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 9/17/97

Thank God!!

Had Mike Jones not stuck his forearm in the way of John Hall's would-be game winning field goal attempt, this week would have been like a 7 day long funeral. As I stood there in section 108 watching Hall line up the kick, I was in complete shock. After blowing out the Chargers and Colts to start the season off 2-0, the hometown heroes were about to lose to the Tuna-led New York Jets. 2-1. Tied with the Dolphins and Jets for 1st place, just one game ahead of the 1-2 Bills. Disaster. I can not think of many other instances in my life where I have gone from utter depression to total jubilation in the course of 1 second. I love this game.

What a difference a blocked field goal attempt can make. The Pats are one of only three 3-0 teams in the league with the 0-3 Bears coming to town on Sunday. They have a two game lead over the Jets and Bills, and are one up on the Fish, who at 2-1 are about due for their annual spin into playoff oblivion. I could not even imagine what the local sports scenes in New York and Boston would have looked like had the Pats lost this game. Rhode Island may have pulled their stadium bid off the table. They won though, so let's not torture ourselves with what-might-have-been.

Lucky?

There are those out there who say the Pats were lucky to win this game. How often can a team block a sure game winning kick? The Jets had all but won the game before Mike Jones made that big play. Granted there was indeed "luck" involved in that particular play, but what got the Jets into position to line up for that kick?

1) The Pats defense shut out the Jets offense the entire second half prior to going to "prevent" and putting Steve Israel on Keyshawn Johnson. (I would LOVE to know who's brain storm that was!)

2) The Jets only prior score that half was a 43 yard return for a TD following Bledsoe's first interception of the season.

3) The Jets twice converted on 4th and long in their game tying drive. Both times O'Donnell was flushed from the pocket. Both times the ball was downed at the first down marker.

4) O'Donnell was sacked for a big loss by Hitchcock on a corner Blitz just prior to the game tying TD. The play was nullified and the Jets given a 1st down for Defensive holding which had nothing to do with the result of the play.

5) Steve Israel slipped in the endzone just as Neil O'Donnell's pass fell into Johnson's outstretched arms for the game tying 24 yard TD.

6) On the ensuing kickoff, rookie Derek Cullors fumbled to ball over to the Jets at their own 17 yard line with :16 left in the game. He had both hands on the ball at the time of the fumble. He also should never have run the ball out of the endzone.

All of this led up to John Hall's attempt with seconds left to play. And you thought the PATS were lucky?

Give credit where credit is due...

I do not mean to take away anything from the New York Jets. They played a hell of a game, and certainly played well enough to win the game. The Jets never gave up, and came within a whisker of winning on the road against the defending AFC Champions. To say the Pats were lucky to win, however, is a joke. Philly was lucky to beat Green Bay, and Dallas was lucky to beat Philly the following week on Monday Night. The Pats, however, also played well enough to win and in my mind deserved the win. The blocked field goal was fair play following a fumbled kickoff return with :16 to go in the game. What comes around goes around. With Curtis Martin rushing for 199 yards at 5 yards a clip, it's hard to say to Pats didn't play well. Likewise with the Pats D recording 7 sacks and numerous hurries and knockdowns. Get over it Jets fans. Your team is 1-2. You'll have your chance at revenge on October 19th.

Is it the Tuna?

People say that for a former 1-15 team to give the Pats such a fight is a testament to their new coach's abilities. Wait a second! Wasn't Parcells coaching the Pats last year when they spotted the Jets a 21-0 lead in the Meadowlands? Wasn't that Jets team coached by Rich Kotite? The Pats were VERY fortunate to escape that game with a win. If you recall, a blown spot by the refs on 4th and 2 on the Pats game winning drive was the difference. Frank Reich ended that game by throwing 4 straight incomplete passes into the endzone from the Pats 10 yard line to secure a 31-27 Patriot victory. Why didn't Rich Kotite get any credit for "playing the division champs tough"? That game was more winnable for the Jets that last Sunday's game was, yet everyone is giving Tuna credit for a close game. Please. Pete Carroll did to Parcells what Parcells did to Kotite; won a close game over the Jets. Let's get on with the rest of the season.

What did I tell you?

In my last column (see the Archives), I addressed what at the time seemed to be the only weakness on the team; the running game. In consecutive blowout wins in which the air assault was the method of choice, everyone was wondering where the Pats running game was, including myself to some extent. I did however mention, that eventually when Bledsoe is slowed down, that the running game and Curtis Martin would pick up the slack.

Well no one knows better than Parcells how to slow down Bledsoe. Drew came down to earth in going 16 of 34 for a meager 162 yards and 2 int's. He only completed one pass for more than 20 yards after hitting targets all over the field in the previous two weeks. When the Pats went to the ground, Martin took over the game, particularly in OT. The Jets were in the shotgun for their only possession of overtime, and when they punted away to the Pats, New England drove 62 yards on 9 plays to set up the game winning field goal. All but a 15 yard pass to Purnell were earned on the ground. Now that's a running game. 199 yards? Let's put this issue to rest.

Looking ahead...

The Pats have no ties whatsoever to Dave Wannstedt, so there should be no circus as the 0-3 Bears bring Rick Mirer and their beleaguered offense to town to face the NFL's sack leading defense. The struggling Lions put up over 30 points in Chicago last week. What can Drew, Curtis, Ben, and Terry do to this defense? The Pats are early 12 point favorites at home. Please don't think I'm saying the Pats can sleep walk to victory, but this is certainly a game the Pats will be expected to win if they show up and play their game.

After the long anticipated return of Willie McGinest to the lineup, the Pats best lineman sprained his knee and is not expected to play again until the Pats host Buffalo on October 12th. The Pats could have really used his pass rush and back side pursuit when they visit Mile High Stadium for Monday Night Football in three weeks. Looks like Chris Sullivan and Mike Jones will have to pick up the slack once again.

On the brighter side, Terry Glenn and Dave Wohlabaugh are expected back in the lineup. Troy Brown and Mike Gisler played well in their absence, but Terry Glenn in particular is a very hard man to replace. His presence alone should add more spark to a suddenly slumping passing game. Wohlabaugh should help further solidify the line, although Martin had over 300 yards and Bledsoe was only sacked once while Gisler took his place for two games.

If all goes well, I'll be writing in next week about the 4-0 Pats. With Denver hosting Cincinnati and the Bucs hosting the Dolphins, I don't expect the Pats to be alone at 4-0, but we'll certainly take it. 4-0 is almost a necessity as the Pats head into the final 3/4 of their schedule, which begins at Mile High Stadium and doesn't get much easier.

See you next week!!