In honor of last night’s Superbowl loss by the New England Patriots, I’d like to share a flashback to the game in 2007 in which I learned to despise the Patriots. It wasn’t the infamous game in which the Patriots were caught recording their opponents’ defensive signals; it was a forgotten late-season game against the Miami Dolphins.
The Patriots had the league’s best record at 14-0; the Dolphins had the worst record at 1-13. I happened to see a bit of the game in the fourth quarter. The Patriots led 28-7 and had a fourth down at the Miami 26. Despite being in field goal range, and despite their 3-touchdown lead against the league’s worst team, they went for the fourth-down conversion.
I’ve never seen a more blatant display of running up the score in professional football. Rather than simply kick the field goal and extend their lead to an insurmountable 24 points, they instead tried to humiliate the league’s worst team with a passing conversion on fourth-and-long. (As it turned out, Brady was sacked on the play, which gave me some measure of satisfaction.) I had no particular feeling for the Dolphins, but I was appalled by the lack of sportsmanship.