You are reading this column (published in the Jan. 28, 2016 issue) several days after the New England Patriots were beaten by the Denver Broncos for the 2016 American Football Conference Championship. Since then, commentaries from the sports media have been incessant – half of them (wrongfully) blaming everyone in sight; the other half making excuses for their forecasting the game (completely) wrong.
Actually, the game unfolded simply. It was a mirror of the whole regular season. In sports, it’s often said, “Offense wins headlines, defense wins games.” Brady and his pass-catchers were stopped by the NFL-leading Denver defense. Proof: All season long, the Denver defense let in a low, league-leading 18 points-against per game. The Patriots’ score last Sunday? You guessed it – 18 points!
In addition (check this out for yourself), the team that turns the ball over more – even just one time more – almost always loses playoff games, as well as the Super Bowl. Well, Brady was intercepted twice last Sunday. End of story!
For certain, there were some odd happenings in Sunday’s game. And at 20 points, Denver didn’t really score all that well either. But to repeat, the game was won and lost on just two factors: Defense and turn overs. That’s it, and you could have found out that much by quickly looking at the box score.
Which brings us to the point – way too many sports commentators and reporters hopped on board Sunday’s game, making endless shanks, statements, and report cards (often wrong) about the loss. The dailies had published 29 (!) columns on the game by Tuesday, totaling over 15,000 words. And how many more know-it-alls sounded off on the radio and in the secondary media? Whew!
Please take away three things, all stated in just about 300 words:
1. The Denver Broncos, especially their defense, won fair and square. The Pats lost it on turn overs.
2. Both the Bruins and the Celtics are playing well; spring training opens in a few weeks.
3. So, be of good cheer. It was only a game.