Good day. Name's Cyril and I've been a Pulpiteer for about a year. This is one of my favorite Patriots blogs because I can learn so much more about the team from a bunch of inveterate fans than all the sports analysts who just copy each other and repeat the same exact things over and over again. I've never seen myself as a major contributor, just a bystander. But I always have a lot to say. The other day, I had quite a bit to say about the future of our runningback position so I decided to start writing and I didn't stop until I was done. I didn't know if it were any good an article but apparently, atleast 4 people on the site like it so that's really motivated me to step up and try to write more.
Last night was the greatest 60-minute performance the Patriots have put up all season and I call myself blessed to have seen every last minute of it. Every week, my mood is based upon the Patriots game and let me tell you. I'm on cloud nine until Sunday! Today, I'm going to talk about a couple aspects I very much enjoyed about last night's game. Feel free to add on to the list and offer constructive criticism in your comments.
Sorry for the prolonged introduction, the real content after the jump!
The philosophy from start to finish - "going straight for the jugular." I'm not sure Brady and Belichick planned it this way, they planned to just win the game. But once they discovered that they were bringing their A game and the Jets were bringing their F game, they decided to make the game a statement game from as early as late in the first quarter. The Patriots are never ones to "talk a big game" off the field but every team likes to make their presence known. So how did the Patriots do it? By playing a big game. Even when they were up by six touchdowns, an unimaginable score versus such a brilliant defense, Brady still chose to move the chains by passing the ball for large gains. He was showing the world the Patriots are not a team to be taken lightly and he did just that. Every opportunity he got to "stick it to the [fat] man [in the sweater vest]," he took it. And so not only did the Patriots come out on the desirable side of a one-sided game, they made sure we Patriots fans wouldn't have to hear another peep from another Jets fan until the postseason.
The team clicked on all three phases of the game, playing the best sixty minutes of football this parity-filled year of the NFL has seen yet. Brady was nearly spotless, throwing for 4 touchdowns and a 148.9 passer rating against a top-ranked defense with Pro Bowl cornerbacks. As great as Revis and Cromartie are, there's only so many receivers you can let them cover. When you throw in an extra dozen eligible receivers, there's nothing any defense can do. If our last game against the Jets defined the recent Randy Moss era, this game served as the epitome of the new "spreading the ball around" Patriots. Four different receivers caught touchdown passes from Brady. Four receivers had atleast 50 yards receiving. The offense has found its balance of the pass and rush. As great as the pass was, the rush wasn't too shabby itself, highlighted by BenJarvus Green-Ellis rushing for 72 yards on 18 carries and 2 touchdowns. And I've only finished talking about the offense. The defense had 3 interceptions and 3 passes defended, allowing the Jets to enter the red zone just once and turning the ball over that once. While the Jets' special teams unit, mainly kicker Nick Folk and punter Steve Weatherford lost their skills in the raging winds of Foxborough, our kicker Shayne Graham and punter Zoltan Mesko were spot on the entire game. The weather didn't put one blemish on our performance. This team played no. 1 seed football for sixty minutes.
Brady's fierce competitiveness, which is nothing new, was present as always, creating momentum and maintaining it. After his touchdown pass to Aaron Hernandez, he turned to the Jets sideline and he sent a victorious holler to the opposition he was shredding to pieces. Brady's also had a knack of quarterback sneaking on 3rd and short plays. There's nothing that gets teammates pumped up as much as seeing your quarterback risk his body and dive forward for the first down. If this is the performance we're going to get used to seeing out of you, you can keep your Uggs and your long-flowing hair, Mr. Brady; you won't hear any complaints from me.
The difference between Tom Brady and Mark Sanchez certainly showed last night. The mark of a veteran quarterback is taking the sack when there's no one open rather than forcing a throw right into the hands of the opposition for a turnover. This was the major difference between Brady and Sanchez. On atleast one of Brady's sacks, he recognized he was going to be taken down and had enough time to release a throw, but seeing as no one was open, he took the sack like a man. Sanchez, on the other hand, forced too many throws and ended up being intercepted for no reason by Brandon Spikes in his sole red zone appearance all night. Plus, have you ever seen Brady so mobile? What a performance in the pocket.
The offensive line had a stellar performance. This can be misinterpreted from the 3 sacks it made Brady endure. But when you play a blitz-happy team like the Jets, in fact, the most blitz-happy team in the league, sacks are almost inevitable. The sacks didn't hurt much; it stalled one drive and forced a 3-and-out on another but that was pretty much it. The line was giving Brady all the time in the world to throw and other than these three sacks, they were holding up just fine.
There was perfect coverage throughout the game. It didn't look like the Patriots were playing much prevent defense if ever in the fourth quarter. They were attacking and attacking until they could attack no more because the end of game whistle blew. Cornerbacks were playing with just the right separation to their men. If a receiver was ever lucky enough to get behind his cornerback, one couldn't even blink before he entered straight into the safety's level and ran right into new coverage. This is the type of fourth quarter defense the Patriots should be playing all season long. It's here and hopefully, it's here to stay.
Fantasy distribution is always a plus. What I'm talking about is the 4 passing touchdowns, which included a touchdown to 4 different receivers, as well as 2 rushing touchdowns. I have BenJarvus Green-Ellis on my fantasy team so I'm grateful for every single multi-touchdown game he has. Special thanks to Bill O'Brien and the Patriots offensive management team for balancing the rush and pass perfectly. It's great for the team, as it dupes defenses from knowing what type of play the Patriots are going to run, pass or run, and it certainly helps out my fantasy cause. Keep it up!
All in all, what a victory by the Patriots. What a statement game it was. Coming into the game, all us Patriots fans could think about were the playoff ramifications this game served. Well the dust has settled and it looks like our soldiers are getting a first round bye and home-field advantage throughout the playoffs if they finish the season like last night. Here's to the New England Patriots!