More importantly than moving to 8-5 and effectively ending the Bills' playoff hopes, the Patriots on Sunday started to play like the team that we had all expected them to be. Make no mistake. This game was nowhere near as close as the 27-17 final score would indicate. Were it not for three touchdowns being called back by penalties (more on that later) the Patriots would have won the game 42-17. That score would have been more indicative of what actually happened on the field.
The Patriots defense answered the bell today and played perhaps their best game of the season. The defense was very physical and punished Buffalo receivers and Travis Henry all day long. Suddenly, defensive lineman Richard Seymour played the best game of his young career and caused havoc in the Buffalo backfield. With Seymour and the rest of the front seven bringing pressure up the gut, it forced Drew Bledsoe to move to the outside and make forced throws. And we all know what happens when Drew makes hurried throws on the run. Today's result was four interceptions by the Patriots. If the defense can continue to play physical ball like it did today, you can begin to make your playoff reservations.
On the other side of the ball, the Patriots offense played a balanced game. The offensive line won the battle at the line of scrimmage. This push opened up nice holes for Antowain Smith and gave Tom Brady the time he needed to make his throws. Antowain Smith may not be the flashiest running back around but he has been very consistent and reliable since his arrival in Foxboro. He is particularly adept at picking up big first downs on third and short situations. A solid running game and a physical defense are the main ingredients in the recipe for another strong Patriots playoff run. Amidst this hysteria, a word of caution. Frustratingly, the Patriots offense continues to commit too many penalties and this will come back to hurt them at some point when they face a better team.
As a football fan, all you can ask for is that your team is in the playoff hunt come mid-December. We have that and let's enjoy the ride wherever it takes us. By being in playoff contention late in the season, the Patriots have certainly acquitted themselves from the fashionable title of "Super Bowl fluke." They are not a great team but they come through when its on the line and matters. If you are still not satisfied with the Patriots season, ask a Rams fan if they think their season last year was a "fluke."
Reading "Zingers" once is a mistake, twice is a trend, and three times...well, let's face it, now you're hooked...
This has been bugging me for years. Would someone please show Jets kicker John Hall how to use a NFL-approved chinstrap?
ESPN's daily afternoon show "Pardon the Interruption" is a sports show actually worth tuning in for.
Something even rarer than Miami playing well in December occurred the other day. Amazingly, I heard a caller to a sports radio station actually bring up a valid, original point that was actually worth pondering. Historians are currently hard at work validating this assertion and researching when the last time this event occurred prior to this incident.
I think I've seen just about every NFL team at least once or twice at Foxboro over the years. For my money, the three teams that bring the most fans to an away game are clearly the Packers, Cowboys, and Giants. The Raiders are a distant fourth.
Hard to believe but the NFL is missing out on a revenue stream. Currently, cable subscribers like myself are discriminated against since we can't get the NFL Sunday Ticket package. Even if I owned a dish (Mrs. Rousseau, the CEO of Rousseau Inc., has scoffed at this idea despite repeated presentations), I wouldn't buy the Sunday Ticket because 1) I'm at half the games already, and (2) this is the only time of year that I care a lick about watching games that don't involve the Patriots. My point is that if the Sunday Ticket package was offered on a weekly basis to cable subscribers, myself and many others just might plunk down $10-$20 for the full array of fourteen games that occur on a Sunday this time of year.
For whatever reason, I don't think Gillette Stadium is nearly as loud or intimidating as old Foxboro Stadium. Say what you want about the old lady, but from a game-viewing perspective it was terrific. I sat in Section 305 for years and even up there I swear you could hear the on-field grunts and collisions. Maybe the combination of having an actual seat to sit in, a beautiful facility, and winning a Super Bowl has made us a little soft.
The College BCS ranking system has as much legitimacy as professional wrestling. Have you ever actually heard someone defending this ridiculous excuse for a playoff?
Surprise, surprise. Another Denver Broncos offensive lineman made an illegal downfield chop block on a San Diego defensive lineman last Sunday. Predictably, he is done for the season with a dislocated ankle. Long-time Broncos offensive line coach Alex Gibbs has had a notorious reputation around the league regarding these tactics. With apologies to Claude Reins in Casablanca, "I'm shocked, shocked."
Okay, that's it. The insanity must stop. I'm petitioning the League to ban teams from wearing these Halloween-like orange jerseys on special occasions. My tired eyes can't take it anymore. Given the way the Broncos and Browns played in them this year, we may have some hope that this dream may soon become a reality.
If you ask me, the Patriots need to spend their two first round picks next year on a pass rusher and running back that can someday replace Antowain Smith.
That's it for this week. Enjoy the fact your team is in the playoff hunt. As usual, zingers are always welcome at firstname.lastname@example.org