Postgame thoughts…

No truth to the rumor that Ron Borges was led from Gillette Stadium in a straightjacket following the Patriots 20-3 domination of the greatest offense of all time. Borges, who was last heard on the WBCN pregame show cackling about knowing all week that Richard Seymour wouldn’t play and picking the Colts, was no doubt in a foul mood during and following the game. What the Boston sports fan needs is a “Borges-cam” to follow him around during the game and see the slow burn of insanity as he is proven a dolt once again. That would be must-see-TV. I half expected to see Borges streak across the field in the middle of the game trying to break up a Tom Brady pass while screaming “NOOOOOOOO!”

Seriously though, what this should’ve proven once and for all is that 90% of the so-called football “experts” out there have absolutely no clue about the game. I’m not really talking that much locally here as I am on a national level. All the focus was misplaced, the “experts” talked about the Patriots not having Ty Law, not having Tyrone Poole and possibly not having Richard Seymour. They insisted there was no way that that the Patriots defense could hold the Colts. It seemed that all other aspects of the game were ignored. Toughness was ignored. Coaching was largely ignored. They were blinded by the gaudiness of the statistics of the Colts. “Expert” after “Expert” on ESPN and the other networks picked the Colts. Surprisingly, the FOX pregame show was the one that seemed to favor the Patriots the most. There were a few exceptions otherwise, Boomer Esiason picked the Patriots on CBS, and was mocked by Shannon Sharpe, but got his revenge on the postgame.

The CBS postgame contained a couple moments of tension between the hosts. ProFootballTalk.com has some of the details, but there was also a moment where Boomer said that it is clear that “Peyton Manning is the Dan Marino of this generation” and will never win a Super Bowl while Tom Brady is the Joe Montana. Marino’s face was flush as he retorted “I made it to a Super Bowl”.

NFL Network had the best of the post game shows, even better than Patriots Fifth Quarter on UPN38. A highlight of the latter show was Tedy Bruschi knocking over Steve Burton with a playful shoulder during an interview. On NFL network, Terrell Davis explained why Willie McGinest causes such problems for the Colts. He’s a “tweener” who sometimes lines up down and then shifts, which causes the running back or offensive lineman to shift their focus and assignment. The opponent mentally files that McGinest is lined up one way and that they need to play it that way, then after the shift, their assignment is different, but they have already put it in their head about what they need to do.

Postgame stuff aside, it needs to be restated how dreadful the prognosticators and pregame analysis by the majority of the talking heads out there is. Football fans deserve better. These “experts” are highly paid to do their jobs, and yet it seems that they cannot get past the most basic of mental traps. They’re seduced by the season of an Indianapolis Colts team, and blinded to the fact that despite the numbers and even the record, that is a seriously flawed and soft football team. They see injuries to a Patriots secondary and write the team off, despite the fact that the team has played with the injuries for two months. They say it is Peyton Manning’s “time” to win and beat the Patriots, as if it were something that can be attained just by showing up. I am disgusted by the sheer ignorance of so many of the people that we rely on to enlighten us about these games.

I’m not saying these people are ignorant merely because they picked the Colts. The Colts were capable of winning this game. I’m annoyed at the reasons these “experts” gave for why the Colts were going to ride roughshod over the Patriots. Many people are going to pick the Steelers this week, and that’s fine. Give us some real reasons about why the Steelers are the superior team and why they will cause the Patriots problems or vice versa.

One last Borges item. Friday in the Globe he picks the Patriots. Today in the Globe he picks the Colts. On Friday on WWZN he claimed that the pick under his name in the paper that day was not his, that he was in fact picking the Colts. He claimed that the paper made the pick for him. He’s made this claim before, and I think perhaps another writer has as well. This is disturbing on a number of levels. Is the Globe making up the picks of their writers? If this is true, what else are they making up? Second, if that isn’t true, how can a writer be allowed to play both sides in this fashion? Who’s in charge over there?

It’s ridiculous.

Feel like contacting some of the local sports media to let them know how you feel? This BSMW Contact page has the address of many sports media members around Boston.

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It is so on!

Sunday links by ben (ben@bostonsportsmedia.com)

Tony Dungy and Peyton Manning will remember the date, Sunday, January 16, 2005, for a long time. It will be the day each turned the corner in their efforts to put both the critics and their demons behind them. Or today will sear an image of failure further into the hearts of minds of football fans across the country. It will be either game 7 of the 2003 ALCS or game 7 of 2004.

Statistics that matter are on the side of the Patriots. After yesterday

David vs. Goliath

Saturday links by Rich (Rich@bostonsportsmedia.com)

Pats-Colts
With so much media coverage of this game over the past 2 weeks (the press largely ignored the possibility that Denver could beat Indianapolis, and in retrospect wisely so), it is increasingly difficult to come up with a fresh angle on it. The local media gives it their best today, and below is a buffet of stories to choose from if you are looking for more info on what is unquestionably the NFL

Finally Friday

Ron Borges has a full matchup comparison of the Colts and Patriots in today’s Globe. In his breakdown, he gives four matchup edges to the Patriots and three to the Colts, calling the coaching and secondary matchups even. After saying Belichick should’ve been named coach of the year, he says:

Dungy led the Buccaneers for six years, building a team that reached the NFC Championship game and fundamentally the team that won the Super Bowl the year after his departure.

Did Dungy “build” that team, or was it Buccaneers GM Rich McKay? And to praise Dungy for a team that won the Super Bowl after he was fired sure seems like reaching to praise Dungy and put him on the same level as Belichick. Besides, having failed to win it all with the Bucs and then having John Gruden come in and win the Super Bowl with essentially the same cast doesn’t speak well for Dungy. By the way Ron, the game isn’t tonight. (Read the Colts special teams section.) Doesn’t anyone check these things? In another note, Ron picks the Patriots in the Globe Staff Picks, but on WWZN this afternoon he says that isn’t his pick, someone did it for him, and that he’s picking the Colts. It’s probably more like if the Patriots win, he can says “I picked them…look in the paper.” Borges also has an article on MSNBC looking at the game and praising Belichick. Michael Felger and Glen Farley look at the challenge facing the Patriots corners. Jeff Jacobs has a really good column on Rodney Harrison, who is planning on bringing the fog Sunday. Tom E Curran has a further look at how the Patriots plan to attack Manning. One problem with Curran’s piece, he has him listed as a Heisman trophy winner. Manning never won that award, only finishing as high as second. Nick Cafardo talks to Pete Carroll among others about how the best way to defend Manning and the Colts. Alan Greenberg has a look at Adam Vinatieri’s postseason record.

Gerry Callahan (subscription only) looks at Tom Brady’s record of coming up big in big games. He ends the column by predicting a 35-34 Patriots win. Amalie Benjamin has a look at special teams Pro Bowler Larry Izzo. Fluto Shinzawa looks at Je’Rod Cherry and a couple other players who were on and off the Patriots roster over the course of the season. Kevin Paul Dupont cranks out 3,150 words on Stephen Neal. Christopher Price says the playoffs are a whole different game for Bill Belichick and his crew. Glen Farley looks at how the field will be wet and cold on Sunday and how that factors into the game. Mike Reiss looks at the relationship between Belichick and BC coach Tom O’Brien and how the Colts factor into that. Chris Kennedy looks at how the Patriots feel at home in Gillette, regardless of the weather and field conditions. Steve Buckley (subscription only) looks at what might be going on in Corey Dillon’s head this week, as the Patriots running back has really not been heard from during this week prior to his first ever playoff game.

Felger’s notebook looks at punter Josh Miller. The Projo notebook looks at how new Pats CB Hank Poteat is adapting to his new club. Ian M Clark’s notebook looks at Tom Brady and Adam Vinatieri and how they’re no slouches despite the attention given to Peyton Manning and Mike Vanderjagt. Greenberg’s notebook has a look at Antwan Harris, back in the fold. Jonathan Comey has a notebook style column which starts with a look at pranks in the Patriot locker room. Cafardo’s notebook has the Gillette Stadium playing surface getting the OK from the league. Cafardo’s Mailbag from late yesterday afternoon has a few interesting takes from the Globe writer, as he comments on media access to assistant coaches, updates on injuries and other hotbutton topics. Kennedy’s notebook has Troy Brown expecting to be tested on Sunday as a cornerback.

Colts Articles

Kevin Paul Dupont has a feature style piece on Peyton Manning. George Kimball (subscription only) writes that the Colts aren’t paying much attention to the potential field conditions, saying that the Patriots will have to play on the same field. Shalise Manza Young has a look at the Colts defense and what challenges they will provide to the Patriot offense. Mark Blaudschun looks at Tony Dungy hoping to finally break through and get a Super Bowl appearance this year. Hector Longo has a piece on Colts DE Dwight Freeney. Tom King says Peyton Manning isn’t worried about going into Foxboro to face the Patriots, despite his lack of success against him. Blaudschun’s notebook has the Colts downplaying the field and weather conditions at Gillette.

From the Indy Star

Phil Richards says that the Patriots are the Colts nemesis, having beaten them 13 out of 15 times. He says though, that this is a different Colts team. He has a sidebar on the article listing six of the times in history a team had to break through and beat their nemesis, including the Red Sox beating the Yankees. He also lists five reasons the Colts can beat the Patriots. Bob Kravitz says the Colts cannot complain about the field at Gillette. The Patriots earned home field advantage. If the Colts want to play at home in the playoffs, they need to win the homefield race.

Baseball Writers Dinner/New Steroid Policy

Dan Shaughnessy looks at the star of the Baseball Writers dinner last night – the World Series Trophy. Joe McDonald and David Heuschkel talk to Terry Francona and Tony Larussa about the World Series and looking ahead to next season. Gordon Edes looks at what Marvin Miller has to say about the state of the game and steroid use. Chris Snow’s notebook has an update on Curt Schilling, while the Herald notebook says Schilling is still shooting to be ready for opening day. McDonald’s notebook has more on the steroid policy and a list of honorees from last night. Nick Tavares grades offseason acquisitions.

Chris Snow, Paul Doyle and Jeff Horrigan report on the new steroid testing policy adopted by MLB. Tony Massarotti says the new policy was sorely needed. Michael Silverman says the policy received a mixed reaction last night.

Celtics/Hawks tonight

Mark Murphy looks at Atlanta Hawks owner Steve Belkin, a Bostonian who has wanted to own an NBA franchise for years. Marvin Pave looks at adjustments the Celtics are trying to make in an effort to be more consistent. Murphy’s notebook looks at the Celtics pretty much keeping pace in the Atlantic Division despite their struggles.

Media Stuff
Paul Kenyon has a piece on Bryan Morry, the editor of Patriots Football Weekly about what it is like to work for the Krafts and Patriots organization. David Scott has a Friday edition of Scott’s Shots. In the Globe, Bill Griffith looks at Chris Collins remaining at NECN and being named Primary sports anchor for the station. Later on in the piece he has some harsh words for Duke Castiglione and his actions twice this week involving Randy Johnson. He also has a notebook looking at NFL coverage and Joe Buck getting knocked by the owner of the Vikings. Andrew Neff has a look at a Brunswick native who plays the Johnny Damon character in the movie “Fever Pitch”.

What’s on

FSN has Celtics/Hawks at 7:30. ESPN has Timberwolves/Nuggets at 10:30. ESPN2 has Mavericks/Spurs at 8:00.

Field of….dreams?

I ask again, is it Sunday yet?

The condition of the Gillette Stadium playing field is one of the topics for debate today. Michael Felger looks at the Patriots leaving the field open and exposed to the varying and wet elements of this week. Alan Greenberg also reports on the playing surface, which should be a cold, muddy slop by kickoff time on Sunday. Gerry Callahan on WEEI this morning labels the field conditions “cheating” by Bill Belichick and the Patriots. Another big concern and topic of conversation is the playing status of Richard Seymour. It seems that more and more media types are leaning towards the idea that the big defensive lineman will not be ready to play on Sunday. Nick Cafardo writes that whether Seymour plays or not, the Patriots need to be able to stop the running attack of the Colts. Tom E Curran looks at the added pressure on the rest of the defensive line if Seymour is unable to play. Lenny Megliola looks at the Patriots crew of veteran linebackers and the impact that they will have in the game on Sunday. This is a tight knit crew who support and respect each other’s roles and value to the team.

Jackie MacMullan has a piece on punter Josh Miller, who has been a popular addition to the Patriots clubhouse. Miller is friends with the man he replaced, Ken Walter, who even gave him advice during this season on kicking at Gillette. Bill Reynolds writes about Bill Belichick, saying that many do not see his brilliance because he says the same thing each week in his press conferences. I disagree, and say that Belichick usually responds the same way to the same questions that are asked each week. Ask him to talk about a particular play, a philosophy of football or player from the past, and you will get an answer that shows you just how much this guy knows about football and the NFL. Chris Kennedy says that every champion needs a foil, and the Colts provide a perfect one for the Patriots. Eric McHugh notes that with all the attention being given to the Colts offense, the explosiveness of the Patriots offense is being somewhat overlooked. Tom King says that you can’t really compare Patriots defenses across years, even from last year to this year. Brian Fleming looks at Willie McGinest, who has broken the hearts of the Colts and their fans on more than one occasion. Steve Buckley (subscription only) says that both teams can claim to be treated unfairly and “dissed” by the media, it’s all how you look at it. Buckley teased this column during his Big Show appearance yesterday. Jim Donaldson asserts that Mike Vanderjagt’s comments from the other day were pretty much right on the mark, but that Patriots fans can’t handle that fact.

Cafardo’s notebook looks at offseason surgery in store for Ty Law. Felger’s notebook says that outside of Law and Tyrone Poole, the Patriots secondary is as healthy as it has been in some time. Curran’s notebook has more on the field conditions at Gillette. Greenberg’s notebook looks at Seymour’s chances of playing Sunday. Kennedy’s notebook has Tony Dungy saying that Rodney Harrison could’ve been a strong candidate for league MVP.

Colts Stories

George Kimball looks at Peyton Manning seeking that elusive first win at Foxboro, and paying proper respect to the Patriot defense. John Altavilla also looks at Manning attempting to end his 0-6 streak in New England. Buddy Thomas continues his Manning fan-boy routine, continuing his act of trying to exult Manning while putting down Tom Brady at the same time. Mark Blaudschun looks at the understated importance of Edgerrin James to the Colts offense. Glen Farley believes that THIS time is the Colts time. Kimball’s notebook looks at the Colts likely playing without Robert Mathis this Sunday. Blaudschun’s notebook looks at the Colts trying to get back to work after distancing themselves from Mike Vanderjagt’s remarks.

From the Indy Star

Phil Richards looks at two longtime Colts assistants who are widely respected around the league, offensive coordinator Tom Moore and offensive line coach Howard Mudd. Phillip B Wilson looks at Rodney Harrison embracing his reputation, but not the fines he gets for it. The Colts notebook says that the team is not distracted by Vanderjagt’s comments, and says that Robert Mathis is definitely out this Sunday. The Patriots notebook says the team is very careful not to put any labels on opponents that could be considered degrading to the other team.

Another road loss for the Celtics

Peter May and Mark Murphy report on the Celtics losing once again on the road, this time to the Raptors. Morris Peterson put up 37 on the green, who surrendered over 100 points for the 24th time this season. The message sent by coach Doc Rivers over the weekend is still being felt, Jim Fenton has a look at the effects of the move by the coach. Murphy says that Pierce and Rivers are fine, and notes Pierce’s playful and relaxed attitude at practice yesterday. May’s notebook looks at former Celtic Eric Williams getting used to another NBA city. Murphy’s notebook has a similar theme.

Baseball Misc

Tony Massarotti looks at Derek Lowe being introduced as a Dodger. Chris Snow has a look at plans to expand City of Palms Park. Jeff Jacobs says the Yankees made a mistake by not clearing room on their payroll for Carlos Beltran.

What’s on
NESN has game 7 of the 1975 World Series at 7:00. TNT has Nets/Rockets at 8:00 and Cavs/Lakers at 10:30. ESPN debuts “Tilt” tonight at 9:00, Matthew Gilbert has a preview of ESPN’s second foray into scripted television. ESPN also has Duke/NC State at 7:00. ESPN2 has Marquette/Memphis at 9:00.

Tick…Tick…Tick…

Um, is it Sunday yet? The anticipation and hype continues as we get closer to Sunday and the rematch of the Colts and Patriots. There is still a lot of concern out there, and Gerry Callahan is still in fear of the “greatest offense of all time.” However the following exchange this morning seemed to deflate Gerry a bit:

Caller: Who has the better offense in these weather conditions?
D&C: Patriots
Caller: Who has the better quarterback to execute that offense?
D&C: Patriots
Caller: Who has the better defense?
D&C: Patriots
Caller: Who has the better kicker for outdoors, the last game was decided by three points
D&C: Patriots
Caller:Who has the better coach?
D&C: Patriots
Caller: Thanks guys. *click*

There was a moment of silence, followed by Callahan asserting that the Colts have a better defensive backfield.

While Peyton Manning gets the regular season awards and accolades, some might think that Tom Brady could feel overshadowed. Nick Cafardo and Michael Felger look at the Patriots quarterback, who doesn’t feel that way at all, being very satisfied with the attention and success he and his team has had the last three years. Dan Shaughnessy compares Manning to Wilt Chamberlain and Bill Belichick to Red Auerbach in a column that though we all know exactly what it says without reading it, it’s still pretty fun to read. Just one note…how does Dan figure that Peyton can take credit for 6,475 yards of total offense? He’s allowed to take credit for all the rushing yards too? His numbers are impressive enough without doing that…

Tom E Curran says that the Patriots aren’t going to merely be content sitting on the ball and trying to keep it away from the Colts offense. Mike Reiss says the Patriots will attempt to play a complete game, using all three aspects of football to beat the Colts – offense, defense and special teams. Chris Kennedy notes that it is important that the Patriots get out to an early lead. Michael Gee (subscription only) writes that this game may not be as we all expect, it could be the Patriots who are slinging the ball around the field, and he notes that if the Colts end up running the ball 42 as times they did in the season open, they will win the game. Alan Greenberg looks at the much maligned Colt defense, which he says is getting better.

Michael Felger’s Patriots Insider is interesting because of the information he provides about the officiating crew assigned to the game Sunday. The crew selected is not one known for throwing a lot of flags, a choice that he says will likely outrage the Colts. He also looks at Belichick’s success against Manning, and the theory that the Pats desperately need Richard Seymour on the field Sunday, a theory he calls “overrated”. Christopher L Gaspar has a piece on Jarvis Green, who had three sacks in the AFC Title game last year, and could have a big role this weekend too. Michael Parente has Rodney Harrison responding to the comments by Mike Vanderjagt. George Kimball (subscription only) says that Vanderjagt’s comments might actually have merit, and that the Colts could very well be headed to the AFC Championship game. Chris Kennedy has more on Vanderjagt. Hector Longo has a look at Bethel Johnson this season and wonders if the return man can have a big impact on this game. Jonathan Comey says it’s hard to be a Randy Moss fan these days.

Parente’s notebook looks at what the Patriots concerns over stopping the Colts passing attack. Curran’s notebook, Cafardo’s notebook and Felger’s notebook all have the Patriots dismissing the comments from Mike Vanderjagt.

View from the opposition

Stories from the Indianapolis Star include: Why the Colts (supposedly) can’t win Sunday – Manning struggles in Foxboro and ‘Dome’ teams toast in cold of January, as well as Vanderjagt takes it 1 small step too far. There is also a Colts notebook and a Patriots notebook.

Celtics in Toronto, Pierce unhappy

The Celtics will be in Toronto tonight, and Peter May and Steve Bulpett write about the new-look Raptors, who are no longer built around Air Canada. The guys on the BSMW Full Court Press take a look at the state of the Celtics now that we’re into the new year. Mike Fine says that Doc Rivers has done a fine job this season, and likes his my-way-or-the-highway approach. Michael Muldoon has a look back at the benching in Chicago and how it has affected the team. Bulpett’s notebook looks at Paul Pierce whining about the benching and generally behaving like Nomar Garciaparra did in his last year here.

See ya D-Lowe, Hello Randy and Carlos

David Heuschkel has a final look at Derek Lowe as the right hander signs with the Dodgers, Heuschkel notes what the “big goofball” accomplished here in Boston and that he went out a champion. Chris Snow and Mike Shalin look at the Yankees and Mets rolling out their new superstar additions. Shalin also has Randy Johnson looking forward to participating in the Red Sox/Yankees rivalry.

What’s on

FSN has Celtics/Raptors at 7:00. NESN is playing game six of the 1975 World Series at 7:00. ESPN has Georgia Tech/North Carolina at 7:00 and Rockets/Mavericks at 9:00. ESPN2 has Kansas/Iowa State at 8:00 and Texas El-Paso/Nevada at 10:00.

The MANning is coming…

In some quarters there appears to be an eagerness to declare the Patriots run over. Could be just the desire to have something new to write about instead of all of this boring winning stuff, or perhaps it’s a anticipation of failure. After pushing for three seasons for Charlie Weis and Romeo Crennel to get the chance to be head coaches, Nick Cafardo today says the Patriots might be in major trouble without them in the future. After saying all that, he advises fans to only worry about Sunday. Tom E Curran says that this Sunday could be the end of the Patriots as we’ve come to know them. Lenny Megliola though, says that as long as Bill Belichick is at the helm, Patriots fans will have confidence, especially against the Colts. Alan Greenberg looks at the challenge facing Belichick and his staff with their depleted secondary going against the high scoring Colts. Chris Kennedy also looks at what the Patriots are facing this Sunday. Fluto Shinzawa has Belichick’s thoughts on the high flying Colts offense. Kevin Mannix also has a look at the tall task facing the Patriot defense this Sunday. Bill Burt attempts to calm the masses who are worried about facing the Colts.

The Patriots have their bulletin board material, thanks to the ever-reliable Mike Vanderjagt. Michael Felger looks at the comments from the Colts kicker. It was interesting to hear Bill Belichick acknowledge and even inquire about Vanderjagt’s comments during his appearance on WEEI’s Big Show yesterday afternoon. Tim Weisberg says that the comments by Vanderjagt were not necessary to get the Patriots fired up, a notion that D&C would disagree with. They were firmly in the camp that the comments were exactly what Belichick and the Patriots hoped for and wanted. In fact Gerry Callahan (subscription only) says that the Patriots should look back at the end of this season and thank Vanderjagt for all that he has done for them. Jon Couture says that most talk and hype leading up to big games is empty, but this matchup Sunday will be well worth waiting for. A couple interesting columns from PatsFans.com, Kevin Rousseau says that the Colts are getting what they wanted, while Bob George looks at the Patriots history of home field dominance in the playoffs.

Kevin Paul Dupont again draws the assignment of covering the opposing team and he looks at Peyton Manning winning the MVP. George Kimball also looks at the award for Manning. Garry Brown however, says that Foxboro just isn’t Peyton’s place. Bill Reynolds writes that this is the biggest game of Peyton’s career, and for a guy who hasn’t had too much success in big games, that’s a concern. Kimball has a subscription column saying that Tony Dungy isn’t worrying about past failures of his team against the Patriots. Dupont’s notebook has Dungy paying respect to the Patriots.

Felger’s notebook looks at the Patriots choice to take Ty Law’s spot on the active roster, cornerback Hank Poteat. Shinzawa’s notebook has Patriots and Colts players giving their thoughts on the game Sunday. Curran’s notebook has more on Vanderjagt’s comments. Weisberg’s notebook has some items from a fairly quiet day in the lockerroom.

After certain members of the Boston media have taken shots the last few years at Bill Belichick for not allowing the media access to his assistant coaches, (even though Bill Parcells followed the same practice) it’s interesting to note that Charlie Weis plans to follow the same blueprint as well, informing reporters who cover Notre Dame that they are not to speak to his assistants and players without his permission. Mark Schlabach of the Washington Post has the story. Will the term “muted underlings” be tossed around?

The Celtics got themselves an easy win against the Magic last night, winning 119-101. Peter May, Steve Bulpett and Carolyn Thornton have the game stories. Paul Harber and Rich Thompson have a look at rookie guard Tony Allen, who had 16 points in the win and is gaining a bigger role with the club as the season goes on. Harber also looks at the comeback of Grant Hill, and Thompson has a piece on Johnny Davis speaking about former teammate Doc Rivers. Thornton’s notebook has details on the trade that the Magic made prior to the game. Bulpett’s notebook has Doc Rivers defending his comments about his starters from Saturday night’s loss to Chicago. May’s notebook has more on the trade made by the Magic.

Tony Massarotti says that Derek Lowe’s departure from the Red Sox is not personal, it’s all about money.

Bill Griffith has a look at Bull Riding (!?) and some other media notes including comments from media people on Norm Resha. From Friday, Dave Scott had a piece on the Globe, the Metro, Chris Snow and other items from the Boston media scene.