Today is superbowl sunday and while doing my best to ignore Lady Gaga and the other anti-Trump nonsense I can’t help but notice they seem to dominate the coverage, likely because most people don’t give Atlanta a chance.

Given both the history and the work ethic of the Patriots Dynasty this is not a fault likely shared by the team. They understand that in a single game anything can happen, furthermore they know that the Atlanta Offense is explosive and while the Atlanta Defense is not highly rated they were able to stop two Superbowl Champion quarterbacks in their last two games.

Despite these concessions I am picking the Patriots and the reason for that is not only their superior defense and the possession of the greatest quarterback in the history of the game, but I give the ultimate credit to Roger Goodell and deflategate.

Now I’m sure many of you are thinking that I’m referring to the revenge factor that is often the subject of stories and analysis from Rush Limbaugh on down. It’s no coincidence that the title on the Boston Herald epaper supplement on the game is titled This Time It’s Personal and to be sure that has provided some motivation for a Patriots team that frankly needs little motivation than the potential of a championship.

But Ironically Roger Goodell has (thanks to an able assist from the Patriots backups who went 3-1 during the Tom Brady suspension) given the New England Patriots the single most critical advantage in the game.

Football, despite having the shortest season of the 4 major American sports is by far the sport most conducive to injury. Every single play involves physical contact and being hit. By the end of the season its said that everyone is in pain, it’s just a question of how much. Thus if you can avoid taking repeated hits it can make a huge difference. Franco Harris might have taken grief by running out of bounds for example but as NFL.com puts it while naming him the 3rd best running back in playoff history

Harris totaled 1,556 yards and 16 rushing touchdowns in the postseason. Those totals are second to only one other running back in NFL history (more on that guy later). Harris was a key component to the Steelers‘ dynasty, helping the team to four Super Bowl championships.

In Super Bowl IX, Harris rushed for 158 yards and a TD. He was named Super Bowl MVP. Harris also ran for 343 yards in that playoff stretch. That was a Steelers‘ record for rushing yards in a single postseason, until it was broken just this year by Le’Veon Bell. It’s clear that regardless of what is thought about his running style, Harris was a monster in the playoffs.

It’s also worth noting that in a 1996 profile the Baltimore sun noted that Harris was “without the disabilities of many former pro football players”, I suspect his avoidance of unnecessary hits had a lot to do with that.

Now Consider Tom Brady.  while he is a dedicated, one might even say obsessive when it comes to conditioning the fact remains that he is 39 years old, an age where the vast majority of players have been safely retired rather than putting impossible numbers (28 TD vs 2 Int this season) playing for their fifth ring in seven tries and finishing 2nd in the MVP vote to his opposite number Matt Ryan of the Falcons.

Brady may be spotting  Matt Ryan 8 years and the MVP award but thanks to Roger Goodell Brady has one thing that Matt Ryan does not:  Four extra games / weeks of rest, four weeks of not getting hit by opposing linemen, four weeks of not being chased out of the pocket and four weeks of not hitting the ground hard.  Brady is four weeks fresher, four weeks stronger and four weeks less in pain.

Furthermore thanks to the suspension both of his backups have been tested by fire and rest assured if something happens and Brady goes down you can be sure Bill Belichick will be ready with an offensive scheme designed for Jimmy Garoppolo’s strengths based just on practice but on game experience against actual NFL competition.

None of this is possible without Roger Goodell’s over the top excessive punishment of Brady and the Patriots for their Deflategate sins, so if Brady, Belichick and Robert Kraft take the podium as I suspect they will, they should thank Roger Goodell for making sure their 39 year old QB was one month fresher than the other guy.

As their rating continue to tank (at least relatively speaking, compared to Comedy Central and Full Frontal with Samantha Bee the NFL is still god) The NFL is still in total denial of the cost of the National Anthem protests.

“Finally, it is worth noting that we see no evidence that concern over player protests during the National Anthem is having any material impact on ratings. In fact, our own data shows that perception of the NFL and its players is actually up in 2016.”

Matt Dolloff isn’t buying it

“Finally, it is worth noting that we see no evidence that concern over player protests during the National Anthem is having any material impact on ratings. In fact, our own data shows that perception of the NFL and its players is actually up in 2016.”

and it’s costing the networks that carry them but in the end Mr. Dolloff opinion, valid as it seems, is not enough to tag the NFL as liars.

But this tweet is:

The story is here:

San Francisco 49ers head coach Chip Kelly announced Tuesday that Colin Kaepernick has been handed the reins to take over as the team’s starting quarterback.
The decision comes amid the squad’s four-game slump and less-than-stellar 1-4 start to the season.

Now by any rational measure this move makes sense, your San Francisco has started 1-4 and sits in last in the NFL west 1-2 in their Division and 1-4 in their conference and tied for the worst record in the NFC. If they want to make up the 2 1/2 games (likely more thanks to tie breakers) they are behind in the wild card and have any chance of moving ahead of the 10 teams they have to overtake to get that last wild card slot with only 11 game to go something has to be done NOW!

Replacing an ineffective quarterback with a veteran who despite injury and a bad streak lately has in the past led a team to a Superbowl appearance is a sound and logical risk to take at this time to change things. Any student of the game would agree.

Yet not only did the head coach feel compelled to state explicitly that this move was “a football decision” but the San Francisco 49ers team felt compelled to include that explicit statement in explanation to the 1.36 Million fans who follow the team on twitter.

Why? I submit and suggest that they are so worried about a backlash from fans, they considered a statement of the obvious necessary.

And that dear friends tells you that when the NFL says that the boycott is having little effect are lying to the public in the best traditions of Hillary Clinton


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sitdownby baldilocks

Several members of the Seattle Seahawks are talking about doing a sit-down protest of the National Anthem this Sunday, opening day of the 2016-2017 NFL season.

By the way, Sunday is also the 15th anniversary of Al Qaeda’s attacks on America, which destroyed the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center, damaged the Pentagon, and lead to the crash of United Airlines Flight 93.

Seahawk receiver Doug Baldwin said Wednesday he is considering sitting during the national anthem while linebacker Bobby Wagner said the Seahawks could take an action as a team.

Seahawks cornerback Jeremy Lane, who said he plans to continue to sit during the national anthem this season, may not be doing so by himself when the team opens the regular season Sunday against Miami.

Seattle receiver Doug Baldwin said Wednesday he is also considering sitting during the anthem before Sunday’s 1:05 p.m. kickoff at CenturyLink Field while linebacker Bobby Wagner said the team has been talking about a group action.

“I have (considered it),” Baldwin said before Seattle’s practice Wednesday afternoon. “I want to make sure I get all of my ducks in a row before I do so.’’

While Wagner said he didn’t know if he would sit down during the anthem he said “anything we want to do, it’s not going to be individual. It’s going to be a team thing. That’s what the world needs to see. The world needs to see people coming together versus being individuals.”

Wagner said he couldn’t say exactly what the team might do, saying “whatever we decide to do will be a big surprise.”

These guys should do what they want, but, I wonder whether it will be a big surprise to some of these men if, a few years hence, they have to go out and get real  jobs because they’ve spent all their football money and because the NFL no longer exists. Because that is what they are doing: killing their platform. A large portion of the NFL’s audience won’t put their monies out for this sort of thing.

Surprise!

But if they feel that strongly about it, they should do their thing.

By the way, I’m old enough to remember when the following video of Seattle Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman taunting San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Michael Crabtree was the Most Terrible and Controversial Thing Ever. Good times.

(Thanks to Ace)

UPDATE: Sea Chicken-sh**ts.

Juliette Akinyi Ochieng blogs at baldilocks. (Her older blog is located here.) Her first novel, Tale of the Tigers: Love is Not a Game, was published in 2012. Her second novel will be done in 2016. Follow her on Twitter.

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Just under a year ago, before his suspension was overturned I wrote about how Tom Brady’s suspension had a huge silver lining for the Patriots:

First of all Tom Brady is 37 years old, while he is arguably the greatest quarterback in NFL history even the greatest gets old and the toll of 15 seasons of getting hit has to have a cumulative effect on a body.

Second of all the Patriots are a pragmatic bunch of folks, they understand Brady is getting older and need to start considering who might be replacing him down the line.

Third of all how do you motivate a man who is:

1. Married to a Supermodel
2. Has all the money he will ever need
3. Has all already been to six superbowls and won 4

That’s why this suspension will do wonders for everybody.

Well now Brady’s suspension has been reinstated by the US appeals court

Last year, a federal court ruled that NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell had not treated New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady fairly in a disciplinary investigation, overturning a four-game suspension at the start of the 2015 season. Today, the 2nd Circuit threw a flag on the lower court and Brady, overturning the ruling and reinstating the suspension:

Other than the fact that Tom Brady’s is now 38 instead of 37 every single argument I made concerning the advantages of Brady getting a 4 week rest to start the season still applies.

Add to that the fact that the only reason Brady did not reach his 7th superbowl was a missed 2 pt conversion and the questionable coaching decision not to settle for 3 points with plenty of time on the clock on several occasions you have to believe Tom will want that 5th ring even more than he did last year.

I suggest the fans of Buffalo, Houston, Arizona and Miami enjoy their 4 game Bradyless windfall (which are not btw guaranteed wins for them) because after those four games the rest of the league is going to be paying for it.

P.S.  None of this changes the fact that there is absolutely no way minor functionaries fiddled with footballs without the knowledge and or consent of their QB and if you believe they would you’ll believe anything.  Yet it is a minor thing which produces a miniscule if any advantage but you’re not telling me it didn’t happen.

Last month I said this about the New England Patriots and deflategate:

it is clear the that patriots have spent the last 15 years living rent free in the heads of practically every time in the league.

Yesterday Ian O’Connor at ESPN seconded that motion:

This game, and the way Pagano coached it, illustrated again that the Patriots aren’t just beating opponents between the tackles, they’re breaking them down psychologically, too.

Remember at this point the Patriots where only up by six, the Colts were at home, with a defense that had already burned the pats for a pic-6 (Interception run back for a touchdown) and a first rate punter. There was plenty of time and no reason at all to be bothering with tricks at this point.

Pagano coached Sunday night as if he were determined to out-trick the master.

The problem is you don’t defeat the defending superbowl champion by “outtricking the master” you win it by playing football for 60 minutes, something the Bill Belechick demonstrated after Seattle’s Jermaine Kearse made one of the greatest clutch catches in superbowl history with just over a minute to play and facing one of the best running backs in the game at their own five yard line:

here are the Patriots, seconds after dealing with a dagger in the heart play step up and stop Lynch just before the line keeping the game in play, making it 2nd & goal on the 1 yard line with 26 seconds to go.

This is the first of two telling moments. The play by play announcers are saying openly perhaps Patriots Coach Bill Belichick should simply let Seattle walk into the end zone and take the lead to give Tom Brady the maximum amount of time to possibly come back for a game tying field goal. As far as they are concerned a Seattle touchdown to take the lead is a fait accompli and there is nothing the Patriots can do to stop it…

…Bill Belichick is thinking the opposite. His team already has taken the lead and if Seattle wants it they’ll have to take it back. He isn’t using a time out in the hopes of preserving time for Tom Brady to take back the lead, he’s counting on his defense to hold it.

Belichick isn’t worrying about mind games, his player Malcolm Butler isn’t worrying about mind games, they’re both worrying about football and how to win that game, unlike for example, Pittsburgh in week one. O’connor again

Mike Tomlin’s opening night meltdown over the failed Foxborough headsets was a case in point, and it was answered the next day by a Belichick jab about running a program that isn’t built on excuses. People see ghosts when they play the Patriots. They don’t stay within a country mile of their lane. Go back and give a second read to the report by ESPN.com’s Don Van Natta Jr. and Seth Wickersham on the connection between Spygate and Deflategate, and on all the time and energy New England’s opponents have invested in fretting over potential covert ops and dirty tricks.

If you haven’t seen it take a good look at that play

They say the film never lies, and Sunday night’s film shows a Colts team that tried to get way too smart and way too cute at the worst possible time.

In the end, the Patriots don’t just make you miss blocks and tackles. Pagano reminded everyone that they make you lose your mind, too.

This week Patriots Colts game demonstrates the truth of this post Superbowl statement concerning New England

None of this changes the fact that Tom Brady is one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time, that Bill Belichick is a great coach and the Patriots teams were some of the best trained and prepared teams in the league. Without those truths even if every allegation against the pats was true, they simply would not have been able to win as they did.

But given those facts and the obsession the rest of the league had with the pats, the question isn’t how the NE Patriots managed to win 4 Superbowls and play in six over the last 15 years. The wonder is how they ever failed to make it.

The way you beat New England is you play better football for 60 minutes.  Period.

When you hear the name “Gaylord Perry” the first word that might come to mind is “Spitball”. However you might be surprised to know that in his entire 22 year major league that saw him win two Cy Young awards strike out over 3000 men and take the mound 777 times it wasn’t till his penultimate season that he was ejected for doctoring a baseball despite every umpire in the league watching him.

However as much as Perry was known for the spitball his very reputation put every single batter he faced on the defensive. All Perry had to do is go through the motions and the hitter was frozen.

Reading the latest ESPN report

In fact, many former New England coaches and employees insist that the taping of signals wasn’t even the most effective cheating method the Patriots deployed in that era. Several of them acknowledge that during pregame warm-ups, a low-level Patriots employee would sneak into the visiting locker room and steal the play sheet, listing the first 20 or so scripted calls for the opposing team’s offense. (The practice became so notorious that some coaches put out fake play sheets for the Patriots to swipe.) Numerous former employees say the Patriots would have someone rummage through the visiting team hotel for playbooks or scouting reports. Walsh later told investigators that he was once instructed to remove the labels and erase tapes of a Patriots practice because the team had illegally used a player on injured reserve. At Gillette Stadium, the scrambling and jamming of the opponents’ coach-to-quarterback radio line — “small s—” that many teams do, according to a former Pats assistant coach — occurred so often that one team asked a league official to sit in the coaches’ box during the game and wait for it to happen. Sure enough, on a key third down, the headset went out.

But the truth is, only one man truly knows how much Spygate, or any other suspect method, affected games: Belichick.

and Rush Limbaugh’s coverage of the Patriots and the NFL

Now, I don’t know how anybody gets some low-level schlub sneaking in an NFL locker room without a lot of people being in on it. That’s just hard to do, and my point is I really question this. Baseball is different. At least it was. I have some experience at this when I worked for the Kansas City Royals, but still it was tough. And if it was discovered that somebody from the other team is in there — I don’t care how low on the totem pole they were — it would have been a huge scandal.

The person would have been kicked out. There would have been holy hell raised over it. The other thing is the play sheet. This first 20 plays? Not every team does that. Some teams’ head coach scripts the first 20 plays for his own offense no matter what. They’re gonna do those 20 plays no matter what the situation is. They’re gonna run those 20 plays because it’s strategically been put together and they’re gonna learn how the defense operates in those 20 plays and those first two set up the rest of the game.

Not all teams do it. But I can guarantee you that no head coach would leave it laying around for some schlub from the other team to walk in and pilfer. You know, they’re kept in laminated folders to protect from the elements from rain and this kind of thing. They’re just not pieces of paper. It’s 8.5X11, color-coded. You’ve seen the head coach holding these things if you’ve noticed coaches on the sideline watching these things.

…it is clear the that patriots have spent the last 15 years living rent free in the heads of practically every time in the league.

None of this changes the fact that Tom Brady is one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time, that Bill Belichick is a great coach and the Patriots teams were some of the best trained and prepared teams in the league. Without those truths even if every allegation against the pats was true, they simply would not have been able to win as they did.

But given those facts and the obsession the rest of the league had with the pats, the question isn’t how the NE Patriots managed to win 4 Superbowls and play in six over the last 15 years. The wonder is how they ever failed to make it.

I’m old enough to remember when doubting that Michael Sam was an NFL caliber player was considered bigotry.  Well now after signing with Montreal in the CFL and then suddenly leaving training camp for “personal reasons”,  apparently it appears he’s not coming back:

Sam signed on to roll with the Montreal Alouettes​. However, he left the team in June for personal reasons.

The story didn’t get much better two months later. Sam announced that he’s quit the Alouettes to focus on his mental health

Think about that for a second, the player that the American media was ready to pillory the NFL for if he wasn’t drafted, has found the pressure of being in the CFL too much.

In fairness if the MSM had let him be and allowed him succeed or fail on his own merits perhaps his “mental health” would not be in jeopardy.  Perhaps if he continued to work to his potential rather than to the media’s expectations of him things might have been different but right not none of that matters.

The irony of course is the MSM that made Michael Sam draft position a cause célèbre will now without a question blame Sam’s failure on everyone but himself.

Meanwhile in Philadelphia another football player who the media is less impressed with is making waves:

When Tim Tebow completes a pass or takes off running with the football, fans watching the Philadelphia Eagles practice cheer loudly and reporters quickly post about it on social media.

Few, if any, players fighting for a roster spot ever drew more attention.

and he’s already impressing his teammates

Teammate Brandon Graham already predicted Tebow not only will make the team, but make an impact. Riley Cooper, Tebow’s former roommate at Florida, expects him to succeed.

“He’s one of the toughest players I’ve ever played with, and that rubs off on everyone else,” Cooper said. “I’m sure he’s going to do well.”

and there is no question about either his work ethic

 About 43,000 fans attended practiced last Sunday and many cheered Tebow’s every move.

Tebow signed his autograph on several Gators jerseys and even a Bible. He’s often the last player off the field and does his best to accommodate every fan’s request.

Nor his mental health

“It’s something you always have to think about when you come out here because you can take it for granted,” Tebow said. “And there’s probably been a lot of times in my life when I’ve taken it for granted. But you just realize how blessed you are when you come out here. You’re able to play a game that you love. That’s pretty special.”

But unlike Michael Sam who had an adoring media and an indifferent public , the public has long loved Tebow unlike the media or some of in the NFL even when he was winning for them

Right now, whenever Broncos vice president of football operations John Elway gets asked about Tebow, he effectively says, “We have no choice but to play him. He wins games.” It’s not really a compliment. It’s almost a criticism. But if Tebow did all this with a prison record, Elway would say the same thing in reverse order: “He wins games. We have no choice but to play him.” Which is similar, but not the same.

 

Comedians make jokes about him

Even his very existence was an affront to their highest sacrament

For starters, Tebow’s very existence is somehow controversial. He’s a walking pro-life testimonial. He’s been pulling off comebacks since before he was born. Pam Tebow, Tim’s mother, courageously chose to carry baby Tim to term despite doctors’ recommendations that she abort him.

You may recall that before Tim went pro, the Christian group, Focus on the Family, commissioned an innocuous TV ad that ran during the 2010 Saints-Colts Super Bowl game. It briefly told the story of the Tebows’ pre-natal struggle. The word “abortion” was never even uttered, but a positive portrayal of childbearing was all it took.

And so began the left’s hate affair with Tim Tebow. Radical feminist groups, media-types and liberal pundits alike lost their collective noodle even before the ad ran.

But through it all Tebow kept working and has been rewarded with one more chance to make an NFL roster.

Nobody can tell the future.  Michael Sam may pull himself together and with hard work might find himself playing somewhere, maybe in the Arena football league, maybe in the CFL or perhaps with a lot of effort and luck on an NFL team.  Tim Tebow for all the media, fan attention and hard work may never take another snap in a regular season NFL game, but there is one thing we know.

This weekend Tim Tebow will be starting Quarterback in an NFL game while Michael Sam will be at home and no amount of punditry, comedy or media angst can change it.

I was at a local restaurant last night and all the talk was about the 4 game suspension given to Tom Brady over Deflategate.

In one respect it really doesn’t matter for Brady, HOF Baseball player Gaylord Perry who was known to bend a rule or two in his day put it best:

“They’d have to be a little bit smarter about it,” Perry told Sporting News Thursday morning. “But they got away with it during the game and won, so that’s all that matters.”

Given that this is football rather than something that actually matters like the upcoming election or baseball I was actually thinking about giving the whole topic a miss but it hit me that the NFL rather than hurting Brady & the Pats has actually done them a big favor.

Consider the following facts:

First of all Tom Brady is 37 years old, while he is arguably the greatest quarterback in NFL history even the greatest gets old and the toll of 15 seasons of getting hit has to have a cumulative effect on a body.

Second of all the Patriots are a pragmatic bunch of folks, they understand Brady is getting older and need to start considering who might be replacing him down the line.

Third of all how do you motivate a man who is:

1. Married to a Supermodel
2. Has all the money he will ever need
3. Has all already been to six superbowls and won 4

That’s why this suspension will do wonders for everybody.

Tom Brady’s 37 year old Body gets an extra month of not being hit that the rest of the league’s quarterbacks will not get.  While that might not seem a big deal in say week 7 or 8 come week 15 or 16 that’s the type of thing that can pay huge dividends particularly for an older player.

The Patriots will now get a chance to see if they have a potential long term replacement for Brady on their Roster. This had to be checked sooner or later so now they have an excuse without waiting for an injury or risking offense to a team icon & start.  If they are a bust, they you have a healthy & rested Brady ready to go, and if they’re not then you now have either

1.   A game tested backup for Brady the rest of the year

2.  The Greatest QB of all time available as needed during the season

Furthermore Brady now has been given two huge incentives to have a monster year

1.   Brady will want to remind New England that no matter how good a potential replacement plays HE is the star of the team (Don’t think for one second that he’s forgotten that he got his chance because of an injury to star QB Drew Bledsoe).

2.  Brady, already a competitive man, knows a lot of people are pointing to him & calling him a cheater and not in the friendly oh shucks Gaylord Perry way.  There is nothing he would like better than to turn those smiles and grins into frowns and groans of pain by adding a 5th ring to his collection.

So if you are an NFL East team or a Patriots hater I suggest you enjoy the first four weeks of the season as best you can because I would not want to be playing the patriots anytime after week 7. Barring a young Phenom pulling a Wally Pip on him  I suspect what Brady will be doing to opposing defenses will not be pretty.

You have been warned.

 

Jack Crab:You’d better watch out Mr. Merryweather They’re whittling you down.  You can’t afford to lose any more of your parts.

Mr. Merryweather:Every business has a particle of risk.

Little Big Man 1970

Football is not Football if it’s Touch Football

Bob Schieffer Face the nation

Today on Face the nation they had a segment on the sudden retirement of rookie linebacker Chris Borland

There seems to be an excessive amount of praise for young Borland over a decision just as rational decision just like Sandy Koufax who facing the risk of disease concluded:

“I’ve got a lot of years to live after baseball and I would like to live them with the complete use of my body.”

All of this fuss over Borland’s decision saying how much he is giving up, but this glosses over what he has made.

Consider this information concerning median household incomes in the US

Households are by no means locked into the same quintile over time. Young educated households with professional skills and aspirations will typically move into the higher earning brackets during their financial life cycles. Households dependent on income from unskilled labor and service employment will not see the same financial progress over the years.

They have several key charts, here is the one that caught my eye. (All emphasis mine)

income chart

And that average include people in much more dangerous jobs than playing & training to play football for 16 weeks a year that pay a lot less than football.

Mr. Borland is 24, he made $420K last year and received a signing bonus of over 600k for signing a 4 year deal 3/4 of which he plans to return.

So he will end up with $570K before taxes.

Consider what that means, based on 2013 numbers. If he doesn’t make another dollar till he’s 35 he will STILL have made more than the median household income than the avg american of his age will earn over that period of time. Additionally he will not have any student loans to pay back.

I have no problem with Mr. Borland’s decision. He has obviously used his free college education well and I’m sure even when the media interest fades he will be able to make a good living.  Additionally he is new enough to football that he hasn’t gotten used to a lifestyle that demands an annual income of 500K or more.  It’s a perfectly rational and sensible decision and I have no problem with it.

However a decision to continue to play football and earn another half million at a time in his life when he is likely a his peak physically is no less rational as would have been a decision to play a long career, make tens of millions and live the life and lifestyle of a such a person and be able to provide a comfortable living for generation of children & grandchildren.

Either of these choices to play or not to pay are rational, neither of these choices are “heroic”.

Pat Tillman who left an NFL career to fight in Afghanistan (where he died)  made a heroic decision.  Bob Feller who was the first major league player to enlist after Pearl Harbor  and volunteered for combat duty in the USN made a heroic decision.

Chris Borland did not.

I thought Bob Schieffer’s was old enough to know the difference.

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Anyone who reads this site knows I’m a big Baseball fan and while I can watch Football & enjoy the nuances of the game I think it can’t compare.

The greatest advantage to Baseball?  No clock, you have to get those 27 outs, while often in football you can just run out the clock, the game is pretty much out of control.

That’s not how the Patriots approached this game. On sunday the Patriots were playing football, but were thinking baseball they played until the last out was recorded.

Consider the start of the  fourth quarter.  Seattle had the ball, the Patriots were down 24-14.  No Superbowl team in history had come back from a 10 point 4th quarter deficit and New England was playing against not only the defending NFL champions but the best defensive team in the league.

Rather than panicking or losing control they methodically, after stopping Seattle they drove down the field to score making it a 3 point game.

Then after stopping Seattle a 2nd time they drove a second time for a second touchdown with 2:02 left.

Both of those situation said a lot about the Patriots but what followed said even more.

Seattle, needing a touchdown started from their twenty and drove down the field, with  1:16 left on a 1st & 10 from the Patriots 38 we witnessed on of the greatest catches in NFL history:

That was an amazing miraculous catch but notice that in addition to Jermaine Kearse’s  incredible play, rookie defender Malcolm Butler (more on him later) after having what appeared to be a great defensive stop turned into a 30+ yard catch had the presence of mind to get Kearse out of bounds before he could score.

He didn’t waste time in shocked disbelief the game was still on the line and he acted.

With 1:06 left Seattle holding a time out in their pocket handed off to the best running back in the league Marshon Lynch who is stopped just short of the goal line.

Again, here are the Patriots, seconds after dealing with a dagger in the heart play step up and stop Lynch just before the line keeping the game in play, making it 2nd & goal on the 1 yard line with 26 seconds to go.

This is the first of two telling moments.  The play by play announcers are saying openly perhaps Patriots Coach Bill Belichick should simply let Seattle walk into the end zone and take the lead to give Tom Brady the maximum amount of time to possibly come back for a game tying field goal.  As far as they are concerned a Seattle touchdown to take the lead is a fait accompli and there is nothing the Patriots can do to stop it.

Seattle is thinking the same thing, consider Pete Carroll’s post game comments, he is thinking to “waste” a play, to get time off the clock to minimize the chances of a Patriots comeback after they score.

This kind of thinking suggests a lack of confidence in his top ranked defense but more importantly it presumes that the lead taking touchdown has already happened, his team doesn’t have to execute, he doesn’t have to make the right call, it’s all over.

Bill Belichick is thinking the opposite.  His team already has taken the lead and if Seattle wants it they’ll have to take it back.  He isn’t using a time out in the hopes of preserving time for Tom Brady to take back the lead, he’s counting on his defense to hold it.

And when the snap is made Malcolm Butler, the same fellow who stopped Kearse from scoring two plays earlier recognizes the play and muscles his way forward to intercept the ball and give the Patriots the ball on their own 1 yard line with 20 seconds to go.

But even then, no matter what the highlight reels are showing, the game is NOT over and the Patriots understand this.

There is little or no space for Brady to take a knee and if he is brought down in the end zone not only is it a safety making the score 28-26 but the same Seattle team that drove down the field at the end of the 2nd quarter would just have to get within field goal range for a chance to win.

Meanwhile Seattle was in the same spot New England was in a mere 46 seconds earlier.  They had been kicked in the chest by a stunning reversal.  But unlike New England who put it behind them and got down to business Seattle did not.

First the Patriots understanding the game wasn’t over, did their best to draw Seattle offsides and defensive end defensive end Michael Bennett obliged.

Suddenly instead of the ball on the 1 and the Patriots having to worry about a safety the ball was on the 5.

Now the odds were very long for Seattle.  With only one time out left the Patriots would only need two snaps without a fumble with five yards instead of one to clinch the game.  The chances of a fumble or mistake were longer than the Patriots picking off a pass at the one yard line to save the game.

But no matter how long the odds it was the only chance they had and like Jackie Robinson in 1951 making sure Bobby Thompson touched every base after his historic Home Run or Wil Wheaton using the “Moonpie gambit” to defeat Sheldon Cooper in Mystic warlords of Ka’a

A team determined to win a 2nd straight Superbowl championship keeps its cool, lines ups and forces the Patriots to execute.

They did not:

Seattle’s vaunted defense loses it’s cool and now the Patriots get to make their final snap not inside of the 5 where a bad snap could cost them the game, but at the 20 with plenty of room to make sure everything is under control.

And that really says it all. During the last two minutes the Patriots played Superbowl 49 as if it was the 9th inning of the 7th game of the world series, they didn’t stop executing until the very last out was made.

And that’s what champions do.