Leo's Late Hits

February 11 - Buccaneer Magazine managing editor Leo Haggerty takes a closer look at the New England Patriots' win over the St. Louis Rams in Super Bowl XXXVI in this installment of Leo's Late Hits. Haggerty also explores the possibility of Bill Parcells coming out of retirement to remedy Tampa Bay's coaching debacle.

WHAT WAS THE PLAY OF THE GAME IN THE SUPER BOWL?

In my opinion a Faulk made the play of the game but it was Kevin of the Patriots and not Marshall of the Rams who provided the heroics. Late in the first half on a third-and-2 from the Rams 16-yard line the lesser know Faulk took a pitch from quarterback Tom Brady in shotgun formation. After being trapped in the backfield No. 33 escaped and found a way to turn the left end for a gain of eight yards giving New England a first-and-goal on the St. Louis eight-yard line. On the ensuing play Brady hit wide receiver David Patton for the Patriots only offensive touchdown. Faulk's gritty run was the difference between the touchdown and an Adam Vinatieri field goal. Those four points that the Patriots were able to salvage loomed large at the end of the game.

Instead of being down 17-13 with less than two minutes to go in the fourth quarter the Patriots were all tied up with the Rams at 17. That meant that Brady only had to get Vinatieri into field goal range and not get New England into the end zone. That was huge and the Patriots have to be thankful of the second effort put forth by Faulk or maybe the Rams come out on the west end of the scoreboard.

IS BILL PARCELLS STILL A CANDIDATE FOR THE HEAD COACHING POSITION IN TAMPA BAY?

Let me share my opinion on what is transpiring. I think the Glazers are trying to force general manager Rich McKay to resign. I think they had every intention of firing head coach Tony Dungy and then McKay but the firestorm of negative opinion on the firing of Dungy made the Glazers back off. Instead they assumed that by kicking McKay upstairs to the role of team president and out of day-to-day football operations this would open the way for Parcells to have the total control that he wanted. The problem arose when McKay told Parcells he was going to be involved in the football operations side of the franchise and now the Glazers have to make it unbearable for McKay to function.

One way is refusing to hire the person he believes should be the next Bucs head coach in Baltimore Ravens defensive coordinator Marvin Lewis. It looks to me that the Glazers are trying to get McKay to leave so they can clear the way for Parcells to get back into the picture and avoid the avalanche of negative public opinion that would follow his firing. So yes I think Parcells is a candidate and never wasn't a candidate in this on-going athletic soap opera.

WAS THE NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS VICTORY IN SUPPER BOWL XXXVI THE BIGGEST UPSET IN SUPER BOWL HISTORY?

Not even close to the New York Jets 16-7 victory over the Baltimore Colts in Super Bowl III. That was the first Super Bowl won by the upstart American Football League team over an established National Football League franchise. The Green and White weren't given a chance by most experts against the Horseshoes but the problem was somebody forgot to tell Jets quarterback Joe Namath who guaranteed a win in the Miami Orange Bowl on January 12 of 1969. I don't think this was as big an upset as people think for two reasons. The first is that I called the game 24-21 Patriots because great defense always keeps great offense out of the end zone. That's because great offenses must adjust to what the great defense does.

In Super Bowl XXXVI the Rams weren't prepared for the multiple defense back schemes that New England head coach Bill Belichick had concocted for St. Louis head coach Mike Martz to decipher. That doesn't make Martz and the Rams staff bad coaches because you can only prepare for things that you have seen and the nickel and dime as well as quarter defense back looks of the Pats was a stroke of genius. The second was that the Patriots made a conscious effort to take running back Marshall Faulk away from the Rams offense. Faulk only had 21 touches (17 rushes for 76 yards and four receptions for 54 yards) with all but six coming in the first half. Plus the New England defense hit No. 28 every chance they had whether he had the football or not. Those were the two key factors that allowed New England to beat the St. Louis Rams 20-17.


Copyright 2001 Buccaneer Magazine/BucMag.com

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