Clint's Corner Archive
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The source for back issues of Clint's Corner. Forget a trade? Were Clint's predictions correct? Here's every edition, verbatim.
Bledsoe is back!! Drew looked like his "old" self on Sunday, completing 25 of 39 passes for 310 yards and 4 touchdowns without an interception en route to a 46-38 road victory over the Ravens. Those yards and TD passes were not garbage time Testaverde-ish numbers. All of those yards came as the Pats were building a lead through the first three quarters, while Vinny's 300+ yards and 3 TD's came mostly against the Pats "prevent" defense (someone has to give this D a new name) after the Ravens fell behind 38-14 :05 into the 4th quarter. The cardiac kids made a game out of a blowout for the second straight week, but the sloppy play of the defense in the 4th quarter cannot overshadow what Bledsoe had accomplished for the first 45 minutes.
The $6 million man was sharp from the outset, completing his first four passes to drive the Pats to a 1st and goal where they ultimately settled for 3. The offense went into a little funk after that, but when the Ravens took the lead on a Byner TD run early in the second period, Bledsoe and the offense began an eruption which didn't settle until the game was seemingly in hand with a 38-14 lead. Following the Raven's first touchdown, the Pats went on to score on their next six possessions, tallying 4 TD's and 2 FG's for 35 points (one two point conversion to Gash). The defense did their part during this stretch as well, holding the Ravens to just one score while forcing two punts and a turnover.
Bledsoe simply could not be stopped. He was even rolling out of the pocket and finding the open man. Most impressive was that these pass plays were not play-action. There was NO running game to set up the pass. The Pats came out passing, and stuck with that game plan throughout. Glenn, Jefferson, and Coates were open all day, and Bledsoe got them the ball with authority.
The Patriots headed for the showers after that. With 14:55 left to play in the game, their unknown replacements gave up 24 points on defense, and mustered only 1 more first down on offense while the running game was being stuffed trying to burn out the clock. As impressive as the air attack was, the ground game was equally as abysmal. Martin finished the day with 19 carries for 49 yards. 18 of those came on a broken play, where Curtis doubled back across the field after the initial play was stuffed and managed to turn the corner for a nice gainer. Take away that one improvisational run, and Martin had 18 carries for 31 yards, a 1.7 yard average. Bob Kratch being out may have been a factor, as well as the fact that many of Martin's carries came in the 4th quarter when all 11 Raven defenders knew he was going to get the ball. Still, good teams can hold leads with the running game. The Pats didn't, and this should be a cause for concern as the season moves on.
Worth the trip...
It's always nice when the Pats win on the road, but to be there in person is especially sweet. Fans' cheers of "Patriots Suck" became "Yankees Suck" and "O-R-I-O-L-E-S Orioles!" by the start of the 4th quarter. Donning my #55 Jersey throughout the game, irate Ravens fans would single me out and yell, "Hey McGinnest, how 'bout those Red Sox?" Since when did baseball matter? Sure I'm a Sox fan, but if the home team isn't in the playoffs, who cares? That is not the case with America's game, football. Even though we paid $55 a piece for lousy seats, Scott and I had a great time. It was great to see the Memorial Coliseum (Unitas to Berry) in person, and the win evened my personal away game record at 3-3. Batting .500 on the road is tough to beat!
Even though this was only the Ravens 3rd home game, the fans were rabid. You could tell this was a football starved town, and many of the people we met during the tailgate and inside the stadium were old Colts fans, who like the fans of Cleveland, were crushed when their team up and left for Indy in 1984. As psyched as they were to have football back, they all mentioned how they felt sorry for the fans of Cleveland. After all, they know how they feel. They cited the city of Cleveland's unwillingness to help the Browns as the reason the Ravens now play in Baltimore. Baltimore did the same thing in 1984, and now the city had to pay millions and millions of dollars to get a team back. Are you listening Tom Finneran? Mayor Menino? Hello!
The sad thing is that many of the season ticket holders sitting around us said they will not be able to afford to buy the seats once the new stadium opens for the '98 season. The individual ticket prices will be even more, and the Seat Licenses will range anywhere from $1000 to $4000 per seat. That is too much to ask of the average Joe with a mortgage and a car payment. Are you listening Paul Tagliabue? Jerry Jones? It is really too bad that although football has returned to Baltimore after 12 years, many of the die hards who were in attendance on Sunday will again be watching from home two years from now.
During the offseason, I touched upon the all-of-a-sudden wideout rich Patriots in one of my columns. Back then it was speculation. but today it appears to be true. Bledsoe hit 7 different receivers on Sunday, with Coates, Glenn, and Jefferson combining for 17 catches for 259 yards and 3 TD's. All this is with Vincent Brisby on the sideline. When he comes back, third and long will scare the hell out of defenses. Where's the ball going? Meggett? Glenn? Jefferson? Brisby? Coates? Your guess is as good as mine. This is great news for Ben Coates, who should see a lot less double teaming, and will feel a lot better in week 16 this year than ever before!
With losses this week by the Colts and Dolphins, the Pats find themselves one game behind Buffalo and Indy and tied with Miami in the AFC East. In my last column, I mentioned that the next 5 games would be huge for these 4 teams (see archives). So far the Pats are 1-0 in this stretch, and will look to go to 4-2 overall next week when they host the Redskins.
After stumbling out of the blocks at 0-2, the Pats have played well to climb back into the division race. Wins over Arizona, Jacksonville, and Baltimore were desperately needed. Washington will pose the biggest threat the Pats have faced since their last loss at Buffalo on September 8th. The 4 1 Skins come to town with a solid defense, a great running attack, and the big play potential with the pass. The Pats were successful in containing the 'Skins in preseason, but that means absolutely nothing come 1pm on the 13th of October. In a 16 game season, every game is a big game, and the Pats cannot afford a loss at home prior to heading into Indianapolis where they face the very real possibility of falling to 0-3 in games within their division. The early Vegas line has the Pats at -4.5. Look for this one to come down to the final minute. Surprised?
That's all for this week. Don't forget to check back on Thursday for my picks of the week. Thanks for visiting, and we'll see you next week after the Pats climb to 4-2!