Boston Globe columnist Dan Shaughnessy is a legend in the sports journalism world, but even every elite sports journalist files in a head-scratcher.
That’s exactly what Shaughnessy accomplished yesterday in a column entitled “Forget the Titans. They have no chance vs. the Patriots.”
Please Dan, tell us how you really feel.
It comes as no surprise that the Titans are massive underdogs heading into Saturday’s game against the defending-champion, top-seeded New England Patriots. No Tennessee player, coach, or fan should feel disrespected simply because the Patriots are expected to win convincingly.
After all, winning in the postseason is what New England tends to do — they haven’t lost a game in the divisional round of the playoffs since 2010 (more on that later). In the Tom Brady/Bill Belichick era, the Patriots are 19-5 at home in the playoffs, with their last home playoff defeat coming in 2012.
In his column, Shaughnessy makes sure to list out all the reasons why the Titans are overmatched:
They have a quarterback (Marcus Mariota) who threw more interceptions than touchdowns (passer rating 79.3). They ranked in the bottom third of the league in turnover differential. They ranked 23rd in total offense and 17th in points allowed. They lost three of their last four regular-season games. The Titans were outscored by their opponents this season (356-334).
However, Shaughnessy decides to push the envelope a little and classify the Titans as a “joke” and as “bums.”
The Titans are a joke and have no business making a trek to Foxborough for a divisional playoff game Saturday night… And now they are just bums — a speed bump on the Patriots’ road to Minneapolis.
It’s one thing to mention the fact that Mike Mularkey is 0-6 in his career against Bill Belichick. You can also throw in that Tom Brady historically own Dick LeBeau.
However, it’s another thing to write a column that goes against the very essence of the New England Patriots.
What makes New England a special organization — one that has appeared in seven straight AFC Championship Games and won at least 12 games in a season 11 times since 2001 — is their respect for every opponent, regardless of record and any other statistic you want to throw out there.
Even then, the NFL’s greatest dynasty has slipped against inferior opponents.
Remember the 2010 New England Patriots? They lost to a New York Jets team led by turnover-prone Mark Sanchez, who out-dueled Tom Brady in Foxborough in the divisional round. The same Tom Brady who would become the first ever unanimous MVP after throwing 26 touchdowns to ZERO interceptions over the final 10 games of the regular season (all New England wins).
Remember the 2011 New England Patriots? They lost to the New York Giants in the Super Bowl, the same team that went 9-7 during the regular season and surrendered more points than they scored.
I’m not suggesting the Titans will shock the world on Saturday — I don’t think they will. As Shaughnessy so “elegantly” pointed out in his column, the Patriots “kill” teams that blitz a lot and try to establish the run. Both are an essential part of Tennessee’s DNA.
But I’m also not naive enough to dub Saturday’s game as a bye week for the Patriots, because you know which team won’t treat it that way?
The New England Patriots.
Maybe Shaughnessy should pay attention to the team he covers.