Clint's Corner Archive
Clint's Corner Archive
The source for back issues of Clint's Corner. Forget a trade? Were Clint's predictions correct? Here's every edition, verbatim.
The Bye Week...
Yeah yeah yeah, I took a bye week too. My apologies. It's not like you missed much. How much could I write about a 31-3 victory over the winless Chicago Bears anyway? Admit it, when the gun sounded at the end of that game, you were thinking the same thing I was thinking, and the same thing all the players and coaches were thinking: Denver.
Mile High Blues...
Those of you who have jumped on the Pats band wagon over the past few years are aware of how the Pats have played against the Broncos. In the past two seasons, Denver has done to New England what New England did to San Diego in this year's home opener. Both games were total blowouts, and the scores, as bad as they were, made the games seem even closer than they actually were (if that's possible).
Being a die hard for as long as I can remember, my Bronco nightmares go back even further. I think it was 1984. The Pats had the lead by 4 or 5 in Mile High Stadium. It was inside the two minute warning, and the Pats were attempting to run out the clock near mid field. There was a hint of snow in the air and on the field, so Mosi "sure hands" Tatupu was brought in to carry the ball. I can even remember the NBC announcer saying something to the effect of "Here comes Tatupu into the game, the Pats' sure-handed runner who rarely fumbles the ball." Well, Tatupu looked to go off tackle to the right, bounced it outside, and left the ball behind him. The ball was promptly scooped up by a Bronco defender and run back all the way for a touchdown. Pats lose.
Fast forward to January, 1987. The Pats had won a dramatic come from behind victory over the Dolphins on Monday Night Football down in the Orange Bowl in the final game of the 1986 regular season. The win gave the Pats the division title, and eliminated Boomer Esiason and the Cincinnati Bengals (who were all shown watching the game by the ABC cameras) from the playoffs. Steve Grogan relieved an injured Tony Eason and threw a late 30-yard TD pass to Stanley Morgan for the win. It was ON TO DENVER to face the West Champion Broncos.
Unfortunately, the bye week gave Tony Eason enough time to heal. The Pats hung tough though, and found themselves down just three points as Denver kicked off to the Pats with under two minutes to play. A young Irving Fryar handled the kickoff in the endzone and decided unwisely to run it out. He made it only to the 10. Not to fear. The Pats two-minute offense was great that year, and they were sending their kicker, Tony Franklin, to the Pro Bowl.
One play later Rulon Jones sacked Tony Eason in the endzone for a safety. Pats down 5. After a Rich Camarillo "onside free punt" failed, the Broncos took over and went to a knee to kill the clock. Denver went on to the Super Bowl. The Pats went home.
In 1988, in the final game of the regular season, Denver was playing out the string of a lost season. With only 5 or 6 wins in their first 15 games, they had little at stake as they hosted the Pats. Tony Eason was making his second consecutive start coming off of a thumb injury. In week 15, Doug Flutie was benched in favor of Eason, and the Pats eeked out a win at home in OT over the Testaverde led Buccaneers. The Pats mission in Denver was simple. One win and they'd be in the playoffs. All they had to do was beat the sad sack Broncos at Mile High. The game started out great as John Stephens had a long TD run to put the Pats up quickly 7-0. The highlights ended there, however, as Denver went on to win easily. No playoffs for these Pats.
This time at home. Hugh Millen and the Pats were down three at the end of the game with the ball. "Hughdini" drove the offense down inside the 5 yard line. The crowd was going wild. The Pats had no timeouts left, but there was enough time on the clock to try a few quick passes into the endzone for the win before having to settle for the FG to force overtime. Not so fast. Millen dropped back, saw an opening, and headed for the endzone. He was tackled at the 2, and the clock ran out. Pats lose by 3. There is also a 20 3 loss at Denver which I will spare you the details on. That was also a Hugh Millen led team.
1996, Remember the Alamo...
I'm sure the losses the past two seasons at home are fresh enough in your minds to spare you the details there as well. One detail you may know, but not that much about, is the "Shannon Sharpe" incident. In the 4th quarter of last year's blowout, he went into his act, which was captured by NBC, NFL Films, and numerous other media outlets. I'm sure a lot of you saw his little show on TV or read about it in the paper, but I sit 5 rows behind the visitor bench on the 40 yard line. I was the whole damn thing. The game was not much to look at at that point, so Shannon had my and the rest of crowds undivided attention.
He flexed and flexed and flexed until I'm sure his arms and chest were sore. He also used the sideline phones to make mock phonecalls to the President and National Guard to "get down here quick, we are KILLING THE PATRIOTS!!" He loved every minute of it, and there was not much we fans could say back. Our team was being pummeled. He was right, they were killing the Patriots. A picture, or in this case a video, is worth a thousand words. I cannot possibly re-create that moment here for you now in writing. Al Hall, John Macchi, Scott Comstock, and Kurt Markert know what I'm talking about. They were all with me in my seats at that game. It was ugly. Players and fans get into it in every game, but Shannon Sharpe crossed the line. That moment has really stuck with me. I want the Pats to win in Denver soooo bad on October 6th. With the Nation watching, I want the Pats to put Denver and Shannon Sharpe in their place on Monday Night Football.
Can they win?
The Broncos are currently 4-0 and will likely be 5-0 by the time you read this. The Pats are 4-0 and are enjoying their bye week. This looks, at least on the surface, to be a battle of AFC heavyweights for supremacy in the conference.
The Pats 4-0 start has come against teams with a combined 3-9 record when they aren't playing the Pats, and 3-13 when you figure in the 4 New England wins. At 3-9, .250 ball is not very impressive. Even the Red Sox are better than that. Like Denver, 3 of the 4 wins have come at home. Denver beat up on Seattle on the road, and has home wins over KC, St. Louis, and Cincinnati. They travel to winless Atlanta this week. Both teams are undefeated, but it's fare to say that neither one has yet to be tested. The Pats got a scare from the Jets, and the Bengals played well enough to win in Denver, but 4-0 is 4-0 no matter how you slice it. October 6th's game will be the biggest challenge of the young season so far for both teams.
While the Pats opponents have struggled, the defenses of those teams are not that bad. Chicago and San Diego have good defenses. Indy fields a decent defense as well, and Belichick and Groh have the Jets Defense playing above their heads. It is the offense that has let down the Bears and Colts, etc. when they have played the Pats. Maybe you can credit that to the Pats defense, maybe not. Indy, San Diego, and Chicago have had trouble scoring in all of their games. The good news is that the Pats offense has moved the ball against good NFL defenses. The Denver defense is not much better than that of Chicago or San Diego. In fact, all of Curtis Martin's runs against the Bears prior to his 70-yard TD were for negative yardage. Denver, on the other hand, has the leagues 24th rated defense against the run, and they have not played any good running teams yet. Lawrence Phillips missed the Rams game. Ki-Jana "who?" Carter had a big day for a Bengal team which has not had a 100 yard rushing performance since Bill Parcells was a broadcaster for NBC. Curtis Martin could have a big day.
The Pats will need a balanced attack to win this game. In getting to 4-0, the offense at times has looked unstoppable and has made scoring look easy, even in the red zone. What's troubling is that they can go out on their very next possession and go three and out. Bledsoe, Martin, and the Offensive line must sustain drives and keep possession. Elway and Terrell Davis will burn the Pats eventually where the Rick Mirer's and Raymont Harris's were unable to. The Pats should be able to both run and throw on this Defense with proper execution. The Pats, particularly if Glenn is back and healthy, are far and away the best offensive team Denver will have faced up to game time. A careful and well executed game plan could have the Pats showing a national audience why they are averaging over 30 points per game.
Denver is also averaging over 30 points per game. The last team that made the Pats Defense look bad was the Broncos in week 11 last year. Following that game and throughout the playoffs, the Pats D looked great. They have not missed a beat this year either, and they lead the league with only 40 points allowed in 4 games. That is remarkable. Seven of those points were by the Jets defense, and 7 more were via a highlight film catch by Charger TE Freddie Jones. Still 7 more were against the Jets with :24 seconds left with the Pats in their "prevent" defense. As remarkable as 40 points allowed is, you can see where it could easily be 33, 26, or even less.
The optimist in me feels that the Pats are ready for this challenge. Their offense, at least on paper, seems too much for the Denver defense to handle. Elway and Davis are dangerous, but the Pats D has put in a lunch pail performances for 12 straight games now dating back to week 11 last year. There is no reason to expect them to not play well in such a big game. It is doubtful that McGinest will play, but this team has depth and has played well without their leader to this point. Mike Jones and Chris Sullivan will have to step it up once again. I really feel as though the Pats will win this game, although night mares dating back to 1984 still haunt me. Hey, this is a Pats page, so what did you expect?
Pats 30, Broncos 21. See you next week.