First, let me say I did not want to write this recap without sleeping on it for a bit and digesting my thoughts as well as other information out there. Many times, I'll write a recap on the same day. This being an 8:15pm Sunday night game had something to do with it, too and I was beat up trying to eliminate standingpat's lead in adult beverage consumption.
I am incredibly proud of our New England Patriots. They went into Indy's new house, pretty banged up, and came within a few plays of practically ending Indy's chance for a playoff berth. They have shown a great deal of toughness, both mental and physical, in the face of stinging adversity. I'm waxing somewhat poetic, but I believe it's true. Our backfield is ridiculously thin, so perennial "I can do everything" player Kevin Faulk stepped up from his cozy 3rd down seat and jumped into rotation with BenJarvus Green-Ellis. 3 weeks ago, Green-Ellis (nicknamed "Law Firm") was sitting on the practice squad. Now, he's one of our most productive backs, stepping up for IR'd Laurence Maroney and injured backs Sammy Morris and LaMont Jordan. And doing a dang good job of it, too.
I am not going to whine about injuries and use them as an excuse. Suffice to say, I am very happy with the depth we seem to have in areas where important vets and starters have fallen to injury. That's what matters. I'm also not going to whine about penalties or the lack of them; that's part of the game and everyone knows they go both ways over the course of a season.
1 or 2 plays do not a loss (or win) make...usually. There were many times when we could've sealed the deal, but didn't. However, we are so evenly matched with Indy that the margin of error is razor thin. The back and forth is tremendous with these two teams. Like UFC fighters grappling for advantage, 1 critical error in balance is all it takes. That's what happened Sunday night.
The most obvious errors were easy to spot. With 00:31 left in the 3rd quarter, Cassel lobs a beautiful pass to the left over Gaffney's right shoulder. Gaffney beat coverage and most certainly had a touchdown...until he dropped the ball. Perfection from Cassel and gaffed by Jabar. That was most certainly a game changer if not a game winner. The second, and just as obvious, faux pas was a very expensive 15 yard unnecessary roughness penalty by TE David Thomas with 4:53 left in the 4th quarter. It turned an almost certain 3rd and 1 conversion into a 3rd and 16, not only ending hopes for another redzone run, but putting us out of field goal range for the tie. And, I can't even comprehend the weirdness that was Belichick's time management. 12th man on the field? You blow a TO for a 5 yard penalty? Oh, and what about the 4th and 1 TO to change to an FG? We'd been running over Indy all night; 4th and 1 did not seem like a stretch.
I'll dive into the stats later tonight; no need to jabber on any further. Props to BigBlueShoe for our blog swap and to the many fine football fans over at Stampede Blue who are now hanging with us on a regular basis. Very cool.