Last night at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, late in the fourth quarter, on a night so cold that the fountain outside one Boston art gallery was encased in a shell of ice that had frozen around it, the Tennessee Titans were driving downfield against the New England Patriots. But after the two-minute warning, the drive fizzled, as two long penalties and a pass falling through the hands of receiver Drew Bennett gave the ball to New England, on their own 42-yard line, with one minute, 38 seconds left to play.
In past playoffs, this sort of thing has set the stage for late-game heroics by Patriot quarterback Tom Brady and his offense -- like the heart-stopping drive that won the Superbowl for them two years back. But this time, there was no need. The Pats were already leading, 17-14. Brady kneeled on the ball three times, and then ran a slow-developing pass play to run the last three seconds off the clock, securing victory, and advancement to next week's AFC championship game -- which will be played again in Foxborough, before many of the same hometown fans.
And as he kneeled, boos rained down upon the field.
In guaranteeing themselves mere victory, the Pats were making no attempt to cover the six-point Las Vegas spread.
Hey, folks. Gamble much?