The One Thing the Patriots Don’t Have

October 28 final score: New England Patriots 52 Washington Redskins 7.

Embarrassing? Yes. For both teams.

The ’Skins’ Randall Godfrey, after the close of the game, reportedly confronted Bill Belichick. “You need to show some respect for the game,” he said, referring to the Patriots obvious running up of the score. Here’s what he told NBCSports.com he said:

“I told him, ‘You need to show some respect for the game.’ You just don’t do that. I don’t care how bad it is. You’re up 35 points and you’re still throwing deep? That’s no respect….

“You look at all the great head coaches … I’m just disappointed,” he said. “You gotta show some class, show some respect. Joe Gibbs? We wouldn’t have done that. Bill Walsh? You wouldn’t see those types of guys doing that stuff. I’ve never seen nothing like that. Most teams, you get up like that you sit on the ball and try to run the time out. They’re up 30-some points and they’re throwing deep. That was blatant disrespect. I hope we can see them again, definitely. You don’t see Joe Gibbs doing that. You can’t even imagine that kind of stuff coming from him. Joe Gibbs. Bill Walsh. Bill Parcells. This isn’t like college going for power rankings. This is the pros you show some respect, show some class.”

I have to say Godfrey is out of line on most of this. Spare us your sour grapes when you’ve just been obliterated on the field. Losers don’t get to cross examine their conquerors.

But there was definitely some lack of respect shown by the Pats, like Wes Welker’s in-your-face playground-like spiking after scoring the TD that led to a 45-0 lead; and Matt Cassell celebrating by winding up and spiking for his touchdown in garbage time. (That’s like some NBA scrub doing a dance for getting a meaningless lay-in as time expires.)

Tom Jackson said the Pats were getting “frenzied” as they poured it on the hapless Redskins. “They want to pound people into submission,” said Steve Young (who once did a kneel down on the Niners’ opponents’ 1-yard line at the close of a game).

Even the Pats’ owners appeared uncomfortable with the run-up. They have felt embarrassed by video-gate; now their scrubs are doing dances late in a rout?

There is another reason we could expect Belichick to lay off.

”It’s risk/reward,” said Bill Cowher. “How long do you want your starters to play? You want to be careful. At some point, if this continues, someone is going to take a cheap shot. Is that worth subjecting your players to if it comes to that? The risk [Belichick] is taking is that guys could get hurt in those situations. That’s his decision as a coach, and he has a right to do it.”

Players and coaches should all react with the same class Joe Gibbs did, who took the high road. He said he had nothing against what the Pats did. And you can’t argue. They have every right to run up the score. It’s just that previous dynasties didn’t do it. But that’s up to Belichick. Belichick still looks cowed and sheepish at his press conferences. He gives curt, mumbled answers and gives every appearance of a shame-faced malefactor who can only talk on the field, not eye-to-eye.

The difference between Gibbs and Belichick? One word: class. Gibbs has it; Belichick doesn’t. I doubt he even knows what it is. The great coaches of the past had it; that’s why, though Bill B. will be on the same level as many of the great coaches of the past, he will never be in their class.

So the Patriots do indeed have almost everything. The one thing they don’t have is class.

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