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Old 09-22-2005, 04:54 PM   #1
Livinginthe past
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Default has it spot-on

The article below pretty much sums up my feelings on this weekends match up.

Patriots at Steelers: Sportswriter clich? No. 234: A "good loss." Definition: an early season loss on the road to an out-of-conference opponent; the type of loss that helps a good team refocus or reprioritize without jeopardizing future playoff tiebreakers. Example: "The Patriots suffered a good loss against the Panthers last week and should be ready for the Steelers."

The Patriots play a few flat games every year, usually on the road against tough, disciplined defenses. That's what happened when they faced the Steelers in Week 8 last year: the Steelers defense forced four turnovers, ran up an early lead, and made life easy for Ben Roethlisberger. The Patriots got revenge on the Steelers and Big Ben in the AFC title game, exposing Roethlisberger's weaknesses with their complex defenses, making him look like the rookie he was.

Whatever the merits of "good losses," they are no substitute for good wins. The Steelers have racked up two easy victories against cupcake opponents. Willie Parker may not be as good as he has looked so far. Big Ben's gaudy stats may have as much to do with his development as with the defenses he has faced. The defense appears exceptional, but it hasn't really been tested. Hand out the No. 2 pencils and scrap paper: the test is Sunday.

One thing is certain: there are no such things as "back-to-back good losses." The Steelers want to play almost the same game that the Panthers played last week; the Patriots know that some weaknesses were exposed in Carolina and will try to correct them. A second straight loss would leave the Patriots two games behind the Steelers and (probably) the Colts, their toughest conference rivals. In the tough AFC, no one wants to fall behind.


They've been great for a while now, three Super Bowls' worth of great. But only this season have the New England Patriots become The Show, the must-see team of stars, pretty boys and reformed bad boys. Suddenly, the Patriots are not simply great; they're compelling, fascinating, appearing to be almighty and a touch lawless.
The Patriots didn't bother with swagger to start this NFL season; they went straight to defiant. Either you're one of them or you're about to get crushed.
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