- The Washington Times - Monday, February 2, 2004

HOUSTON We thought the days leading up to Super Bowl XXXVIII were wild. How about a streaker, a possible sighting of Janet Jackson’s breast and Bill Parcells belting out a duet with Jerry Jones?

Even the ladies who switched over to “Sex in the City” at 9 p.m. got to see a show in Space City. And those that stuck with the game witnessed an all-timer — a taut, last-second finish and a validation of the best NFL team of the 2000s. Tom Brady and the New England Patriots made a statement by edging the Carolina Panthers.

With jaw agape and fingers a-typin’, the Monday Morning Quarterback took in a Texas-sized evening of sacks, slinging and sideshows.

Q: One word: Dynasty. Say it. Has New England etched its place in history with two championships in three years?

A: Impressive, yes. Dynasty, no. Pats fans might cry foul, but we won’t capitulate until New England puts up a series of 13- or 14-win seasons, rather than sneaking to the Super Bowl XXXVI title and missing last year’s playoffs entirely. Strong contenders should emerge next year in Tampa Bay, Dallas, Indianapolis, Kansas City, Miami and Philadelphia — and Carolina should be even better. We’d be stunned to see the Pats repeat and earn the “dynasty” moniker.

Q: At least admit Brady is the next Montana. Who else could have played that well against that defense?

A: New England quarterback Tom Brady showed tremendous poise with the late scoring drives, made accurate throws (despite that pick in the fourth quarter) and even flashed a willingness to scramble. His continued improvement (and charisma) could elevate the Patriots to a place of historical significance.

Q: The Panthers’ offense was terrible early. Were they nervous?

A: Carolina, especially quarterback Jake Delhomme, seemed cognizant of the one billion pairs of eyeballs watching. If not for outstanding defense and special teams (and Adam Vinatieri’s unlikely push), the Panthers might have gotten wiped out early. You could see their jitters lift toward the first half’s end, but their failure to make an early statement might have cost them this game.

Q: We believed, but something must have happened to Stephen. Why did Davis have trouble running the ball?

A: Ted Washington is a beast on the interior D-line. That’s why the Redskins seriously considered trading for the beefy nose tackle in the preseason. (In hindsight, it might have been a difference-making move.) Look at what happened just before halftime, when New England took out Washington to defend the deep pass — Davis surged 21 yards to set up a field goal.

Q: Could there have been any more ads with potty jokes? Does Madison Avenue now run through the bathroom?

A: Bud Light’s joke about the flatulent horse was ridiculous, but Anheuser-Busch scored with the dog that took a “private” route to retrieve his owner a beer. And we liked Sierra Mist’s spot with the cool breeze under-kilt. One favorite was Budweiser’s version of referee “training,” which really, ahem, spoke to us. But the big prize goes to NFL Network’s rendition of “Tomorrow.” Torry Holt, LaVar, Sapp, Parcells and Jerry Jones singing the theme song from “Annie,” and Jones performing backflips. Great stuff.

Q: What about the pregame and halftime shows? Cool or hokey?

A: It only made sense to have Aerosmith perform pregame — lead singer Steven Tyler’s lips are the only thing bigger than the Super Bowl itself. Seriously, we’re always impressed at just how big the pregame and halftime stuff is up-close. At home, pregame and halftime are a time to make small talk. When you attend live, the festivities are as big a part of the day as the game itself. The halftime show was particularly sharp — a lot of star power. And we admit it felt pretty cool to see P. Diddy up close before the game.

Q: So how tight was security entering the stadium? Did you make it in without the full body cavity search?

A: There clearly was an emphasis on keeping Reliant Stadium secure, which unfortunately was to the detriment of those being protected. Media were subjected to a line about a half-hour long, a bag search, a pat-down and a metal detector. Fans underwent a similar process but with lines as long as 2 hours. One frothy spectator actually sought us out (we must have appeared vaguely reporter-ish) and said it was the worst-run entry of any big event he attended.

Q: Pat-down, huh? Getting frisky before the game?

A: We were wondering how security drew straws to see who patted down television reporter Melissa Stark. Of course, for every piece of TV eye candy that sashayed through media security, a dozen fit-for-print Neanderthals lurched through with their laptops and dicey personal hygiene. Don’t post your resume for that job.

Q: All right, enough Patriots-Panthers. Where should we meet you when the Redskins play in the big game next year?

A: Geez, we should have seen that one coming. Don’t book those Super Bowl plane tickets just yet. We admit Joe Gibbs is the best coaching hire Dan Snyder could have made, and that the Redskins have a core of talent. But 1 plus 1 doesn’t always equal 2. The Redskins will endure growing pains while Gibbs assimilates to this roster and front office. The Redskins will have to be patient through short-term struggles to enjoy long-term success.

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