Archive for November 2011
Mission Accomplished. This past Sunday, my roommates and I took to the Linc, ready for the Pats to take down the Eagles. With many people talking about going into the Linc like it was invading the beaches of Normandy, the naysayers were quickly silenced by the Patriots. By the 4th quarter, lower bowl seats were readily available for any Patriots fans who stayed for onslaught or any brave Eagles fans who stayed to see the hometown team getting ripped apart. With 4 Patriots fans decked out on Temple University campus en route to the Linc this picture shows how the New England Patriots and their fans made the Liberty buildings and the Comcast tower a second home for one Sunday and pulled off another victory, winning 38-20.
Well, here we are. Five weeks after the Patriots beat the Jets in Foxborough to advance to 4-1 and take a stranglehold on the AFC East over their archrivals, New England is now faced with a daunting task: win in New York for AFC East supremacy over the Jets. The last time the Pats ever won in New York was in 2007, the year of which we will not speak. For the Pats, winning this game will be the biggest victory of the season for a variety of reasons.
Let’s face it: the Pats are reeling. I can sit here and tell you losing 24-20 to the Giants and 25-17 wasn’t all that bad because the Pats played awful football and had a chance to win. I can sit here and say “Tom Brady won’t have another bad game” or “Mark Sanchez isn’t that good even against the Pats defense.” But in the end, I’m not sure if either is true. With such a big game on the line, I’ll always stick to my guns and say there isn’t a quarterback-head coach combination that I’d rather have. Belichick and Brady live for these moments, the down and out situation where everyone is laying into them, and then BOOM, they slap everyone in the face and say, “You do remember we are the Patriots, right?
For the Pats, though, this game isn’t about Brady or Belichick. Hell, it isn’t about any of the veterans either. These guys know what these games mean and they know how to deal with them. This game is for Devin McCourty, Jerod Mayo, Patrick Chung, BenJarvus Green-Ellis, and the rest of the Pats young guys. One thing that we all take for granted as Pats fans is that during the glory years, the team was stockpiled with veteran leaders. Tedy Bruschi, Rodney Harrison, Ty Law, Troy Brown, Mike Vrabel, Lawyer Milloy, and the list goes on.
We are now in a new era, a new era with a lot of talent, especially on defense. If you watched the first half of the Pats-Giants last Sunday, you would have seen a defense that played with intensity, fire, heart, swagger, and a certain look like they had something to prove. And they proved it. The unknown Phillip Adams laid a few licks on Giants receivers, while Brandon Spikes absolutely stood up Brandon Jacobs at the line to force a 4th-down. The defense was incredible. They shut down Eli Manning and the Giants for 30 minutes and before you knew it, it was over. The intensity, fire, heart, swagger, it was gone like it had never existed.
For the Pats to win this game, that can’t happen. If anyone in the NFL is afraid of the Jets offense, you need a wake-up call. This offensive unit is sub-par at best and any defense playing with a high level of intensity can keep them off the board. If this Patriots defense can stop the Giants, then we sure as hell know they can stop the Jets.
From an offensive standpoint, I’m concerned. Concerned, not panicked. Brady was uncharacteristically AWFUL. Three turnovers aren’t going to win many games. Yet, the Pats put up 20, while still getting shut out in the first half. When you think of things like that, it shows how good this offense is. Turn the ball over three times, and for 30 minutes, don’t score once and then in the next 30, put up 20 without thinking. Like the defense, the Pats offense only decided to show up for 30 minutes. You want to win football games? Show up for 60.
One thing I’ve been saying all week is look for Ochocinco. He was targeted 5 times last week and held without a catch. But, he wasn’t being overthrown, wasn’t undercutting routes, wasn’t dropping passes. It was simply a timing thing. We all know Ochocinco wanted to be a Patriot. His relationship with Belichick has never gone unnoticed, as one could always see the two casually chatting at Pro Bowls. With that, we know Ochocinco wanted out of Cincinnati. He WANTS TO WIN. And, if there’s anything else I know, I think Tom Brady likes to do that winning thing a little too. With the Ocho most likely to be lined up with Antonio “I’m-going-to-either-get-burned-or-get-flagged-for-pass-interference” Cromartie covering him, I could see Ocho having the opportunity to make an impact. And I see it happening.
60 minutes. Not 30. 60. 60 minutes of inspired play and the Pats win. It really is as easy as that. Losing games in New England is not of the norm. The Pats have talent on both sides of the ball and all year have shown that. It’s now time to put it all together. 60 minutes. That’s all it takes.
Another week, another dud. The New England Patriots came out flat and in the end, fell to the Giants 24-20 at Gillette Stadium. The Pats lost their consecutive home wins record and fell to 5-3 on the season. Thoughts:
-Tom Brady was terrible. I mean just plain AWFUL. His numbers don’t look all that terrible, as he went 28-49, while throwing for 342 yards and 2 touchdowns. But, Brady threw 2 interceptions, while giving the football away on a fumble. When the Pats needed him most in the 4th quarter, Brady was fine. But after moving the ball for 438 yards, the Pats came away with 20 points. Not good enough.
-The Patriots offense went 5-15 on 3rd downs while the defense actually rose to the challenge and held the Giants on their 3rd down attempts (4-14). At a mere 33%, New England needs to perform. Converting 3rd downs gives the offense a greater chance of success, so bolstering this statistic is VITAL.
-Chad Ochocinco has again yet to make an impact. Brady targeted Ocho 5 times and the Pats were able to get a whopping ZERO catches out of the highly touted offseason pickup. The Pats were expecting Ochocinco to be another threat when on the field. Thus far, threat has turned into liability.
-Defensively, it was a tale of two halves. The defense was on point in the first half, not only shutting the Giants out, but also shutting the Giants down. The Giants could not muster anything offensively, as the defense played with a swagger and an intensity level that reminded people of those 2000-era defenses. Just as quickly, though, that ended. The defense was unable to close the game down and the team suffered because of it. If either Brady or the defense steps up at the time they didn’t, New England wins.
-Stephen Gostowski hurt the Pats by missing a crucial FG-attempt as time expired in the first half. Gostowski making the kick only gives the Pats a 3-0 advantage, but provides momentum going forward. It may not seem to matter, but it changed everything when ending the half.
Right now, the Patriots are beating themselves. I think we’ve seen on multiple occasions that this team has the ability to be great. The defense has had bad moments (or games in the case of the Steelers), but has also shown that they can be a great unit. We’ve seen the offense is a capable of anything and typically, Tom Brady doesn’t have a day like he had yesterday. But, this is a team that needs to find an identity.
Going forward, the schedule is not all that tough. Right now, they play two teams with a winning record in Buffalo and the Jets. Outside of that, the only game that looks to be a big time match-up is a game with the Eagles. 5 other games seem to be a cakewalk. If the Pats can go into New York this week and beat the Jets, every naysayer and negative qualm about this team will be forgotten. Until then, Pats fans are living on a prayer.