When Seattle Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman taunted Patriot quarterback Tom Brady as both left CenturyLink Field yesterday, he may have been on to something.
Maybe the New England Patriots weren’t ready for a Heavyweight Fight.
Brady looked tired, looked dejected and defeated as he walked toward the locker room. Far from a sportsman and more like the brash, physical presence that the Seahawks count on every Sunday to bring the wood, Sherman minced no words to Brady on the field, nor in his Twitter feed after his team had just upset the Patriots and their #1 ranked offense.
During the game, he jawed at Brady constantly, daring him to keep throwing his way. “Please keep trying me. I’m going to take it from you.” to which Brady reportedly replied, “Come see me after the game”.
Sherman did. That is, he did take it away from Brady, then went to see him after the game. And then went on his Twitter account and continued gloating, claiming that the Patriots offense was “Gimmicky” and that they “weren’t ready for a Heavyweight fight.”
One has to wonder if he took to the streets of Seattle afterward, beating his chest and spitting beer on women…
Poor sportsmanship aside, perhaps Sherman got to the crux of the Patriots problems, not just for this game, but since the beginning of the season. They just don’t seem to have that killer instinct – and it’s not necessarily on the players as much as it’s on the coaches and play calling. It’s something that has been evident in wins as well as losses, of which the Patriots sport three of each on the season.
No sequence of plays illustrates this point better than the events that transpired toward the end of the first half of the Seahawks’ 24-23 victory.
With the Seahawks at midfield, trailing 14-10 with just over 7 minutes left in the half, New England’s fabulous rookie defensive end Chandler Jones strip-sacked Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson, and Patriot Rob Ninkovich fell on the ball. Brady took the Patriots down inside the Seahawk red zone, where he hit Wes Welker on a 9 yard completion on 3rd & 10, setting up a 4th and 1 on the Seattle six yard line.
I turned to my 8 year old boy and said, “Watch this, Buddy. This is where the Patriots slam the door on these guys.” Jacob, who was doodling in his notebook and waiting patiently for halftime and his promised Grilled Cheese sandwich and bowl of Tomato Soup, glanced up from his notebook, shrugged and went back to his drawing.
Brady called a timeout so he and coach Bill Belichick could discuss what they were going to do on the 4th down play. Confident that they would go for the 1st down and drive the ball into the end zone, I got up to gather the food for his dinner – and came back into the living room just in time to see Stephen Gostkowski hit a 25 yard field goal for a 17-10 New England lead with just over 2 minutes left.
I was aghast. between Belichick, offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels and Brady, they had decided that they couldn’t pick up one yard to essentially bury the Seahawks just before the half.
“No!” I moaned, my mouth agape. Jacob, whom I had shocked out of his doodling focus looked up at me wide-eyed. “What’s wrong, Daddy?” he asked urgently, “Are we out of Tomato Soup?”
We had plenty of soup, but apparently the Patriots had either lost their nerve or their confidence. Or both.
I went back into the kitchen to start cooking his dinner when I heard a commotion on the TV. I ran back into the living room as Trevor Scott had knocked the ball away from Seahawk Jon Ryan and after a scramble for the ball, the Patriots had the ball back in the Seahawk red zone with nearly a minute remaining…and that’s when things got really strange.
A flurry of passes and clock mismanagement later and the Patriots down at the Seattle 3 yard line with only 6 seconds left, Brady fired a bullet at no one in particular just to get rid of the ball to set up a field goal attempt. But instead he was called for Intentional grounding, which is not only a loss of down penalty, but also, by rule, the referees are expected to run off 10 seconds of the game clock – and the Patriots walked off the field with no points, clinging to a 7 point advantage…
A few minutes later I brought my boy’s dinner into the living room and slumped onto the couch next to him, silently lamenting the Patriots’ missed opportunities. Jacob, seeing that I was frustrated and sad, offered me a bite of his sandwich.
“Go ahead, Daddy,” he said, “It’s really good dunked in the Soup”. I accepted, and it was good. Delicious in fact. I thanked Jacob for the bite and he replied, “Maybe we could send some of this soup to the Patriots so they can win.”
I was about to tell him that it doesn’t work like that, but I knew he would ask me why – and I had no explanation for him. For now, I just smiled. And had a few more bites of his sandwich and searched in my brain for a reason how the Patriots had lost their nerve, and what they needed to do to get it back.
If only it were as simple as eating some Tomato Soup.