The Chowdah Bowl
by Brian Freedman (Chowdah)
A review of the Pats/Colts 9/9/04 game.
Funny how a new NFL season sometimes sneaks up on you, usually the Red Sox are in their September swoon and I find myself seeking the sweet relief that is New England Patriots football! But this season the Red Sox have been Red Hot and I found myself more focused than ever on their efforts to grab the division from the hated NY Stankees!
So when we entered this week, with the pending game against Indy coming up on Thursday, I went into full cram mode to see where the Patriots are, and to see if they can continue where they had left off. (For those of you that have been living under a rock, where they “left off” was winning their 2nd Superbowl in three years and riding a 15 game winning streak.) This pre-season was not a spectacular one for the Patriots.
I know..I know..People say that you shouldn’t put much meaning in the preseason. But consider this…The Patriots, prior to this season, had a winning pre-season record every year since 2000 and they went 3-1 in 2001 and 4-0 last year. So what do we make of them going 1-3 and getting blown out twice? Is this an omen? Only Thursday night’s game would tell.
Entering this season the Patriots were only 4 wins away from breaking the Dolphins 18 game winning streak record. To do so the Patriots will have to beat the Colts, Cardinals, BiLLLLs and then, as irony would have it, the Dolphins! Sizing up these games, it would appear that the Colts would present the biggest obstacle to us claiming this record. Miami? They lost 60% of its offense when Ricky Williams decided he preferred spending more time w/ the wacky weed then playing football, they lost their #1 sack producer Adewale Ogunleye, and after all the hoopla over getting A J Feeley they are sticking with J Fiedler. Buffalo? They lose their #1 draft pick J. P. Losman and L Milloy to injuries, their 2 star running backs don’t want to play nice and share the ball and they have Drew Bledsoe (Who said so??) as their QB (Don’t think that’s a negative?? Read my 1/23/04 “Patriots vs. Bills – 2003 comparison” article) Arizona? It’s the Cardinals…’Nuff said!
Even though we have “owned” Peyton Manning in the Belichick era (His numbers vs. the Pats are far from All-pro and Brady is 6-0 vs. Manning) the Colts still presented us with a strong challenge. Manning is Manning! He is capable of single handedly carry his team to victory…None of us could forget that nail-biter from last season in which, after getting an early 21 point lead, it took a heroic goal line stand to beat them!
Heading off to the club for the 1st game I was overcome with emotions as I excitedly looked forward to seeing old friends and meeting some new ones and also trepidation as I was very concerned about how my beloved Pats would come out after that uncharacteristic pre-season. In the back of my head rolled the footage from the 31-0 spanking the Bills handed us last season and I kept repeating to myself that Coach B. will have this team prepared!
For those of you that know me, to say I’m superstitious is an understatement! I have my lucky seat, lucky T shirt, Lucky Hat (for both home and road games) lucky game jerseys
(Brady Blue for Home games and Bruschi White for Road games) my lucky spot for crucial third down plays and I always bring my Pats Hard hat and Flag. As the Pats were on a 15 game winning streak I knew nothing could change so until such time as they may lose (hopefully never!) I will continue with my routine to a letter.
The game started off great as Brady, working from the no-huddle offense, ripped through the Colts defense leading to a Vinatieri FG and a quick 3-0 lead. What was amazing about this drive is that the Pats, w/ Corey Dillon, didn’t attempt 1 rushing play! Indy’s 1st drive came to an end w/ Tedy Bruschi’s interception. It was now that the Pats decided to show what Dillon could do.. His 1st 2 plays gained 10 and 13 yrds..23 yrds on 2 plays? This was unheard of! What the stats won’t show is the impact Dillon had on the passing game. The Colts had to bite on every play fake and option because of the threat Dillon is! It is refreshing to finally have a real RB lined up behind Brady!! The 1st quarter ended w/ the Patriots up 3-0. The Club highlight of the 1st quarter was Ross’s repeated throwing of the “penalty flag” at the TV at every perceived non-call on Indy.
You know we always have fans of other teams at our club. Dean made it a point to welcome these people and I for one respect anyone who roots for their team with the same passion as I root for my Patriots! However there was this guy who was very VERY vocal in his support of the Colts. What irked me about this guy was that he was a Vikings fan who had put money on the game, taking Indy and the points. I wondered aloud who would be stupid enough to bet against the Pats and it had to figure it was a Vikings fan..I mean only BuffaLLLLo’s 4 consecutive SB losses took the “Loser” tag off of his teams 0-4 SB futility! If your only vested interest in the game is money don’t come into my house and be spouting off!
The 2nd quarter action gets kind of blurred cuz, in these night games, that’s when the food comes out! So between the all out gorging and smacking and flying chicken wing bones it was hard to focus on the game (Sitting next to the Archetko’s during “grazing” time is an experience all to itself!! Just kidding Big Jim!) But these are the highlights I remember…. 27 points were scored this quarter. It seemed that E. James was running up the middle untouched…Brandon Stokley seemed to be constantly open….Dillon broke off a sweet 38 yard run…..Realizing we have a REAL punter! (Way to go Miller!)…
Screaming at the television as Dallas Clark somehow pulled off a “Randy Moss” racing for a 64 Yard reception (How could we not catch this guy?????)…Watching Manning to Harrison for a TD….. Watching Brady hook up w/ Dion Branch for our 1st TD (Take that INDY!)….Mr. Clutch Vinatieri nailing a 43 yard FG!! At the end of the quarter Indy was now up 17-13 and some moans could be heard throughout! But we were still confident because these were our Patriots and winning close games has become regular and expected!
Half time always features our club raffles. This year Jim Brown hooked us up w/ End Zone Collectibles in Greece and got the club $10 gift certificates for every game!! Half time also is time Jim Brown’s famous 50/50 raffle featuring his “Arm length” special for $5. (Best line heard was Danimal requesting Manute Bol’s arm length in tickets!) As was the usual, the Artcheko’s came away winners in both drawings. Big Jim won the 50/50 and Timmy took home the 1st gift Certificate! And of course no club drawing is complete without yours truly, after losing AGAIN (I never win!), yelling……“FIX!!!”
(On a side note Timmy Archetko is opening his 1st restaurant in Victor, NY. He’s calling it “Otto Tomato’s” and it will open up on/around 10/14! So all of you football fans be sure to save your appetites that night and head out to Timmy’s new place!)
I had made a reference to a lucky spot earlier on…Jimmy Archetko and I stand side by side on the right hand side of the club on crucial 3rd down plays. We have been doing this for years! But this time something was different, after going 3-6 on 3rd downs in the 1st half we decided to sit in our lucky seats for all 3rd down plays! This was quite a change from the norm and I wondered if we were giving up on it too early. However we found that staying in our seats was actually helping the Pats get over the hump (They would be a perfect 2-2 in 3rd down plays in the 3rd quarter) so for the rest of the game that is where we stayed!
The 3rd quarter was all Patriots! With Brady throwing TD strikes to David Patten and Daniel Graham (who has suddenly found the ability to HANG onto the ball!) and Ty Warren forcing E. James to cough up the 1st of his 2 fumbles (Recovered by E. Wilson). This was as well played quarter as I had seen in a while! The highlight of this quarter came as Danimal, growing increasingly annoyed with Madden’s negative comments yelled out that the Pats D should go up to the booth and put an illegal hit on him (“Why not...It won’t cost us any yards! No penalty there! Take him out!”) Damn it is good to have Danimal back at the club….and ladies…He’s available!! Also yours truly decided to bring a little culture to the club for the benefit of our Colts rooting Vikings fan as Frank & I put on a skit in which I played the Vikes “Rube” and Frank his bookie. I proceeded to open my wallet and hand over all my money to my “bookie” shaking my head and saying “How could I be so dumb betting against the Pats” Unfortunately this didn’t shut the Vike’s fan up but, we all got a good laugh at his expense! The 3rd quarter ended with the Pats in command 27-17!
So 15 minutes to play…You knew Manning had something up his sleeve but could the Pats D hold on? It didn’t take long as Manning drove the Colts down field and hooked up with B Stokley (Who else?) for a TD. So with only 4 minutes gone we had a real game on our hands! This quarter also marked a sad end to Brady’s NFL record 288 pass attempts at home without an interception as a miscommunication led to the ball being delivered right into the hands of N. Harper. As sad as it was to see the record fall we were still happy to see his name on top of that particular record!
The real nail-biter of the 4th quarter came with 5:20 left as Manning, missing on a 2nd and 10 end zone play to Reggie Wayne, was given new life by the Zebras who made a BULLSH*T pass interference call on A Samuel. He was going for the ball and broke up the play perfectly! The result of this had the Colts 1st and goal at our 1 (Sound familiar??). We were both terrified and confident as we remember what happened last season (Big Willie stuffing E. James for a loss on 4th down..Classic!!) Well we didn’t have to wait long as James, on the 1st play, coughed up the ball AGAIN!!!!(Thanks to a bone crushing hit by E. Wilson). All that was left was for the Pats to run out the clock. But, as it turns out, this did not go as we had hoped. The Pats worked the ball out to the 19 yard line when...after the 2 minute warning…on 3rd and 13…Brady THROWS the ball incomplete!!. Helloooooo…Aren’t we trying to run out the clock? Wasn’t Dillon sitting back there ready and able to carry the rock and bring the clock down to about 1 minute??
Soooo…Indy gets the ball back at their 36 with a huge 1:43 left! We watched in horror as Manning led off with a 45 yard strike to…Who else?...B. Stokely! Putting them on our 19 yard line…Chippie distance for Vanderjagt! It looked like we were heading to OT when Big Willie, once again, came to our rescue! 3rd and 8 on our 17 yard line, Willie sacked Manning for a 12 yard loss!!! We went nuts! Now all that was standing between us and victory was a 48 yard FG!
I feel it is important to give this part of the game special attention. I have been given a gift..A special FG hex that I can use, only once a game, on an opposing kicker to make him miss. You can ask anyone at the club and they will verify that this power of mine is real! Big Jim and Jimmy practically lifted me out of my seat and got me in position for the Hex. What was I up against? Vanderjagt hadn’t missed a FG since 2002!!!! He has been one of the premier kickers in the league so a 48 yarder was no big deal to him. Prior to the kick he was seen gesturing to the Pats that it was “money in the bank”. I started my Hex when Coach B called a TO to ice him. What was he doing? Didn’t Belichick know I had the Hex on? He didn’t need to waste the TO! Well as play resumed Vandy lined up..I had the Hex fully working on him…The ball is snapped..The kick is off and it…SAILS WIDE RIGHT!!!! Vandy missed!!! VANDY Missed!!!! The Hex had taken down one of the best kickers in the league and secured the 16th straight victory for the Patriots!!!!!!!
The club exploded as we hugged and danced and screamed. You would have thought we had just won our 3rd SB! (Wait until you see the party when THAT happens!) You can talk about all the various factors that went into winning this game but what it boils down to is Chowdah’s famous FG hex had once again saved the game for the Patriots!!! (That’s my story and I’m sticking with it!).
Sooo…It was a new season but with the same results..A WIN!!! And I have a feeling there will be many more of these to come this season! C’mon Everyone!. Sing it with me! (To the old NBC theme)
Past Chowdah Bowls