Picture A goat cuddles a goat.
It took until the final week of the regular season, but the New England Patriots and their fans finally came through with an excuse for failing to win the Super Bowl thanks to star wide receiver Wes Welker stepping up with a clutch torn ACL and MCL.
"Whew! That was close," quarterback Tom Brady. "But this is what great teams do they find a way to win. And if they know they can't win, they find a way to convince people that they could have won had they just gotten a few breaks. A few goddam breaks!"
Other talented teams had clinched their excuses weeks ago, with the Steelers losing Troy Polamalu to injury for most of the season in Week 1 and the Titans and Panthers blowing their seasons by sticking too long with awful quarterbacks. But had Welker, the New England's leading pass catcher, not torn up his knee, Patriots fans may have been reduced to blaming their upcoming playoff defeat on Brady's two injured ribs a far less desirable excuse.
"We've already used me as the reason we didn't go 19-0 last year," said Brady, of his 2008 knee injury. "And, yeah, my ribs are hurt, but it's obviously not affecting my play. I mean, sure, my rib injury would have worked for the most delusional fans. But that's not good enough for the New England Patriots. We want to convince delusional Pariots fans, casual football fans and the media. The Triple Crown of morons, so to speak."
Welker admitted he was disappointed about his knee, but glad he could help the team.
"We haven't won a Super Bowl since I've been here and it's not looking like we will," he said. "But the next best thing to winning a title is winning a presumed title. And we've got nine of those in a row here in New England. It's an amazing fake run."
Head coach Bill Belichick says that thanks to Welker's injury, his team will be in its rightful place at the beginning of next season back atop the power rankings.
"With Wes coming off his knee injury, fans and the media will think we are primed and motivated for another run, and that's great," said Belichick. "This team is different compared to dynasties from the past in that we've been able to convince people that we are a threat long after we really have been. It's perhaps our greatest accomplishment."
Patriots season ticket holder Jimmy Riley said he and his friends were disappointed to see Welker go down, but that there is a silver lining.
"A, we clinch another Super Bowl," he said. "And B, we don't have to waste time watching the playoffs because they are now illegitimate. I can spend more time now watching the Celtics, who have always been my favorite team anyway."
New England Patriots running back Sammy Morris sounded off today, openly admitting that he hopes the now one-loss New Orleans Saints don't match the 18-1 record his Patriots achieved back in 2007.
"We are remembered as the only 18-1 team," said Morris, who joined the Patriots before their historic 2007 season. "Even with the three Super Bowls the Patriots won this decade, when the average fan thinks of this franchise, they first think of 18-1, not championships."
Morris said championships are actually probably fourth, behind 18-1, asterisks and cheating.
"The Patriots would really be a great Family Feud topic," he said.
With the New Orleans Saints now 13-1 following a loss at home to the Cowboys, some have said they are now even more of a sure bet for the Super Bowl.
"This loss can refocus them and remotivate them now that 19-0 isn't a possibility," said NFL Network analyst Steve Mariucci. "I expect them to emerge from this loss stronger than before and win the Super Bowl."
Morris doesn't think that will happen.
"Let me know when they're in my neighborhood, when they're on my street, when they're on my block," he said. "13-1 is a long way from 18-1. Trust me on this. Once you lose once, it's easy to start losing again and again, as our last two seasons have shown. Plus, the Saints' 18-1 wouldn't be the same as ours, because that would mean they won the Super Bowl. We did not, as you may remember. Even if they do get there, I think fans will still think of our 18-1 much more fondly."
Needing to stop the Panthers on a crucial 3rd-and-short play late in the fourth quarter of New England's 20-10 win on Sunday, Patriots head coach Bill Belichick suddenly heard what the team’s cheerleaders were saying behind the bench.
“I heard them say: ‘Push ‘em back, push ‘em back, way back,’” said Belichick. “I called over our defensive coordinator and said: ‘Good God, man! Do you hear what I hear? They think we should push ‘em back.’ And he said: ‘You know, it might just be crazy enough to work.’ So we did it.”
And wonder of wonders, it did work. The Panthers were pushed back, failed to pick up the first down and had to punt.
“A lot of people don’t give cheerleaders the respect they deserve,” said Belichick. “But they clearly know a lot about football. That pushing ‘em back idea was genius. Genius, I say! You see, our plan was to not push 'em back, but let ‘em forward. In retrospect, it seems insane. I mean, had we done that, we probably lose the game and fall out of the playoff chase. But thanks to our cheerleaders, we're still in good shape. Those gals have brains even bigger than their team spirit.”
Belichick says he will consult with the cheerleading squad before he makes any calls in future game-changing situations.
“I am intrigued by their idea to take it away defense, take it away,” he said. “I think that approach could be huge for our defense and allow us to get the ball back in the hands of our offense. They also say they that hey, hey, they don’t want to frown, they want another TOUCHdown. Which, let’s admit, is another pretty genius idea. I mean, why frown when you have other options? No one likes to frown.”
Despite New England's run of success this decade, Belichick says his offensive and defensive coordinators should know their jobs could be stripped.
“They’ve done well for us, but these cheerleaders are on a whole different level,” he said. “They are able to really break football down to its most simple levels, what with the pushing 'em back and the touchdowns and the smiling and the like. Plus, a nice set of tits can really boost morale in the locker room. I've seen it happen. We won three Super Bowl with Charlie Weis, remember.”
Tom Brady says Randy Moss is responsible. Hard-working. He has vouched for him in the press.
And Brady shows he means what he says by letting his star wide receiver babysit his newborn son.
Despite a play that called for him to run a hitch-and-go on Sunday, Patriots wide receiver Randy Moss instead decided before the ball was snapped to run a sigh pattern.
"Fhhhhhhhh," Moss sighed, as the play began, first walking off the line of scrimmage before almost getting up to a slow jog by the time Patriots quarteback Tom Brady threw the ball 30 yards over his head where he was supposed to be. "I just don't feel like it today. We're 7-5. What's the point?"
Moss said he almost half-heartedly raised his hand over his head as the ball flew over him, but didn't think he was up to it.
"I was running a sigh pattern. That would have been a bitch-and-go," he said, shrugging his shoulders and lifting his hands on "go."
Oh the next play Moss changed a slant route into a sleep route and then, on the next play, instead of running a post just leaned against a post near the sidelines.
"Tom said 'post,' so I leaned on a fking post," said Moss. "It's not my fault they're not more specific with their language. How was I supposed to know? These are the same problems I had with the Raiders. It's not me."
The Patriots' quarterback defended his receiver against charges of loafing.
"Whoever is saying that needs to shut their mouth," said Brady. "Randy Moss doesn't loaf. Loafing means you do what you're supposed to, just in a half-hearted manner. Randy doesn't do that. Randy doesn't quit half-hearted. He quits with everything he's got. He's a true professional."
The New England Patriots sent a strong message to the rest of the NFL Monday night, scoring just 17 points in a 21-point blowout loss the Saints that saw them pull their starters with 5:26 remaining in the game.
"I don't know why they would do that," said Saints head coach Sean Payton. "Leaving our receivers wide open time after time after time, pulling their starters. People expected a great game, and then they come out and do that. I found it disrespectful. Disrespectful to us and the NFL. No team should perform that way on a football field."
Saints safety Darren Sharper echoed his head coach's sentiments.
"Our defense is much better than it's been in recent years, but still only 17 points?" said Sharper. "And they only went for one on their two touchdowns. As much as people are pinning the blame on Belichick, I think it's on Tom Brady. Did you see his two interceptions? Terrible. Just terrible."
Belichick said it's simple why the Patriots didn't go for two following their touchdowns.
"I was pretty sure we wouldn't be successful. The Saints are a far superior team to us and I was just happy to take the one point and be on our way," he said.
But Saints wide receiver Devery Henderson wasn't buying it.
"Of course that's how Belichick will describe it. But then he's a liar," said Henderson. "They were running down the score on us and they know it. Did you see how wide open I was all night? No team does that unless it's on purpose. It's impossible to leave someone that wide open unless you're trying to. If we meet this team again in the Super Bowl, we won't let this happen a second time, mark my words."
Belichick says that is unlikely and continued with his denials of intentionally running down the score on the Saints.
"I don't see us meeting the Saints in the Super Bowl," he said. "Really. Because we're not a very good football team. At all. You saw how we played. No way we make the Super Bowl. We won't even get close."