Monday, January 21, 2008

18 and Life to Go

Well, no going back now. I said a while back that the Pats would go 19-0 and here we are, one win away, one balmy desert night from history. And it's going to happen. I know it, the Pats know it, you know it, hell, the Giants know it. Take the Pats, give the thirteen and let's get to spring training.

There's going to be a lot of journalists, talking heads, "experts" and average Patriots-hating fans who will try to talk themselves into the idea that the Giants will win. They are kidding themselves. That's not to say that the Giants can't win; anything can happen. But they won't win. The Pats have won every kind of game imaginable this year. They have faced nearly every situation possible, except being down by multiple touchdowns. All those late game fourth down plays are paying off now. Never just sitting on the ball late in a blowout is paying off now. Does anybody in their right mind think that, with two weeks to prepare, Billy B and Brady won't be ready for anything and everything the Giants will throw at them? Are there still people out there who doubt the Pats' greatness, who still think that the "aging, slow" defense and our "soft" running game are weaknesses? Have those people even been watching? There is not a situation out there for which this team is unprepared. They've come this far and there is no way in hell they won't complete this perfect season. As for their place in history, as the greatest team ever or whatever, I don't really care. I just want another hat and t-shirt.

I remember at the half of Super Bowl XX, with the Pats down 23-3, Ahmad Rashad came up with a way for the Pats to be winning the game at the half...if Stanley Morgan just catches that goal-line slant...if Eason doesn't fumble...if Don Blackmon catches those two INTs and takes 'em back...if, if, if. And the late Pete Axthelm says something to the effect of, "This is men against boys...if the Pats had twenty points, the Bears would have forty..." I don't think the Giants are that overmatched, but on a certain level, the point holds: no matter what the Giants do, the Pats will be just that much better. I have the utmost confidence in that.

One thing is strange, though. Before the last three Pats Super Bowls, I've been much more excited. Even given the lack of novelty in the Pats playing for the title, there's still something missing, or at least something different. And I'm more nervous about this game then the others. Not because we're unequipped for the challenge, just because of what's riding on this. I imagine some Yankee fans felt this way before game 7 in 2004. As in, if we lose this next game, we'll never hear the end of it. (And I'm not comparing the two in terms of choke-osity...just making a different, but related point...) The Yanks lost that game, and I've made damn sure to do my part to make sure their fans never hear the end of it. And I have no doubt that everywhere the Pats are loathed, which seems to be most everywhere (and especially here in Pittsburgh), plans are being made to let Pats fans never hear the end of it if we lose this next game. That's not something I have any interest in hearing for the rest of my life.

The only chance we ever had of putting "spygate" behind us (at least mostly) was going 19-0. Now we're so close, and I just want it to be over. Not to say that I won't enjoy it, but this time when I'm gasping for air at the end of a Super Bowl, it won't be from jumping around too much. It will be from holding my breath.


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