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 11/16/98

Thank you Indianapolis...

As I exited Rich Stadium following yesterday’s game, I was under the assumption that both the Jets and Dolphins had won. I was prepared to throw the last shovel of dirt on the Patriots grave after dropping their 3rd divisional contest, and I had the first few paragraphs of my column already dancing around in my head.

Thanks to Peyton Manning, however, all doom saying is off for at least one more week. The guillotine has hit a snag on the way down, and the Patriots are still not completely without hope. I’ll get into the how’s and hope-so’s at the end of my column, but hearing the simple phrase "Colts 24, Jets 23" from a distant stranger in the exiting crowd in Orchard Park has certainly made it easier to sit down this evening and write about the struggling 5-5 Patriots.

"Good teams finish off game winning drives on the road..."

Those are the words Vinny Testaverde used in the huddle before he led his New York Jets to the winning score a few weeks ago in Kansas City in their final possession. Those words were all I could think of when the Pats got the ball on their own 27 yard line with one last chance to either win the game or send it into overtime. When the Pats had 1st and 10 at the Buffalo 34 a short time later, the Pats fans were screaming and the Bills fans were worried. Four incompletions later, we knew the Pats were not a good team, if you buy into Vinny Testaverde’s definition.

Needing just 10 yards for another 1st down and better field goal position, the Pats offense could not deliver, and that really should not surprise anyone. This is the same offense that has scored 5 touchdowns since halftime of the Jets game on October 19th, and gone three downs and out countless times now throughout the season. When your team wins the turnover battle 3-0, and you lose the game 13-10, that is not a good endorsement of your offense. When the Pats special teams recovered a fumble at the Buffalo 20 in the 1st half, the Pats offense gained zero yards and scored just as many points. That is not something Ernie Zampese will be adding to his resume.

Sure you can point to injuries, and yes there were a few key dropped passes, but the problem still reeks from the top down. When you’re in the shotgun on third down every time you need more than 1 yard, that is sad. When you abandon the run in the 2nd half of a low scoring game, that is even worse. The defense has had its share of problems during this slump as well, but the offense has been pouring sugar in the defense’s tank. When the Pats D is asked to defend a 50-yard field while keeping the opposition out of the endzone for 38 minutes, it’s asking too much.

Troy Brown and Terry Glenn are missed, but I don’t recall the 49ers offense curling up into a ball when Jerry Rice was lost for the season in ’97. Denver has really missed Elway, huh? The Packers are still 7-3 after losing their starting tailback for the season. The Pats still have more firepower on offense than Miami, and the Dolphins come to town next week at 7-3. Of the 6 "skill" players on offense, how many Dolphins would you substitute for Patriots, even given the current Patriot staring lineup?

The Dallas Cowboys have scored more points this season than any team in the AFC East one year after their offense was the laughing stock of the entire NFL. What has changed? Again, the injuries are certainly a factor, but I can’t recall an offensive slump of this proportion since Jeff Carlson QB’d the final Pats game of the 1992 season.

Let it go...

After the game it hit the news that the Patriots have filed tampering charges with the league office, accusing Bill Parcells of sharing vital information with Jimmy Johnson prior to the Pats/Miami game on October 25th.

Bledsoe and Parcells had a phone conversation during the week before that game, and in the course of that conversation Drew let it slip to the Tuna that Terry Glenn would miss the Dolphins game with a bad hamstring. The Patriots say that Parcells phoned Johnson in Miami to let him know, and that Johnson was then able to use that information to better game plan for the depleted Patriots offense.

First of all, why would Parcells want the Dolphins to win that game any more than he would want the Patriots to? It was early in the season, and both teams were tied for first place ahead of the Jets. To try to help the Dolphins along to victory would make absolutely no sense at all.

Secondly, and more importantly, who cares? Do Bob Kraft and Pete Carroll really think that tidbit of information could possibly have been the reason the Pats were held without a touchdown in that loss? The Patriots lost that game because they could not make the big plays down the stretch that the Dolphins did, period. The Pats had their chances in that game, and this protest is frankly embarrassing as a Patriots fan. When John Hannah was playing, he would tell the defender across from him what play was coming, and dared him to stop it. What is the world coming to? This tampering charge is a farce, even if it’s true.

The more I see the Pats play and the more Pete Carroll post game press conferences I see, I miss the Tuna more and more. Sure Parcells’ team lost to the 1-8 Colts yesterday, but you didn’t see him praising his teams effort after the game, did you?

The How’s and the Hope-so’s...

Amazingly, as if there was a cruel NFL god up there playing with the strings, the Patriots still have a chance to win this division. Truth be told, I’m worried if this team can even finish 8-8, but I’ll maintain some optimism in this column while I can still get away with it.

Last week when I ran down the AFC East race, I mentioned that the Jets victory in New England was the "sole monkey wrench thrown into the works." You can now add another with the Colts stunning upset victory over the streaking Jets in the RCA Dome. Not only are the Jets now the only team to beat the Pats in Foxboro, but they are also the only team to lose to the Colts, at all! That loss is going to sting them big time. The one thing the Jets had going for them in this log jam was a 4-0 mark in the division. To blow the chance at 5-0 with upcoming games at Miami and Buffalo, and home against the Pats, is inexcusable. The Jets visit the 6-4 Oilers next week, so the Pats and Jets tied at 6-5 is not at all out of the question.

Miami still has the overall mark of 7-3, but they come to New England next week still seeking their first divisional road win outside of Indy. With road loses to the Jets and Bills already in the books, the Dolphins can hope for no better than a 5-3 divisional record should they fall to the Pats, and 5-3 is not going to win you any tiebreakers the way things are going. Upcoming games against Denver on Monday Night and at Oakland and Atlanta also figure to bring the Dolphins back in the pack.

The Pats can get the equalizer with the Bills in just 13 days, but Buffalo’s schedule is very soft after that. It looks like 10-6, and not the 11-5 I mentioned last week, could win this division with a 5-3 interdivisional mark. Yeah, yeah, this all sounds complicated and these games are totally unpredictable, but if the Pats are 7-5 in two weeks, a divisional title would be very possible no matter what the Jets do in the meantime. The Pats have no room for error at this point. One more divisional loss, and they’ll be playing the rest of the games for pride only.

All I’m asking for is that the Jets game on December 27th means something. By hook or by crook, I think those cruel NFL gods will make sure it does.

Thanks for reading, and by the way, remember that quote I used above from Vinny Testaverde? Vinny fumbled the snap at the 50-yard line with 15 seconds left as the Jets were trying to drive for the winning field goal over Indianapolis. Colts recovered, game over. You have to be careful what you say in this league!