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Replay: Best of Radio Thu Apr 18 - 02:00 PM | Tue Apr 23 - 11:55 AM

Ask PFW: Still stunned

More than a week removed from one of the biggest upsets in Super Bowl history, the pain from the loss has yet to ease in Patriots Nation. Many fans acknowledge the bottom line – that the Giants were the better team on Super Sunday.


Hi guys, I am a Pats fan based in Edinburgh, Scotland. It's great to be able to keep up to date via this great website. I am still devastated by the SB defeat and I still cannot understand how we managed to lose that game. I know we have to move on so I am looking to the draft and free agency. Our offense is still the best (on paper) but I think the defense needs to be strengthened especially if Teddy [Bruschi], Junior [Seau] and Asante [Samuel] leave. Will Bill [Belichick] trade down for our first round pick? Any thoughts on this?
Alison Beckest

As Belichick himself said in a conference call two days after the Super Bowl loss – and Alison has clearly already done – it's time to turn to 2008. I think the roster could look different on both sides of the ball next year, especially at wide receiver, linebacker and in the secondary. In terms of the draft, ideally I do think the best-case scenario might be to trade down from the seventh pick. But doing that might not be that easy. This draft seems to be deeper than it is top-heavy. That means more teams may be looking to move down and fewer looking to move up. And even if a team is looking to move up for a certain player the value may not be what the Patriots have in mind. It sounds easy to just say New England should trade down, but it takes two to tango. If the team stays at the No. 7 spot my first inclination is that the pick could be used on a cornerback, but that's just my gut feeling and prior to all our draft preparation work here at PFW.

Do you know when the NFL/Patriots will post the official schedule for the 2008 Season?Michael Cunningham

The schedule is announced by the NFL in first part of April. While no date has been set for the announcement, last year's came on April 11.
Andy Hart

Now I know that Asante Samuel is a good cornerback, but is he great? On that last drive [of the Super Bowl] he had a gimmie interception and let it and the Super Bowl bounce off his Pro Bowl hands. There are many reasons why that Pats lost that game, but this one really sticks out to me. Now he is going to hit the free agent market and his agent is going to do his job to tout him as the best cover corner in the league and Asante is finally going to "get paid". That play to me says your good, but not as "prime time" as you might think.
Marc Nailor

There is no question that play was disappointing and no one was more disappointed than Samuel himself. He's admitted he misjudged his jump and that if he wants to be considered one of the best in the game he has to come down with that interception when his team needed it most. That said, Samuel is one of the top corners in the league and will be one of the top free-agent prizes come March. He said last week at the Pro Bowl that he's looking for a "blockbuster" contract. Numbers like $100 million have already been thrown around the media. Maybe the number would be even bigger had he come down with that interception that would have given the Patriots another Super Bowl title. He didn't but he's still going to get paid because he's proven over the last few years that he really is one of the best in the game.
Andy Hart

This week's Sports Illustrated shows a picture of Richard Seymour clearly being held (collared) by a Giant lineman and is right next to an exposed Manning--if that isn't holding then nothing is. It must be incredibly frustrating for Seymour and the Pats considering that was the play of the game—the David Tyree play. What is the referee looking at???Andrew Yarumian

This is just one of many sour, poor-sport emails we've gotten at Ask PFW complaining about the officials in Super Bowl XLII. In my opinion the crew did a very good job in the game. Did they keep the flags in their pockets at times? Probably. Was it pretty consistent? Yes. As the old saying goes, holding could be called on any play in any game. Officials are human and miss calls. It's part of the game. What was the official watching when they didn't call a leg whip on Mike Vrabel in the AFC title game, you know, on the Asante Samuel interception that helped sway momentum in the Patriots direction? The Giants were the better team on Sunday. Justin Tuck and his fellow linemen were the best unit on the field and they controlled most of the game. As a wise man once told me, "It is what it is."
Andy Hart

I just wanted to know. Did Tom's ankle injury affect his performance in the Super Bowl? In another words, would the Pats have won the game if his ankle was fine?
JC Polin

No one other than Tom Brady can really say whether it affected his play in Super Bowl XLII. My guess is that on some level, it did. That fact was supported by Brady's personal throwing coach, a guy who's coached him longer than anyone, Tom Martinez. He told the New York Daily News, "He had chances and he had guys open, but in an atypical way, the ball wasn't getting there. (The coaches) didn't move the pocket much to get him outside the pocket. They didn't do some things they've done in the past. That led me to believe there was some kind of problem with the ankle."
If there was a problem, it wouldn't be surprising. We've heard in the past that high ankle sprains can be tough to treat and have an unpredictable recovery period. It also could have been re-injured in the game at any point when Brady was getting beat up by the Giants pass rush. Do I think the ankle was the reason the Patriots lost? No, I'd say the reason the team lost was its inability to block New York's front four. But if Brady's mobility was limited by the ankle, it could have played a part in the overall offensive struggles.
Andy Hart

My question is what is it with Belichick trying to protect [Stephen] Gostkowski??? Throwing what amounted to a hail Mary on 4th and 13 instead of kicking a 49-yard field goal??? If our kicker is incapable of making that field goal in warm weather and a dome, then why is he even taking up a roster spot??? If we still had Adam Vinatieri, I feel confident he would have attempted the kick. Please tell me your thoughts. I felt that decision would come back to hurt us and obviously losing by 3 points, it did.Shawn Frazier

I pretty much agree with everything you wrote, Shawn. Unless there was some specific reason not to kick it that we're not aware of, such as an injury to Gostkowski, I would have kicked the field goal. I know the Patriots had converted a third-and-13 earlier in the same drive, but with the way the game was being played I had no confidence New England would convert the fourth-and-13. I also think a 48 or 49-yard field goal on a nice field, in a dome is a very makeable attempt for the strong-legged Gostkowski. He's never missed a big kick, so I don't see how lack of confidence should be an issue. I know he had a shanked kickoff out of bounds earlier in the game. But the guy is your kicker. If you don't have the confidence he can make a kick, then why's he there? Going up by 10 points may have put a little more pressure on the Giants and changed the way New York played. It's hard to say the extra three would have left the teams tied at the end of regulation because the game may have played out in a totally different manner had New England attempted and made that field goal. But I still think it was huge decision in the game and one that most people questioned at the time it occurred. I still don't get it.
Andy Hart

We had a fantastic season and I was very pleased with New England's over-all play. I think we could've done better in the Super Bowl though. I know the season just ended and we still have a while to go before the 2008 season, but do you think New England can do it again (18-0) and finish it 19-0 this time? I would just be happy if it was a Super Bowl win because I would hate for the sports community to remember them as the 18-1 team.John Cekauskas

It was a great season, but in the end it all went for naught thanks to the Super Bowl loss. No team had ever had a perfect regular season and failed to win the Super Bowl. No other 18-1 team had ever failed to win the Super Bowl. It sounds funny to say, but this year's Patriots really were the worst 18-1 team in history. That certainly leaves a sour taste in everyone's mouth. But asking for the team to come back and put up another perfect season is a little much, isn't it? How 'bout just striving for what used to be the biggest thing – the ring. Undefeated seasons are rare. The Patriots will always have the perfect 2007 regular season. But the team also will always be remembered for getting upset in the biggest game of the year to finish 18-1. Nothing moving forward will change that fact.
Andy Hart

Hi Guys, thanks for updating us Pat's fans all season. I love your podcasts, keep 'em with me when I travel around scouting MLB. Do you think more of more of the Patriots scouts and football ops personnel will become GM's and directors of departments on other organizations (i.e., see Atlanta Falcons)? And if so, will it "open up" the Pat's way of doing things to more of the league, rather than keep most of it top secret? Thank you. Rico Brogna

I do think the Patriots scouting and personnel people will continue to draw interest from other teams for management positions moving forward. Regardless of the disappointing Super Bowl loss New England is still the model NFL franchise. The team's system for developing and maintaining success, including both drafting and signing players, has build the most successful current franchise in sports. The NFL – and all sports for that matter – is a copycat business. Stealing from the best is a recipe for success. So, the secrets of the New England system will continue to spread throughout the league in coming years. But I wouldn't worry too much, those teams won't have the two biggest ingredients for New England's continued success – Bill Belichick and Tom Brady. And glad we can keep a former professional athlete entertained on the road.
Andy Hart

Where was Bill's gray hoodie? We could have won the game but he had to wear a different hoodie. He needs to bring back the gray one and stop wearing the red one.
Corey Risley

Why was Coach wearing "Red" in Super Bowl XLII?
Judi Mollohan

Belichick has worn the red sweatshirt in the past and the Patriots have won games with him wearing the red, as well as other alternate choices such as a puffy winter parka, a golf shirt and pullover. The gray hoodie isn't the only source of strength and success the coach has. In the end, coaches usually wear the red shirts because they are giving defensive signals. Dean Pees wears red. Romeo Crennel used to wear red. My guess is that Belichick was sending in some signals at times during Super Bowl XLII and that was the reason he chose the red hoodie. But many fans were not happy with the choice and its disruption of the team's superstitious karma. My own mother called me after the game and said she knew the Patriots were going to lose the second she saw Belichick in red and not his usual gray. To think, I thought it was because the team played its worst game of the year at the worst time.
Andy Hart

I don't have a question, but would like to hear your comment on what looked like coach Belichick's SORE LOSER action at the end of the Super Bowl when he went unto the field before the Giants could finish the game and he went straight to the locker room. Thanks.
Raider Juan Castro

We got a lot of questions/comments on this topic. I know many fans and media types have been very critical of Belichick's pre-postgame actions. Everyone thought the game was over and Belichick went to congratulate Tom Coughlin. He was on his way off the field. Yes, there was one second remaining. But what should he have done? Walked back to the sideline and then try to congratulate Coughlin a second time, a do-over if you will? Players were leaving the field too. The game was over. People are just looking to pile on Belichick because of his questionable reputation in these matters and things he's done in the past. I don't have a problem with it. Much ado about nothing. I actually find it funny and ironic that Belichick is now being criticized for going out and congratulating the opposing coach too early. Imagine that, a new reason to scrutinize the postgame handshake antics.
Andy Hart

After witnessing Brady get thrown around like a rag doll during the Super Bowl, with pressure coming particularly from [Nick] Kaczur's side (whom I feel has been the O-line's weak spot for the past few weeks) do you think there is a chance NE goes for an OL early in the draft? Or, do you think that some speed is needed at LB first? Thank You.Evan Hejmanowski

In my mind the line as a group had a terrible Super Bowl. I do think that Kaczur is probably the least entrenched of the five starters. He struggled in the Super Bowl as did Pro Bowlers Matt Light, Logan Mankins, Dan Koppen and the group as a whole. There is already some early talk that the Patriots might consider Michigan tackle Jake Long in the draft. Long is projected by many as a run blocking right tackle more than a pass-protecting left tackle. So he could fit in Kaczur's place in New England. I just find it hard to believe that the Patriots would use the No. 7 pick and pay all that rookie money to a right tackle. Despite the season-ending debacle for the line in Glendale, I still think there is a greater need for young talent at linebacker and in the secondary that might present better value with the first-round pick.
Andy Hart

So how long do you think it will take for the Pats to fire McDaniels? I know what you're going to say -- "He's not the only one to blame" And to that I say are you kidding! His game plan was crap. I knew that on Brady's first play. It's not hard to figure out if the other teams D line wants to blitz the whole game then you let them. One of the best ways to counter this is no huddle. Let them run all out to stop Brady, dance around like fool's then let them run back to their side of the line, before Brady snaps the ball. All that running will make anyone tired. The other way to counter this is to put two tight ends on the line and have Maroney run. Did this idea work before? Yes it did. The Pats did this in there first meeting in the fourth. So like I said when do you think McDaniels gets the boot?Matt Lucia

"He's not the only one to blame." There, happy? I think the offense did a terrible job against the Giants. That includes the coaches and the players. But I don't think it should cost McDaniels his job. He's one of the great young coaches in the game. He probably learned something in the loss and will, hopefully, be better for it. Reactionary fans like yourself give fans everywhere a bad name. Correct me if I'm wrong but didn't McDaniels lead the most productive offensive in league history? Is that also a year after he took a pretty questionable corps of talent and got enough out of it to get the '06 team to within a play of the Super Bowl? And since you are clearly some football expert you'd know that the Giants didn't "blitz the whole game." New York's own coordinator estimated their blitzing to about 30 or 35 percent. The bulk of the damage was done by a great four-man rush from the defensive line. That's why the team lost. New England's five couldn't block New York's four. The Patriots got beat. Move on and stop looking for a scapegoat like the well-respected McDaniels. Thank God actual decision makers in this world – save maybe for the old George Steinbrenner – aren't as reactionary and ignorant as some fans are. Maybe McDaniels did have a bad game, but it doesn't wipe out his impressive list of talents and previous achievements.
Andy Hart

Why didn't they play zone defense on that last play or at least double team Plaxico? The Pats need some serious help the offseason on defense and the o-line. What do you see them doing?Jason Downs

The Patriots chose to blitz on the game-winning touchdown. It's that simple. They've been known to take chances like that when they've needed a play in the past. It's worked. But this time they played with fire and got burned badly. As for the offseason, the only spot I'd say that could change on the offensive line is right tackle. Even if he's not an elite tackle, despite what his All-Pro status might say, Light has done a solid job over the years. Mankins is a budding All-Pro, too. Koppen is very good at center and I think Neal, when healthy, might be the most talented in the group. Kaczur is a serviceable right tackle for now, but I wouldn't be surprised to see that spot upgraded in the future. As for the defense, I do think some serious changes are on the horizon. Bruschi, Seau and Harrison could be mulling retirement and certainly aren't getting any younger. Samuel could be gone. Aside from the defensive line and James Sanders, I think there are age, durability and consistency questions about the entire defense. The offensive line had a bad Super Bowl, but I think it's the defense that needs to most attention this offseason or the unit could be spiraling out of control into age-induced mediocrity.
Andy Hart

I believe it was in the first half that that the Giants had their first fumble. On replay the ball clearly was recovered by one of the Pats defensive linemen. The refs awarded the ball to the Giants. Since it was clearly ours on the replay, is there a reason I do not understand that BB didn't challenge who recovered the ball? It may not have changed the outcome, but it I still didn't understand it.
P Evenson

The ball was not clearly recovered by the Patriots. Outside linebacker Pierre Woods (not sure why he was in the biggest game of the year after barely seeing the field all season, but that's a different topic for a different day) fell on it. He should have recovered it. But started to roll onto his side and Giants running back Ahmad Bradshaw took the ball from him. Belichick said that referee Mike Carey was standing right over the call and therefore didn't he put much consideration into challenging the play as it is unlikely Carey would have overruled his own call upon video review. I agree. As hard as it is to believe, I don't think Woods ever took possession of the ball. He strangely rolled from his stomach to his side and let a little 5-9 running back rip the ball out of his hands. The play, like the game as a whole, really showed that the Giants just wanted it more.
Andy Hart


I'm not sure why the Patriots went into deep-ball mode there instead of what they usually do, calmly try to get into field goal range. They did have the three timeouts. It would have been tough to do, but not impossible. The only thing I can think of is, like earlier in the game, Belichick didn't think Gostkowski could hit a long field goal and just figured the team had to go for the score. We may never know, but it's definitely one of many decisions in the game that are worth discussing.
Andy Hart

The offense did its job. It was the defense that lost that game. They had a championship moment and they failed. I think blaming the offense is misplaced. One has to look at the type of game that was taking place and realize it was a defensive struggle. Despite that, Brady engineered a great drive at the end and had put his team up with 2.40 to go. Thus, it came down to the Pats defense and they couldn't match the end of game clutch play of the Pats offense. The defense had 4 opportunities on that last Giant drive to stop them (apart from Burress' schooling of the talkative munchkin), and they couldn't come up with the championship winning stop (the near sack, the 4th and 1, the Asante Samuel failure (who by the way wins the Roberto Duran "Hands of Stone" award), and the 3rd and 11 in which the Pats all but allowed Smith 12 yards). In a defensive struggle, the Pats defense could not meet the challenge - plain and simple. Regards.
Tony D.

The offense did its job? Are you kidding? The highest scoring team in history gets just two touchdowns, one in the last five minutes, and that's considered doing its job? Boy, I wish you were my boss. Doesn't take much to keep you happy. The Patriots were an offense-first team all year. That unit had created certain expectations and failed to live up to them in the biggest game of the year. The defense was never considered a shut-down group and couldn't stop the Giants on the final drive. But the unit wouldn't have been put in that spot if Brady and Co. had done their jobs through the first three-plus quarters. The offense was supposed to be so good that it wouldn't get bogged down in defensive struggles. It wasn't. All the early season hype and records went down the tubes as the offense put up its lowest point total of the year. That's why the Patriots lost.
Andy Hart

I noticed in both games against the Giants Asante Samuel wasn't on Burress? Can you tell me why our best corner didn't go on their best receiver? Suffering in R.I.David Riberdy

The Patriots don't generally switch sides with their corners. Samuel plays left cornerback and Ellis Hobbs plays right. That's the way the team does it. Interestingly Samuel and Hobbs did switch a couple times in the Super Bowl, but it was Hobbs who went with Burress and not Samuel. Apparently that was an adjustment they decided on as part of the game plan. But more often than not the two corners play their respective sides and as such cover whichever receiver lines up on that side.
Andy Hart

Imagine my relief knowing that you all had a good time partying in Arizona for a week. Now, all you have to do is to be the company pimps that you are and blame my disappointment on me, tell me that I should just appreciate the team, deny that Belichick isn't Marty Schottenheimer, ignore this complete collapse, and tell me to sit down and shut up. Well, Bob Kraft does not sign my paycheck. I was at the game. They played stupid, they coached stupid. They played not to lose rather than to win. They choked.Chris Noble

I don't think Mr. Kraft actually signs my paycheck, either. I think it's printed on the check or maybe it's a stamp. Not sure. Either way, I actually have direct deposit. Of course I'm not sure how that is relevant here. And yes, I did have a good week partying it up in Arizona even if some of the parties are a little overrated.
As for the game, we've been pretty clear but I'll say it one more time since you seem to have a problem listening, reading and digesting the opinions of others. The Patriots were outplayed and outcoached on Super Sunday. They did choke. They chose a bad day to have a very bad day. It will go down as one of the greatest disappointments in New England history, even sports history. No one here is denying that. But comparing Belichick to Schottenheimer is just plain stupid and shows your emotional ignorance. How many Super Bowls does Marty have? How many playoff wins does he have in the last decade? Look the answers up. Then maybe you will understand why people seem to always tell you to sit down and shut up – because you don't know what you are talking about.
Andy Hart

The loss while disappointing, it does not diminish a terrific year. The only question I have is where was the emotion! Do you think the constant media harping about nonsense -- dirty play, spygate, bootgate -- finally wore them out? That was the least amount of emotion I can ever remember seeing from the Patriots. Regardless it will make next year's Super Bowl victory much more sweet.
Russ Gale

I agree that the Patriots seemed to lack emotion on Super Sunday. I don't think it was the media harping that caused it. I have a different theory. Here goes. All year Belichick created a focused, businesslike atmosphere that had the team strictly focused on each week's opponent. There was no room for ego, cockiness or overt celebration. It worked and the team had an 18-0 record heading into the Super Bowl. But I felt like the team treated the Super Bowl as another business trip, a final job to do to complete the journey. I think Belichick cautioned the team about what could happen if it lost focus and didn't play with the humbled style it tried to portray during the year. It reminded me of the 2002 season when Belichick worked hard to put the Super Bowl XXXVI victory in the past, only to pull out the Lombardi Trophy prior to the last game of the season to remind players what they were playing for. That year it was too little, too late as the team missed the postseason.
I think Belichick's humbling, cautionary approach to his team this time around left it flat for the Super Bowl. I think this was the one chance Belichick had to release his team fully, send them to the field to prove to the world that they were the best players the NFL had ever seen. I think the final game necessitated a mid-80s Mike Tyson-like swagger. Something like old Miami Hurricanes, a team that was the best, knew it was the best, told people it was the best and then proved it. That's the motivational slant I would have taken with the Patriots. Because I did get the sense that on some level the Patriots were playing more not to lose out on history than to put an emphatic, emotional final stamp on it. Hey, that's just my opinion. Maybe I'm wrong. Maybe the Giants were just better that day and no change in motivational style would have mattered. We'll never know.
Andy Hart

Maybe you guys can use this as a poll question... "Would You Accept the Pats Loss for a Celtics World Title Instead?" If the Pats had won this game, then the realistic chances of the Celtics winning the Championship is that much more less because what are the chances of three major teams winning world championships in a single year? The chances for the Celtics to win a championship this year just got much better, and what would the fans of Boston sports like to see more? A fourth Super Bowl parade, or an NBA Championship parade? After having one of worst seasons/decades in the history of the Celtics franchise? Is it worth the trade? I think most New England sports fans would answer yes.Keith Hayes

I posted this email because I think it might get some interesting responses, especially posted here on the official website of the Patriots. While I think there is some sound reasoning behind your little theory/scenario, I'm not sure Patriots Nation will see it that way. Obviously we know that there is no real, direction connection between the Super Bowl and the NBA championship. But would fans rather see a first Celtics title in more than 20 years? I'm not so sure. Winning a fourth Super Bowl to cap off a perfect season would have been something pretty historic, a once-in-a-lifetime type achievement. Plus, even though it has been a while the Celtics do have 16 titles already. Either way, I'll be interested to see how fans respond to this theory. We'll post some of the emails in next week's mailbag.
Andy Hart

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