Barstool Sports

Friday, December 16, 2005

Patriots Week 15: Chucky arrives, Brady plays?

The big question going into the week 15 matchup with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for your Uncle Buck is, "will and should the Patriots play Tom Brady?" On the outside looking in, the Pats are a virtual lock to take the AFC East and land the #4 playoff spot with a win in the last 3 games or a Miami Dolphin loss.

Brady injured his leg last week diving into the endzone against the Bills. For the rest of the game he favored it. So going up against one of the best defenses in the Buccaneers, should Belichick and the Pats risk Tom's health with the playoff spot secure? If the past is any help, you may recall the Pats playing Brady and the rest of the starters into the 3rd quarter during the regular season finale last season against San Francisco, in a meaningless game. Therefore, if Brady can play he will play. The week long charade by the Pats regarding Tom's health is nothing new for Belichick and the Pats, but a little surprising after all the bitching that the Pats did when the Falcons pulled the same trick on them earlier in the year.

So on to the Bucs, the last time the Pats played Tampa Bay was in 2000. Above former Buc Warren Sapp takes down former Pat Drew Bledsoe. The Pats are 3-2 all time against the Bucs, but have lost the last two in 1999 and 2000. The last Patriots win over Tampa Bay was in 1988, 10-7 in overtime.

With Tampa Bay comes head coach John Gruden, who took over Tony Dungey's team and took them to a Super Bowl title in 2002, the only one in the last 4 years not won by the Patriots.

The last time Belichick squared off against Gruden was the 2001 Divisional Playoff vs. Oakland, which is known as the "Snow Bowl" in New England and the "Tuck-Rule" in Oakland. The game was a turning point for the NFL. It was the league's 1st Saturday night playoff game played to a prime time 8pm EST audience. It was also the last game ever played in Foxboro Stadium and produced the most controversial call in NFL history and the greatest kick ever too, as Adam Vinatieri booted a 45-yarder thru a blizzard to tie the game at 13. Vinatieri would go on to win the game in OT 16-13.

Gruden, who was also a coach for the 1996 Packers team that beat the Patriots in Super Bowl XXXI, is still regarded as one of the best coaches in the NFL and has the Bucs back in the hunt with a 9-4 record and a tie for 1st in the NFC South. With young guns Chris Simms at QB and rookie Cadillac Williams running the ball the Bucs will have to get some production out of those two against the Pats D, which has been playing better against the crappy Jets and Bills. The Pats will look to get up early and mix it up to avoid the heavy pass rush of Tampa and quality secondary. In the end UB sees the Pats taking care of business in a close one and finally getting their new shirts...


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