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.

For 9/15/98

All’s well that ends well...

After a truly anemic 1st quarter on offense, which saw the defense do all the work in building a 10-0 lead, the Patriots offense finally got rolling. It mounted scoring drives of 74, 55, 46, and 70 yards to put the Colts in a 29-0 hole by the time the 4th quarter was 39 seconds old. The Colts finally got on the board on a 4th and goal Manning TD toss with just over 4:00 remaining, but the regular defensive unit was not on the field, and certainly deserves credit for a virtual shutout.

While much of the credit has to go to glaring rookie mistakes by Peyton Manning, you have to credit the Pats with parlaying those blunders into a domination of their opponent. The Colts never threatened in this game, and that’s the way it should be against teams of this nature. The Pats didn’t just beat the Colts, they pounded them.

The game ball certainly has to go to Ty Law, who not only picked off two passes and returned one for a TD, but also shut down Indy’s #1 gun, Marvin Harrison. Harrison and Manning hooked up for big gains throughout the preseason, and also connected on a long TD in week 1 against the Dolphins. Harrison finished this day with just two catches for 26 yards, and never found the endzone. On the other side of the field, the much-maligned Chris Canty also had an interception. Say what you want about Canty, but watching Eric Zeir throw a 44-yard pass from his 1 over Otis Smith earlier in the day, I’m glad we have him.

Civic Duty...

I can’t write a column this week without mentioning the obvious problems the Pats are having with the running game. Now I’m not looking for Robert Edwards to have 115 yards rushing, but it would be nice if the offensive line could open a hole large enough for him to get 1 lousy yard. The defense turned the ball over to the offense at the 2-yard line following a Manning fumble. Three handoffs to Robert Edwards went nowhere while the offensive linemen were watching Edwards get tackled as if they had bought a ticket to the game.

I was happy to see Zampese stick to the run, but was less than thrilled with the results. The Colts defense is not that good, and the Pats line made them look like the ’85 Bears on that series. Later in the game the Pats had another 1st and goal at the 2, and this time Bledsoe threw a pass incomplete. Edwards pounded it in on 2nd down, but barely. This area of the Pats offense has got to improve. You can get away with it playing the Colts’ of the NFL, but when the Chiefs and 49ers come to town, you can’t settle for field goals when you have 1st and goal inside the 5.

I do credit Pete Carroll for kicking the field goal on 4th down and resisting the temptation to go for it. It was early in the 1st quarter in a scoreless game, and you have to get points on the board. Following 4 incomplete passes last year from the 1 against the Packers; Favre drove 99 yards for a TD to put the game away. Carroll is learning. Perhaps Bill Parcells can take a lesson from Pete Carroll? Also on Sunday, following 3 consecutive carries by Curtis Martin from the 1-yard line, it was 4th and goal in a 7-7 game in the 2nd quarter. What’s wrong with 10-7? After calling time out, Parcells went back to Martin, and the result was the same. Eric Zeir came on in relief of the ailing Harbaugh and drove the Ravens 99 yards for a 14-7 lead. The Jets never recovered. At least the Pats aren’t paying Edwards $36 Million to get tackled in the backfield.

Foreshadowing?

The Patriots final rushing statistics of 103 yards were skewed greatly by a late 4th quarter jaunt of over 50 yards by Sedrick Shaw. Robert Edwards finished the day with just 36 yards on 18 carries (4 carries for 1 yard on the goal line), but Sedrick exploded up the right sideline on his very first carry. Trailing the play were the unfamiliar numbers 66, 63 and 61. Ed Ellis, Heath Irwin and Damon Denson were in the game, and the Pats o-line actually moved people out of the way. Armstrong is not in any danger of losing his staring spot to Ed Ellis, but Max Lane and Todd Rucci have got to be looking over their shoulders.

Pete Carroll said in the offseason that the young lineman would be given a chance to compete. A few more field goals from inside the 5-yard line, and the Patriots may have some very wealthy lineman sitting on the bench. Last week I may have gotten too excited in a loss, and this week maybe I’m a little too critical in a win, but the Pats playoff drive sputtered and died last year because they could not run the ball. Let’s fix it NOW this time around.

Again, looking ahead...

The Bills and Colts quickly find themselves in a familiar position at the bottom of the AFC East. Miami has played two less than impressive games against those same teams, including a hard fought 13-7 victory on Sunday over the Bills in the opener at Pro Player Stadium. Ryan Leaf, in his NFL debut, led his team to 16 points against the same Buffalo defense. You can’t get any better than 2-0, but Miami will find the going a lot tougher this week as the Central Division champion Steelers pay a visit. The Bills have a good chance at their first win of the season as they kick of their home schedule against the 0-2 Rams.

The Jets and their fans now need a win over the mistake prone 0-2 Colts to prevent a panic outbreak. A win over Indy in the swamp and everyone will say "So What?" A loss, however, and Bill Parcells will almost certainly erupt at his press conference. The Jets would be 0-3 and trailing the Colts by 1 game! The Jets looked nothing at all like playoff contenders in losing at home to the Baltimore Ravens. Twice the Jets had 1st and goal at the 1, and they came away with 3 total points. Curtis Martin had 58 yards on 23 carries, giving him 116 yards and a 2.6 average so far this young season.

The vaunted Jets Special Teams allowed a touchdown on a punt return and Foley threw three interceptions, one in the endzone, with another returned for a TD. Last but not least, the Jets defense, which last week allowed a 96 yard Garrison Hearst TD run, allowed an 11 play, 99 yard touchdown drive at the end of the 1st half with Baltimore’s 2nd string QB at the helm fresh off the bench. Yikes. With the way Marshall Faulk ran against New England, you have got to think the Colts have a chance in this game if Manning can cut down on his costly turnovers. Should be a dandy, and the Jets are giving 9.

New England stays at home to take on Eddie George and the Oilers. George is coming off an 11 carry for 15 yards effort in a loss to San Diego. I’m not sure if that’s good news or bad news. The Oilers are another team the Pats should beat, as New England hopes to enter the early by week with a winning record, hopefully (likely) tied for 1st place with Miami.

See you next week!