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Ask PFW: We was robbed!

The results are in and it's clear where Patriots Nation stands on New England's untimely departure from the playoffs last Saturday night in Denver.

What a strange game. If someone would have told me that we would have 420 yards of offense and completely shut down the Broncos running game, I would have started looking for tickets for the Steelers game. I understand the anger with Bronco fans who are tired of hearing that the Patriots gave the game away rather than the Broncos winning it. I have no excuses. They forced mistakes, caused turnovers and turned them into points, which is the usual formula of success for the Pats. But when Patriots fans say that the best team lost Sat night … I have to agree. In Jan 2002 I thought that the Raiders were the better team. I thought the Pats got lucky. I have no problem saying it. I suppose that is the nature of the beast. The best team does not always win, but the best team also does not always deserve to win and the Pats fall into that category. Any comments?
Rich Wright

I agree about the reasons Denver won the game. Similar to the Patriots MO in the postseason, the Broncos forced turnovers and then took advantage of them. If neither team turned the ball over, I think the Patriots probably would have won. Now, I have to disagree with your other assertions. The better team won the game, at least the better team that night. And I certainly don't remember anyone in New England saying the Raiders were the better team the night the Patriots beat them in the snow bowl. I remember a lot of "the Patriots took advantage of their opportunities" talk. Patriots fans should take a cue from their players, who to a man gave the Broncos credit for outplaying them last Saturday night. It was a bitter loss because the team obviously didn't play to its potential, but the Broncos had something to do with that.
Paul Perillo

No Doubt that the Pats made some critical mistakes leading to their loss against Denver. While I understand the need for the team and coaches to "take the high road", I do not! A case can be made that this game would be very different if the refs did not decide to give Denver 17 points. The Pats making mistakes does not make it OK for the horrible calls made by the officials. The Pats are a far superior team, and the result would have been very different if the game was called properly.
Steve Gronostalski

I know you guys and every other Patriots fan in this country are thinking the turnovers are the reason we lost to the Broncos. But seriously, don't you think that totally ridiculous pass interference call changed the outcome of the game? Samuel had good position, he was CLEARLY looking back at the ball, and the receiver put his hands on Samuel as he tried to go up for the ball in the end zone. It's amazing how referees can be so stupid and dumb. It reminds me of the Ray Hamilton roughing the passer call in '76. Total ghost penalty. Cost us the game.
Ryan McLaughlin

Words can't describe how bad I thought the pass interference penalty against Samuel was. There were two guys running down the field, both looking back for the ball, and neither gaining an advantage over the other. And some over-officious ref 20 yards away decided to make a bogus call. I like to think I'm a pretty objective person and can see things from both sides, but that call stunk – plain and simple. However, I don't think it cost the Patriots the game. If the Patriots protected the football, they win even with that pass interference penalty. It was 10-6 and the Patriots were on the Broncos 5-yard line in the third quarter, well after the penalty. Tom Brady threw a bad interception and Champ Bailey returned it to the 1. That changed the game much more than the interference.
Paul Perillo

Now that the season is over, what do you think are the Pats top five needs heading into the offseason?Travis Simpson

It's still way too early for this stuff, but without getting too deep into free agency and the draft yet, I'd say the Patriots needs, not necessarily in order, would be linebacker, cornerback, running back, wide receiver and safety. They also could probably use help on the offensive line. We'll definitely be getting more into the roster outlook in the near future.
Paul Perillo

Will Pats get anything in return from Jets for Mangini? Like draft picks or something?
Justin Faber

The Patriots won't get anything from the Jets for losing Mangini. He was the defensive coordinator and he left to get a higher position, just like Romeo Crennel did last year.
Paul Perillo

Heard that Mangini has accepted the Jets offer. As a Patriots fan, I'll have to admit that I am beginning to get irritated with all these teams poaching (or trying to) our coaches. I bet had we had an offensive coordinator, some poor schmucky deadbeat team would be after him too. My question is as follows: Do you think the Patriots could be successful in the future if they decide to not fill the defensive coordinator role. If not, who do you think they have lined up to assume the position. Do you think the team would hire from within or hire from the outside (some of the ousted coaches from other teams perhaps). Personally, I really wonder if it's even worth it. Thank you.
Jaimie Bains

First of all, the alternative to having other teams want your coaches is not being good enough to garner interest in the first place. When the Patriots were going 2-14 in the early 90s, no one was raiding their coaching staff. When you have success, people get interested in your players and coaches. And even though the Patriots didn't hire an offensive coordinator, that doesn't mean they didn't have one. Belichick can't coach every position and make every game plan all by himself. To suggest that they shouldn't bother replacing the positions they've lost because they're only going to lose them again doesn't make sense. Sounds like Andy Hart logic to me.
Paul Perillo

Andy Hart is a smug S.O.B. The Patriots should get rid of him. Why does that slimy, poor excuse of a Pats fan even work for such a fine organization? On Patriots Today he couldn't seem happier that the Patriots run is over. Just let Brian Lowe, Tom Casale, and Lori Baranski get in front of the camera. Andy Hart needs to go work for the Yankees. Thanks to the Patriots for a nice run and we will be back next year!!!
Gloria Harper

I agree … Andy is a smug SOB.
Paul Perillo

It's getting really frustrating how the best time of year in the NFL season is going on and still there's a lot of talk about coaches for next year. That can wait! You don't see teams talking to players who are still playing about signing with them once the year ends. So why should teams be allowed to look at coaches still coaching? It's a distraction for the coaches, and the rules should be changed. As an example, having Romeo Crennel announce right after winning the Super Bowl he was going to the Browns was disgusting! There's a time for talking about next year, but that was a time for celebrating their work all year and its culmination in the ultimate way, winning the Super Bowl. It's time for the league to re-think its rules on hiring coaches!
Robbie Mitchnick

I completely disagree. The rules were recently changed to allow for coaches on playoff teams to have an equal chance of getting a job. In the past, coaches like Charlie Weis and Romeo Crennel were penalized for being part of winning organizations and were left out while other coaches from teams that were eliminated got all the job offers. Charlie Weis was named the Notre Dame coach last December. It was such a distraction for the Patriots that they won another Super Bowl and scored 41 points in the AFC title game. It's not a perfect situation when coaches are interviewing for jobs while they're preparing for a playoff game, but it beats the alternative of having to miss out on opportunities while less deserving candidates get the jobs. And your point about Romeo taking the Browns job being disgusting makes absolutely no sense. What better way could there be for a guy to leave one place for another than by winning the Super Bowl. Was Cleveland supposed to wait two weeks while Romeo celebrated before hiring him? What about the Browns future? I know it's hard to understand for some Patriots fans, but the league doesn't revolve around Foxborough.
Paul Perillo

First off I'd like to say congratulations to the Patriots for a very entertaining and competitive season. It wasn't long ago that if the Pats won the AFC East and then got eliminated in the divisional playoffs that it was a step in the right direction. This team played their hearts out to make it this far, so they deserve credit for that. My question, it seems like wide receiver will be a top priority in the offseason. David Givens might not return, and I think Belichick has finally had enough with Bethel Johnson. There is no telling what will happen with Troy Brown. That really just leaves Branch and Andre' Davis. I don't think Tim Dwight can be effective as an every down player at WR. Do you think this is P.K. Sam's chance at a roster spot? Are there any notable free agents at this position besides Reggie Wayne? How do you see this situation playing out?
Jay Corbeille

I agree that wide receiver should be a position the Patriots will look to address in the offseason. Givens will likely depart as a free agent and Brown could very well have played his last game. Reggie Wayne is the biggest name available (unless you count Terrell Owens) but I doubt the Patriots would spend the kind of money it would take to get him because I don't think they view that position as being worth it. Here are some other names that could be available at wideout – Antonio Bryant, Antwaan Randle-El, Joe Jurevicius, Keenan McCardell, Peerless Price and perhaps Brandon Lloyd, who will be a restricted free agent.
Paul Perillo

Why did the Pats Coach act like such a sore loser and unpersonable punk during the postgame conference? We saw the Redskins, Colts and others lose this weekend and not at any point did Joe Gibbs or Tony Dungy act like the Pats coach or treat the media like they don't deserve some respect. That really says a lot about a person when they don't know how to act when faced with adversity. And the same with Willie McGinest and his tirade. Great examples of the "professionals" that should be, right??
Jorge Membreno

Sometimes emotions can get the better of a player during the heat of battle and I'm sure that's what happened to McGinest during his altercation with Larry Izzo on the sideline. That doesn't make it right and I'm certainly not condoning it. I believe what McGinest did was unconscionable – you never fight with a teammate and he showed a total lack of respect for Izzo. But like I said, emotions sometimes take over. As for Belichick, I really didn't see much difference between his demeanor this game from any other game the Patriots lost. He's almost always short with his answers following defeats and this was no exception.
Paul Perillo

This question is actually regarding a play in the Colts/Steelers game. I'm sure you guys saw the overturned interception by Polamalu. Is there anything in any rule book that says in order for it to be an interception that when standing up off the ground you must have both knees off the ground without losing the ball otherwise it's an incomplete pass? I think it was a ridiculously biased call. I mean, when a receiver catches the ball in the air and rolls on the ground with full possession, I guess it should be incomplete unless he can stand up from now on. what a load of junk that was.
Nathan F.

The NFL recently said the official erred in overturning that call and that it should have been ruled an interception. Fortunately, the Steelers won the game so there was no harm done. But my problem with this is would the NFL have pulled a mea culpa is the Colts came back and won? My guess is no, and that's a problem.
Paul Perillo

The folks are probably saying "Good season, we will get it back next year." I want to offer my thoughts. Consider this: 1. Pats will lose some key players to free agency. 2. Pats linebackers are getting old. 3. The Jets, Dolphins and Bills will be headed by great coaches, so the division will be tougher. 4. Pats will end up playing key playoffs on the road. 5. Brady plays on the road nine games - 14 interceptions. Sum it all up: I see Pats becoming Denver-like team who won 2 SBs and then just showed up in the playoffs. The Dynasty is over ... Bob Kraft - it's time to sell some stock.Al J.

Wow, that's a pretty rosy outlook you have there, Al. I don't really agree with too much of it, but we're all entitled to our opinions. First, every team loses key players to free agency every year. Last year, the Pats lost Joe Andruzzi, David Patten and Ty Law (although they released him) among others. Every team also signs players as free agents and the Patriots, for the most part, have done a nice job in this area during their remarkable run. As for the division, the Bills don't even have a coach right now and you're calling him great. Talk about a stretch. I like Nick Saban in Miami, but how do you know Mangini is going to be great in New York? You don't. I'll take my chances with Belichick against any of them anyway. And if you're worried about Tom Brady being part of the problem, then you haven't been paying much attention over the past five years. No one is perfect and Brady wasn't last Saturday, but over the long haul that is the exception rather than the rule. I don't think there's any reason for Bob Kraft to sell anything just yet.
Paul Perillo

On Troy Brown's fumble, I can't help but notice something. He called for a fair catch, which means no one can touch him. But the moment he juggled the ball, a Broncos player ran into his back and effectively knocked him and the ball over. Had he not been hit I think he would have gained control of it. Isn't that illegal?? Shouldn't that have been a call?? I'm almost positive that they can't touch Brown for juggling a ball....only if the ball hits the ground they can battle at that point. But on a fair catch I don't think you can touch him until the ball is dropped.
Nathan F.

That's incorrect. Once the ball is bobbled, it's fair game. Brown only is protected if he makes the catch, which he clearly didn't. There were certainly some calls missed in that game (the pass interference and the false start) but the fumbled fair catch was not one of them.
Paul Perillo

I have a couple of observations and a question about the game-changing Champ Bailey interception and return. Obviously, this was not Tom Terrific's finest moment, and I found Ben Watson's determined hustle to be inspiring. I confess that I cannot be dispassionate about this play since it was critical to the downfall of our beloved Pats. During the live play, I thought that the fumble went through the end zone and would be ruled a touchback. On the replays, it seemed that Bailey was inbounds the entire time, his left foot hit the pylon, and the ball crossed in front of his body, leading me and most of Patriots Nation to conclude the correct call was a touchback. My question is: why were the end zone cameras which typically assess if the ball crosses the plane of the goal line in a short yardage situation not employed to help review this critical call? Thank you so much for your accurate and reliable coverage of the Pats; you truly help displaced fans like me keep our fingers on the pulse of all things Patriots.
John Donnelly

This is a problem that Belichick brought into focus early in the season in Carolina when the Panthers Stephen Davis lost the ball near the goal line on a touchdown run. The problem was, once the play was reviewed, the NFL does not have cameras set in the proper place to determine if the ball was lost before the player hit the goal line. The Bailey play was very similar. I watched the replay at least 25 times and to be honest, I cannot say without a doubt that the ball was fumbled into the end zone. Now, I can't say it wasn't, either. It's that close. If the call on the field was for a touchback, then I would have said the replay did not show enough to overturn it. Whatever the call on the field said, I believe should have stood because I didn't see indisputable visual evidence that it should have been a touchback. I would disagree with your assessment that Bailey's foot hit the pylon … I thought the ball was out of his hands well before that. Otherwise, if what you said happened, it would have been a touchdown. The question isn't where Bailey's foot hit; it's where the ball went out of bounds. Did it go in the end zone first before going over the sideline? Unfortunately, we'll never know.
Paul Perillo

Having been a Pats fan for 30 years, I found yesterday's playoff at Denver one of the most frustrating losses to take. Between all the turnovers and some crucial officiating mistakes, I felt like the game was given away rather than taken, and that the best team did not leave the field with the victory. To me, this loss ranks right up there with the bogus "roughing the passer" penalty late in the 4th qtr. against Ray Hamilton in '76 that cost the Pats a playoff victory against the eventual champion Oakland Raiders, and perhaps the '78 loss to Houston, where Fairbanks left the team the day before the game. Does this one rank up there this highly to you guys? And, could this bitter taste become motivation for next year?
Ravi Reddi

Personally, I don't put this loss anywhere near the category of 1976. There was less than a minute left in a game the Patriots were winning, and they came up with a stop on fourth down that would have been the end of the game. They called a bad penalty, similar to the pass interference on Samuel, and the Raiders then scored a touchdown to win. This wasn't anything close to that. The Patriots lost this game because of mistakes and failed opportunities. The offense scored 13 points with more than 400 yards of offense. That's not very good, and it had nothing to do with the officials.
Paul Perillo

My question is this: When was the last time that the Pats lost both meetings to any team in a season? I'm looking for the team we lost to and the year. I'll use Buffalo as an example. We typically play Buffalo twice in a season. When would be the last time we lost both meetings in a season?Kimberly Lucchesi

The last time the Patriots lost twice in the same season to the same team was 2000 when Miami won both meetings, 10-3 in Miami and 27-24 in Foxborough. That, of course, was before Denver beat the Patriots twice this season.
Paul Perillo

How likely is Rodney Harrison to return to the Patriots next season? Was the post-surgery assessment positive?
Ray Perry

It's too soon to have a true timetable on Harrison's possible return, but he definitely is planning on making a full recovery and coming back next season. He's been walking around the locker room without crutches and appears to be very positive about the future.
Paul Perillo

I read somewhere that teams can get a higher or lower draft pick based on what they do in the playoffs, I know the two Super Bowl teams get the 31st and 32nd picks dependent on who wins, but if the Pats beat Denver, do they get a different pick then if they lost in the first round of the playoffs?
Roger Guay

The Patriots will pick 21st based on their 10-6 record in the regular season. Only the Super Bowl champ and runner up are slotted into specific picks regardless of final record. Everyone else, regardless of when they're eliminated, is slotted based on final record.
Paul Perillo

The last time the Pats lost at home, please and the last time they lost a playoff game at home.
GR Melvin

The Patriots actually lost three times at home this season – Oct. 2 against San Diego (41-17), Nov. 7 against Indy (40-21) and Jan. 1 against Miami (28-26). They haven't lost at home in the playoffs since New Year's Eve 1978 – to Houston, 31-14.
Paul Perillo

I was just wondering if you could explain how cap penalties work. Such as when a player gets released or traded, the team is sometimes penalized a certain amount toward the next year's cap. How is this amount determined and does it apply to all players?
Mike A.

If a player receives a signing bonus, teams prorate that money over the life of the contract for cap purposes. For example, if Tom Brady is signed to a new four-year with a $16 million signing bonus, the team can spread the bonus out have the cap hit count $4 million each year (plus whatever his base salary would be). If after two years the Patriots decide to cut Brady, they would get an $8 million cap hit in the third year for the remaining prorated portion of the bonus. If a player is under contract but didn't receive a signing bonus, then the team only has to pay the base salary for each year. So if a player is signed to a four-year deal with no signing bonus, and the team then cuts that player after the first year, there is no cap hit for the remaining three years. Obviously, most players get at least some form of a signing bonus so there's usually some kind of cap hit when a player is released or traded before the expiration of the contract.
Paul Perillo

I found on the Pro Football HOF website that Drew Bledsoe lead the NFL in passing yards in 1994 with 4,555. He beat out Dan Marino who is listed at 4,453 yards. I have read several articles that state Tom Brady is the first Patriot QB to lead the league in that category. Who is right?
Joey Schacter

Drew Bledsoe did indeed lead the NFL in passing yards in 1994, so Joey gets a prize!
Paul Perillo

*Ask PFW will continue throughout the offseason. Keep those emails coming.

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