The Patriots are playing the Ravens this week. Did you hear? New England is seeking revenge!
"Revenge on Patriots' mind?" Ravens Insider asks. "Are the New England Patriots especially excited about playing the Ravens Sunday at Gillette Stadium because the game gives them a chance to avenge their surprising home loss to the Ravens in the AFC playoffs last season?" CSN Baltimore's John Eisenberg wonders. "Patriots revenge hinges on Brady picks," an ESPN headline reads. "I don't ordinarily put much stock in revenge theories when the subject is professional athletics, but there are times when manhoods need to be asserted in this sport," Bob Ryan writes. "Coach Bill isn't a pep talk kind of guy, but he has his motivational tactics and I can't imagine there won't be a reference or two to that game in the runup to Sunday's affair."
It's been about 10 months since the Ravens pounded the Patriots, 33-14, in the first round of the playoffs. "That game sticks with all of us," Patriots coach Bill Belichick told reporters this week. That may be true. But the revenge storyline is nauseatingly tired. Yet it's all we're hearing about, even from the players -- on both sides.
"Anytime you play a playoff game at home and you lose, that's going to leave a sour taste in your mouth," Ravens linebacker Terrell Suggs told reporters. "I'm sure when they saw us on their schedule, they saw red, and they're going to come at us. But we expect nothing less, especially from the New England Patriots. So we definitely look forward to that opportunity. If there's going to be a fight at 1 o'clock, we'll see them there."
Ah, the fight metaphor. How original. I guess it is apropos.
"We got manhandled by a damn good team," quarterback Tom Brady told reporters. "And everything we said we wanted to do, we didn't do. Penalties, turnovers, we couldn't convert on third down, couldn't control the tempo of the game. ... Once they get fired up, it's tough to calm them down."
Like Marty McFly said, "this is heavy."
I get the feeling Brady, like Homer Simpson, has a revenge list: Grandpa, fat free lard, gravity, Emmys, Darwin, H2WHOA!, Billy Crystal, God, Soloflex, the boy, Stern Lecture Plumbing, Econo Save and oh yeah, the Ravens.
Sorry to veer off, but the revenge trope bores me. Maybe the Patriots should bring back the "no respect" shtick that served them so well from 2001 through the end of 2007. Hey, Deion Branch is back. Maybe he brought some of the Patriots' famous anti-swagger with him. Maybe not.
Anyway, on to the actual game. It's only Week 6, but the Patriots need this one. And not for revenge purposes. Their schedule is brutal. After Baltimore, the Patriots play the Chargers, Vikings, Browns, Steelers and Colts, successively. Cleveland, San Diego and Pittsburgh are on the road. Save for the Browns, it's a scary stretch.
A win Sunday would go a long way toward surviving it. Like Frank Sinatra said, "The best revenge is massive success."