Box Score Bank: 30 Years in the Making

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Box Score Bank: 30 Years in the Making

Over the weekend, the Tennessee Titans announced that second-year QB Jake Locker has beaten out Matt Hasselbeck for the starting job, and will make his first career start in Week 1 against the Pats.

Good for Jake. And good for Bill Belichick, who's no doubt foaming at the mouth over an opportunity to welcome a new QB to the NFL starting ranks.

It got me thinking: Who was the last quarterback to make his first career start against the Patriots in Week 1 of the NFL season?

I know, pretty random. But would you would rather read about the Sox?

So, I started going back through the seasons . . .

And going back . . . and back . . . and back, back, back before briefly morphing into Chris Berman and eventually finding our answer.

So, let's set the Box Score Bank for 30 years ago: September 12, 1982

E.T. was No. 1 at the box office (followed not-so-closely by Rocky III and Porky's). "Hard To Say I'm Sorry" by Chicago had briefly knocked the Steve Miller Band's "Abracadabra" off the top of the Billboard charts. A week later, a man named Scott Fahlman invented emoticons. Three weeks later, Sony launched the first consumer compact disc. Bill Belichick was coaching linebackers and special teams for the Giants. Tom Brady had recently turned five.

And at Memorial Stadium in Baltimore, rookie QB Mike Pagel was making his first career against the Patriots in Week 1 of the NFL season.

Final Score: Patriots 24, Colts 13

Pagel, a 22-year-old fourth round pick out of Arizona State, was no match for the Pats and defensive coordinator Jim Mora. Pagel finished the game 7-15 for 71 yards with an INT and a rushing TD, and was ultimately replaced behind center by Art Schlichter (who was eventually replaced by David Humm). Despite the Colts lack of quarterbacking, they actually led 13-10 in the third quarter before the Pats rattled off 14 straight points (a 30-yeard pass from Matt Cavanaugh to Ken Toler, and a one-yard run by Robert Wheathers) to run away with the win.

Pagel went on to have a 12-year NFL career with the Colts, Browns and Rams but never found much success. He retired in 1993 with a career record of 17-36-1.

According to Wikipedia, he now resides in suburban Cleveland, Ohio, and is a project manager for AT&T. He also serves as analyst for the pregame, halftime and postgame shows on during Browns games and offers television color commentary on college games on Fox Sports Network.

Your move, Jake Locker.

Rich can be reached at rlevine@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Rich on Twitter at http:twitter.comrich_levine

Curran’s 100 plays that shaped a dynasty: A nice pair of kicks

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Curran’s 100 plays that shaped a dynasty: A nice pair of kicks

We're into the Top 10 now.

These are the plays of the Bill Belichick Era you best never forget. And probably can't. They're the ones that led directly to championships -- most for New England, a couple for the other guys. Or they're plays that signified a sea change in the way the New England Patriots under Belichick would be behaving from there on out.

I did my best to stack them in order of importance. You got a problem with that? Good. Let us know what's too high, too low or just plain wrong. And thanks for keeping up!

PLAY NUMBER: 4

THE YEAR: 2001 (actually Feb. 3, 2002)

THE GAME: Patriots 20, Rams 17

THE PLAY: Vinatieri 48-yarder in Superdome delivers SB36 win

WHY IT’S HERE: When the Red Sox won the World Series in 2004, it was viewed nationally and locally as a cathartic moment for a long-suffering region. Deliverance for a fanbase that resolutely suffered through 90 years of star-crossed heartbreak with a mix of stoicism and fatalism. “Long-suffering Red Sox fan” was a badge of honor, an identity. And New Englanders – baseball fans or not - would self-identify with the hideous notion of Red Sox Nation. There was no “Patriots Nation.” To drag out the forced metaphor, Patriots fans were living in tents and cabins in the wilderness, recluses. Reluctant to be seen in town where they’d be mocked. And suddenly, they cobbled together one of the most improbable, magical seasons in American professional sports, a year which gave birth to a dynasty which was first celebrated, now reviled but always respected. And while so many games and plays led to this 48-yarder – ones we’ve mentioned 12 times on this list – Adam Vinatieri kicking a 48-yarder right down the f****** middle to win the Super Bowl was an orgasmic moment for the recluses and pariahs that had been Patriots fans when nobody would admit to such a thing.
 

PLAY NUMBER: 3

THE YEAR: 2001 (actually Jan. 19, 2002)

THE GAME: Patriots 16, Raiders 13

THE PLAY: Vinatieri from 45 through a blizzard to tie Snow Bowl

WHY IT’S HERE: Two thoughts traveling on parallel tracks were running through the mind while Adam Vinatieri trotted onto the field and lined up his 45-yarder to tie Oakland in the 2001 AFC Divisional Playoff Game, the final one at Foxboro Stadium. “There’s no way he can make this kick in this weather,” was the first. “The way this season’s gone, I bet he makes this kick. It can’t end here. It can’t end now.” From where I was sitting in the press box I couldn’t see the ball clearly, probably because I was looking for it on a higher trajectory than Vinatieri used. So I remember Vinatieri going through the ball, my being unable to locate it in the air and then looking for the refs under the goalposts to see their signal. And when I located them, I saw the ball scuttle past. Then I saw the officials’ arms rise. Twenty-five years earlier, the first team I ever followed passionately – the ’76 Patriots – left me in tears when they lost to the Raiders in the playoffs. Now, at 33, I was covering that team and it had gotten a measure of retribution for the 8-year-old me.
 

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