Patriots Blog

Patriots season saved by rabid New England panic, three iffy calls

Wednesday, November 12, 2008
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — Boosted by an epic meltdown from anxious fans, the New England Patriots rallied from a seemingly insurmountable 7-0 deficit in the first quarter to beat the Tennessee Titans 35-14 in Saturday night’s divisional round playoff game at Gillette Stadium.
The region-wide panic proved decisive in helping the Patriots to stop screwing around and just throw the damn ball, please. If nothing else, it was proof positive that exasperated freakouts in the face of unexpected results are exactly what it takes to make a team play up to its potential. Were it not for the collective anxiety expressed through angrily typed missives on social media and shouted through gritted teeth at flat television screens, it’s easy to wonder if the Patriots would’ve scored the next 35 points en route to their seventh straight appearance in an AFC Championship game.
“We don’t really take it for granted around here,” Brady said of the team’s perspective on reaching the conference title game. “We know how hard it is to get to this game.”
Having never seen their team come back from as many as seven points down, the New England faithful were understandably distraught in the first quarter when Corey Davis made an exceptional one-handed catch from Marcus Mariota for a 15-yard touchdown. With only 46 minutes and 55 seconds remaining in the game, worried fans had good reason to worry.
After all, their quarterback is old, he’s fighting with the coach, the coach is fighting with the owner and the owner may very well be fighting with Dennis Eckersley, probably for no legitimate reason. Also, the quarterback is old. But the panic managed quell itself by bringing the Patriots’ abominable play to a halt. It clearly had an effect on Brady, who managed to not be ancient for the remainder of the game, as he completed 35 of 53 passes for 337 yards, three touchdowns and a 102.5 passer rating. However, experts will surely notice that he is still old based on his pedestrian 6.4 yards per attempt.
Some who overlook the value of panic will surely point to biased officiating as the reason the Patriots rallied. Indeed, the Patriots received three of their 31 first downs as a direct result of penalties called against the Titans. One was a questionable offensive pass interference penalty called on No. 87, something that has never once happened to the Pats. This fueled long-simmering talk that the NFL is determined to help the Patriots win. It’s a theory that makes a lot of sense if you realize that Brady’s suspension at the start of the 2016 season was a false flag operation crafted by Kraft and Eckersley when they were still on speaking terms.
If not for so much help from the officials, the Patriots might have outgained the Titans by something less than 171 yards. Certainly, if Tennessee had taken possession of the ball in those instances, they would have provided Mariota with greater protection and he would have been sacked less than eight times (a playoff record for the Patriots’ defense).   
After their huge effort on Saturday night, Patriots fans will now have to worry if they can manage to generate sufficient panic during next week’s conference championship game against either the Steelers or the Jaguars. It may seem like an insurmountable challenge, but keep in mind: When the chips are down, certain Patriots fans have always found a way to panic. Plus, Rex Burkhead still isn’t healthy, and Brady, who is old, only had 6.4 yards per attempt this week. Plus, everyone is fighting, and the Giants still have a head coaching vacancy.

Rest easy. When the Pats need the panic, it will be there.
Dave Brown is a freelance correspondent who covers the Patriots for the Monitor. You can follow him on Twitter @ThatDaveBrown.