Denver is called the Mile High City because it’s height is about a mile above sea level while everybody knows Boston is at sea level. The Patriot’s left the Boston area less than 48 hours before the start of the championship game. This is why the Patriots — a much better team than Denver — lost the match. It comes down to the coach and the ownership who failed to consider the altitude differences and give their players time to adjust to it.
Here is what the team should know by now as set out in this article. “The air is “thinner” at high altitudes meaning there are fewer oxygen molecules per volume of air. Every breath taken at a high altitude delivers less of what working muscles require. While the effect is most dramatic at altitudes greater than 8,000 feet (2,438 meters) above sea level, it is noticeable even at 5,000 feet (1,524 meters) above sea level.” The article concluded: “So, optimizing the altitude training formula of how high to go and how long to stay there could be the difference between raising the Cup or going home early.”
Dan Shaughnessy remarked: “The sight of Rob Gronkowski lying on his stomach, sucking on an oxygen mask and getting his legs massaged, should stay with Patriot fans for a while.” My first reaction to seeing Gronkowski on the sidelines drinking in mouthful after mouthful of water as if he had just left the Sahara Desert after a week without water was that he had been partying too hard the night before. I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt and suggest that the reason for that was the difference in playing at that level which the team failed to factor in.
It is difficult to understand why the team did not spend the week working out in Denver. The only thing I can figure is that the ownership did not want to foot the bill for the extra expense that would be involved in housing the team and paying for the necessary facilities for it to train. It is a pity because it had to be clear to anyone who watched the game that the team was not at its best.
If Grankowski was so severely affected by the difference in atmosphere you have to figure so were the other players on the team. The usual Patriot’s cover-up occurred after the game. Belichick rather than blaming himself for not properly preparing the team fired the offensive line coach Dave DeGuglielmo the day after the game. The day after! Here’s the message they want you to believe — it was his fault for the loss.
Do you believe it? Haven’t we heard all season long what a good job DeGuglielmo was doing considering the injuries and the limited talent that he had to deal with? How is his firing justified if he had done such a fine job? It is things like that, the putting of blame on others and looking for scapegoats that give me feelings against the Patriot organization.
The height of the city played a role, a big role in the defeat. But there was more. The game plan was terrible. It did not compensate for the manner in which Denver’s defense attacked Brady. Too few swing passes or quick shots over the middle. In the first half the big three pass catchers (Gronk, Amen, Edel) had 6 catches among them. No draw plays. The person with the most rushing yards was Brady.
Denver’s quarterback who once was a great player now is pretty much a sad case. He has half the ability of Brady, if that. It all combined together so that the better team lost.
One final factor that played big in the loss was the Brady style which seems to be putting forth a half-hearted effort in the first half and expecting to make a comeback in the second half. Too often the team has relied on the idea it can pull the fat out of the fire at the last-minute. I’d have said Brady’s insouciant play was due to the lack of oxygen but too often in other games it is not until the latter part of the game that he steps up his play.
A couple of final notes. The Patriot’s have been to the Super Bowl seven times in the last 20 years. We should be happy with that. The downside is the Denver team is so bad it will be run over by Luke Kuechly and the Carolina Panthers. Had the Patriot’s made it then that would not have been the case.
So as we say goodbye to another season and rue that we will not see a duck boat parade, I still say the Logan Mankins trade was a horrible blunder.