FOXBORO - Todd Bowles is 1-0 as an NFL head coach. The Miami Dolphins' interim guy took over last week for the expelled Tony Sparano and guided his temporary team to a 30-23 win over Buffalo. An eight-year NFL veteran who played safety for the Redskins and 49ers, Bowles was asked why Miami was able to retain its pride during an 0-7 start and actually go 5-2 since November 6. "On our team, the guys are tough and they have a lot of pride and they're not gonna throw in the towel," said Bowles. "We have some good captains. They've been able to keep everyone together and I think that's helped out."It was mentioned to Bowles that, on the final Sunday of 2010, the same Dolphinsteam on which Bowles was a defensive assistant gave little effort in a 38-7 loss to the Patriots. "We played a heckuva football team and we ran into a buzzsaw and they beat us up pretty good," said Bowles, perhaps forgetting Tom Brady played for about 33 minutes and Deion Branch and Wes Welker didn't play at all. "It wasn't about anybody quitting or anything. They played a heckuva ballgame."Perhaps. But if the Dolphins are expecting Bowles to light their fire with an impassioned speech before Sunday's game at Gillette, they best not hold their breath. Asked if he was hoping his 5-9 team could play the role of spoiler for the Patriots, Bowles answered, "We're not trying to spoil anything we're just trying to get better as a team and try to close out the season on a winning note so we're gonna worry about ourselves right now."Almost every question offered during a fairly brief conference call with local media Tuesday afternoon Bowles met witha contrary response and disinterest. Asked if he thought New England might play themdifferently from the first meeting earlier this season, Bowles answered, "I'm not expecting them to approach us any differently. They had a helluva game the first game. They kinda treat everybody the same. They're a well-oiled machine. They're a good football team."Good game to use as a measuring stick for where your team is, Coach Bowles?"No. Everyone you play in the NFL every week is a measuring stick so this week it just happens to be the Patriots doesn't matter who we're playing this week, we'll just try to play our best."Hoping to be considered for the permanent headjob after the season? "I don't have any expectations really. I'm just trying to get the guys to play hard, play fast and try to come out with wins."Not at all?"I can coach football," he said."There's a lot of good assistants in the league, if the opportunity comes up it's just about getting the team ready to play."Easy there, Rockne.
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
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.
Greg Dickerson and Mike Giardi give their take on whether the NFL should not test for marijuana.
Greg Dickerson and Mike Giardi give their take on whether they think the Patriots will be not lose a home game during Brady’s suspension.