We had so much going on Monday that I never got to Brad Childress' suggestion that the New England Patriots (legally) stole the Minnesota Vikings' defensive signals during a nationally-televised massacre at the Metrodome in 2006.
Aha! Finally, we get an explanation for why the Patriots gained 430 total yards -- and quarterback Tom Brady completed 29 of 43 passes for 372 yards and four touchdowns -- in the rout.
Childress offered up the observation during an raucous Monday news conference that also included news of quarterback Brett Favre's fractured left ankle and the NFL's apparent admission that it got two touchdown calls wrong in Sunday night's 28-24 loss to the Green Bay Packers. Asked about his own team's injury-depleted secondary, Childress said:
"I'm mindful of the last time we faced them here on 'Monday Night Football.' It was like a surgical procedure. That's back when we used to signal [plays] and things like that. I remember having a conversation with [former Vikings defensive coordinator] Mike Tomlin about that. These were some of the all-time great signal stealers. In fact, that's what was going on. They were holding, holding, holding. We were signaling from the sideline. They were good at it. It's like stealing signals from a catcher."
I asked Childress if he thought the Patriots were truly calling their plays based on what defense they thought the Vikings were in.
"Yeah," Childress said. "Is it [Cover] 2? Is it 3? If you know that as a quarterback, that's as good as you can do. And they did as good as they could do."
I'm sure the Patriots were trying to steal signs. It was legal at the time. Why wouldn't you? Now, of course, NFL teams send their defensive signals via helmet radio.
Still, if they choose to, Brady and the Patriots could take the revelation as a slight against their own performance. Speaking on Boston sports radio station WEEI, Brady said: "We've been called a lot worse than that."
He added: "That game was so long ago. ... I remember us executing pretty well that night. I've heard different guys in the past say that. That's come and gone. That's been not a part of football here for a long time, and we've still won a lot of games. In '07, they changed the rule and so forth. I don't buy a whole lot into that. The team that's going to win this weekend is the team that plays better. I can promise you that."
It's worth noting that Childress's NFL teams have faced Patriots coach Bill Belichick three times in the past. Belichick is 3-0 in those games, including regular season victories by scores of 31-10 (2003) and 31-7 (2006). The Patriots also defeated the Philadelphia Eagles 24-21 in Super Bowl XXXIV. Childress was the Eagles' offensive coordinator at the time.
Kickoff Sunday at Gillette Stadium is 4:15 p.m. ET. It's BYOD: Bring Your Own Decoder.