Monday, December 22, 2008

The Super Bowl Of Cliches

2009 NFL Playoff Game: New York Jets v. New England Patriots

New York Jets Pre-game Locker Room

Coach Eric Mangini: Today we have to bring our A-game and play like we're capable of playing. Everyone counted us out before the start of the season. No one gave us a chance two weeks ago. But we don't play these games on paper, and if we come together as a team, we'll find a way to win. Just go out there and have fun.

New England Patriots Pre-game Locker Room

Coach Bill Belichick: Winning is everything.

Game Time Booth with Jim Nantz and Phil Simms

The Jets came out of the locker room all fired up, Jim. Yes, they're loaded for bear today, Phil. And it's obvious there's no love lost between these two teams.

This is always a tough place to play, Jim. Intangibles will be the key. The team that plays ball-control offense and doesn't turn it over will win. The Patriots have to contain Thomas Jones. He's a real throwback. And the Jets have to stop the big play by Randy Moss. He can put the Patriots on his shoulders and carry them.

First Half Game Call

Favre and the Jets are playing with a short field at the Patriot 45. Favre hands off to Jones, he's got some room, and shakes off several would-be tacklers and rumbles down the sidelines for 40 yards. You could have driven a truck through that hole.

At the five, Favre hands off to Jones and New York draws first blood on a textbook play. Jones was in a zone on that drive. You can't teach that. The extra point splits the uprights, 7-0 Jets.

The Patriots go three and out.

Favre is marching the Jets down the field. Favre is audibilizing. Mangold snaps it. Favre has all day back there, Favre has an eternity. He airs it out to Laveranues Coles. A circus catch by the cat-quick Coles, and he turns on the after-burners. Touchdown Jets. That was vintage Brett Favre.

Favre will be buying dinner for his whole offensive line after this game if the Jets win. He's playing like a little kid out there. Jets tack on the extra point, it's 14-0. The Jets are clicking on all cylinders.

You can feel the momentum swinging. New England is playing physical football. The crowd is becoming a factor.

Matt Cassel has New England knocking on the door at the Jet 16. This is their deepest penetration yet.

Cassel is directing traffic. He throws a strike right on the numbers to Moss for a touchdown. That was a timing pattern. You can't say enough about Moss; he's got ice-water in his veins. And so New England answers back, with the extra point good, 14-7 Jets.

Favre has happy feet, he's flushed out of the pocket, and throws into double coverage and it's picked off by Mike Vrabel. He's always around the football. That was an ill-advised pass by Favre.

But there's a late flag. A flag usually means holding. The officials can call holding on every play. But it's offensive pass interference on the Jets, and the players have choice words for each other.

The Patriots take over. Cassel has his game face on. He checks off his receivers, and he finds Moss all alone in the end zone. They diagrammed that perfectly. Cassel has a swagger about him now.

The Patriots line up for the extra point. Missed wide right. That one could come back to haunt them, and it's 14-13 Jets.

Halftime interview by ESPN's Erin Andrews with Belichick

Andrews: Coach, what adjustments do you need to make in the second half?

Belichick: Well, we've still got plenty of football left. We have to go out there and execute.

Andrews: Thanks, coach.

Halftime interview by ESPN's Erin Andrews with Mangini

Andrews: Coach, what did you tell your players in the locker room?

Mangini: That we have to step up and make plays. We need to play within ourselves.

Andrews: Good luck, coach.

Second Half Game Call

The Patriots are trying to stave off elimination, down 14-13.

Cassel comes set at the Jet 45. Three-step drop, and he hits Wes Welker with a pinpoint pass at the 34. They pay him to make those catches. Welker is the consummate team player. And that looked like a missed assignment for Jet DB Ty Law.

The Patriots can't afford to get lackadaisical now. Cassel drops back, he scrambles, and he's sacked for a 15 yard loss by the rookie Vernon Gholston out of Ohio State. He's some kind of player.

Cassel really got his bell rung there, and he's slow getting up. Cassel is up, but he's walking gingerly. He's going to feel that one in the morning. The Patriots are looking at fourth down and forever now, and have to punt.

Farve takes the snap from Mangold, and dumps it off to Dustin Keller. Keller bulls his way for extra yardage, and is taken down just shy of the Patriot 29 for a 20 yard gain. That was a real heads-up play by the former boilermaker Keller.

The Jets have to remember what got them here, and take care of the football.

Favre, the ultimate gunslinger, is changing the play at the line of scrimmage. Play-action fake, Favre has all kinds of time, and guns it to Jerricho Cotchery for a first down at the Patriot 9 yard line. That throw was right on the money. Cotchery came to play today. The North Carolina State product has a great feel for the game.

Favre hands off to Leon Washington and he runs to daylight for a score. No one even laid a glove on him. He's the Jets' spark plug. The scrappy Washington is finally coming into his own. Feely puts it through and its 21-13 Jets. That took the crowd right out of the game.

This is gut-check time for the Patriots. They're still very much alive with a buck-40 left in regulation.

Cassel hands off to Kevin Faulk and he's stuffed for a 3-yard loss by Kris Jenkins at the Patriot 47. Jenkins has been a beast out there.

The Patriots are playing with a great sense of urgency. Third and 13. Cassel is in the shotgun. He drops and hits Welker for a fifteen yard gain and he steps out of bounds at the Jet 38. He ran out of real estate.

These two teams are fighting tooth and nail. With 14 seconds left in the game, it's decision time for the Patriots.

Cassel takes the snap. Cassel has a man open downfield, Moss has a step on the defender and it's caught at the Jet 2 yard line. He's having a monster game. Cassel and Moss are on the same page now.

The Patriots are not going away with their backs against the wall. The crowd is going wild. You can feel the electricity.

The Patriots can't cough it up here. They pin their hopes on Cassel. Five seconds to go. Cassel drops. He's sacked by Gholston, the one-man wrecking crew. It's over. Jets win 21-13.

Favre has silenced all the critics. He has a new lease on life.

New York Jets Post-game Locker Room

Andrews: Brett, talk about the game.

Favre: We made a statement here today. It was a total team effort, and we knew what we had to do and went out and did it. We gave it 110 percent.

Andrews: Thanks, Brett.

New England Patriots Post-game Locker Room

Andrews: I'm here with Coach Belichick. Coach, what went wrong today?

Belichick: We came out flat, and they smelled the jugular. They made the big plays, and we didn't. The ball just didn't bounce our way. We can still hold our heads high though. We left it all out on the field.

Andrews: Thanks, coach.

Post-game booth with Nantz and Simms

Phil, these two teams went at it like a couple heavyweights. They played a full 60 minutes. Yes they did, Jim, and the Jets served notice that they finally learned how to win.

The game was a lot closer than the final score indicates, Phil. True, Jim, and the Jets made the athletic plays when they had to, and the game was won in the trenches.

There were no losers in this game, Phil. Both teams played their hearts out.