tampabay.com

Gimme 5

By JOHN ROMANO
Published February 7, 2005


Five topics suitable for inane debate on talk radio:

SMARTER THAN THE REST: Bill Belichick confused Peyton Manning with a weak pass rush and a crowded zone in the secondary. Then he confounded Donovan McNabb by switching from a 3-4 defense to a 4-3 with man-to-man coverage. He's not as personable as Bill Walsh, not as colorful as Bill Parcells, but Belichick may be the best architect of game plans this generation has seen.

THE WAIT CONTINUES: The Eagles have lost their only two Super Bowls. The 76ers lost their most recent NBA Finals appearance. The Phillies have lost the past two times they went to the World Series. And the Flyers have come up short in their past five trips to the Stanley Cup final. Perhaps Philadelphia should consider intramural sports.

MENSA WANTS YOUR MEMBERSHIP CARD: Even a genius needs a little direction. Belichick ran to the Eagles sideline during pregame introductions.

ONE MORE FLORIDA RECALL: No offense to Deion Branch, but Rodney Harrison was the true MVP. With cornerbacks Ty Law and Tyrone Poole already out injured, the Patriots lost a third DB when Eugene Wilson went down in the second quarter. That left Harrison with two rookies and a second-year player beside him. All he did was get two interceptions, a sack, seven tackles and two pass breakups. He was not just the best player, but the most important too.

THE LEGEND OF T.O.: He was not Willis Reed because his team did not win. He was not Kirk Gibson because he did not make the deciding play of the game. Still, it would be wrong to dismiss the pluck of Terrell Owens. Ignoring a doctor's advice, Owens returned to the field less than seven weeks after ankle surgery. He had nine catches for 122 yards.

A LIST OF FIVE

Five signs the pregame show went on too long:

5. Jimmy Johnson's hair moved.

4. Bill Clinton hit on one of the World War II Navy Waves.

3. When it began, Paul McCartney had a mop top haircut.

2. Terry Bradshaw was making sense.

1. Patriots fans were already drunk. Eagles fans were already hungover.

5 SIGNS PATS ARE A DYNASTY

1. Their quarterback is making history. Bart Starr was 31 when he won his third NFL championship. Bradshaw was 31. Joe Montana was 33. Brady is 27.

2. Their coach is making history. Chuck Noll? Bill Walsh? Joe Gibbs? Never won three Super Bowls in four years. Belichick is the first.

3. Ted Kennedy tapes their schedule to his flask.

4. They are 57-16, including the postseason, the past four seasons. When the Cowboys won three of four Super Bowls from 1992-95, they were 59-16.

5. They do not have a dominant offense. They do not have a dominant defense. But do not confuse dominance with dynasty. The one thing they really do well is win. The Patriots have now beaten three opponents in the Super Bowl, and all by a final margin of three.

FIVE EAGLE MISTAKES

1. They came out throwing on 17 of their first 20 plays, and continued firing the rest of the night. You have to at least make a defense consider the run.

2. Any chance of a late field goal was essentially lost before the Eagles got the ball. The defense called a timeout in the third quarter, which would have come in handy later. The Eagles could have gotten the ball back with around 1:20 remaining. The wasted timeout cost about 35 seconds.

3. Giving Freddie Mitchell a microphone. Turns out, it wasn't smart to taunt Harrison.

4. McNabb ruined the final drive by throwing a 1-yard pass that cost him 18 seconds.

5. Teasing their fans. There will be hell to pay in the City of Brotherly Love.

FINAL FIVE WORDS

Where was this year's streaker?