Fan Files: Last Minute Pats
By Michelle Vitagliano, Fan Commentator
Back in April, I was in my office getting ready to go home for the day when the phone rang. It was my mother. She called to tell me that our New England Patriots had signed free agent Doug Flutie. "No way! No way! No WAY!" I screamed. The news made my day. I love Doug Flutie. Always have. Always will. I still have his Boston College #22 shirt from back in the day and credit him for adding the term Hail Mary to my vocabulary. I had a crush on him back then and still do.
I was so excited about Flutie's signing I could barely contain myself. We hung up and I ran out of my office into three of my female colleagues. Although I knew the news would go over like a lead balloon, I had to tell them about the Patriots new free agent signing because I had apparently caused a commotion that was enough so spark their interest and had them staring at me, eyebrows raised. Of course, I was right. Not one of them could have cared less about this former Heisman winner returning to New England for a second time in his NFL career. Only one of them even knew who he was. I said to myself "Wait until the season starts, then they'll know whom I am talking about."
Well, three games into the regular season and Flutie hasn't seen much playing time, which means one of two things; he's either injured or his team isn't blowing its opponents out of the water to a point where he can get in the game. Fortunately, Flutie is not hurt. Unfortunately, the Patriots aren't blowing opponents out of the water just yet. The Pats aren't really about blowouts; they're about giving fans heart attacks by keeping things real close until the very end of the game and then pulling off a win.
While it was funny to hear the guy behind me let out a big sigh before kickoff on opening day and sarcastically say how tough it would be to see the Patriots attempt a three-in-a-row Super Bowl win, I don't think he realized how grueling these first few games would be or that the team would lose a key player for the season to injury after in the first quarter of the third game. Somehow, after losing both Matt Light and Rodney Harrison to injury in Sunday's game, the Patriots did what they do best. They pulled off a late-game drive to score in the final minutes, which resulted in a 23-20 win and brought the New England's record to 2-1.
I admit, I wasn't very comfortable with the game after watching Pittsburgh waste no time in matching the Patriots' first touchdown with one of their own. It was an in-your-face type of score that didn't give Pats fans even a minute to enjoy the lead. Adding to that bad feeling was Rodney Harrison's injury, which left a pit in my stomach. Matt Light's injury had me holding my head in my hands and Chad Scott's penalty for pass interference, which eventually led to Pittsburgh's tying up the game, made me think that maybe it just wasn't the Patriots' day.
Then the team then did something to jerk me back to reality. The Patriots reminded me that they are a championship team and championship teams overcome injuries and find ways to win when they're not supposed to. That 's exactly what they did on Sunday night. They pulled it together just when it looked hopeless. Quarterback Tom Brady guided the team downfield with seconds left on the clock. A feeling of deja vu came over me when kicker Adam Vinatieri came out for the field goal attempt. In a scene we have witnessed time and again Vinatieri kicked the game-winning field goal with only seconds left on the clock. Thank God because two other teams on Sunday had already gone into overtime with a 20-20 score, I didn't want this to be the third. Another win for the Pats, another great game of football for the fans.
On Sunday the Pats face the 1-2 AFC West Champion San Diego Chargers at Gillette Stadium. While most Pats fans will be watching Brady and the rest of the Patriots throwing passes, making tackles and playing some hard-hitting football, I will be watching wedding vows, the first dance and a best-man speech.
A Sunday wedding in the middle of football season and at the end of baseball's regular season should be outlawed. Then again, it's an out-of-town wedding and neither the bride nor the groom are New England fans. I suppose it's somewhat understandable. Fortunately, I've already got some people lined up to send me updates every time there's a score. While I'm getting my sports update and watching the guests mill about the wedding festivities, I'm sure I'll see my friends from Pennsylvania. It will be fun to remind them of the Steelers game. Maybe I can get a good hair salon recommendation for them to pass on to Troy Polamalu. That boy needs a style in the worst way.
Enjoy the Chargers game. Go Pats!
Michelle Vitagliano, passionate Boston sports fan that she is, can be found in the insiders forums under the screen name Patriette. Her weekly fan commentary can be found here on the Patriots Insider site, or you can search for her articles on the Insiders by searching for "Michelle Vitagliano".
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