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.
Just like the new WWII siren suggested, the Pats came out bombs-away and shell shocked the #1 defense in the AFC with a 14-0 lead which took only 6 offensive plays to achieve. The first play on offense was a 53 yard strike to Glenn setting up Martin's 2 yard TD run on the next play. One possession later, Bledsoe hit passes of 12, 6, and 34 yards, the last of which was a TD screen pass to Keith Byars. At this point, Drew "big game" Bledsoe was 4-4 for 105 yards and a TD, and the air raid siren had sounded twice. Dan Shaunessey of the Boston Globe may not like the new siren, but the 60,000+ in the stands seemed to love it. Perhaps Dan should have been assigned to the Fleet Center that day instead.
With only 7:05 gone in the game, the Pats were up by two TD's on the defending AFC Champs, and the Steelers were without a first down. Once the Patriot air force had softened up the enemy from above, it was time for the ground troops to move in for the kill.
Big Time Players make big plays in big games...
What can you say about Curtis Martin? After Drew & Co. pulled in the reins on the air assault, Martin finished off the Steelers with perhaps the greatest game in his young career. On the Pats 4th possession, Martin faked out 4 would be tacklers and shifted to his second gear racing 78 yards to paydirt to make it 21-0 home team. His 23 yard TD run with 12:31 to play sounded the siren for the last time and put an end to Pittsburgh's season once and for all. It was 28-3, and Foxboro was rockin'.
Martin finished the day with 166 yards on 19 carries, an 8.7 yard average, with 3 TD's. Take away the big TD run and he still averaged 4.89. Take away the 23 yard TD and he still averaged over 3.8 per carry. Simply amazing.
If this game were decided by who talked more during the week before kickoff, the Steelers would be hosting the AFC Championship game this Sunday instead. All week we heard about "the Bus", "Slash", and the vaunted "Blitzburgh" Defense. This was combined with comments to the effect that they had all the experience, the Pats had no defense, and Bledsoe couldn't get it done under pressure.
When it was over the AFC's #1 Defense had surrendered 346 total yards to the Pats, and it was the "soft" Defense of the Patriots who dominated the entire game, whistle to gun. Drew completed 7 of his first 7 passes. So much for butterflies. The "Bus" had 43 yards rushing, and "Slash" was 0-10 and had fewer rushing yards (19) than Mike Tomczak.
Offense sells tickets, Defense wins Championships...
The Pats defense had complete control of this game from the outset. Although there were no sirens sounded after every sack, knockdown, interception, or tackle, the D perhaps was the real hero. Those who feared a letdown after the 21-0 lead went home satisfied. Bledsoe twice was picked off on the Patriots side of the field, but the Defense yielded only a 29 yard field goal. This game should have been a shut out. After the game, Drew praised his defensive teammates, and conceded that "those three points were mine".
In the lopsided loss to Denver 7 games ago, the Pats defense gave up 4 TD's and 34 points. In the 6 games since then, the Patriot Defense has yielded a grand total of 4 TD's while giving up an average of 9.67 points per game. Those numbers are awesome. There is no defense in the league who has been better than the Pats over the last 6 games. They are stuffing the run (against good running teams), pressuring the passer, and are covering well in the secondary. The Jags offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride has his work cut out for him this week.
Thank You note...
Before we all get ready to beat up on the Jaguars, let's first kiss the ground they walk on. It is thanks to them that we are at home this Sunday for the AFC Championship game. Since early October, everyone was saying the road to the Super Bowl went through Denver. The Cinderella Jaguars paid no attention to that and stunned the Broncos at Mile High Stadium 30-27. Do you remember Bronco's TE Shannon Sharpe flexing to the crowd in Foxboro last November? That same gentleman was quoted as saying that Denver's 13-3 season would be a "failure" if they lost to Jacksonville. Guess what flex-man? You can turn on your TV this Sunday at 4pm EST to WATCH the AFC Championship game. I wish you could see me laughing right now.
Pats -n- Cats for Super Bowl XXX1...
This game will be a rematch of the September contest in which the Pats prevailed on a Vinatieri field goal in OT 28-25. That Pats blew a 22-0 nothing lead, and regrouped to salvage the win. That was a long time ago in football years, but we'll re-examine that game anyway.
The game really should not have been as close as the score indicated. OT could have been avoided all together had the PAT not been blocked after the Pat's first TD. A 23-0 lead could have saved us all a little anxiety. A 51 yard Hail Mary as the half ended didn't help either. The Brunell jump shot bounced off of Willie Clay's feet who was lying on the ground and into the hands of the Jag's Jimmy Smith. 22-7 Jags. Two long catch and runs by Andre Rison (now with the Packers) helped to pull things even at 25-25. Brunell completed his last pass of regulation, also a Hail Mary jumper, for over 50 yards down to the 1 inch line. Phew!
Mark Brunell finished the day with 432 passing yards, but just over 100 were a gift from above. Bledsoe finished the day 27-44 for 255 yards with a TD and an interception. Martin carried the ball 24 times for 95 yards and also ran for a score.
Take a look at the last seven games these teams have played. The Pats are 5-2 with losses at Dallas and a blowout at home to Denver. The Jags are 7-0 and have eliminated the Bills at Rich Stadium and the Broncos at Mile High Stadium. Why the Pats are 7.5 point favorites is puzzling. The Pats should be favored at home, but the spread seems a bit much in my estimation. Of the 18 games the Jags have played this season, all but three were decided inside the two-minute warning. Tom Coughlin's team is for real, big time.
In Mark Brunell, they have the league's leading passer who can also burn you with his running ability. Brunell was also the NFL's leading rusher among QB's this year. He had a 40 yard run last week in Denver. Natrone Means is playing scary-well. Buffalo and Denver have excellent defenses against the run (Denver was #1 in the AFC), and Means had over 100 yards against both of them. After winning on the road in Buffalo and Denver, traveling to New England will not intimidate these guys.
If you must find a weakness over their last 7 games, it is that they are winning by the skin of their teeth. The Pats outscored the Steelers by 25 points yesterday. During their 7 game winning streak, Jacksonville has outscored their opposition by a COMBINED 27 points. Winning is the bottom line, but you can't keep pulling a rabbit out of that hat, particularly in the playoffs.
One thing is for sure. While Buffalo and Denver may have been guilty of over confidence, the Pats will certainly not take the Jags lightly. This is the AFC Championship game. You don't play in this game unless you are among the best in the NFL. The Jags have earned, deserve, and have the respect of the Patriots and this one fan in particular. I will not offer any predictions here. Like McGinest said after the game "All the ESPN shows and predictions don't matter. All that matters is the score at the end of the game".
Final AFC Statistics...
Not that this matters, for as Parcells said "When you're in the playoff's, it's not who has the best record, but who's playing the best that wins." He's right. Just ask Shannon Sharpe. These statistics are based on total yardage allowed/ gained.
Defense: Jags 6th. 12th run, 6th pass, Pats 9th. 4th run, 13th
Offense: Jags 2nd. 10th run, 1st pass, Pats 4th. 13th run, 3rd pass.
Sunday the 12th is why we visit training camp in July. It's why we buy and wear Patriot's clothing all year long, even after a 1-15 season. It's why we drink our morning orange juice from Patriots glasses. It's why we sit in the rain and cold watching Mark Wilson throw interceptions. It's why we're in the Foxboro parking lot at 10am in the cold of December when the Pats were eliminated from the playoffs in October. It's why we put our money into season tickets and going to away games instead of our 401(k) plans. It's why some of us spend thousands to keep a 10 year old tailgating Van in game condition.
Go Pats. Beat Jacksonville. Please.
See you next week.