Thursday Thoughts: I’m a fake Patriots fan, but I can do math

As we swing into another edition of Thursday Thoughts, I think this is a good place for me to announce that according to many social media geniuses I am apparently not a “true New England Patriots fan” because I was rooting for Buffalo and I’m not rooting for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. It does seem funny that people who weren’t born when I started watching the Patriots, and who have probably never even heard of guys like Rod Rust and Dick MacPherson, get to tell people who is a real Patriots fan and who isn’t, but that’s how social media works.

I will admit it’s a tad unusual to root for a division rival in the playoffs, but it just seems to fit in this unusual season. I have a good many friends from upstate New York that are Bills fans and knowing what that franchise has gone through over the years it seems like a natural thing for me to be excited for them and to cheer with them. It’s not like I’m going to run out and buy Buffalo Bills stuff and start breaking tables in half, but if you’re a sports fan it’s hard to not root for a team when its fans have seen such disappointment over the years. When the Bruins lost the Stanley Cup to St Louis I was very unhappy my team had lost, but I was happy for my longtime online friends who root for the Blues, many I’ve known online for over 20 years.

Besides, it’s not like I was rooting for the New York Jets or Montreal Canadiens.

As for not rooting for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, it has absolutely nothing to do with Tom Brady playing for them. In fact, I had thought about putting my hatred of the Buccaneers aside when Brady went to play for them, but even he isn’t enough to make me cheer for that team.

To be honest, I can’t recall why I started hating the Buccaneers. It may have happened in the mid-90s when they changed from that glorious orange cream color to red and black crap they wear today. I’m sure Warren Sapp, who started playing in Tampa Bay about that time, played a role. But the specific reason why I can’t remember. But it’s no longer important, I hate the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and can’t root for them for any reason. And if I ever meet Tom Brady, I’ll apologize to him for not rooting for his new team. I think he’d understand.

Local Collegiate Results
In Men’s hockey Thursday night Holy Cross jumped out to a two-goal lead against Army, but then surrendered the next three in a 3-2 Crusaders loss to the Black Knights at the Hart Center. Ryan Leibold assisted on both Holy Cross goals, while Erik Gordon made 32 saves in goal for the Crusaders. Things weren’t much different Friday night with Holy Cross grabbing the opening lead and once again being unable to hold it in a 4-1 loss to Army at the Hart Center. The one bright spot in the series was the Crusaders’ penalty killers, who have not allowed a power play goal in 18-straight opportunities to improve their average to 88.4%, 11th best in Division 1 hockey.

In basketball, it was Holy Cross and Lehigh matching up over the weekend, with the men playing at the Hart Center and the women on the road at Stabler Arena in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. On Saturday the women got down early and never recovered in 87-68 loss to the Mountain Hawks. Kerry Flaherty led the Crusaders with a career-high 12 points, going 5-for-5 from the field. The men also ended up in the loss column when a late-game three-pointer missed to put them on the wrong end of a 75-72 final. Gerrale Gates posted his second straight double-double with a career-high 23 points and 10 rebounds, while freshman R.J. Johnson finished the day with a career-high 17 points and eight assists.

On Sunday it wasn’t much better for Holy Cross, and both the Men’s and Women’s teams lost again. The women once again fell behind early and never made a game of it in a 83-62 loss to Lehigh. Sophomore Addisyn Cross had 12 points to lead Holy Cross. Junior Avery LaBarbera and freshman Bronagh Power-Cassidy also finished in double figures, with 11 points each. The men lead by one at the half but could hold that advantage, going down 82-74 to the Mountain Hawks. Junior forward Gerrale Gates scored a career-high 27 points in the loss, the third game in a row he’s set a new personal mark.

The Men’s hockey team hit the road to play a rare Tuesday contest against the Bentley Falcons, and the Crusaders likely wished they’d stayed home on a snowy night as Holy Cross dropped the contest 5-2. The Falcons scored goals two goals in the game’s first 78 seconds, and that was pretty much it for the Crusaders. Leominster’s Matt Lombardozzi, a senior defenseman for Bently, assisted on a third-period goal.

Boston Teams This Week
Pittsburgh @ Bruins, 7pm
Bruins @ Washington, 7pm
LA Lakers @ Celtics, 8:30pm
Bruins @ Washington, 7pm
Celtics @ Golden State, 10pm
Bruins @ Philadelphia, 8pm
Celtics @ Sacramento, 10pm

Worcester Hockey Alumni Highlights
Thursday Chris Tierney goal

Friday Matt Nieto goal

Friday Joe Pavelski two goals

Saturday Connor Doherty goal

Saturday Willie Raskob goal

Saturday Nic Pierog goal

Sunday Spencer Asuchak goal

Sunday Joe Pavelski goal

Tuesday Logan Couture goal

Wednesday Alec March goal

It’s all about the math
If I were Green Bay Packers General Manager Brian Gutekunst, I would have fired head coach Matt LaFleur before he had a chance to leave Lambeau Field Sunday night. With 2:09 left in the fourth quarter and the Packers trailing Tampa Bay 31-23, LaFleur decided to kick a field goal on fourth-and-goal from the Buccaneers’ 8-yard line. We will ignore the fact that Green Bay could have been closer than the 8-yard line had it not been for the total ineptness of quarterback Aaron Rogers, and we’ll just focus on what did and could have transpired from that point.

To be blunt, there is simply no math out there that makes kicking a field goal the right choice. Trailing by 5 or 8 and not having the ball is virtually the same on the scoreboard, you need your defense to stop the offense to get the ball back, and then if you manage to get the ball back you need to score a touchdown. The only difference is a touchdown being down 5 gives you the lead and a touchdown down by 8 means you need a 2-point conversion. Now add that Green Bay’s defense had given up a decent amount of yards by that point so a stop was far from certain.

But there is one big difference in field position. If the Packers fail on fourth down Tampa Bay gets the ball inside their ten-yeard line instead of receiving a kick-off after a field goal, which by NFL average would give them the ball around the 24-yard line. Plus it’s one less timed play, adding a handful of seconds to the clock. So going for it and failing still yields a better result than kicking the field goal.

The obvious plus to going for it on fourth down and making it is now you just need the 2-point conversion to tie. Of course, you could still fail on that and need the ball back again, but now you’d just need a field goal to win. And it’s a huge difference in play calling and what a defense will do when the offense needs only 40 yards to get into field goal position as opposed to the offense needing to get into the end zone.

Even at age 43 Tom Brady and three timeouts to get his team into field goal range to win a game is already a scenario most NFL head coaches would dread, and there isn’t a quarterback in the league I want more than him in that situation. And sure, it’s likely he would have driven the Buccaneers down into Ryan Succop’s range for a game-winning kick, but it’s a head coach’s job to put his team in the absolute best position to win a game and Matt LaFleur did not do that.

All because he can’t do basic math.

Stuff you may have missed from 210Sports this week
Turns out you didn’t miss anything

Not so big finish
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