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Patriots Survive (Maybe) Another Intent to Injure

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Good Guys Win in the End
Losers Get What They Deserve

In the game of football, there are champions and there are also-rans, there are winners and there are losers, and there are good sportsmen and there are Losers, a collection of cheaters, dirty players and poor sportsmen.

For the second straight week, the New England Patriots (the former of the pairings) had to contend with players whose intent was to injure (the latter). This time, the aggressor was more successful.

The mainstream media guys have all be very diplomatic in their comments about this aspect of the game. So have the players (for the most part). I'm going to tell it like it is.

After last week's vicious spearing of Patriots quarterback Tom Brady by Jacksonville Jaguars lineback Clint Ingram, and before yesterday's thug-fest, I noted that I had read comments in several forums that suggested Bill Belichick should cut loose the Patriots: Fight fire with fire. But that's not Patriots football, I cautioned. Besides, the league would be scrutinizing the Patriots closely for any kind of misplaced retribution.

Typically level-headed New England linebacker Tedy Brushchi is restrained
by game officials after Titans coach Jeff Fisher allegedly winked and laughed
following Patriots safety Rodney Harrison's injury.

Photo Courtesy: BostonHerald.com

And so we all watched Titans receiver Bobby Wade take out Patriots safety Rodney Harrison at the knees about a dozen yards away from the end of a 9-yard outside run on a 3rd-and-1 play. The block couldn't have been any more unnecessary, and the technique even more so.

The Boston Herald's John Tomase gives us Harrison's perspective.

"It was a dirty play," Harrison said. "He wasn't just trying to block me. He dove at my knees intentionally. He was trying to hurt me. The whole play was dirty."

It is noteworthy, though I have not seen it mentioned elsewhere, that Harrison and linebacker Tedy Bruschi combined for the tackle on Wade on a 7-yard pass on the play immediately preceding.

Is it possible that words or gestures were exchanged that convince Harrison that Wade's block was dirty?

Tomase wrote that several Patriots believe they saw Titans head coach Jeff Fisher wink and smile toward the field after the block. Typically level-headed Bruschi flew into a rage and had to be restrained from slicing into the Titans bench area by teammates and a game official. Later, Fisher apologized "if there was a misunderstanding."

The only misunderstanding is that Fisher is fit to coach in the NFL. A team of thugs is not a team of thugs without a leader, or at least an enabler. Fisher, quite evidently, is that.

Need proof?

Albert Haynesworth. You remember him. He's the despicable burlap sack of something that kicked Dallas Cowboys center Andre Gurode in the head, dislodging Gurode's helmet, and then stepping (make that stomping) -- with cleats -- on Gurode's face. At the time reminiscent of nothing less that the Boston Bruins' Marty McSorley whacking the Vancouver Canucks' Donald Brashear in the helmet with a hockey stick. McSorley was suspended for one year, as Haynesworth should have been.

The league's relative slap on the wrist (5-game suspension) and Fisher's mere acknowledgement shows both the league's -- and more importantly the Titans' and Fisher's -- reticence to do anything significant about grossly violent behavior (just look at this team's arrest records, second only to Cincinnati's).

"We were just playing tough football. Rodney is a strong individual. I've got to block him in that slot position, but he takes full advantage of being able to hit me in the face. ... I squared him [Harrison] up, looked him dead in the eye, and hit him in his thighs. It was a legal block. I talked to the referee about it and he said it was legal."
If the semantic justification makes Wade feel better, good for him. It's the exact kind of logic you'd expect from The Defendant. It's to the extraordinary credit of the Patriots players that despite some early retaliatory behavior in response to continued dirty play by Tennessee, New England played football for the rest of the afternoon.

Said Richard Seymour:

"We don't want to play games that way. We want to play tough, play physical, play smart, and get some wins. You don't want to get into all that pushing and shoving, cheap-shot stuff. We did for a while, but then you want to show the other team what you're about. You want to come out and play tough and play the game the way it's supposed to be played."
And if you think I'm overreacting again, maybe you'll believe Harrison (again from Tomase's story):
"It was a dirty play," he reiterated. "I don't even know the guy (Wade). I don't even know him. But their whole offensive line is dirty. Their whole offense is dirty. They're a dirty team."
Or maybe Patriots owner Robert Kraft, who, Tomase said, left the stadium shaking his head.

"That was uncalled for," Kraft said.

The Titans had gripes (of a sort), too. From a story by Mike Reiss of The Boston Globe:

Meanwhile, the Titans had their own issues with the Patriots, as linebacker Keith Bulluck felt New England's final touchdown -- a Vinny Testaverde 6-yard strike to Troy Brown with 1:45 left that extended Testaverde's record for consecutive seasons with at least one touchdown pass (20) -- was an act of poor sportsmanship.

"I think it was [expletive], and as long as I am here I will always remember that," Bulluck said.

Imagine. Another burlap sack of something like Bulluck calling the Patriots "unsportsmanlike"? I guess that what he was trying to say in his pregame speech caught by CBS in which he said, "No. 39 is hurt. He doesn't want to play today. None of them want to play today."

No. 39 is Laurence Maroney, by the way. Sounds to me like Bulluck and his fellow burlap sackers were taking the field with specific intentions.

But Losers are losers. That's why Vince Young finished (stats), why he through 2 interceptions with the game on the line, why his "dazzling" little touchdown run is so insignificant.

New England running back Laurence Maroney (39) steps on Tennessee
linebacker Peter Sirmon (59) in the second quarter. This picture kind of
sums up how I feel about what the Titans deserve.

Photo Courtesy: NFL.com

And winners are winners. That's why the Patriots scored unnecessarily late in the game, because instead of playing thuggery, they played football, and the let their actions speak on the scoreboard, like a prison guard slamming home the iron bars.

Earlier in the week, I said I wanted the Patriots to play a "normal" game, make a best effort to win in the unlikely event Indianapolis lost and New England would move up in the seedings. Later in the week, I was convinced they would simply try to get through the game with as little event as possible and just go home happy with the No. 4 seed.

I'm glad I nailed it the first time.

Poll

Bobby Wade's low block on Rodney Harrison was ...

This poll is closed

  • 60%
    ... dirty.
    (17 votes)
  • 39%
    ... just football.
    (11 votes)
28 votes total Vote Now