RUSH: As to the game, here’s the conventional wisdom on the game from the sports Drive-Bys, the “expert analysts,” at least the ones I’ve had time to read. I just did that this morning.
Today’s the first day to get into it. It seems that no matter where you go — New York Post, New York Daily News, Sports Illustrated, whatever — the uniformity of the sports Drive-Bys is like the uniformity in the news Drive-Bys. If one news Drive-By says that the choice of Dick Cheney brings “gravitas,” then all 75 journalists will say, “He brings gravitas!” Well, the same thing happens in sports Drive-Bys, and the conventional wisdom says the key to the game is Gronkowski, number 87 for the Patriots.
The key to the game is him. If Gronkowski catches seven or eight balls for minimum 85 or 90 yards, the Patriots win. It means the Seahawks haven’t been able to stop him. How do the Seahawks stop him? They gotta jam him at the line; they’ve gotta make sure the guy does not get into his route. Because you take Gronkowski away from Brady, and you have taken 30-40% of the Patriots’ offense away from ’em, and that’s how the Seahawks win. That’s one bit of conventional wisdom.
The other bit of conventional wisdom is that the Seahawks are not gonna be able to stop Gronkowski no matter what kind of technique they employ. If they try two or three jamming at the line of scrimmage to get him off his route, or if they double or triple cover, that isn’t gonna work because it’ll leave Julian Edelman or Danny Amendola open, and Brady can hit ’em all day long. There’s a sentimental choice, I’ve detected in the Drive-Bys, for Brady.
Russell Wilson is young — and Russell Wilson? He won last year, and if Brady wins, he could be the first quarterback to win four Super Bowls since Joe Montana did it, and Joe Montana was the first quarterback to do it since Terry Bradshaw. Bradshaw and Montana are the only quarterbacks with four Super Bowl wins, and Brady could become the third. It’d be a great, great achievement, cap a career and all that. So the sentimental choice is Brady.
Russell Wilson? He’s got a sentimental favoritism attached, but he’s young and he’ll be back many, many times. What else? What conventional wisdom have I seen? The Legion of Boom, the defensive backfield for the Seahawks could be impacted by the birth of Richard Sherman’s child. Richard Sherman’s fiancee is preggers, and it is unknown what Sherman will do if his fiancee goes into labor on Sunday afternoon.
Sherman has not answered definitively whether he would go to the hospital to be present for the birth or whether he would stay and play in the game. Now, you and I both know what Sherman’s gonna do. Sherman is going to play in the game. Sherman has all but said it. In a press conference he’s already said that his child, still in the womb, already has the decency and sense of manners to stay in there until after the game.
That is almost a quote. (interruption) No, it’s not his wife. His fiancee. It’s his girlfriend that’s pregnant. Now, on the Patriots side, the way that the Seahawks can win is to get to Brady. The key on the Seahawks defense is Michael Bennett. Keep a sharp eye on him. He sometimes plays defensive end, sometimes plays outside linebacker. Michael Bennett, who is perhaps the best pass rushing defensive lineman, outside linebacker in the NFL today, by reputation.
If Dan Connolly and [Sebastian] Vollmer cannot keep Bennett away from Brady, then it’s gonna be academic; the Seahawks will win. So this is the conventional wisdom thinking on both sides. Now, the outcome of the game is not conventional wisdom. Some expect a low-scoring game because the defenses are powerful, hard-hitting, and aggressive. I haven’t found anybody, I haven’t seen anybody who expects a blowout, and I found very few reports who even expect a high scoring game.
Most of the reporters I’ve read think it’s gonna be in the teens, like 19-15, 16-13. Some say one team might score in the twenties. I guess if I — and I haven’t read them all. But it seems to me that, of the sports Drive-Bys I have read, the majority of ’em picking Patriots to win, and that’s pretty much it. That’s just what the analysts that I’ve read think. I haven’t applied my own thought to this, and I think it’s the first Super Bowl in I don’t know how many years where that’s happened.
RUSH: Now, the Super Bowl, folks. I’m gonna give you a cliche, but it really is true. In predicting the outcome of this game, it really is no more complicated than saying the team that plays better is gonna win. That is inarguably true. You hope that it’s a great game, and you hope that both teams show up and perform at their peak potential. That would give you a great game. But, you know, if one of the quarterbacks isn’t throwing well? Well, then…
If one of the running backs has the tendency to drop the ball? If there’s turnover differential that favors one team? That’s gonna affect the outcome of the game, and that’s gonna come down to how well these teams perform. On paper, it’s a great Super Bowl. On paper, you really do have the two best teams in the league playing. On paper, it’s a dream Super Bowl. But on any given day, you never know if everybody on a team is gonna be performing at peak potential, peak level, at their optimum.
Brady’s got a cold, for example. You just don’t know if that’s gonna have any impact. If the Seahawks’ pass rush is anywhere like the Giants pass rush the last two Super Bowls where the Giants played the Patriots, then the Seahawks are gonna win this thing. That would come down to the offensive line of the Patriots. Are they gonna have a good day? These are the things that you can’t predict.
You can’t predict karma or any of the things that determine whether or not athletes are gonna be playing at their best. Now, when guys/experts start handicapping and predicting winners, you’ll note that (even though they don’t say so), they’re all doing it on the basis that both teams are gonna show up and be their best. Normally in a Super Bowl, there’s one team that is usually acknowledged better than the other.
So that if that team shows up and performs at its peak level, it’s no doubt they’re gonna win, barring unexpected turnover. But that even impacts whether they’re playing their best. This is pretty evenly matched. The way these teams score points is different, though. Patriots do not have a running, scrambling quarterback. Brady is pretty much locked there in the pocket. Russell Wilson is totally the opposite, totally different. Look at that game between the Seahawks and the Packers.
The Seahawks didn’t show up for the first 55 minutes. If the Packers had just kept playing as well as they had the first 55 minutes, they would have won the game. But something happened, and the coaches will tell you they have no idea why momentum shifts. If they can coach that, then they would never have heart attacks and they would never get fired. But you can’t determine what’s gonna shift momentum.
You don’t have a home crowd in a game like this, so that’s also a factor. When both teams are evenly matched like this, it’s hard to predict it. It is gonna come down to which of these two teams blows it, or which of these two teams just outperforms the other, and that’s Belichick’s point. Previous experience doesn’t matter. It’s who plays best. Belichick’s got this trick for pregame. He plays a horse race for his team, and he stops it at every turn and takes bets.
Players bet who’s gonna win.
He stops it at the halfway point; takes more bets. He stops it after the third turn and the final turn. Before the final, he takes one more round of bets. And then it’s over, and soemone wins, and he says, “Do you realize what we just did didn’t matter? It didn’t matter who was in first place at the first turn, didn’t matter who was in first place at the third turn. None of that mattered. What mattered was who was in first place when it was over.” That’s how he motivates his guys to play the whole game and to stay focused on what matters and what doesn’t.
A game like this one with even matchups like this, it should be a good game. You’re hoping it will be.
RUSH: Well, no, there’s also no way of factoring if the Patriots are gonna get away with cheating in the Super Bowl. So that’s another factor, too. I mean, people are gonna be thinking about that. I mean, you can’t… I’m not accusing ’em of it. But I guarantee you some of the fans — by the first hour of tailgating with sufficient adult beverages consumed — are gonna be thinking about nothing but that.