LOMBARDI’S WAY: Patriots’ opponents can’t allow officials to decide games!

Lombardi's Way LOMBARDI’S WAY: Patriots’ opponents can’t allow officials to decide games!

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We Baltimoreans have often behaved with and we have been justly criticized for harboring an inferiority complex.  Turn on the Weather Channel, and you will see and hear the extended outlook for Philadelphia and DC.  Your favorite musical recording act is on tour and what do they do?  They pass on through B’more only to be seen at toll booths.
 
Win the Super Bowl and the Super Bowl MVP isn’t on the Wheaties box.  Reigning Super Bowl Champs are supposed to host the first Monday Night Football game the following season, right?  Not if you are the Baltimore Ravens. 
 
Watch the MNF pre-game show last night and what is discussed ninety-percent of the time – the visiting New England Patriots.
 
No worries Baltimore – we aren’t alone.  Every city has to deal with it because the truth be told, the Patriots are the NFL’s darlings!
 
Only 12 of the league’s 32 teams are playing above the mediocre .500 level so it’s easy to understand why the networks are all starry-eyed over the Patriots and their quest for perfection in 2007.
 
They have the pretty boy quarterback with a super model on one arm and an actress on the other.  Said QB is  having a record season and is dismantling defenses at an alarming rate in a seemingly effortless way.  Would it surprise anyone if you were told that Chris Berman or Phil Simms or Tony Kornheiser sleeps beside a Tom Brady collectible doll?
 
Well after watching Monday’s Ravens v. Patriots game, would it surprise any of you if Walt Anderson’s officiating crew did the same?
 
The home team Ravens were penalized 13 times for 100 yards while the visiting Patriots were flagged four times for thirty yards, mostly inconsequential penalties (officials ignored the consequential holding penalties).  Ravens’ dime back Jamaine Winborne was called for holding yet the yellow laundry wasn’t thrown until the fourth quarter fourth down pass to Ben Watson sailed incomplete.  The alleged penalty occurred just beyond five yards from the line of scrimmage.
 
And then there was the Jabar Gaffney gaffe…
 
Down by four with forty-four seconds remaining the NFL darling hit the nearly forgotten Gaffney in the left corner of the end zone which would eventually become the winning score.  Replays showed that Gaffney did not have clear possession of the football yet the officials ruled that there was not conclusive evidence to overturn the call on the field.
 
What a joke!
 
I’ve seen official replay reviews last much longer when forward progress has been challenged.  This was THE deciding play in the game and the officiating crew gave it about as much consideration as you and I might consider an optional root canal.
 
Is the NFL morphing into the WWE?
 
Has greed kicked integrity to the curb?
 
The undefeated season sells tickets; it captivates an audience; it lures sponsors with deep pockets and it feeds the networks’ infatuation with the NFL’s most infamous cheaters – the New England Patriots.
 
Ever wonder why the NFL destroyed all evidence of cheating by the Patriots?  Ever think, “Wow, they got rid of all that spying film pretty soon?”
 
Well maybe that film was damning enough to question the game’s integrity.
 
Maybe those three point wins in three Super Bowls could have been aggressively challenged had the evidence remained in tact.  And what might that have said about the league?  Where would the billion dollar television contracts have gone?  Might Vince McMahon have replaced Roger Goodell?
 
If anyone is to beat the Patriots, they better not let the game come down to a call by the officials because if they do, they will lose every time.  The Patriots are paying the bills right now for the NFL.  You know it, I know it and Patriots opponents better know it too!
 
The silver lining in the Ravens loss to the Patriots is that they played with heart and pride and fought to the very end.  They also showed that they have the talent to compete with anyone when they execute well.
 
Brian Billick may have called his best game for a little over three quarters yet once again he reminded us why he isn’t an elite coach in the NFL.  Teams with 4-7 records are not supposed to play scared.  Teams with nothing to play for but pride should attack and be bold.  Teams with something to play for fear the reckless abandon of a team with nothing to lose.
 
So why did Brian Billick not attack the Patriots in the fourth quarter?  Kyle Boller throws an intermediate pass with as much authority as any NFL quarterback and Derrick Mason was finding holes in the Patriots’ secondary at will.  This game by most counts was the Ravens’ 2007 Super Bowl.  Play it to win.  Don’t play it not to lose.
 
Unfortunately that is the way Billick runs the Ravens offense far too often and the results are far too unacceptable.
 
Photo by Sabina Moran

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Tony Lombardi

About Tony Lombardi

Tony is 24×7 Networks, LLC’s founder (the parent of EutawStreetReport.com and RussellStreetReport.com) His work has been featured on various sports websites and he is a regular guest on 105.7 The Fan and he hosts “The Fanimal” also heard on 105.7 The Fan, Saturdays from 8-9AM. Among his favorite things in life are his wife, kids, family, friends, The Beatles, Breaking Bad, Gladiator, The Godfather, Guinness, orange crushes, meatballs and Key West, not necessarily in that order. Follow Tony on Twitter @RSRLombardi.

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