Just to get this out of the way, I'm a Rams fan. As depressing a fact as that may be for me personally, I don't mind it. There is value in rooting for the worst team in the NFL--six wins over the past three seasons, three worse than the Detroit Lions—because there is nowhere to go but up. Drafts and off-season moves take on added significance.
That having been said...
The St. Louis Rams beat the New England Patriots 36-35 in a preseason football game last night, and this is a result we can all be happy with.
Yes, it's preseason. But, some things to consider: it's the third and penultimate preseason game, the last real dress rehearsal before the regular season begins (no one wants to get injured in week four), and Tom Brady played into the fourth quarter.
Nobody likes the New England Patriots. They are the most successful and least likable NFL franchise of the past decade, having steamrolled everyone in a precise, mechanical style, helmed by the stand-offish, sweat-shirted Bill Belichick and the too-handsome Brady.
At the 2008 Democratic National Convention in Denver, as the chair of the Massachusetts delegation introduced her state on the convention floor as "home of the winning Boston Red Sox...and the winning New England Patriots," the rest of the convention actually booed
Beyond the pure schadenfreude of watching the Pats get beaten by the worst team in the league, this game has added significance in the ongoing struggle between Good and Evil in the universe.
Rams fans dislike the Patriots more than anyone else does, save perhaps the Colts and Jets faithful, because the Pats allegedly cheated to beat the Rams in Super Bowl XXXVI in 2002. Belichick was fined $500,000 for illegally taping the Jets sideline during that season, and an unnamed source told
the Boston Globe
that the Patriots had taped a Rams pregame walkthrough practice the day before the Super Bowl—a claim Belichick denied
, and which the NFL found no evidence
to support after investigating. The NFL later destroyed
all materials it received in connection with the allegations.
Whether the Pats did or did not tape the Rams practice isn't the point. The point is that Super Bowl XXXVI marked the ascendance of the Patriots Era in the NFL, on the heels of the illegal taping that certainly did occur against the Jets. Bottom line: the Pats were cheaters. The worst kind of cheaters, in fact—cheaters who didn't really need to be cheating anyway.
It was the first Super Bowl the Patriots won, and they haven't stopped winning since (key exception: the 2008 Super Bowl
). The Rams, on the other hand, after flying high as the Greatest Show on Turf following their Super Bowl win two years earlier, have spiraled since Super Bowl XXXVI into mind-numbing failure. Front-office blunders, Mike Martz's horrendous leadership, and a string of ill-conceived draft classes have put the Rams where they are today—at the bottom of the league, clinging desperately to the promise of first-overall draft pick Sam Bradford.
Who, by the way, outperformed Brady last night. The Rams took Bradford out after the first half, having gone 15/22 for 189 yards, two TDs and no INTs. Brady didn't score a touchdown until the end of the second quarter.
True Mathematical Fact Equation: Sam Bradford > Tom Brady.
Or, at least: Good > Evil.
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is a political reporter for ABC News. He was previously an associate editor at The Atlantic
and a reporter for The Hill