During the Ravens-Patriots telecast ESPN showed us a shot of
OK, Rex's last second timeout that nullified the fourth-down defensive stop that would have won the game for the Ravens was a disaster, but it's a mistake that could happen. I'm talking about that mushball three-man rush that he treated
The Baltimore offense, which had put together such a terrific muscle drive and pounded the Patriots into submission on two TD marches, had played itself into a state of exhaustion.
The Ravens D is a group that thrives on pressure, and they had Brady on the ropes as he came out for the last time, on his own 27 with 3:30 left and four points down. They were jacked. They were ready for more mayhem. And Rex's whole reputation had been a coach who loosened the reins and let his horses run, who enjoyed pressure as much as they did.
But this was big. The unbeaten Patriots were tottering on the brink. Many lives depended on what would happen in the next few minutes. So he called off the rush. He attacked with three and "played coverages," which is a euphemism for standing around with your finger up your ... you get the point. And as I watched Brady steer his ship through the calm waters, an eerie memory came back, the way Buffalo had blown their very real shot at a Dallas upset exactly the same way in Week 5.
But the Bills' coordinator,
It got so bad that on the Patriots' last two plays of the game, the holding call that moved the ball, on fourth-and-5, down to the Ravens' 8, and the pseudo-TD to
He had 3.43 seconds to deliver the ball on the penalty play. On the TD it was 3.72 seconds. He was in perfect balance, he even had enough time to give a little pump fake to the other side, buying enough time for Gaffney to run an in-out pattern that left his defender,
In his postgame analysis,
The defense got walloped.
And the guy who took the major heat was all-pro
It will be interesting to see what Pittsburgh does to the Patriots linemen on both sides of the ball. Particularly distressing was the sight of my all-pro left guard,
Well, maybe Steve Young was right and this was just a downbeat period for the unbeaten Patriots, and once they've righted themselves they'll go back to covering their 14-, 16-, 20-point spreads. But maybe the Ravens opened up a window to something more sinister, something that could be exploited by a big, muscular, physical team, coached by people who aren't terrified by the prospect of scoring a major upset.