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It all came down to special teams


That was a wild and crazy game. It was a great game for both sides. I told someone the other day that this was a game that was going to come down to a special teams play or a special teams decision. You look at both offenses and they are very ball-control oriented. They don't turn the ball over much or play a high-risk style of offense. Both defenses are very sound and both teams have good special teams.

I thought it was going to come down to which team messed up with turnovers or a special teams mistake. Lo and behold, there at the end, Carolina scores to tie the game and they kick off and the ball squibs off John Kasay's foot and goes out of bounds. New England gets the ball at the 40-yard line. And when you've got a kicker on the other side of the field like Adam Vinatieri, you don't have to go very far offensively to get in position to kick a field goal. So, it came down to a special teams play.

I really don't think Carolina's decisions to go for two-point conversions had anything to do with the outcome. There's this chart that every coach has that tells you when to go for two based on the score. Panthers coach John Fox decided to go for it when they were down 21-16, and you just do the math. You're either going to be down by four or down by five. So, I don't think that was a big deal.

I did not expect it to be a high-scoring game. I thought it would be a 17-13 or 14-10 game. I was shocked to see the number of points and the number of yards. And I didn't see New England or Carolina do anything different than they normally do on offense, so I think I'm going to have to pin it on both defenses not playing up to their standards.

Both defensive units and both defensive coaching staffs will go back and look at this and say, "Wow, We didn't play up to our standard.' Any time you're a defense of stature and you give up 300 yards and 30 points, that's not a good day at the office. Neither one of the two defenses was I overly impressed with.

The guy who really impressed me was Tom Brady. Say what you want about the guy, but he's cool under pressure. He's not real flashy but he finds a way to win, finds a way to move the chains. He's very efficient. He had my vote for MVP.

And Vinatieri he had four misses in indoor stadiums and all four of them were at Reliant Stadium, which is kind of scary. But the guy usually has ice water running through his veins and it did not shock me when he stepped up and drilled that 41-yarder through for the winner.

Linebackers coach Joe Barry joined the Bucs in 2001, after spending time as defensive quality control coach for the 49ers. Barry spoke with Times staff writer Joanne Korth to provide analysis of the Patriots' 32-29 victory.