FOXBORO, MA - OCTOBER 09: Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots celebrates a touchdown in the first quarter against the New York Jets on October 9, 2011 at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro, Massachusetts. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
I don’t really consider myself a morning person. The first half hour or so of my day is usually spent borderline comatose as I fumble around with the shower knobs and the coffee maker and the Count Chocula with one eye open. I actually don’t even consider myself clinically awake until Kelly Kapowski, my eternal 90s crush, makes her first appearance on Saved by the Bell, which I watch every day as I eat my cereal. Early mornings just aren’t for me.
Not today, though. This morning saw me up and smiling before my alarm even had a chance to go off. I took a little extra time in the shower and gave myself what I feel pretty comfortable calling one of the most stylish shampoo mohawks of all time. My Count Chocula had that rare yet perfect balance of crunchy cereal ghosts and delicious marshmallow vampiure bats. And to make things even better, this morning’s Saved By the Bell episode was the one where Kelly gets the opportunity to model in Paris and Zack is worried she'll dump him for some snooty Frenchman, which is one of my personal favorites.
Some days, the sun just shines brighter.
And it’s this feeling that proves to me, once and for all, just how big the rivalry between the New England Patriots and the New York Jets has become. You don’t get feelings like this after just any win. This kind of joy is reserved exclusively for smacking around a team you love to hate, getting a statement win, and shutting up those once considered un-shutuppable. Today is the very definition of Victory Monday.
Was yesterday’s win perfect? No way. Does New England still have a long way to go? Yes it does. Was this game closer than it should have been? Absolutely. Am I going to worry about any of that right now? Negatory good buddy. Unlike last week, where I was happy with the victory but still a little concerned about how we won, I saw a lot of progress yesterday on both sides of the ball and am comfortable just enjoying this one for what it is. And what is it, exactly?
A win over Rex Ryan’s Jets, that’s what it is, dammit. Game notes after the jump.
- I absolutely love the Patriots’ throwback uniforms. I wish the NFL made a full set of pajamas that looked exactly like them, complete with white Pat Patriot nightcap helmet. I would wear those 365 days a year, even on 100 degree nights in the middle of August.
- I completely forgot what it feels like to force consecutive 3 and outs. It’s pretty nice.
- I did not, however, forget how it feels to have a team just march down the field against this defense and punch it into the end zone. That isn’t nice at all.
- Brian Waters – what a great pickup. Getting better and better every week.
- Pretty quiet day from Shaun Ellis. Hmmm.
- Darrelle Revis never ceases to amaze me. Defensive back is, in my opinion, the 2nd hardest position to play behind quarterback, and he is just a master of his craft. What a joy to watch – most of the time.
- One big positive to take away from this game is New England’s pacing. Tommy B came out so hot offensively to start the year one of the question marks so far this season is whether they could play smash mouth football and control the clock. Statement game from the running backs today, particularly BenJarvus Green-Ellis. That guy defines reliability.
- Pleasantly surprised with Gary Guyton yesterday. LT was pretty much a nonfactor, there was no run longer than 9 yards, and Guyton seemed to be wherever the ball was on almost every defensive play.
- Doubly impressed with Brandon Spikes . He continues to dominate as a run stopper and I like how fired up he gets every time he makes a hit. That’s the kind of intensity this defense needs.
- If New England had lost yesterday, I would have blamed it almost entirely D'brickashaw Ferguson’s shoe getting wedged right smack in the middle of Pat Chung’s helmet. That had bad omen written all over it.
- How annoying is Santonio Holmes when he drops the ball like that after a first down catch? News flash, buddy: you were pretty much a ghost for the majority of this game and your offense is a mess. Maybe you should stop crooning after every 4 yard gain.
- I had no idea Phil Simms had such a big mancrush on Shonn Greene. I’d bet money that in between calling the game, Simms was in the booth drawing a charcoal picture of Greene reclining provactively on a sofa.
- Very sloppy game in terms of penalties for both teams.
- Every time the camera cut to a closeup of Mark Sanchez, he looked like a tourist who just had some guy run off with his camera while he was stuck standing there in some fountain with his cargo pants hiked up to his knees.
- If I was Chad Ochocinco, I’m not sure how I’d feel about the crowd cheering wildly after every time I caught the ball. I know they mean well, but when two consecutive catches is what warrants a standing ovation for you, you can’t feel all that good – especially when you follow those two catches with a false start penalty.
- That little sideline floater to Wes Welker to set up a new set of downs right before halftime was one of the most beautiful throws I have ever seen. It was only good for about 3 yards and will soon be lost forever amid the 40,000 hours of highlight footage that has accumulated over Tom Brady’s career, but I’d like to do my part right now to cement that short, meaningless play at least somewhere in the annals of history. Just superb.
- What’s up with everyone harping on Tommy B’s first red-zone pick of his career? Didn’t he throw a red zone INT against the Chargers in the 2007 AFC Championship game? How come nobody counts postseason stats?
- What is it with New England allowing an answering score less than 30 seconds after the completion of a great drive? I don’t even have time to finish my beer before opposing teams answer right back.
- Overall, James Ihedigbo had a pretty solid game, and looks like the best option to start beside Chung at safety. However, that was an absolutley horrible pursuit and angle on that touchdown pass to Jeremy Kerly. I know his assignment was to cover LT in the flat, but when you get a direct line to the QB, you take it.
- You wouldn’t have thought so last week, but it’s true: I'd put Mark Sanchez as the 3rd best quarterback in the league at avoiding the sack, behind only Michael Vick and Ben Roethlissberger. At least once per game he avoids what should be a surefire sack and extends the play.
- I wish I had the motivatioin to do a study of Sanchez’s effectiveness when rolling to his right. I have a feeling his numbers would be amazing.
- Another stat I’d like to see: New England’s effectiveness following a defensive timeout. I bet it isn’t amazing.
- Almost forgot that Aaron Hernandez was playing on one leg yesterday. Other than that drop in the end zone that led to the Antonio Cromartie pick, he had a really solid day.
- I feel like Bill Belichick has been in a bit of a slump in terms of winning challenges as of late. Good to see him right the ship yesterday. Two great challenges that had huge impacts on the game.
- Apparently Rob Gronkowski was so sick yesterday that he couldn't even make it out for pregame warmups. He suited up anyway and had probably his best day so far as a blocking tight end. Even when his receptions are limited, he does whatever he can to help this team win.
- Hey Plax – thanks for getting the dropsies yesterday. Reeeeeeeaally wish you’d done that about 4 years ago.
- CRUCIAL 3rd and 4 – shotugun direct-snap to BeJarvus Green-Ellis for a 14 yard gain and a new set of downs. You know Kevin Faulk was smiling on that one.
- NANTZ! Did you really just mention that Benny has never fumbled as New England is trying to run out the clock to ice the game??? What the hell is wrong with you?!!
- Lo and behold, right after Jim Nantz’s little ditty, Tommy B almost fumbled the ensuing snap. If New England had turned that one over, I would have quit my job and spent the rest of my life going all No Country For Old Men on ol’ Jimmy.
- Just kidding, Mr. Nantz. Please don’t sue me.
- Raise your hand if you were terrified as Stephen Gostkowski kicked off to Joe McKnight after the last field goal. Both of mine are up. I typed this last note with my feet.
- Also – raise your hand if you were actually surprised that the Jets didn’t score on that final possession. Both my hands are still up.
- Jets were 3 for 11 on 3rd down on the day. That’s pretty damn good. However, on every drive where New York did manage a first down, they scored. I'm, sure Bill Belichick will be pointing this stat out during team meetings this week.
Did New England’s defense get better this week, or is the Jets offense just that bad? I sure as hell hope that it's both.
Yes, I would have liked to see Sanchez on his back a little more. And yes, this game could very well have been a blowout if the Patriots had done a better job capitalizing on some opportunities. But you know what? New England got a great grind-it-out victory at home against what is still a very solid defense to create some distance in between the top and bottom of the AFC East.
I need to be careful not to gloat, as much as I’d like to. I know the second quarter of the season just started and there is a string of tough opponents coming New England’s way over the next few months, including a visit to the Meadowlands in November. There’s a big difference between enjoying the win and gloating, though, and I’m going to milk every second out of this one before we turn the page and get ready for Dallas.
Speaking of milk...time for another bowl of Count Chocula.