Sunday, December 30, 2007

Patriots Officially Enter Mercury Morris' Crack-Infested Neighborhood

As a buddy remarked to me last night after it was all over, 'that was like a mini-Super Bowl.' For all the talk about resting players - particularly on the Giants' side - last night's edge-of-your-seat historic win in the Meadowlands was intense/fun to watch from beginning to end.

In the end, the remarkable Patriots go 16-0, and even more impressive, they come back from a 12-point deficit early in the third quarter to beat a good playoff-bound team in their house. From the Pats' perspective, the end result is exactly what they had hoped for. They get the win, Brady and Moss get their records on the same, crucial, go-ahead play, and there are no major injuries, at least as of the morning after. The Pats now get 2 days off to enjoy the achievement, and then they get ready for their first playoff game (most likely against either Jacksonville or Pittsburgh) on the weekend of Jan. 12-13. In other words, we get to watch our future competition beat each other up, get some players healthy (namely on the O-line), and then the march into Mercury Morris' den of insanity begins.

Some quick-hit observations and links regarding the big win:

- I loved how Brady went right back to Moss after the long pass that was dropped on the previous play. Killer instinct, and the composure to immediately put the last play behind him.

- If the Pats gave out a 12th player award, there would be many worthy candidates.
Mine would be Kevin Faulk, who has simply done an amazing job since replacing the injured Sammy Morris. Faulk is money on third down, and has a natural nose for where the down markers are. Just a smart, professional football player.

- Wes Welker truly is a freak of nature, with all the caroms and ricochets and zig-zags he does after a catch.

- Good job by Gostkowski on the field goals, but what's up with the kickoffs lately? Giants had pretty good starting field possession all night long.

- Makes you appreciate how good the NFC East is compared to the AFC East. The Pats had battles with the Cowboys (for most of the game), Eagles and Giants, and though they blew out Washington, the Skins have been playing well lately.

- One of the talking heads on the broadcast last night made a good point about the Patriots' opponents in the AFC playoffs. The teams this year that have had success against Brady have been those that send everything but the kitchen sink at him. The Jags, Steelers, and Colts aren't blitzing teams in the same vein as the Eagles and Giants.

- Last night's game was a bit, shall we say, chippier than any other this year. Lots of trash-talking, shoving, and finger-in-the-eye poking (Wilfork).

- Have I mentioned how much I love the NFL Network? They had some cool post-game footage of Brady running through the tunnel that showed how excited he was. Cool to see.

Here's a couple of links on how the Giants and their fans were whining about the officiating last night (see the comments)-- and one on the ongoing classiness displayed by certain members of the 1972 Dolphins, including Garo Yepremian, otherwise known as the Idiot Kicker. God, do I hope the Patriots shut these mopes up and make them increasingly irrelevant. There are a few who have been complimentary (Nick Buoniconti for one), but by and large they truly have shown themselves to be a bunch of grumpy old men. What's nice is that if the Patriots do run the table and go 19-0, fans across the country get to be judge and jury on where the Pats' feat stands in NFL history. I think most logical-thinking football minds (no, not you John Clayton, and certainly not you, Dr. Z, you old, useless fart) would have to admit that the Patriots' accomplishment - in the salary-cap driven NFL of today - would sit in rarefied air.

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