The refs are going to screw us!

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Kenny F'ing Powers

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There. It's right in a title on the forum.

Now it doesn't have to be buried somewhere in every post made this week. I saved you all some time.
 

geoduck no quahog

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Pats will be playing against the Denver Broncos, Dean Blandino, Roger Goodell, the "Legacy of Manning", CBS and Jesus next week.

They'll still win.
 

m0ckduck

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Game is being billed as the decisive vote in the Manning-vs-Brady rivalry, but for me it's more like the final litmus test for 'NFL has turned into WWE!' conspiracy theories. For my part, I've always been agnostic towards these theories: I believe the financial incentive is there of the league, integrity is in short supply... but I've never understood there to be a plausible mechanism: how exactly would the league's wishes be communicated to the crew (I get that the point-of-emphasis thing has been abused to favor certain teams, but that's sort of a blunt instrument). I also don't believe the referee crews are treated well enough by the league to overtly throw games at its behest.

Going into this game, I can't think of an occasion where I've been so expectant of getting jobbed by the refs. Maybe the '04 AFCCG if that had been in Indy. The 2010 NBA Finals come to mind— I basically tuned out that series by the end because of overt differences between the way the series was reffed in Boston vs. LA. If we get treatment on par with what the Steelers got yesterday, I'll be delighted.
 

mauidano

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"Integrity of the game". Millions of eyes will be watching this game with intense scrutiny. It has to play out at a high and fair level.

Paranoia is a bad thing, relax. Let it play out.
 

PayrodsFirstClutchHit

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"Integrity of the game". Millions of eyes will be watching this game with intense scrutiny. It has to play out at a high and fair level.

Paranoia is a bad thing, relax. Let it play out.
As long as Nantz and Simms describe everyone questionable OPI/DPI penalty against the Pats as a "Great Call!" there will be no outrage outside of NE.

We saw an example yesterday when Talib was mugging the receiver in the endzone with no call and Simms was praising the result even after multiple replays showed clear interference.
 

Morgan's Magic Snowplow

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Yeah, the league isn't fixed. The Super Bowl will have massive ratings no matter who represents the AFC. Goodell is a clown but he isn't going to fix the game out of spite. The refs might succumb to the moment and let a little home team bias creep in, but they're not walking on the field thinking that their job is to ensure a Bronco victory.
 

singaporesoxfan

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1. Refs make mistakes; they are human.

2. Refs tend to make calls that favor home teams (at least that was what the Boyko study of Premier League football showed)

3. Financial incentives don't seem to suggest any reason for the league not to favor the Patriots; last year's game had the highest ratings since the Bears-Pats Super Bowl.

4. Yes, people in league office probably don't like the Patriots.

Based on all that, I'd say the old adage that you never attribute to malice what can be adequately explained by incompetence holds. There will be bad calls in the game, they likely will favor Denver, they likely will not be because of any conspiracy, and they certainly will infuriate the truthers of SoSH.
 

Ed Hillel

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The playoffs have been well-officiated with a "let them play" feel. All that aside, please give me Vinovich over Eddie Arms. The less potential incompetence variance the better, given that the Pats are the better team.
 

BigSoxFan

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Honestly, I think Brady going for #5 near his hometown and in Montana's backyard would be more compelling than seeing whether Manning can break double digits against Carolina. Not worried about conspiracies - merely about incompetence that seemingly lets Aqib Talib bear hug WRs with no repercussions.
 

singaporesoxfan

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Yeah, the league isn't fixed. The Super Bowl will have massive ratings no matter who represents the AFC.
Not only that, Super Bowl ratings tend to be higher for games involving dynasties or really dominant teams. That's at least part why the largest ratings shares in history for Super Bowls have been, in descending order, Super Bowl XVI (Montana's 49ers), XVII (80s Skins), XX (85 Bears), XLIX (Patriots / Seahawks), XII (77-78 Cowboys, first prime time game), and XLVI (Patriots / Giants). As you can see from the two 21st century games on that list, the Patriots are ratings gold.
 

TheoShmeo

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I don't think there is a directive to screw the Pats or even favor the Bronocs slightly. As much as Goodell is a man born to die in a fire, that strains the imagination considerably.

But I do think that the loud crowd in Denver, like other loud crowds, can and does at times affect the refs in subconscious ways. It's not exactly going out on a limb to believe that.

And I also think that the series of calls that were made in the Pats game in Denver this year was beyond horrendous. The conclusion that it was NFL mandated does not follow. The conclusion that the Pats got screwed by unusually bad and one sided officiating does. Saying that doesn't make you a conspiracy theorist. There are always a number of reasons why a team lost and in that particular game, the bizarre officiating was near the top of the list, in my opinion.

For this coming game, I'm much more worried about the altitude than the officiating. Seeing Pittsburgh give up huge chunks of yardage on the ground as the game wore on yesterday was eerily reminiscent of so many other games I've watched over the years in that city.

And it IS possible that Goodell ordered the altitude to affect visiting players more.
 

dcmissle

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1. Refs make mistakes; they are human.

2. Refs tend to make calls that favor home teams (at least that was what the Boyko study of Premier League football showed)

3. Financial incentives don't seem to suggest any reason for the league not to favor the Patriots; last year's game had the highest ratings since the Bears-Pats Super Bowl.

4. Yes, people in league office probably don't like the Patriots.

Based on all that, I'd say the old adage that you never attribute to malice what can be adequately explained by incompetence holds. There will be bad calls in the game, they likely will favor Denver, they likely will not be because of any conspiracy, and they certainly will infuriate the truthers of SoSH.
+1. And it is complicated --

No. 2 is real and enormous, and very difficult to separate in one's mind from the feeling that the honchos are out to screw the Pats.

Then there is a game thread overlay -- in there it seems worse still because plays that are correctly officiated, but close, are attributed to malice.

It is easy to fall victim to this mindset. There were calls that went the Steelers way yesterday that I was absolutely convinced would never go the Pats way next week. Cuz Patriots rules and Rooney rules.

Making it easier still to fall into this mindset is that people seemingly have gotten breaks in the past. Shula absolutely seemed to when he dominated the Competition Committee, and I'm very suspicious when Fisher is on the other sideline for the same reason.

There really is only one way this could be a more perfect storm -- if the officials were full time employees of the NFL. Say what you want about these guys, but they all have careers out of this sport. And if I were one of them, I'd tell the League to go eff itself before skewing a game.
 

wiffleballhero

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For what it is worth, by my estimate, the Patriots lost four games this year and only one -- vs. Denver, as fate would have it -- could at all be attributed to bad calls. The Giants game arguably benefited from at least one call -- the incomplete -- that could have gone the other way. The Miami and Jets losses are pretty much on the anemic game plan/injured roster. The Philly game was a train wreck.

But that Denver game had at least three legitimately brutal calls that turned the game:
1. The holding penalty against Chung that negated a sack and would have put the Pats one play from putting the game away. This was, at a minimum, a very soft call.
2. The holding penalty against Jackson that negated the death-blow bomb to Martin (51yards) early in the fourth. This was a BS call if ever there was one.
3. The OPI penalty against Gronk with 6 left that would have converted a third and five and simply made the drive go on with under five left in the game.

Whatever. Denver is a house of horrors for the Pats. I worry about home team reffing more than outright corruption, but I also worry about crowd noise, altitude and injuries, especially with respect to things like Hightower's ability in run stopping.
 

Hoodie Sleeves

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I believe the financial incentive is there of the league, integrity is in short supply... but I've never understood there to be a plausible mechanism: how exactly would the league's wishes be communicated to the crew (I get that the point-of-emphasis thing has been abused to favor certain teams, but that's sort of a blunt instrument). I also don't believe the referee crews are treated well enough by the league to overtly throw games at its behest..
Normally I'd agree about it being implausible, but roughly a month ago the NFL decided that Blandino would have full access to the referees during playoff games to instruct them on how the game should be called.

If that doesn't invite the appearance of impropriety, I don't know what would.
 

NortheasternPJ

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1. Refs make mistakes; they are human.

2. Refs tend to make calls that favor home teams (at least that was what the Boyko study of Premier League football showed)
Yet another reason to blame the Pats for blowing the last half of the season and not being able to beat the Eagles, Jets or Dolphins. The human factor with refs is another benefit to home field advantage, right or not. It's like Seahawks fans complaining they played at 10am both weeks, win your games, get home field and go on a run.

If the refs are a factor it's because they're just bad, I don't believe the league is directing anything at the level implied here.
 

mauf

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This place will explode if there's a play next week comparable to the no-call Denver got on that m DPI in the end zone (when Tomlin decided to GFI on 4th and 1 instead of attempting a 49-yard FG).
 

PayrodsFirstClutchHit

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It is easy to see how some Pats fans have become paranoid about the league office and the officials. When you read that the back judge (Greg Wilson) that made the DPI call against Chung and the OPI call against Gronk in the Denver/Pats game was just back after being demoted from high profile games for the screwing up the Seahawks-Lions batted ball situation, you see that as further proof the league has it out for the Pats.

If Ed Hercules gets assigned this game, you know that it will be a flag happy affair as Ed needs at least a dozen moments on the mic per game. I would hope the trend to let them play continues this postseason, but given past history in Denver, I am not confident that will be the case.
 

mauf

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Doesn't a bad call being made by an official with a record of making bad calls in games not involving New England actually cut the other way?

Suggesting that a team that has enjoyed the on-field success the Patriots have has been the victim of a conspiracy isn't understandable -- it's patently stupid.
 

Hendu for Kutch

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I cringe every time I see an official do the dramatic exaggerated arm swing after a fumble recovery or big first down. I don't like the idea that they're caught up in the excitement of the moment, playing to the crowd, or feeling like they're a part of the game itself. It's especially terrifying seeing that as a road team.

Example of bad: Mike Carey karate chopping an invisible brick to signal McGinest's holding call in SB 36.

Example of good: The refs calmly running in and signaling Patriots' ball after Butler's INT in SB 49.
 

slowstrung

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How much can homefield influence really be a factor? It's not like the crews assigned to playoff games are brand new to the NFL. Wouldn't experienced officials get used to the boos and noise over time and adjust? Whst kind of crummy officials could let themselves get spooked by the audience game after game, year after year?
 

DukeSox

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The Referees are the chosen arbitrators of the The National Football League Rules. It is a small, select group of successful, football-fanatical individuals who have elected to dedicate a meaningful portion of their lives to the Enforcement of The Rules. They're not doing it to get rich, as has been pointed out they usually have other jobs usually, they're doing it because they want to do it and they want to be involved as the Guardians of The Rules.

Over the past decade, the media has pushed a narrative of the Patriots flaunting The Rules, the same Rules the Referees are tasked with protecting and enforcing, which protect the integrity of The Game.

It would not at all be surprising that certain refs have formed a negative view of the Pats organization - after all, it seems like the Pats are always trying to pull a fast one on the refs, to gain an unfair advantage and circumvent The Rules that define the job of The Referees. If someone at work had a reputation of always trying to fool you or your coworkers (whether true or not, the rumor/media-driven perception creates the reality) - how would you feel about that person in general?

~~

In the same way that opposing coaches can completely and honestly claim two opposing call are both the correct call on the exact same play because of their inherent bias due to their rooting interest (think college basketball coaches on charge/block calls, or NFL head coaches on PI calls), and because of the subjectivity of many of these calls, referees can look at the exact same play when it involves the Patriots versus another team and make the opposite call, not because the ref takes a second and thinks "hey, i'm going to fuck the patriots on this play!" No, it's completely subconscious - again, the college coach example, where both coaches would swear under oath that the opposite call is the right call by the rules.

Hell - it's even codified in the rulebook - "referees discretion". That discretion is influenced by a lot of things. Many plays are not black and white.

I dont think it's at all unreasonable that the above situation results in some refs, on some plays, making calls against the Patriots that wouldn't otherwise be made against other teams.
 

Morgan's Magic Snowplow

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How much can homefield influence really be a factor? It's not like the crews assigned to playoff games are brand new to the NFL. Wouldn't experienced officials get used to the boos and noise over time and adjust? Whst kind of crummy officials could let themselves get spooked by the audience game after game, year after year?
It could still be a factor. We're talking about human beings caught up in the moment, making lightning quick decisions. Nevertheless, I think its less of a factor than many assume. We might get back calls against us and we might not. Fans tend to remember all the bad calls against them and this shapes narratives but forget all the calls that go for them. If you look at other NFL message boards around the internet, just about every fan base thinks refs have screwed them overall in the past and a huge number of NFL fans specifically believe that refs favor the Patriots (either through conspiracy or some kind of subconscious non-malicious thing).

In the end, NFL refereeing is difficult and pretty poor in practice, but best characterized as a factor that induces a huge amount of variance into games, not a huge amount of bias - ie, bad calls one way or another can and do decide games, but the level of systematic bias (against particular teams or even for home teams in general) is probably very low and generally not worth worrying about.
 

bakahump

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Not that he ever would.....
But would it make sense for BB (Or even Bob or Jon) to use the Bully Pulpit this week and say something like
"yea I think the Refs do a great job...I think that some of the ticky tack stuff that is called during the regular season has been replaced by a more realistic "playoff football mentality". Thats what the fans want....the players to decide the game....not the refs".

Obviously some PR minds could craft something better......but the point would be to let the NFL, Refs and Public know that any "ticky tack calls (against the pats) for the home team" will (and should be) be under a microscope.

Of course ....the NFL probable gives less then 2 flying fu....fish....about "bad penalties". Especially against the evil empire.
 

djbayko

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With our luck, that would probably backfire. The refs might see it as a slight towards their ability to make correct calls.

Unfortunately, history shows that the squeaky wheel gets greased when it comes to officiating in sports (not suggesting they go that route, nor that there's a recent basis for it either).
 

DeJesus Built My Hotrod

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I don't think the league fixes games via officiating, however I think the point-of-emphasis stuff is used to dictate certain styles of play.

I also think those who point out that the Patriots are perceived as habitual line-steppers are right. When the Patriots tactics are highlighted by opposing coaches, it exposes the officials. It wouldn't shock me if some of those guys are biased against NE for that reason alone.

Finally, you guys act as if the actual quality of the Superbowl matters. The fact is the ads are sold in advance and the halftime show is already set so people are going to watch regardless. People select their boxes in their office pools so even a lopsided game will have folks half-paying attention at the end while they mingle at their parties. What matters is the pre-game narrative and the cleanest, most marketable narrative is that of the league's old poster boy, Peyton Manning vs its new one, Cam Newton. That doesn't mean it will get that match up but if the league had its preference I believe that's the story they would like to pimp.
 
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Morgan's Magic Snowplow

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Just to add some data:

-Are referees systematically biased against the Patriots? If so, penalty statistics don't really show it, as the Patriots were beneficiaries of 15 more flags than they were called for this year.

-Are more penalties called on visiting teams? Yes, but the differences are very small. Home teams were flagged for 49.27% of penalties this year. Crews led by Ed Hochuli, our most likely ref, have flagged the home team for 48.38% of penalties over the course of his career. There were about 13.7 penalties called per game across the NFL this year so we are talking about an expectation for Hochuli of about .4 more penalties per game called on the visiting team.
 

TheoShmeo

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Good knowledge, MMS.

That said, I don't think that total penalties tell the entire story. In the Week 12 game, the Pats actually had one less penalty than the Broncos did. The Broncos were penalized 6 times for 46 yards and the Patriots were penalized 5 times for 47 yards. Even with that basic equivalence, I think that many people -- including many Pats detractors who commented in the wake of that game -- concluded that the Pats were victimized by a series of terrible calls, and those calls had a substantial impact on the outcome. Simply put, all penalties do not have equal import. A lot depends on timing, the type of penalty and the impact on the game. To take an extreme example, penalties that extend drives while the offense is marching to tie the score or take the lead late in the game are a lot different than tacking on 5 additional yards with an illegal shift on first down in the first quarter.

So while the total numbers show a small difference, and not surprisingly, a slightly bigger difference with Mr. Look at Me as the Crew Chief, a more thorough going analysis might show more home field impact than the raw numbers suggest.
 
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geoduck no quahog

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I think part of the perception comes from the Television teams. It behooves them to un-hype the Patriots. "Patriots = Good" is a tired story that loses 70% of the country that hates the team from New England.

So the announcers tend to not comment on poor calls against the Pats (not all of them, but enough). That sets up an us-against-them feeling, regardless of what's happening on the field.

Look, if I remember correctly, the CBS graphic yesterday said something like, "Patriots Squeak by the Chiefs" (with equally absurd positives on the 2 other games). 'Nuff said.
 

Van Everyman

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This league is full of excuse making babies. PFT:

Broncos LB Brandon Marshall on why it's so hard to cover Patriots TE Rob Gronkowski: "Because he pushes off."
 

DJnVa

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This league is full of excuse making babies. PFT:

Broncos LB Brandon Marshall on why it's so hard to cover Patriots TE Rob Gronkowski: "Because he pushes off."
Honestly, why do other teams like to talk before a game?
 

Van Everyman

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Honestly, why do other teams like to talk before a game?
Because if they face the truth it means they are inferior.

After he rips off 8 catches for 110 yards, Gronk should walk over to Marshall, shake his hand and present him with a participation trophy.
 

Morgan's Magic Snowplow

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Good knowledge, MMS.

That said, I don't think that total penalties tell the entire story. In the Week 12 game, the Pats actually had one less penalty than the Broncos did. The Broncos were penalized 6 times for 46 yards and the Patriots were penalized 5 times for 47 yards. Even with that basic equivalence, I think that many people -- including many Pats detractors who commented in the wake of that game -- concluded that the Pats were victimized by a series of terrible calls, and those calls had a substantial impact on the outcome. Simply put, all penalties do not have equal import. A lot depends on timing, the type of penalty and the impact on the game. To take an extreme example, penalties that extend drives while the offense is marching to tie the score or take the lead late in the game are a lot different than tacking on 5 additional yards with an illegal shift on first down in the first quarter.

So while the total numbers show a small difference, and not surprisingly, a slightly bigger difference with Mr. Look at Me as the Crew Chief, a more thorough going analysis might show more home field impact than the numbers raw numbers suggest.
Maybe so, maybe not. There are definitely limitations to a statistic as simple as total penalties. But if all the available evidence is suggesting only very minimal amounts of home team bias, I'm not going to worry about it unless somebody can provide evidence that shows that the bias is greater.

Honestly, I think people are way too scarred by the Denver game this year. We got screwed by the referees in that game for sure. But that game should have nearly zero impact on our assessment of how this next game will likely be refereed - it was one game, with a different crew, in the regular season. There's no reason to believe that there is a conspiracy against the Patriots. There is no reason to believe that something about the air in Denver makes referees particularly biased against the Patriots in that stadium. We got fucked but that was then and this is now.
 

TheoShmeo

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Maybe so, maybe not. There are definitely limitations to a statistic as simple as total penalties. But if all the available evidence is suggesting only very minimal amounts of home team bias, I'm not going to worry about it unless somebody can provide evidence that shows that the bias is greater.

Honestly, I think people are way too scarred by the Denver game this year. We got screwed by the referees in that game for sure. But that game should have nearly zero impact on our assessment of how this next game will likely be refereed - it was one game, with a different crew, in the regular season. There's no reason to believe that there is a conspiracy against the Patriots. There is no reason to believe that something about the air in Denver makes referees particularly biased against the Patriots in that stadium. We got fucked but that was then and this is now.
Methinks you're tilting at windmills a bit there.

I cited the Denver game only because it provided a neat example of when the penalty differential did not tell the whole story. And not because I think that it has anything to do with the upcoming game.

Also, maybe I've missed it but I don't think many folks here are making the "we got screwed in Week 12, we'll get screwed again" argument.
 

Morgan's Magic Snowplow

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Methinks you're tilting at windmills a bit there.

I cited the Denver game only because it provided a neat example of when the penalty differential did not tell the whole story. And not because I think that it has anything to do with the upcoming game.

Also, maybe I've missed it but I don't think many folks here are making the "we got screwed in Week 12, we'll get screwed again" argument.
I didn't mean to point to you specifically. I've just seen that game referenced a bunch of times in the conversation over whether or not we should be worried about the refereeing, in this thread and the other one. Maybe people aren't making the "we got screwed, we'll get screwed again" argument but that game is clearly weighing heavily on peoples' minds, and probably too much so IMO.
 

DJnVa

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That was before we were despised dude! We were the plucky underdogs!
 

TheoShmeo

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I didn't mean to point to you specifically. I've just seen that game referenced a bunch of times in the conversation over whether or not we should be worried about the refereeing, in this thread and the other one. Maybe people aren't making the "we got screwed, we'll get screwed again" argument but that game is clearly weighing heavily on peoples' minds, and probably too much so IMO.
For me, last game is meaningful only insofar as it is part of a larger narrative. If Brady was 6-2 in Denver, the fans weren't as loud as they are and the altitude wasn't an advantage for the home team, then the loss in Week 12 would weigh less heavily on me.

But I agree with your main point and think that it's possible that the prior game will actually help the Pats. One, they have very recent experience dealing with all that is involved in playing there. Familiarity is good. Two, Brady will realize that he almost lead his team to victory without his key weapons on offense and with the defense missing several of its best players. So will the rest of the team, and that should give them something of a boost. And three, it's very tough to beat a very good team twice in one season. It's been done, of course, but losing the first game -- wherever it was played -- has its advantages.
 

NortheasternPJ

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But you don't understand -- close calls in big games ALWAYS go against us, man!

PERFECT EXAMPLE OF THE REFS SCREWING THE PATS.

That should have been a Personal Foul for 15 yards for hitting the QB in the head. Just another example of the NFL against the Pats!

By the way this hit was completely legal as well!:


/SoSH
 
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Rasputin

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Because if they face the truth it means they are inferior.
It's disturbing to me how true this is. You know those people at work who aren't really dumb but aren't that bright either, who just keep doing things the way they have always done them because that's the way they have always done them? They've been around a long time and they know the details of the systems/products/whatever they work with so they're pretty effective at their jobs, but they aren't deep thinkers or innovators or anything more than a cog in the machine.

As best I can tell, that's almost every coach in the league for the last 25 years.

They've had some success due primarily to experience rather than actual intelligence and because they work hard at doing what they have always done, they assume they're working as hard and as smart as everyone else when they aren't.

The perfect example is the end of last year's Super Bowl. I don't remember all the details, but Seattle mismanaged the clock so they had to take a time out to avoid a penalty which meant they couldn't stop the clock after a running play which meant they had to throw the ball if they were going to get four chances.

Meanwhile all the coaches on the New England sideline knew the Seattle formation meant pass, and got Butler into the game, and Butler--a backup going into the game--recognized the play because he had practiced it that week, and knew where he had to be to make the play.

Then with the line of scrimmage so close to the end zone every single one of us was worried about a safety even on a safe run-into-the-line-and-fall-down play, the Seattle players were undisciplined enough to commit a penalty and give the Pats five yards and make the safety much less likely.

A two time super-bowl coach with one of the best teams in the league mismanages the clock and hasn't instilled enough discipline in his team for them not to commit stupid penalties in the last seconds of the championship game.

The other guy not only had someone identify the plays Seattle used in those situations, but had his backup cornerback practice them.

Belichick is just better at this. He's better at hiring coaches. He's better at picking players. He's better at preparing players. He's actually smart and competent and willing to do something new if he's convinced it's what it will take to win the game and he's competing against people who are just good at doing what they have always done. When he has good players he's going to have a good team. When he has one of the best players ever at the most important position in the game he's going to have a level of success that other coaches can't even dream of.

But because the other coaches, players, and management are limited in their mindset, they can't see that he actually is better than them and think it must be some combination of cheating and luck.

The Patriots didn't start winning Super Bowls until 2001 and are two miracle catches away from being tied for the most super bowl wins ever with a team that started winning them in 1974.
 
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