Towards the end of the game, radio announcer Gil Santos said that watching Thursday's game against the Lions was a lot like an eight-hour trip to the dentist. It's difficult to argue with the man. Given the short week of preparation and the fact that the Lions always seem to play well on Thanksgiving, Patriots fans everywhere should be thankful for the win and take it anyway they can get it.
Today, the Patriots got back to the formula that worked for them last season. They dominated the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball, had a solid running game, and, for the most part, ran a mistake-free offense. By throwing blitzes at Lions quarterback Joey Harrington all day, he was unable to get into any type of passing rhythm. On offense, the Patriots were able to establish a clock-consuming running game against a veteran Lions front seven. As many of us have been clamoring for over the last several weeks, this commitment to the running game put the game away late in the fourth quarter with a game-ending 9:27 minute drive.
On a cautionary note, the Patriots let the lowly Lions hang around and make the game much closer than it should have been. By my count, the Patriots had a total of eight penalties on third down. This season-long lack of discipline continues to be a point of aggravation for Patriots fans everywhere. Sooner or later, a good team (not the Vikings or the Lions) will seize on this opportunity, much like the Patriots did to other teams last year. Another note of concern has to be the continued play calling on third and short situations. This week's offering included a pass play across the middle on a third and inches in the second quarter. If the Patriots could have kept the clock moving at that point in the game and put another touchdown on the board, the game would have been effectively settled. Instead, the Lions got the ball back, got a field goal, and made a game out of it. Then again, the NFL doesn't pass out wins based on style points, do they?
Despite these two nagging problems for the Patriots, the good news is that they went to Detroit, took care of business, and now have the luxury of ten days off until their next game. It will act like a late season bye as they head towards the final four games. As they go into December, the Patriots margin of error continues to be thin but their destiny still lies in their own hands. As a Patriots fan, if you were told they would go 4-1 playing five games in twenty-five games with four of those on the road, you would have gladly taken it. The Patriots are now rewarded by playing three out of the four remaining games at home against their AFC East rivals. Given that the Patriots lose playoff tie-breakers to the Raiders, Chargers, and Broncos, the road to the playoffs will have to go through Foxboro.
Pass the zingers, please......
A Thanksgiving Day MVP award goes to my mother for timing the turkey to be finished cooking right around 2pm. The timing was excellent as it came right out of the oven as the first half expired. As a future point of reference, if you are ever asked by your spouse what time you should eat dinner on Thanksgiving, 2 pm seems like the winning time. This shows the family and the spouse that you are considerate of Aunt Mildred et. al. (They want to eat at 12 noon sharp) but yet at the same time, you secretly miss very little of the action.
The one true adage that keeps striking a chord with me as the season rolls along is that it is long, long, long. Teams such as the Jets and the Falcons have come out of nowhere and now suddenly are the teams no one wants to play.
Like the TV blackout rule I railed against earlier this week in this space, what is the point of the weekly injury report that teams are required to put out? These things are about as credible as a Lisa Marie Presley marriage.
In honor of throwback week, I will drive around in a crappy 1976 Chevy Nova, listen to INXS and Def Leppard, wear a jean jacket with a wicked huge "Poison" patch on the back, while sporting a mullet hairdo. I will also be calling up Mr. Excitement Bill Penta to see if he would like to get together to do emergency brake spinouts and donuts in the Bradlees parking lot.
The officials for Thursday's game must have recieved a talking-to from the League office about not calling enough offsides penalties. When was the last time you saw an offsides call on a kickoff?!
I loved the Patriots throwback uniforms. I could have sworn that was Stanley Morgan out there running around and not David Patten. The throwback uniforms used by the Patriots helps prove my theory that many throwback uniforms are better than many of the Tommy Hilfinger costumes that pass for NFL team uniforms these days.
I'll say my piece about the Warren Sapp-Clifton Curtis situation. Yes, it was a clean, fair hit. But, there is a code of unwritten conduct in the NFL. An unnecessary clocking of a slow lineman thirty yards away from the play may be one of them. He won't be fined, but Sapp better have his head up at all times from now on. The other observation that is worth mentioning was made by Peter King of CNNSI. The alarming thing if you are a Packers fan is that it was the head coach and the offensive line coach who stood up to Sapp and not the Packers' players.
Let's hope the injury to Tedy Bruschi is nothing serious. Anyone want to wager whether he'll be listed as "questionable?"
Zingers and voluminous praise and bouquets are always welcome at email@example.com. Take care, gang.