When the post-meet interview was finished, I mentioned the first thing that popped into my head with Super Bowl LI between the Patriots and Atlanta Falcons just five days away.
“Be prepared for the most socially awkward moment in television history when (NFL Commissioner Roger) Goodell has to hand over the trophy to (Tom) Brady,” I said.
Coston chuckled, and with good reason.
Despite serving a four-game suspension at the start of the season for Deflategate, quarterback Tom Brady has brushed it all aside and led the Patriots back to his seventh Super Bowl. The task of slowing the high-powered Falcons offense may seem like a challenge, but the New England defense is pretty spectacular in itself.
While Atlanta – making its second Super Bowl appearance in franchise history – scored a league-best 33.8 points per game, the Patriots are as stingy as can be on defense, only allowing opponents 15.6 ppg, also at the top of the list.
Can a good offense carry the day? Not if it’s going up against a great defense like the Patriots have.
The most points New England allowed to any team this season was 31 in a home loss to Seattle. They’ve held three different opponents without a touchdown – Houston (a 27-0 shutout), Denver and the N.Y. Jets (one field goal each).
In direct contrast, the Falcons’ season low in points was 15 in a loss to the Philadelphia Eagles. They’ve put up the touchdowns in bunches. Quarterback Matt Ryan was No. 2 in the NFL with 4,944 passing yards to go with 38 touchdowns and just seven interceptions.
Brady, on the other hand, threw for 3,554 yards with only two picks in 12 games.
Take all the numbers for whatever they’re worth. They’ll be dissected a million times a million times between now and the kickoff (4:30 p.m., Channel 13), but the bottom line is defense really does win championships.
It can’t control how Brady will react when Goodell gives him the trophy, though.
-Southern Utah men’s basketball coach Todd Simon was borderline clairvoyant when he was asked about Northern Colorado after they scored 50 points and seemed like they couldn’t shoot straight in a road loss at Northern Arizona.
“The team that you see Thursday isn’t usually the same one that shows up Saturday,” he said.
The Bears made Simon’s words come to life when they came to the Centrum. After shooting just 28 percent in the loss to the Lumberjacks, UNC shot 63 percent in the second half and routed the Thunderbirds, 89-71, to break a five-game losing streak.
From a team that seemed to have so much promise after winning the first two Big Sky games on the road, the wheels have fallen off for SUU.
Consider these streaks: Seven straight losses overall, six straight losses at home, and 12 straight losses at the Centrum in Big Sky play.
The last number is a pretty big deal because the T-Birds are just two more Centrum defeats from matching the mark for consecutive home losses in Big Sky play. Sacramento State has the record at 14 in a row, and it was set in the 1998-99 season.
The next two teams up for the T-Birds at the Centrum are very much in the chase for one of the top four spots at the Big Sky tournament next month. While Montana is in a slump, Montana State is on the rise.
The Grizzlies have lost four in a row, including a sweep at home for the first time in nine years, and the Bobcats have won five in a row. MSU also has Tyler Hall, who leads the Big Sky in scoring at 23.3 points per game.
SUU freshman Decardo Day said it best about the state of team after the loss to Northern Colorado. He didn’t channel the Grizzlies as he spoke.
“We’re in a slump,” Day said. He paused briefly. “Not a slump, a big slump.”
It’s big enough to have lasted for a decade now. The light at the end of the tunnel needs to be found soon.
Follow Tom Zulewski on Twitter @TommyZee81 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.