« Opening night in the Association | Main | The nominations are closed »

Running it up

Apparently, now it's personal. The consensus among commentators, whether they are NFL players, former players or the people who write and talk about them, is that if other players or teams don't like the Patriots running up the score on them, and they don't do something about it (like maim a couple of them every chance they get), then they're a bunch of wimps.

Furthermore -- and this is where it gets personal -- any non-player who doesn't like what the Patriots are doing is a wimp, too.

This column in this morning's Washington Post isn't the only place where this has been proclaimed, just the latest, and the fact that it's proclaimed by one of the best in this business, Sally Jenkins, only tells you how ingrained this idea is.

I don't like to think I'm soft. I don't think I have to prove I'm not by detailing my appreciation for NFL players getting busted in the mouth. But hell no, I'm not buying this idea that this garbage the Patriots are pulling is something admirable, that should be glorified and stands as a testament to the greatness and superiority of Bill Belichick.

It's selfish. It's juvenile. It places the Patriots and their pompous coach above the rest of the game, as it stands now and as it has been played for its entire existence. It disrespects all the players and coaches who have come before, who are here now and who will come after them.

It's extremely phony, because it presents the false premise that the team that rolls up the biggest margin of victory is the team that really is the best ever. It's ugly to watch and impossible to appreciate. It takes the beauty that otherwise would be inherent in dominance, and blows it completely out of proportion and destroys perspective.

It's the height of cynicism, watching a supposedly respected coach try to "take it out'' on opponents because he was caught flagrantly violating one of the most basic of NFL competition rules. And having his players, otherwise decent people, widely admired for their professionalism and lack of ego and pretension throughout their run of Super Bowls, buy into the misplaced vindictiveness, and become the same obnoxious boors they once were the antidote to. This, again, we're supposed to admire, and if we don't, we're punks, or haters, or hypocrites because everybody in the NFL cheats, or because you'd love it if your team could do it, but they can't, because they're punks. That's a depressing way to live, think and root.

Worst of all, it's stirred up blood lust in other players and in observers, whose desire to see Tom Brady have a helmet driven into his chest grows with every gratuitous fourth-quarter touchdown and resulting wild, overexuberant celebration in a 45-0 game. Is that what we really want -- players rejecting their own internal codes and destroying fellow players' careers, only because those players rejected the code and went out of their way to rub a loss in the faces of them, their organization and their fans? That's supposed to be fun? More fun that the NFL has provided in the previous 87 years? That NFL wasn't good enough for us, so this is what we need?

There are standards that have been set by NFL teams before, by men like Lombardi and Shula and Chuck Noll and Bill Walsh and, yes, Joe Gibbs, whom Belichick saw fit to treat like a bum last week. If those teams didn't shame and humiliate every opponent throughout their years of dominance, it was because they felt they didn't have to, not because they weren't able to. They didn't think they stood above and apart from the rest of the sport, even though they had egos and smugness and enemies. But they also had respect for the sport and those who gave their lives to it.

If you were losing 31-0 in the fourth quarter, and all the starters were on the sideline with their pads off and were laughing, and the backups were either running it up the middle or taking a knee -- guess what? You knew you had been whupped. You were suitably embarrassed. Making it 51-0 with the starters still bombing and blitzing away meant that the other team's goal had risen beyond just winning and excelling, and there literally would be nothing good on either side that could come of it. It wouldn't leave the impression that the team beating you was that much better than the one that "only'' won 31-0, that's for sure.

The idea that somehow those legendary teams are inferior to this Patriots team (which still has played only half a season) because they didn't bludgeon teams by 45 points and leave their starters in deep in the fourth quarter and keep throwing deep downfield and go for it on fourth downs with five-touchdown leads and scream and yell and pump their fists and spike the ball and beat their chests after every extra layer of humiliation and dare the other team to go outside the rules of the game and basic decency to cripple their star players -- well, that idea is not only ridiculous, but insulting to them.

That's what the Patriots and Belichick are. They're an insult. They're not inventing anything new and fresh for the NFL by doing this, they're introducing something ugly and pointless. The game is not better because the Patriots are doing this, it's worse, and it'll only get worse the more they do it.

They're treating a sport, its history and its reality like their locker-room urinal, all because they got busted red-handed. You can bet if they get the chance Sunday, they'll treat the Colts that way, too, which means they'll treat Tony Dungy that way, and a man like Tony Dungy doesn't deserve to be treated that way by a lowlife like Bill Belichick, no matter how much of a football genius Belichick is.

Go ahead, Patriots, win another Super Bowl, go undefeated, make history. But don't act like you're above the game and beyond its rules and codes and history. Not any more than you already have, that is.

But, you know, I'm the one who's soft. I've got these stupid standards and scruples. I hate it.

Comments

Where was your righteous indignation when the Colts were piling on the score in 2004 then?

Where was this anger when teams like the Redkins, 49ers, et al were all running up the score in their heydays?

Scoring as much as you can makes sure you win games. Watch the AFC championships game from last year and tell the Pats that it's OK to try to sit on a lead. It's OK to back off.

I've never rooted for the Colts since they left town but the Pats are making that stance impossible to maintain.
Go Colts! I hope you guys win 52-0.

Excellent post. You hit the nail on the head.

I'm with you Mr. Steele, a great and insightful post. As far as the Sally Jenkins article, I say one thing, "all the great empires come falling, and they come falling hard." I wonder when the Pats will come crashing down, because in an NFL season, you get it back in the long run, that's what's so great about the parity. The team that picks Brady off 5 times in a game and scores every time that they touch the ball, will be an elite team in my book.

Ummm...did you really just rerun someone else's column, from another newspaper? And you're getting paid for this? To be honest, I don't have a the slightest complaint about what the Patriots are doing. This is professional football, not 3rd-grade kick-ball. If people want to cry about getting their butts kicked in, well, that's one way of going about it; the other is to do something about it. The Ravens, I hope, will chose the latter. And if they do lose, which they might, Ray Lewis and Co. ought not cry about it. That truly would be something to be ashamed of.

In the "old" NFL, they had ways of taking care of this type of thing, and it wasn't always pretty and would often result in an injury. However, the point was made.

I sure would hate to see Brady injured to get the point across to Mr. Bill. It would also be sad if a receiver/running back or defender took Mr. Bill out on a sideline play. Those things happened in the past. They could happen again.

The Patriots' antics will come back to them because no matter how hard the Almighty Belichick cheats, they can't win forever. A time will come when teams can do the same thing to them.

I thought this was professional football not a soap...If you don't want them to keep scoring, then stop them...it's that simple

A Ravens Fan

Is this the first time you have seen an offense this efficient.Yes,even the Ravens maybe able to score 20 points against the Dolphins but lets face it,they have scored more points against reputable teams than the Ravens have scored in-oh,how many years.This isn't Towson playing for a paycheck against Oklahoma whose third string would be better than Towson.This is the vaunted NFL where parity rules-altho the Colts and Patriots seem to have overcome that.Something the Ravens can't.Personally,I don't have a problem with the USC,Ohio State,Yankees,Duke etc.Shows me the administration and the coaches are doing something right unlike other folks.I'll let you figure out the teams i"m alluding to.

Agreed. They're also hanging their own star QB out to dry, because at some point, some angry DL on some decent but humiliated team that's getting kicked in the teeth by the Patriots is going to see one of those classless TD celebrations, lose it and take Brady down. That will be WRONG. But when his franchise QB is being carted off the field, I hope Belichick knows the blood is on him.

My thoughts exactly, David. I can't help but wonder how many of these Pats fans who are defending Belichick were the same ones that used to rag on Peyton Manning for passing in goalline situations to pad his TD stats.

All I know is that New England better watch it...as you said, they're encouraging lots of blood lust from the rest of the league and they still have a trip to Baltimore on the schedule. History shows that Terrell Suggs for one can let his emotions get the best of him.

david steele, get a life!!! if you were a patriots fan, you would love to see your team dominate. and if you cant appreciate the way they play the game, you dont know anything about football. it is incredible to watch the discipline that entire team has and the raw total talent of all the players as a team. i am not a patriots fan and still appreciate the way they play the game... like i said before- david steele, GET A LIFE!!!

Amen! I have hated the Colts since 1984 - but this weekend is bigger than provincial grudges. It is good versus evil - and the good guys are in blue and white. I hope the Patriots get a taste of their own medicine. If not, a helmet to Brady's chest would be a good consolation prize.

If anything the Patriots are a breath of fresh air for the NFL. FINALLY, a team that plays unselfishly and understands the T-E-A-M concept while beating up on the rest of the "ME ME ME" teams in the league. In an era of the "what have you done for me lately?" NFL with the I gotta leave my team for more money and play for a championship later free agency personnel that's available every off-season, the Patriots are the exception to the rule. They have created a Dynasty..a Powerhouse in a time when it isn't supposed to exist. What's wrong with a team that plays all out until the final whistle blows? That's what they are paid to do right?? Any player who takes a cheap shot on one of their players is less than a man...if they played with as much passion as it takes to take that cheap shot then maybe his team would develop that same killer instinct the Patriots have. Too bad the Ravens don't have a clue!! Oh my badd they talk it but they darn sure don't walk it.

You, sir, with all due respect, are an idiot !!! This is PROFESSIONAL football, not high school. I presume you also propose baseball teams, when winning by 8, 10, 12 runs just have their batters stand at the plate and not swing anymore so as not to injure the sensitivities of the poor "bums" on the other side of the licking. Or in NASCAR - up three laps? Hey, let's just coast to victory - don't want to hurt any feelings!!! Tiger Woods !!! Leading by 8 with two holes to play - come on Tiger, a couple of bogeys so you don't humiliate the field. What can it hurt?

Try betting a large sum on a college team that's favored by 28 points, and losing by 2 because the coach told his players to "lay down."

You need to join Sally Jenkins in the ladies room and have a real "heart to heart" - maybe then you'll feel better, after you've freshened up your makeup !!

I could not agree more.

It's about time someone is telling it like it is. That team is dirty and Belichick virtually gets a free pass on everything...cheating, pushing a camera man, players taking cheap shots on tackles and blocks when the game is virtually over, playing players who are too hurt to play, etc. When he gets caught at something, Mr. Arrogance issues an apology that amounts to this - "Sorry you caught me"

The one thing I love about sports columnists is they take the liberty of speaking on behalf of people. I never really got into the scene of reading these articles until sometime last year, when my football fever finally kicked in. The sport itself is a strategist's dream, but we're dropping off the subject here.

Who said the Patriots were doing this because they got caught cheating?

Here's my speculation: recall the AFC championship game last year? The Patriots were up on the Colts something like 21-3 at the half, and I can sure as hell tell you I thought we were locked (we had dominated defensively and executed well on offense). Then Manning comes out and starts scoring, picking apart the Patriots' secondary. In two quarters the Colts scored 35 points for the win.

Not to say the game was never out of reach for the Patriots; in fact the final real play of the game was a pass that got picked off. These are the things that happen when you don't play the game all 4 quarters.

So I think the Patriots learned a lesson, a lesson they took to heart this season. Sure they bolstered their offense with key pickups, but it was more than that. The Patriots will not lose again because of fourth quarter slacking.

Against the Colts, the Steelers, the Eagles, the Giants, the Ravens? We might need that fourth quarter play in the second half of our season.

I'm not so sure about this, David. There is a certain "ethic" that is to be admired in Belichick and the Patriots. They are obsessed with perfection, whether it's actually achievable or not, and they play for 60 minutes to that end. Brady is legitimately upset when they make a mistake late in the 4th quarter, up by too many points for an opponent to overcome, and there is no proof whatsoever that Belichick is "running up the score" because of a personal vendetta borne of "Spygate." Has he admitted to a vendetta, or given an explanation for continuing to score points, or is the press simply guessing at this? And if "running up the score" is really that much of a problem, why doesn't the NFL move quickly to institute a slaughter rule? Are the teams the Patriots are destroying NOT professional football teams? If you've read Ayn Rand's "Atlas Shrugged," you'll likely recognize Belichick and Brady as analogous to Rand's heroes. Those decrying the actions of Belichick and Brady? Well, Belichick and Brady simply don't care - say whatever you want, because they are so convinced of their "rightness", and hold to their convictions so much more strongly than the "haters" out there, that they will emerge as superior merely by the strength of those convictions, come what may.

Great article! I don't condone it but if a player on a team that the Patriots are stomping late in the game, takes a cheap shot on Brady (who shouldn't be in the game anyway) - then he deserved it. Imagine Belichick acting like God with Matt Cassell at QB!

This rant clearly shows just how clueless Steele is to what's going on in the NFL. The Pats aren't doing this because they got caught cheating (which they were) they're doing this because everyone questioned just how good the Pats were by claiming the only reason they ever won a super bowl was because they cheated, i.e., the Phila Eagles. Belichick & Co.'s response was "Oh yeah? We'll show you just how good we are."

Moreover, Steele conveniently forgets to address that "points scored" is a tie-breaker in the NFL home field advantage calcuation at the season's end. If Indy and New Engalnd have the same records, then the team with the most points scored gets homefield advantage throughout the playoffs - that's huge. But I guess since Steele has so much - what was it - "standards and scruples" he neglected to inform his readers of this fact. But then again, since when has Steele ever been about facts.

You know what they say....what goes around......

What a loser. Joe Gibbs ran up scores every chance he got. Oh poor Joe; he is too old to compete any more so have mercy. He's not too old to collect his $8 Million. You and Bozo's like you need to start following a different sport. Because when the great and dignified Tony "I hate Gays" Dungy was running up scores it was OK. I love what the Patriots are doing. They are giving you and all the p's like you a big FU. By the way; have the over rated and vastly dirt baggerish Ravens ever scored 52 Points in a season? That's right; they are the good guys. Mr. I haven't done a dance or seen a camera I haven't loved Ray Lewis is a Saint. He only was involved in a murder. He didn't run up the score on good ol' Joe.

Dave-
lighten up. just because all those teams that you metinoed from yesteryear didn't take advantage of their talent for the entire game, doesn't mean that the Pats are insulting them. What about those old teams insulting their oponents by letting up at the end of their games. Just like if the Pats pull their starters, you would be whining about them not respecting the other teams. People like you are the reason Bellichek and alot of the NFL don't give the media any fodder for their articles. If he wasn't so vanilla, you'd probably criticize him for being too emotional. They're damned if they do and damned if they don't. must still be a bye week, since you are obviously trying to find something to talk about.

plus, it's a game!

When the patriots play either baltimore or pittsburgh, I think those defenses have enough heart to hurt brady and/or moss if they try to run up the score.

Or at least I HOPE they have enough heart to do it.

You are soft David. I have played football and I understand respecting the game, but New England has had their second string Quarterback and running back score touchdowns like in the game against the skins. I dont feel sorry for a team that has the same opportunity to win as New England. Is Bill Bellichick smarter than everyone else in the league. DEFEND THEM! Every other team in the league including the Ravens had a chance to get Randy Moss, Wes Welker, and Donte Stalworth. Stop Whining and get the players that are motivated to win. I think the Ravens could use a bit of innovation in there offense an maybe we could smash a team sometimes instead of squeezing out wins. We give players away (Derick Anderson) that could help us win. Instead of getting mad get even and stop crying.

Impossible to appreciate? Most of us appreciate watching a great team play football the way it's supposed to be played. Your appreciate a team that makes everybody feel warm and fuzzy inside. Get over it. I salute the Patriots for doing what everybody wishes their teams would do: play for 60 minutes. They are hardly an insult. Furthermore, anybody who intentionally injures a player after getting beat by a better team should be banished from the NFL for life.

I couldn't agree more. The Patriots are turning me off to NFL football, and I never thought that was possible. In the end, this is bad for the league because the NFL is a business and the customers truly have all of the power. No one except Pats fans are enjoying this, and they make up a small minority of NFL fans. The sad part is, most people (even fans of other teams) usually love witnessing historical sports achievement. Instead the Patriots are making alot of NFL fans sick. Sick of the NFL.

Hey David,

I understand where you are coming from, but let us not act like the Patriots are a new breed of evil within the sacred walls of the NFL. The 89' 49ers were known to run it up. Peyton Manning, during his record setting year, ran the score up regularly. Is Dungy such an angel when we put the time line of events into a proper perspective. Before you write an article chastising a team for disgracing the NFL, maybe you should look into the history of the NFL, and look at how often some the great teams of each era "ran up" the score.

Well said. The Patriots were the ones who were caught cheating. The NFL penalized them and now they may feel "justified" to pad the scores. Maybe they need to be taught RESPECT for the game. Maybe they need to be humbled. Which teams in their schedule are up for the task?

The Pats beat the Skins by 45 points and everyone in hollering.
The first game of the 1991 season the Skins beat the Lions 45-0. No one said a thing.
The play offs in 1983 the Skins pasted the Rams something like 51-3. No one said a thing.
Gibbs was the coach back then too.
Pay backs are a bitch.

The Pats beat the Skins by 45 points and everyone is hollering.
The first game of the 1991 season the Skins beat the Lions 45-0. No one said a thing.
The play offs in 1983 the Skins pasted the Rams something like 51-3. No one said a thing.
Gibbs was the coach back then too.

"They're treating a sport, its history and its reality like their locker-room urinal,"

That's still better than how Ray Lewis and his pals treat Jacinth Baker and Richard Lollar? Where are your standards and scruples? If Ray was so innocent why did he pay off those families? Peed on or stabbed to death? Pick your team to root for.

Did you complain when the Colts ran up the score in 2004 when they clocked in Nov-Dec wins of 49-14, 41-10, 41-9 and 51-24? Was Peyton and Tony bad guys?

Mr. Steele, you are a big moron and spoiled sport, and can not stand the fact the Patriots are just a great football team. I am not sure if you understand the rules of football, but I do not think you are supposed to kneel or give opportunites for the other team to get their crap together and score points. As much $$$$ we are paying these players, I fully expect them to play for the entire game. I have seen other teams trounce their opponnets and nobody says boo. Get a life, we do not care if you like us or not, we play better that way. Can not wait to see my team, eat a Raven for supper on the 3rd.

You've said it perfectly. This is why I'm attempting to break my Sunday addiction to the NFL. What's the point? Apparently its already decided. Its the Patriots year and they've managed to make it really ugly.
I attended the Maryland game 2 weeks ago and even thought they lost, I loved the ecxperience. It's at that level that football truly is fun and makes sense.

You've elequently put into words what I and many of my friends feel. The sad truth of the real world is that sometimes cheaters do prosper. It's all the worse when they feel no remorse, take no real responsibility for there actions and snub their nose at those who have the gall to point out the moral decadence and the message it sends.

Your comments were right on the mark. There is no excuse to embarass a peer, whether it is sports, a job, or in your neighborhood. What I find so pathetic is these players are the ones who will deal with potential retribution and still collude with their coach's arrogance and disrespect.

Cruel or not, if he tries to run up the score here in Baltimore next month, I have no problem with the Raven offense running a play to the New England side line and have a player of large size mistakenly go out of bounds and take the bastard out.

I know that is wrong to wish for, but you can't negotiate with a narcissistic jerk who can't take punishment like a fair and reasonable adult.

Keep up the good work.

Joel Hassman

"they're introducing something ugly and pointless..."
Guess you are also a softie when it comes to the history of the game....
" a lowlife like Bill Belichick..."
Guess you are also a softie when it comes to keeping your self-control...
Anyone can bash my friend but it just takes more than a softie to be a good columnist...

boo hoo for the dead skins and joe gibbs cannot handle it get out and stay out of the game

Steele,

If you don't like a team running up a score, then tell your defense to actually make a play!

I agree with Belicheck, he got caught cheating and then others (analysts, fans, commentators) start questioning their superbowl wins, the winning streaks, etc. So now Bill's out to show the entire League his team is so superior and he doesn't need to cheat by blowing away the opposition.

This isn'y high school football, its a business with professional athletes that are paid millions of dollars to play a sport, a form of entertainment. Again if you don't like the Patriots running up the score, THEN STOP THEM ON DEFENSE.

I agree that the Patriots actions definetly showed a lack of class, but the fact is they are that good. I am hoping, along with a lot of other people, that some team this season puts them in there place, but not by taking cheap shots. If they are that good you can do nothing but congratulate them and if they aren't classy enough back, history will remember that. Whining about it does nothing.

Very, very well stated. I have not always agreed with you on everything, but you are perfecto on this one!

Are you kidding me Steele? Last time I checked this was the NFL not Little League. These athletes are PAID (very well I night add) to play football. If another professional team can not stop them, don't tell these pros they need to stop running their offense. I also seem to recall a playoff game in 1993, Buffalo vs Titans, where the Titans came back down something like 31 points and won. No lead is safe in the NFL. I'm a Ravens fan and hope we take it to the Pats in December when we play, but to call them an insult to the league because they have a potent offense and are crushing teams is stupid! I thought you had better opinions then that.

David, I usually enjoy your column, but I don't know what you're talking about here.

If I'm Belichik I do the same thing -- get my 2nd tier players and backups more work, try some cute plays, see what happens. I'm not trying to beat the Redskins by more than 20, but I am trying to continue to finely tune my team for when they play the Colts or their eventual Super Bowl opponents.

When my opponent stops trying to win, so will I. Until then, 3 points vs. 7 has little significance.

Thanks for saying what we've all been thinking; only wish ESPN, SI, etc. would see it this way and stop painting these Pats as if they are the Second Coming of Jesus Christ and we need not play the season any further.

Tell ya what, next post-season, you had better be person #1, front and center in front of the NFL Competition Comittee. There to explain to them, (and the rest of us!) EXACTLY, why now, after 80+ years, THE NFL, that most gladiatorial of modern sports, REQUIRES a NANCY, er, I mean, MERCY rule.

Ya, you.

You can start by explaining how, while it's the offense's responsibility to score points, it's not supposed to score TOO MANY points (and be sure to define exactly how many equals too many and why).

You can then move on to how the defense, despite being paid tens of millions of dollars, needs to have their delicate hands (and fragile egos) held carefully, lest they go home crying for mommy because another team showed up to play when they didn't.

Finally, you can round out your argument by carefully explaining the subleties of how, playing hard and scoring too much against a defense is a MORE embarassing situation than being patronized by the offense taking kneeldowns or sending in the seconds.

Once you've done all that, (if you can, with a straight face) you can stand there until YOU'RE LAUGHED OUT OF THE ROOM.

Good grief... is this kind of idiocy REALLY what passes for spine at the beginning of the 3rd millenium? The NFL is played on the GRIDIRON by huge men posessed of a marvelous combination of intense physicality, raw brutality, lightning reflexes and cunning intelligence. Virtually by definition, it is a harshly physical, often punishing, and (as I mentioned) most gladiatorial of sports. Furthermore, in this era, beatdowns don't come along often, (especially since the "age of parity" began), but when they do, my perspective echos that of Tom Hanks' character in "A League of Their Own" (paraphrasing):

Crying? Are you crying?! -- There's no crying in football!!

So shove off nancy. Maybe you (and those that echo this view) need to move on to covering Figure Skating, Synchronised Swimming, or some other sport where having that kleenex-box in your hand won't make you seem so out-of-place. In any case, nothing I've ever read, seen, heard or experienced has lead me to believe that the NFL, and those that play in it are (or should be treated like they are) SOFT.

You say the Patriots disrespect the game by playing it hard, and for a full 60 minutes, but I say that idealogues like you are the ones disrespecting it by trying to turn it into something soft and fuzzy, warm and safe. It isn't. It's the weekend battlefield, and everyone on and around it knows it.

Everyone, apparently, except yourself and (most of) the press.

PS: I'd appreciate it if you'd please take a moment and fully explain how a superior offense's demonstration of such disrespects ANYTHING! -- Unless I'm mistaken, the intent of the game (indeed, any game) is to defeat the other team. The score is simply the measure of the disparity between the two opponents on the given day. A close game represents a similiarity of talent, a blowout signifies the opposite. Nothing more, nothing less. Trying to read some morality-play/ethical garbage into it is superfluous and silly. As one commentator put it this week (again paraphrasing):

a hundred or more years from now, when people look back to see how great the 2007 Patriots were, all they will have to make their judgements on will be the statistics, the raw numbers.

The "ether" is so full of pro- and con- rhetorical crap (like your article) that the closest an unbiased analyst in 2107 (and beyond) will come to being able to make an honest assessment will be by looking at the numbers.

The same numbers that you wish to see artificially diminished because of some bizarre notion that players, coaches and fans from antiquity are somehow being "disrespected" by a team that is arguably one of the best of all time and actually has the temerity to play like it!

If there was an applause button I'd be hitting it as fast and often as I could. Excellent article. You make all the points I've been trying to make in personal discussions this season, and especially since the 'Skins were dispatched with such disrespect.
I listen to NFL radio on Sirius and it pains me to hear people like Adam Schien and Solomon Wilcott (spelling?) blithering on as if the Patriots, BB and Brady were the second coming. I don't buy into this notion that there is no sportsmanship any more. I consider things like sportsmanship to be core American values, and to see such a mockery of sportsmanship being carried out weekly in the NFL, and then admired. Disgusting.
Thank you for saying what others are apparently too afraid to say.

Great comment.

As a Colts fan, I've always disliked the Patriots and Belichick in particular. Until this season, the only reason was because of the arch-rivalry between us. Mr. Steele, you are absolutely right on with every point you made in this article.

I would echo the sentiments of the "skeletons in the closet" article, and wanted to highlight one other thing.

There is this tendency to talk about the Patriots as having been busted for stealing signals (or as you put it "one of the most basic of NFL competition rules"). This is simply not true. People use this language to demonize the team though.

As we well know, stealing signals is not against the rules (or, at least, that's what they told the Patriots when the Dolphins did it to them last year):
http://sports.espn.go.com/nfl/news/story?id=2696227

They were punished for putting a cameraman where a cameraman wasn't supposed to be.

You may say I'm splitting hairs (because obviously they were doing it to steal signals) but it's an important distinction. If it's not made, it makes it sound like the Patriots steal signals and no one else does. Your language continues to re-inforce that. It's misleading and stokes the fire that this is some kind of evil team.

I'm sure it sells papers though. Being level-headed is uninteresting.

true no lead is safe but in the afccg last year the Colts were down 23-6 which is not a lot of points to be down and niether team pulled way out ahead after that they traded scoring and kept it a close game. This year the PATS were up and yes the y did come back to score 21 points but the PATS had such a lead that they should have kept the backup QB in and ran and not passed the ball and the same thing vs the Redskins. when they got up 38-0 they should have put the backup in ran the ball get first downs fine score while running fine but don't pass the ball for tds. Colts had Carolina 31-7 and they ran the ball and punted no big deal. if the Pats defense is so good they would not have given up 212 pts. to the dolphins. that tells me they relaxed to much

I remember last year when SD lost to NE and LT said that "Belicheck has no class." At the time everyone dismissed it has a classy player losing his temper after suffering a bitter loss in the playoffs. It looks more and more like LT hit the nail on the head. Belicheck has zero class. I have no problem w/ a team playing hard for 60 mins. But in the waning moments of a 4th quarter blowout it should be the 2nd team playing hard to end it. How are the Pats going to get their up-and-coming young players some experience if you still have Brady throwing to Moss for TDs when its a 40 point spread w/ less than 2 mins. to go? I don't wish it by a cheap shot, but I would love to see one of the Pats star players go down late in a game where they have no biz playing b/c it will show Mr. Belicheat that he's not really has much of a genius has ESPN plays him out to be.

The Patriots' march to 19-0 will be the NFL's equivalent of the Barry Bonds march to 755 -- soulless, joyless, classless, and when it's over, it will not be a moment too soon. I have to think that the way Belichick is going about this is giving NFL suits the same migraines Barry Bonds gave Bud Selig. Bill Belichick is a small, small man and no matter how many points he scores and how many hosannas he receives from the mouthbreathers on ESPN like Chris Berman, he'll never be a football "genius." Bill Walsh is a football genius -- he actually invented something: the West Coast offense. And that fundamentally changed the way the NFL was played and coached. Joe Gibbs is a football genius. He actually invented something, too: the H-back position. And he won three Super Bowls with three non-Hall of Fame quarterbacks. Bill Belichick has perfected only the art of bad taste, both on the field with his infantile, nyah-nyah-nyah nanny-boo-boo points-piling, and off the field with his "Will Work for Food" sartorial collection.

It's one thing to score points and beat a team bad. It's another thing to go for a 4th and 2 in the 4th quarter when you are up by over 40 points. Why not punt? Because the Patriots are sending a "message". That is humiliating and wrong. The message is going to come back to haunt them when an overzealous 3rd string linebacker puts a helmet on Brady's knee. Then we'll see Patriots fans whining and crying about how unfair things are. I hate the 49ers, being a Rams fan, but I don't recall them playing with anything but class, even when they were beating the hell out of us in the mid-90s. You prove your point by winning not humiliating other people.

Nah, I love it. Tom Brady is my fantasy qb. Keep runnin' up the score, Tommy boy!

I'm not a big Football fan, but in any sport there exists a code of ethics where players don't disrespect opponents by running up the score *every* game. I remember during the Jordan-Bulls era, Phil Jackson would take Jordan out of the game after his team was up 30 points or so. Yes, it was to rest Jordan, but even in basketball there are rules respecting your opponents, or else one of your players risk injuries. The same goes for Football. Belichick is an arrogant biggot who deserves all the criticism for running up games. His team is a end-product of his bigotry.

Sanctimonius, hypocritical and inaccurate hogwash. The 49'ers regularly pounded people as did all the great dynasty teams. What makes you think that teams haven't been trying to take out Brady any way they can now? This is the NFL; anyone who takes it easy out on the other guy there isn't out there for long.
Everyone knows Brady is the one indispensable element to the Patriots, though Matt Cassel is no slouch. This isn't college, these guys are all pros and are evenly matched.

When the Patriots were in the middle of their last run everyone was wondering why they won games when they had so little talent. Now that they have some talent everyone is pissed off because they are blowing people out. No wonder the Patriots don't bother listening to critics.

Another Ravens fan

Some of you are really, really stupid. Especially some that state you have "played" football as a means to make your commenst relevant. I have been in the trenches on BOTH sides of a lopsided win and loss.

When you leave starters in at a point when the game is not in question anymore, you are violating an unwritten code that exists in football, and hard-core competition. Some of you kids wont understand until you grow some nads and fight for 4 quarters.

This is essentially a code that exists with men. It's ego, its pride, which is teh ONLY thing you can leave the field with. No matter how lopsided the win or loss. The Pats are taking both in humiliating fashion.

Joe Gibbs is a HOF coach and was winning huge games when BB was a ruggy un-paid asst wiping the boards of coaches just to hang around.

Respect for those who laid the ground before you. Respect the game you have the opportunity to live a wondeful life coaching on the foundations Coaches like Gibbs laid for YOU.

If that were B. Walsh on the other side of that...he would be PISSED. Joes Gibbs has always taken the high road...which leaves others (players know one another personally team to team) on the field HOT and upset.

The equivalent of what BB did to Joe Gibbs in the 4th quarter (up 38-0, go on 4th down with a pass, up 45-0, go on 4th and 2 and score) was as a grown man putting the beat down on his father or elder figure because he can do that now and rub it in on an extreme level.

This is a violation of code that men share when in battle one with another. BB has never strapped it up.....he doesnt have any idea...he is simply the "evil genius" behind the operation.

But his players do. Trust...the longer this goes on rubbing it in the faces of opponents, the more likely you will see retribution as it used to happen in the old NFL.

Same happened in the old NBA. Remeber Rick Mahorn? The days of subbing one in just to get a hit (and nothing else) are among us.

These guys deserve every bit of the pain (whichever one) is the sacrificial lamb for the Pats infractions...and it may not be pretty.

Watch out.

what a bunch of whiners. the last time i checked the offense was supposed to score anytime they had the ball. jason campbell was doing his best to score and keep the deadskins from getting shut out. if they wanted I guess joe (i look really lost in the NFL) Gibbs could have pulled his team off the field and forefited if he really wanted. this is pro football. not the pee wee leagues where they stop the games out of mercy if the score differential gets too big. these are grown men paid to play. the pats are just better than anyone right now. if the other teams don't like getting their respective butts kicked then do something about and play some defense. if the pats crush my beloved ravens, then it was because they were just a whole lot better. stop whining, field a better team and play football. cheap shots to Tom Brady's knees are illegal. running up the score is called winning.

your kidding me right?? If it was our team (Ravens) you wouldn't have this problem. Your just jealous because Billik doesnt have it in him to hit the magic formula like billichek.

In Nov - Dec of 2004 The Colts 'ran-up' the scores against the Texans(49-14), Bears(41-10), Lions(41-9) and Titans(51-24). Where are your comments about Tony Dungy, who stands on the sideline not saying a word (he wears a headset to hear what is going on inthe game) while Payton Manning is quarterback and offensive coordinator.


W, 49-14

W, 41-10

W, 41-9

W, 51-24
thats what indy did in 2004 in one month!
and no one once brought it up!!
read this article by eric wilbur of boston globe!!!
http://www.boston.com/sports/nesn/wilbur/sports_blog/blog/2007/11/01/four_score_and_several_more/?p1=MEWell_Pos3

Brady has it coming. It's only a matter of when.

I love it! For years, the NFL does whatever it can to promote offense, now they're crying about it?

From the other side of the ball, a defense LIVES for the shutout, something very difficult to achieve when the rules of the game are against you, but why isn't that a humiliation / disrepectful of an opposing offense? Why is it allowed? Keeping the starting defense on the field, even though the game is effectively over?!?! FOR SHAME!

Pats will roll over the Colts this weekend. They will do the same on the way to a perfect season. If the only way to stop them is to illegally injure a player? To protect their 'pride'? To alow themselves to be destroyed should have removed any sign of pride from the equation.

Good job, by you and all the talking heads that don't 'condone' it. Please take your soapbox and move along.

If you are gonna post the scores then also post the facts. Manning was taken out of several games with the Colts up big in 2004. Jim Sorgi finished the games.

The Pats beat the Skins by 45 points and everyone in hollering.
The first game of the 1991 season the Skins beat the Lions 45-0. No one said a thing.
The play offs in 1983 the Skins pasted the Rams something like 51-3. No one said a thing.
Gibbs was the coach back then too.

T. Williams, get a clue! The Skins scored 38 points in the first half on the Rams in that game. Gibbs let up in the 2nd half; otherwise, they would have easily scored 60-70+ points. The only reason that they scored 13 more points in the 2nd half is because Mark Moseley kicked two field goals, and then-rookie CB Darrell Green returned a Ferragamo INT for his first career TD.

The Skins also let up on the Lions in the other game that you mentioned. As was with the Rams game, this game was already decided by halftime.

Thanks for playing.

Last time I checked, Matt Cassel comes in just like Jim Sorgi comes in. Did you forget that?

Every pats game is like any superbowl in the eighties: a complete sweep. How many of them ended with big differences in the scoreboard? And if any team injures Brady, the pats may injure the other team's qb as payback...

Love your column. Yes, the Pats are fantastic, the stuff of legends. But Belichick is the most unsportsmanlike coach I have ever seen. Did you see the non-handshake? YOU WON THE GAME, what was that? Dungy, as usual, was the consummate professional.

Post a comment

(If you haven't left a comment here before, you may need to be approved by the site owner before your comment will appear. Until then, it won't appear on the entry. Thanks for waiting.)

Please enter the letter "n" in the field below: