Sports Xtra with Gene Lavanchy and his usual sidekicks, Fred Smerlas and Tim Fox, discussed where this team has been, that it suddenly came out today. Smerlas talked about the awful Bills defense and the Patriots bend-but-don’t-break defense was back. Fox agreed that it helps that Buffalo isn’t a good defensive team, who has played some weak teams on it’s schedule. The game plan really helped Tom Brady build his confidence back. Smerlas gushed about Graham, a “man amongst boys” he called him. A healthy Troy Brown was also a huge help.
A Kip Lewis segment interviewing fans on the Brady/Bledsoe issue. Most Patriots fans think they made the right move in keeping Brady, but most remain Bledsoe fans as well. One fan said Bledsoe got a raw deal when “they stuck Brady in there in the middle of the season” and though he’s glad the Patriots won the SuperBowl, he’s hoping Drew wins it this year in Buffalo.
Back to Smerlas/Fox. Smerlas was irritated that the Globe gave the coaching/intangibles advantage to the Bills in the paper today. He then went and criticized the Bills coaching staff. Fox gave the Patriots coaching staff credit for the plan they came up with today, utilizing the linebackers the way they did. Brady went from having perhaps the worst game of his career last week to having one of his best games today. The schedule gets easier coming up, as Fox noted. Smerlas said the only team that will beat the New England Patriots is the New England Patriots. Fox thinks this will put the Bledsoe/Brady thing to rest, he noted Brady’s QB rating today of 154.1 (the highest possible rating is 158.3) versus Bledsoe’s 80-something rating today. No games on the schedule look impossible to win. The Bills look to have a tougher time, and Smerlas compared it to ’99, where Bledsoe and the Patriots started off 6-2 there was talk of Drew for MVP, and after facing Belichick, it all started downhill.
Gerry Callahan and Tony Massarotti were in next. Callahan talked about how silly it was when the media blew up the Tom Brady “finger pointing” issue. Massarotti is stil concerned though that the Patriots have not beaten an above average team. Callahan wonders if the Patriots strategy today on Bledsoe with catch on around the league, they used an unconventional plan today and it worked. Lavanchy is still curious as to which is the real Patriots team. Callahan says they need to go 6-2 to make the playoffs, they’re in good position to make a run for it. On to the Red Sox GM search, it’s “not quite” to the point of embarrassment yet, but he’s tired of talking about Billy Beane. He’s not the only competent guy out there. Tony doesn’t understand how Lee Thomas could be considered as an interim GM when he didn’t get the job immediately. Callahan challenged Massarotti knocking the process before it has run it’s course. (Massaorotti went into dog-whistle tone here) He believes Lucchino knows what he’s doing. (Video of “Larry the Lobster” was shown) Tony talked about the team laying the groundwork for personnel moves next season without a GM, and that the GM will take over a team that is already made.