I met Ray Clifford at the first Jets training camp held in Cortland New York. We hit it off and developed a lasting friendship based on the New York Jets. Ray is a transplanted New Yorker from upstate who now lives in Marysville Ohio. He bleeds as much "green" as anyone I have ever met. We talk regularly about the Jets and are always communicating during games. Ray wanted to give his two cents on last week's game.
Guest Columnist, Ray Clifford
After the giddiness of the big win last Sunday wore off a couple things started to run through my brain. There was a method to Belichick's madness and Steelers fans need to shut up. First, the "genius". I, like many others, think he goofed by kicking off to start OT, why would you not let Brady have the ball first? But as I thought about that game I started to question more than just his in-game decisions. Two things kept bothering me. Why would you not go all out to win that game to have home field throughout the playoffs and something Brandon Marshall said in his post game comments stuck with me. I questioned if any of the four key guys he held out could have gone. Then I found out later that losing that game didn't put the Bengals (who ended up losing anyway) in control of the #1 seed after all. The Pats would still get home field as long as they win next week against Miami. I believe Belichick felt he could still win the game, and almost did, without those guys and even if they lost they still had next week to wrap up home field. The other part of this was Brandon Marshall talking to the media after the game. He mentioned that the Patriots really didn't do anything different from the first time they played. Wait... what?? Really?! Name one time you can remember that Bill Belichick has not changed their game plan from one game to the next? Not given different looks to confuse the qb? I firmly believe now that this entire game was laying the ground work in case they face the Jets again in the playoffs. Not only will the personnel be different, you can count on Fitz getting all kinds of looks he never saw in the first two meetings.
As for Steelers fans whining about the Pats throwing the game so they don't have to face them in the playoffs. This reminds me of a few years ago when the Steelers players were singing the same song about Cincinnati throwing the game to the Jets so they wouldn't have to face them. And the similarity of the two situations doesn't end there. Just like a few years ago, the Steelers have no one to blame but themselves. Back in that season they lost to three of the worst teams in the NFL at the time, the Browns, the Chiefs and the Raiders AT HOME!! Had they won any of those three games they would have gone to the playoffs instead of the Jets. This year they were again in control of their own destiny and lost last Sunday to a Ravens team that had no business beating them. They let a quarterback who was sitting at home a week earlier dismantle their defense. Had they taken care of their own business then it wouldn't matter what the Patriots did. So let them whine all they want. If the Jets beat Buffalo this week (and that is FAR from a given) then they can sit on the couch and cry into their terrible towels as they watch the playoffs. They earned where they are at right now.