Well, that was actually a game. Now I know why so many forty-something year olds die of heart attacks. I actually enjoyed this game a lot less than those crazy blow-outs that have been ending with defensive linemen serving as wide receivers for the Patriots. I am one of those Patriot fans who wants to see our team obliterate every team they encounter. I expected a bit of a struggle with the Colts, so was not terribly shocked when a game emerged. But tonight I thought this was going to be a care-free romp toward both team and individual records that are now looming so tantalizingly large on the radar. That first interception and TD only served to confirm for me that all was well in the world, and the good guys would easily win. And then the Eagles started to play.
I really believe that the Eagles deserve enormous credit for coming into Foxborough to genuinely attempt to pull off an upset. They played with a religious zeal that made them look like... well, like true Patriots! What an amazing offering by a team that seemingly should have been outclassed in every way, especially when going on the road to do it. I was amazed at the quality of play they brought to the field tonight. They had very few mistakes, except at the very end of the game when things were getting just a wee bit desperate, and managed to keep the possiblity of an upset alive until the final minute. They brought everything they had to the field, and severely threatened to overcome a superior team by their relentlessly agressive attack. I felt that they were more ferocious on the field than any team the Patriots have faced all year, including the Colts. It had all the emotional energy of an in-state college rivalry game... the kind where upsets happen just because it's a rivalry game. The Eagles took all that emotional energy and focused it like a laser on the task at hand on each and every play, forcing the Patriots to modify their attack, to miss opportunities, and to make mistakes. What had been an invincible Patriots team all season looked more like a typical Patriots team of the last several years. They were excellent in most all respects, but had to change their game to find a way to win.
But finding a way to win is what great teams do. And it is what great leaders do. With unexpected heroes coming to the fore to show off their greatness, the Patriots were able to adjust, to deliver, and to outlast those fierce little Eagles. I remember a game played as a kid in our neighborhood. I was seven years old. Several of the neighborhood kids were playing, and we were all about the same size, except for one twelve year old that towered like Goliath over the rest of us. He ran roughshod over all of us, scoring every time he had the ball. I got ahold of him on one play and tried to bring the big guy down. I ended up on the ground but still had ahold of his leg, and I hung on while he slowly dragged me toward the end zone, hollering for help from my team the whole way. Finally, a couple of other kids got hold of him too, and he nearly went down, but managed to drag the three of us across the finish line to victory. We lost, but we never gave up. The Eagles must have felt like that tonight. They hung on until the end. They never gave up. They had the spirit of champions. But they fell short because their opponent was just a little too good to hold back.
Next week, I am hoping for a blow-out victory for the Patriots. I'm too young for a pacemaker.