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Hi, Nick. As a Patriot fan going back to the old AFL days, when Butch Songin was the quarterback and they were playing at old BU field, these last few years have made those early days seem even further in the past. Thank God! Your mailbag keeps me plugged into Patriot news, and I thank you for that. Great job. Now why I have written: not really a question, an observation, which I hope can find its way to Deion Branch. Enough with the celebratory posturing and shenanigans after you make a catch or score a touchdown. I believe he received a penalty a couple of weeks ago for taunting or some foolishness, and it will happen again if he doesn't cool it. Just play the game, and act like a professional.
Jon Henderson, Coos Bay Ore.
A: Got a lot of these this week. The kid has to watch himself.
Hi, Nick. I enjoy your articles an commentaries on NESN. My question is about Charlie Weis. Why can't this guy manage a game clock with the lead? Up 31-10 and you get a turnover at the Colts 33-yard line and he doesn't even run the ball! Get the ball back with a little over 3 minutes left in the game and passes, taking a few seconds off the clock! He almost cost us the game! How do you feel about his clock management?
Thomas Denny, Florence, MA
A: I think he's just going with what he feels he can win with. Against that team, he didn't feel he could sit on the lead by running out the clock. I'm not sure you can disagree with him.
The Colts game was one of the few I have been able to watch this season (don't have cable). A question about the running game, which was weak again: it seems that the best running teams consistently run the ball and wear down the defense. Yet it seems that the Patriots do not really give their running game a chance to get established. Do they give up on the run too early or do the Colts just have an unusually strong run defense? Their lack of confidence in the run demonstrated by their last possession of the game is worrisome for the playoffs.
David H., South Bend, Ind.
A: I hear this over and over again. Logic tells you if you can't run down the stretch, you're not going to win tough games. But with this team, throw out all the logic. They find a way to win. Until it bites them, it's hard to say they can't win without a running game.
Hi, Nick. If you compare and analyze the Pats season to the Bills at this juncture, both teams are very similar in all respects except one, the coach. Both teams have an All-Pro at QB, tough defenses, and have been hit with injuries to their offenses, but one is 10-2 and the other 5-7. If you break it down by common opponents played so far by each team, the Bills are 3-6 and the Pats are 7-2. The other teams not in common the Bills are 2-1 (only loss to KC) and Pats are 3-0. To further break it down, the swing games were Dallas, Houston and Indy. All three games were decided in the final minute for both the Pats and Bills, but the Bills came up on the short end 0-3 and the Pats won each 3-0. Each of the Bills losses in these games came down to the Bills inability to hold the opponent in the fourth quarter. If the Bills had won two of those three and the Patriots lost to, the Pats would be 8-4 and the Bills would be 7-5. I have been a life long Pats fan and never have been a Belichick fan, but I grudgingly have to give him credit. If for some reason Kraft was insane and had Gregg Williams as coach, the Pats would be looking for a new coach again. By my estimation, Belichick is a plus-3 in wins each year where Williams is a negative-3. If Buffalo had hired either John Fox or Marvin Lewis, Buffalo might be 8-4 right now. My question is this, will the Red Sox ever realize this and hire a manager who can win the games we should have lost? With the exception of Dick Williams, have the Red Sox ever had a manager that could manage a game correctly? P.S. If Brady's backup in 2001's Pittsburgh game was Zolak instead of Drew, we still be looking for our first Super Bowl win. People forget about the year we had to play Zolak in the playoffs when Drew's finger was mangled.
John McDonald, Fort Myers, Fla. Continued...