TMQ seemed to know what he was talking about:
Here from last week’s column is a condensed version of what I called the four keys to the game:
- On offense, New England must surprise Carolina by power-running.
- On defense, New England must resist the urge to go blitz-wacky.
- On offense, Carolina can’t lose its nerve; it must continue trying the home-run passes that have recently livened up its attack.
- On defense, Carolina must get to male-model-esque Tom Brady. Since before Christmas, Brady has done nothing but stand behind perfect protection and listen to the home-crowd cheers. Acquaint him with the ground, and New England might sputter.
Well, on my point one, New England did great — it surprised Carolina by power-running 35 times for 127 yards, including several power-runs from heavy formations on the kind of critical short-yardage downs when the Flying Elvii normally go five-wide pass-wacky.
On my point two, New England resisted the urge to blitz. Two years ago, the Patriots played the Rams in November during the regular season, blitzed 39 times and lost. Later in that season’s Super Bowl the Patriots again played the Rams, blitzed eight times and won. As I wrote last week, “Romeo Crennel may remember this.” He did, calling four blitzes, surely the Pats’ season low.
On my point three, Carolina did not lose heart, trying the home-run throw and hitting it twice for beauty long touchdowns.
But on my point four, Carolina did not acquaint the male-model-esque Tom Brady with the ground. The Panthers never sacked Brady, and knocked him down only occasionally. The Carolina front seven was seriously outplayed by the New England offensive line, including Tuesday Morning Quarterback Super Bowl XXXVIII MVP Tom Ashworth.