T.O. talks it up
Oct. 15: Dallas Cowboys WR Terrell Owens says the New England Patriots are good, but not the NFL’s best team.
Preseason games aren’t immune — we’re more than happy to bill them as Super Bowl replays or previews or battles of first-round draft picks or anything else we can think of.
I’ve often wondered why we keep doing it, because the hype so seldom lives up to reality. But every time I’m driven to despair by another string of matchups that don’t live up to the hype, along comes a game like Dallas-New England in Week 6 of the NFL season.
And, boy, did we hype this one. The undefeated Patriots and the undefeated Cowboys; America’s Team versus Satan’s Team; the Battle of the 81s, Randy Moss and Terrell Owens;, Brady against Romo; the Game of the Century — so far this year. ESPN devoted its entire week to the game, begrudgingly taking time out only to mention who won baseball playoff games.
And by the third quarter, you could be forgiven for thinking we didn’t hype it enough, because it was at that point even better than the hype. If only the Super Bowl could live up to the hype like this one did.
The atmosphere was electric, the fans were roaring, both teams were flying around with no regard for life and limb. It was exactly the way it was supposed to be — playoff football between the best in each conference in the season’s sixth game.
The Patriots scored on their first possession — just like they always do.
They scored on their second. The Cowboys came back, cut it to four at the half, took the third-quarter kickoff and rammed it into the end zone.
Randy Moss scored a touchdown. Terrell Owens scored a touchdown and staged the most remarkable end zone celebration of his career — he stood there like a statue and did nothing. The last thing we expected. A brilliant display of minimalism.
Okay, so it broke down in the fourth quarter, when the Patriots finally wore the Cowboys down to nubs and started piling on the points, including a final in-your-face score with 19 seconds to go when taking a knee would have done the job.
The first is that the Cowboys look to be the best team in the NFC — or at least the best one south of Green Bay. The second is that the Patriots truly are the uber-team they looked to be in their first five games — and, they’re just as nasty as we thought they were. Plus, they don’t care what any of us think of them. They’re going to beat you and then rub your face in it, and if you don’t like it, tough.
They’re still that, but they’ve got an edge now that wasn’t so obvious before. They’re out not only for your blood, but for your very soul.
They’re 6-0 now, and they played that fourth quarter like Tiger Woods plays Sunday at Augusta and Roger Federer plays the finals at Wimbledon. In the championship quarter, they imposed their will on the game and the Cowboys with merciless efficiency. Like Woods and Federer, they’re playing a game with which the rest of the NFL is not familiar.
The nation grieved for those hurt, killed and affected by the Boston Marathon bombings. After one of the suspects was caught on Friday — following a day-long lockdown and manhunt — sports returned to Boston over the weekend.
And if the Patriots win that one and are still undefeated — well, the rest of the year is going to be a hype fest for only the second undefeated season in NFL history. It’s way too early to talk seriously about it, but those 1973 Dolphins might want to start lining up their voodoo spells now — just in case.
But that’s going to be the hype line from here on in. Brady has 21 TD passes already in just six games. Can he break Peyton Manning’s record of 49? Can the Patriots keep scoring more than 30 points a game? Can Moss keep running hard on every play, even the ones in which he’s not the primary receiver?
Will Bill Belichick keep wearing that rag of a sweatshirt?
There’s so much more to hype and so much time to do it.
Ain’t it grand?
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