Before I write anything here it would be impossible not to mention the astoundingly awful job done tonight by the replacement officials. Really, it’s hard to talk about the game because what we saw on the field really wasn’t the kind of football I’m used to watching. It was not NFL football. And both teams got screwed over and over again, so it’s hard to really distill any of it into real criticism, constructive or otherwise.
I hope this is the tipping point, but I doubt that it is. Until we the fans stop tuning in (and stop blogging) the NFL has no reason to bend to the real refs.
So I’ll try to analyze the game the best I can in the coming days, but the calls were unbearable for both sides, not to mention how close the final field goal actually was. But let’s just pretend the refs weren’t as big a part of the game as they clearly were.
The worst part of the game (outside the above mentioned stuff) was just how entirely predictable it was for the Pats defense to watch the Ravens march right down the field for the winning field goal. It’s something we’ve seen over and over again. Last year’s game against these very Ravens was the only time in recent history where the Pats defense somehow pulled it out of their ass with a good play (Sterling Moore) and an incredibly lucky miss.
As soon as the offense failed to convert the third down at two minutes it was clear what the outcome would be. Replacement officials or not.
Part of the blame can go on the offense for not being able to close things out, but we’re at the point now where it might be a better strategy to just not put the defense out and let them score an uncontested 80-yard touchdown so we can get the ball back and try to pull it out ourselves.
Kidding aside, this loss isn’t going to haunt me that much because the Patriots being 1-2 is so novel. It’s the closest thing to a legitimate early season challenge in the last decade. We’ve steamrolled our way through the regular season for so long it’s almost expected now. Sure, there’s always a clunker or two like all teams have. Well not this year. Now the Pats are in 3rd place in the AFC East and it’s a spot they haven’t been in a long time.
Let’s hope we’re getting our annual defensive collapse on the final drive of the game out of the way in September. Because there’s no doubt this is a talented Patriots team, and despite their record, one that I’d already say is better than last year’s version.
There will undoubtedly be all kinds of piling on this week (or perhaps the refs will get the brunt of it). Pundits saying the Patriots are done. We’ll find out just what this team is made of next weekend in a tough road test in Buffalo. Oh boy, this is going to be an interesting season. I kinda like it.
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