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Justadude

Are the Pats unsportsmanlike?

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In a very uncontroversial NFL season, this is just about the only topic that seems to get people riled up:

Are the Patriots being unsportsmanlike when they score unnecessary touchdowns with superstar players against weak opponents? Or are the standards of behavior different in the NFL, where all teams start on an even playing field and are well-paid to play as well as possible?

Personally I was on the fence about this one until I saw them go for it on 4th-and-1 with a big lead late in the Redskins game, throwing into the end zone for a touchdown that seemingly had no strategic purpose. To me, that's crossing a line of professionalism and dignity, since it could have done nothing other than rub the Skins' nose in defeat. Even in the NFL there should be an ethical standard that forbids that kind of coaching decision; IMO, this is the kind of thing that is ruining NCAA football.

What do you guys think?

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Since I own Moss in one of my fantasy leagues I love it. Seriously though, I think FF has taken a greater hold than we might think. Most players and even coaches play it, and if ever there has been a more glaring conflict of interest I don't know what it is.

But that aside, the Pats might be intentionally snubbing the teams they do this to, or they might be doing things like this for the value of practice and honing skills, and testing out plays. Playing against your own squad in practice during the week is not at all the same as an actual opponent. I like many can't wait to see them humbled, but I'm not so sure that this isn't the same behavior we accept elsewhere. If the difference simply came down to a mute uncharismatic coach then that would not really be fair. If Bellagod were warm and communicative, and explained himself then we'd probably be much more accepting of his weekly 4th down decisions.

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As a Pats fan and a fantasy league owner of Brady/Moss/Pats D, no. :whistling:

It's the NFL, the top tier. Everyone should be equal. If you don't want New England to score, actually stop them and play a good game.

I hope the Pats beat the Jets 80-0

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I wonder if the BCS system hasn't desensitized us to this kind of thing. It's become routine for football-factory colleges to blow non-competitive programs out of the water by 50 or 60 points, strictly for the purpose of improving their BCS standing by a hundredth of a percent. It seems like an awfully cynical system, especially considering the games are played by unpaid teenagers who are purportedly being taught "life lessons" by the experience -- apparently the NCAA believes that kicking the crap out of an unequal opponent is a positive life lesson.

So if we see that kind of thing happening in at least a half-dozen games every Saturday, it's no big surprise that the practice is starting to creep over into Sunday's NFL matchups as well. NFL rosters are now made up of players who have been trained since high school that any victory of less than 30 points is the same as a loss. The concept of controlled domination is becoming antiquated, and is being replaced by the notion that inferior opponents "deserve" humiliation. Maybe all this is tied to a bigger cultural shift -- we're in a global economy where the big dog gets all the rewards, including the crumbs. Companies like Microsoft and Wal-mart don't simply compete in the marketplace, they destroy their competition systematically, without remorse.

That being the case, perhaps the ironically-named Patriots are a sort of metaphor for the culture of the new millenium. Not very engaging or personable, but mechanically efficient and almost amoral in the way they play the game.

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That seems a little over-analyzed to me. First, even the colleges games have some degree of sportsmanship. Usually when a good team gets way ahead, the starters come out and the backups get game time. In some of these cases the backups score a couple times as well and the score gets absurd, but usually the opponent gets a couple scores as well. I don't have a problem with any of that as long as the team ahead by 60 isn't keeping in their starters. That coach who called an onside kick up by about 40 points a couple weeks ago was criticized by many, and he deserved it.

The BCS argument is irrelevant, since margin of victory no longer counts in the BCS computers. If anything, it causes more problems, because Arkansas beating LSU counts the same if they won by 2 points in triple overtime or if they won by 60.

The only problem I have with the Patriots is that they are going for it on 4th down when they should be kicking field goals. No one would have criticized them if they settled for the FG against the Bills, but there was absolutely no reason for them to go for it. Does anyone really think that the Patriots were really just "giving the opponent another chance to stop them"? They wanted to tack on points, which to me is unsportsmanlike. I think they were trying to intimidate people.

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I can see legit reasons to go for it, mainly the whole probative value angle. And you have to consider that Bellachick may be proving that he doesn't need videos of the other team to win.

As far as college football goes, I think teams must run up the score to some degree for the sake of their players getting into the NFL - an RB whose team lays off on safe leads is going to appear mediocre next to one who is not happy until they have scored 80 points on a N. Texas or ECU. Also, running up the score could just be a symptom of overly paranoid coaches - many teams have lost by not getting a safe enough lead, and more than one coach has been fired after such an event. And how does one define a "safe" lead. 2 TD's? 4? History shows that neither has been enough on occasion.

I rather like the Japanese tradition in beating an outclassed opponent but making it look like it was a close match, but again, you run the risk of allowing a comeback. That's why the phrase goes 'any given Sunday'. The other night Kansas scored 3 TD's in less than one quarter and nearly came back to beat Mizzou. And BC scored 2 TD's in 2 minutes to beat VT earlier this season.

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Also, running up the score could just be a symptom of overly paranoid coaches - many teams have lost by not getting a safe enough lead, and more than one coach has been fired after such an event. And how does one define a "safe" lead. 2 TD's? 4? History shows that neither has been enough on occasion.

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This is why I find New England's late-game strategy so puzzling. Throwing the ball with a wide lead is just bad football, no matter how you cut it. All it takes is one blown blocking assignment and Brady's career is over; one slip on the turf and Moss is out for the playoffs; or a couple of interceptions and a blowout becomes a nail-biter. I'm sure this has all crossed Belichick's mind and he has his reasons for doing what he does... but it still seems like a high-risk, low-reward approach to the game. Other than "sticking it" to the other team, I can't see a good reason for taking an aggressive stance when leading by 4 or 5 scores.

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I'm not a Pats fan, but hey if you don't want the score run up on you then you should play better defense. If those teams don't like it then they should run the score up on the Patriots when they're down. Maybe if someone is embarrassed enough from a score then they'll get fired up enough to do something about it. Nothing like getting some more rivalries started. The NFL is a bit 'tame' now considering what some of the old rivalries used to be like.

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Well they clearly have the best doping regimen of the NFL. 'Sportscenter highlights' attract more eyeballs and put more butts in the seats, so I can't really fault them for taking all that they can get. Are they unsportsmanlike? They are no better, no worse than the dominant players in any mainstream 'sports' league.

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Personally I was on the fence about this one until I saw them go for it on 4th-and-1 with a big lead late in the Redskins game, throwing into the end zone for a touchdown that seemingly had no strategic purpose.

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The Pats are playing cupcake teams, otherwise they would have at least a couple losses by now. I can't recall one team that has given the Pats competition. If they go 16-0 which they probably will, chalk it up to lack of competition. At least Dallas won against quality competition like Green Bay. The Pats have no business going undefeated

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The Pats are playing cupcake teams, otherwise they would have at least a couple losses by now. I can't recall one team that has given the Pats competition. If they go 16-0 which they probably will, chalk it up to lack of competition. At least Dallas won against quality competition like Green Bay. The Pats have no business going undefeated

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What are they expected to do? Wouldn't kicking a field goal be worse though? That's an easy three points. If the 'Skins had just made one defensive stop, they'd get the ball back. It's not like they were going to kneel on the ball.

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Ok, so since the Pats smashed the Cowboys, what does that mean in your world? Are the Cowboys cupcakes? That's what is sounds like you're saying to me. They also beat the Colts, who are recognized as the second best team in the NFL, I'm thinking the Cowboys are the ones that played against the cupcakes.

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Dallas is far from a cupcake team. Pats BARELY beat Baltimore. Other than the Colts, I can't recall one quality team New England faced. Although I will say I want a New England/Dallas Superbowl match.

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Dallas is far from a cupcake team. Pats BARELY beat Baltimore. Other than the Colts, I can't recall one quality team New England faced. Although I will say I want a New England/Dallas Superbowl match.

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But the Pats already beat the Cowboys 49-28

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This is like saying that a basketball team leading by 30 and shooting 3-pointers is not trying to embarrass its opponent. After all, it's harder to hit a 3.

Kicking a field goal would've been an easy three points, yes; but then again, throwing a 5-yard pass to the end zone on 4th and 1 is an aggressive, high-percentage play that, under those circumstances, had no possible benefit other than adding a meaningless touchdown to the score. As opposed to running the ball up the middle, which has a lower likelihood of injury, a greater likelihood of getting a first down, virtually no likelihood of resulting in a touchdown, and would've kept the clock moving for another 2 minutes minimum. That's what they are expected to do, because it's the class thing to do.

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Not really, no. The outcome of a missed three-pointer is much harder to predict than the outcome not converting on fourth down. Missing a three-pointer could result in the ball going right back into the hands of the offense.

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I think now that the Eagles and Ravens have finally figured out how to stop the Patriots, games with them will be a lot closer.

I think the Steelers or Giants have a legit shot to beat them now.

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The point is that the team is trying to score the maximum number of points possible in a game in which the outcome is already determined. Rebounds, fumbles, pooch punts... those are neither here nor there. It's understood that you don't rub your opponent's nose in a loss once the outcome is sealed. That's a basic code of honor that transcends all sports.

No, football's main objective is to win.

That question bears no relevance to New England's play-calling.

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Going for it on fourth down was a bigger gamble than kicking a field goal. If they didn't convert, they got no points and lost the ball. If they kicked a field goal, they got three points and then kick off. What's the confusion here?

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I think this really boils down to one thing: the Redskins should have played better. If they could have put together a scoring drive earlier on, or forced a turnover at some point, or made a big defensive stop to send a message, we wouldn't be having this conversation. This wasn't the state champion varsity squad taking on the kids from the Pop Warner League: these are NFL teams playing under a salary cap.

Perhaps their philosophy was this: keep scoring to avoid a stunning comeback. Maybe the Patriots considered Washington a much better team than they played in the first half, and as a sign of respect, continued to score. Of course I don't believe this was the case, but I guess no one knows why they continued to widen their lead... to entertain the fans perhaps? I've made a practice of drinking a beer every time Brady throws a touchdown pass, and I thank him for his efforts in that game against the 'Skins. That was a good day. Lately though, I've been watching the post-game shows sober. What gives Tom?

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