Live from New England, and the Dirty Bird is in the house!

Traffic at 9:39 a.m. That's D-Led's hand on the wheel. (Photo by M. Bradley)

Traffic at 9:39 a.m. That's D-Led's steady hand on the wheel. (Photo by M. Bradley)

Foxborough, Mass. — Before I make this sound like a Peter King coffee nerd post, let me stipulate: I do not drink coffee. As a rule, I do not go to Starbucks. But I went this morning because I was given a $10 SBUX gift card by the nice folks at the Marriott at Copley Square. So I used it on green tea, a low-fat slice of bread and a banana. And when I turned to leave, I saw …

Dan Reeves.

I said hello. I also said, “I remember covering one of your teams up here. I also remember you personally inventing the Dirty Bird that day.”

He laughed. “Long time ago,” he said. And it was.

It was Nov. 8, 1998. The Falcons came to New England 6-2 but still largely unloved back in the A-T-L and largely unproven in the eyes of the national media. They came to the old stadium off  Route 1 and won 41-10, and O.J. Santiago — not Dan Reeves — unveiled the Dirty Bird in the end zone that afternoon.

And I remember standing nearby as the Patriots’ coach exited the field to a heavily accented chorus of boos and more than one hurled cup. The coach’s name: Pete Carroll.

The Falcons beat the 49ers in Atlanta the next week at a time the Niners were considered the power in the NFC West, and at his Monday press conference I asked Reeves: “Let me preface this by saying I’ve never before asked this question of any Falcons coach, but is this a Super Bowl team?”

Lo and behold, it turned out to be. Now I’m not saying the Falcons will have stamped their visas to Miami — yes, the next Super Bowl is in the same town as the site as Eugene Robinson’s arrest — if they win today, but winning against Belichick and Brady on the road would be the strongest sign yet that these Birds are bona fide.

Let the record show, however, that both Boston papers pick the Pats. The Globe has it 27-21, the Herald 27-20. A month ago, this idiot correspondent picked New England to win 41-14, but that was at a time when the Falcons’ defense seemed suspect and when I was operating on the premise, which seems pretty flawed already, that the team would start the season slowly.

And I still kind of think New England will prevail. But the Pats are up to their usual injury-list chicanery, listing Randy Moss as questionable late Friday, so there’s that to ponder. But Reeves is here doing the game on radio, and if O.J. Santiago shows up in a golf cart, I’m changing my pick and going with the Birds.

Weather update: Yesterday was gorgeous. There was such a crowd of walkers around Copley Square you’d have thought it was Patriots Day — I was here for that festive Boston event during the NBA playoffs in 2008 — but it wasn’t. It was simply one of those fall New England days of which postcards are made.

Today, by way of contrast, is less picturesque. It has been raining, and it’s supposed to rain more this afternoon. Traffic is already horrible on Route 1 — this is one of those one-way-in stadiums, situated 40 minutes south of Boston — and esteemed colleague D. Orlando Ledbetter left at 8:30 a.m. Had we left at 9:30, we’d still be idling in Walpole.

And the thinking is that a wet track favors the visitors. Because they have Michael Turner, and the Pats don’t seem to have a running game. So file that away.

Media event: You’d think every card-carrying media type would be in Philadelphia today — and please note this is the first I’ve mentioned that game — but the seating manifest indicates that Michael Silver of Yahoo! Sports, Albert Breer of Sporting News Today and Damon Hack of Sports Illustrated are coming here, and I’ve already seen John Clayton of ESPN. So I guess this is itself a pretty big game.

And stop back often! This will be another in our series of live chats, which have come to be the highlight of every week. (At least for me.) I’ll be here until the final horn or Belichick chooses to run off the field in a big fat huff, whichever comes first.

1,125 comments Add your comment

Native Son

September 27th, 2009
10:47 am

Waiting on the Birds. Waiting, and waiting, and waiting……………

Shame they let Dan Reeves go, when he was shaping Vick to be a darn good QB, only to hire an idiot, who hired an idiot, and another idiot, and so on, and so on,and so on………………………………….

JP

September 27th, 2009
10:50 am

Mark Bradley

September 27th, 2009
10:53 am

Second, alas. But you, as we say in racing, made the podium, JP.

MATT WOULD WET HIS PANTS WITHOUT TURNER

September 27th, 2009
10:55 am

This game is the quarterback’s true test to separate CHOKE & WINNER.

This game falls on the shoulders of the qb – no more excuses!

Birddawg

September 27th, 2009
10:55 am

mark,
Did OJ Santiago make the trip this time?
Statement game!

Brandon from Warner Robins

September 27th, 2009
10:57 am

I was at the SD-ATL preseason game when the secondary looked awful. They’ve come a long way in that short time. I myself thought the Patriots would beat the Falcons pretty easily but now I think the Falcons have a good opportunity to knock off Tom Brady and the Patriots.

Mark, Randy Moss and Wes Welker were listed as questionable earlier this week. Any updates?

Sautee

September 27th, 2009
10:58 am

Mark,

Don’t go to sleep on the Pats running game. They were 6th in the league last year and only trailed the Falcons by about 10 yds /gm. And to THAT they’ve added Fred Taylor.

We didn’t exactly stone the Panthers run game. Color me concerned.

Mark Bradley

September 27th, 2009
10:59 am

I haven’t seen O.J. Santiago for a long time, Birddawg. If he shows up, I’ll take a picture.

By the way, I remember O.J. making a huge catch in the epic comeback in the Metrodome. I know a lot of folks ripped him for having less than sticky hands, but he caught a few in his time.

Mark Bradley

September 27th, 2009
11:04 am

No Patriot injury updates, Brandon, but I’ll let you know when they come.

Larry

September 27th, 2009
11:04 am

Hey Mark. Whats the temp up there? Think it will rain through the afternoon? I really need Turner to eat up some yards today. Fantasy league is gettin tight.

Mark Bradley

September 27th, 2009
11:09 am

It’s 61 and cloudy, Larry. Rain and thunderstorms are predicted for later.

Larry

September 27th, 2009
11:12 am

Thanks Mark. Enjoy the game. I am obligated to entertain some guests from out of town this afternoon, and they are Jets fans, so I will unfortunately be watching the Jets game while thinking of inventive ways to kill myself.

Mark Bradley

September 27th, 2009
11:13 am

You have my condolences, Larry.

Stotts Era

September 27th, 2009
11:15 am

need welker update please, go birds!

Stotts Era

September 27th, 2009
11:16 am

just saw earlier post, MB, thanks

brewdawg

September 27th, 2009
11:19 am

I hope the comments stay on course today, and don’t dive into the inappropriate territory every Falcons game blog seems to sink into. I also hope that I win the Mega Millions on Tuesday. Neither is likely to happen.

7mmDawg

September 27th, 2009
11:21 am

Not to sidetrack the thread, but what did u think about the GA/ASU game? As a lifelong Dawg fan, I’m about to get fed up with all the negativity from the lunatic fringe, I think my seats are located in the middle of that group in the South Stands. The D looked like what we expected, offense sputtered, and we continue to kill ourselves with turnovers on the wrong side of the field!
I think the Birds get to Brady, play control and take measured shots down the field, Atlanta 26, Pats 17

David

September 27th, 2009
11:21 am

Possibly no Welker and possibly no Moss? I’d love it to rain and have the Pats depend on Maroney, Morris, and Faulk — I don’t hold our defense in high regards, but I think they can manage to suffocate a team handing off to a guy that’s been injured since he entered the league, and a couple of other running backs whose combined age is almost 70.

Feeling good about this game. There’s that part of me that’s scared Brady will find his mojo again, but the other part me wonders if he cares as much anymore; he’s been out for a year, he’s married, he’s got his second child on the way, and I think he may realize he’s already stamped his place in the NFL annals.

Anyway, go Falcons (or Dirty Birds). Carolina and Miami are no slouches, but this game will be the barometer in which to measure the Falcons. Lert’s get a win this week. Falcons 24, Pats 20

brewdawg

September 27th, 2009
11:22 am

BTW Mark, I was wary of your preseason projection of UGA at 8-4. I am not any longer. This is not a bad team, nor is it a particularly good team. Now, I’d have taken 3-1 against this schedule, especially with the loss being to OK state. However, the way we’ve done it is very concerning. Either the defense plays good and the offense doesn’t, or vice versa. That is the trademark of an average team.

7mmDawg

September 27th, 2009
11:26 am

brew,
I think they’ll pull it together, it’s just a matter of time, remember 2007? That arse spanking in Tennessee made it look like we’d maybe go 6-6. I’m just sick of the impatience of some of our fan base, as a high school coach, I’m learning from Richt and company how to deal with that crap!

7mmDawg

September 27th, 2009
11:29 am

Sorry for the UGA posts, will stick with the Birds now. Mark, do you think the Falcons wish they had kept Thomas Brown now? Snelling’s tough but I don’t think he’s the runner TB is. JS is a better blocker/smashing runner but I think TB, especially with Norwood dinged up, would have been a real nice change of pace/size/speed.

7mmDawg

September 27th, 2009
11:31 am

Also forgot to mention TB’s potential on special teams!

brewdawg

September 27th, 2009
11:32 am

I’m not impatient 7mm. I think UGA is still in great shape as a program moving towards the next few years. But I also think there is a very real chance that this team would be 0-4 without AJ Green. Thankfully, that’s not the case! And hey, beat LSU and I’ll start thinking maybe, just maybe we can pull ourselves together for a 10 win year.

Stotts Era

September 27th, 2009
11:32 am

so, fantasy question, the thing is i am going out at 11:45 with no access to computer after that, so i cant really wait on the game time decision with welker. so do i keep welker in there and hope he plays, or go with pierre garcon of the colts going up against the weak defense of the cards tonight? leaning on garcon…

7mmDawg

September 27th, 2009
11:33 am

Amen! That’s what I’m talking about!

brewdawg

September 27th, 2009
11:33 am

You’re right 7mm, I’ll stick to Falcons as well from this point on.

Bob Horner had a sweet compact swing

September 27th, 2009
11:34 am

Will a perfect day unfold..?? Falcon win…Braves win…Rockies lose…????

Brandon from Warner Robins

September 27th, 2009
11:40 am

Welker inactive. Moss Active according to Chris Mortensen (sp?)

7mmDawg

September 27th, 2009
11:42 am

That’s interesting on Welker/Moss, but it always seems like the Pats just plug others in and they’re successful

Ostrich Racer

September 27th, 2009
11:45 am

Updated haiku -
Falcons win, with Welker out.
Twelve and four this year.

Country Boy

September 27th, 2009
11:47 am

Dled – Do you think the birds and Dimitrof could bend the rules just a little and go ahead and draft/sign A J Green. Doubt anyone would notice.

Country Boy

September 27th, 2009
11:49 am

Sorry Mark – thought you were someone else.

Mark Bradley

September 27th, 2009
11:53 am

Moss is active. Wes Welker is inactive.

Roseanne Barr's 50-inch panties

September 27th, 2009
11:56 am

Is Norwood gonna play? Inquiring panties want to know….

David

September 27th, 2009
11:58 am

Hey Bradley-

Let’s put an end to calling our beloved team the dirty birds. Sounds like we all live in a trailer park.

D.Ellis

September 27th, 2009
11:59 am

AJ Green is the best WR in AMerica……and yes he is better than Bryant…AND Julio Jones…no ifs ands or butts about it.

Here is to hoping that Tom Brady doesn’t carve us up like a Christmas ham. Goota get Turner rollin today and in a big way! Go Falcons

Mark Bradley

September 27th, 2009
11:59 am

Raining again now. And the stadium public address system is blaring “Sympathy for the Devil.” No doubt in tribute to the Pats’ coach.

Brandon from Warner Robins

September 27th, 2009
12:00 pm

Norwood Inactive, according DOL

PlusSizeModel

September 27th, 2009
12:00 pm

Congrats on making the flight! Or did you drive?

Mark Bradley

September 27th, 2009
12:01 pm

A.J. Green is the best receiver I’ve seen at Georgia. And I don’t know that he’s any less a player than Bryant or Julio.

PlusSizeModel

September 27th, 2009
12:01 pm

Nice to see we got the dumbest post out of the way on the very first one. Alas, there’s still time to “top” it, I guess.

Mark Bradley

September 27th, 2009
12:02 pm

I’m also thinking A.J. Green is the third-best UGA player I’ve ever seen in person. The other two: Herschel and Pollack.

Capt Caveman

September 27th, 2009
12:03 pm

Hey Mark…………

Welker being out is going to be a huge plus for the Birds. Who else do the Patriots have as a go-to possession receiver??

I think the game just took a big tilt towards the Falcons and the Birds defense just got it’s best news of the day so far.

Brandon from Warner Robins

September 27th, 2009
12:03 pm

Better than Fred Gibson or Terrence Edwards?

Mark Bradley

September 27th, 2009
12:04 pm

Jerious Norwood is inactive, as is Tye Hill (again) and Vance Walker. Also William Moore, Garrett Reynolds, Spencer Adkins, and Will Svitek.

For the Pats: Welker, BenJarvus Green-Ellis, Jerod Mayo.

Danny

September 27th, 2009
12:05 pm

WHY IS CBS SHOWING THE EAGLES V. CHIEFS??

Mark Bradley

September 27th, 2009
12:05 pm

Welker out is a major factor.

Falcons wearing all white, by the way.

blonju

September 27th, 2009
12:07 pm

oh, AJ Green is a combination of TO and Randy Moss! he’s gonna be a superstar.. he also should have had 2 td’s last night

NikkiFree

September 27th, 2009
12:07 pm

What’s up with Tye Hill? Is he still injured or just slow to pick up things? Is he worse than Grimes and Houston? What’s the problem there?

Mark Bradley

September 27th, 2009
12:08 pm

This game is on Fox. Troy Aikman and Joe Buck are handling it. Dan Reeves is describing the action for the Westwood One radio audience.