It's time for a reality check.
I guess the words I should be using now are "winning ugly" and "making enough plays to win" and "getting it done when it mattered" and "grind it out." But to be honest, I don't really feel like using any of those words at all. Because even though the Patriots just pulled out a win against the Jets, I'm starting to get genuinely worried about this team.
And the reality I'm starting to see is that, while the New England Patriots have a slew of talented players, at this point in the season they aren't a very good team. It's an important distinction to make, because accepting that will lead to a whole lot less head scratching. The reason the Patriots blow leads, can't finish, and are a Stephen Hill drop away from being below .500 for the second time this season is because they simply aren't that good, and given what they could be, it's absolutely maddening.
Yes, I'm happy that the Pats won. And yes, I'm hopeful that the way they closed this game, stiffening when it mattered and generating some clutch drives to get the W, will represent a turn of events and the Patriots will start to play the way that they are supposed to. But I'm as upset over this win as I think I possibly can be; it was simply more of the same from this team for most of the game, which is a serious, serious problem.
I'm sorry for the brevity of these notes - I spent most of this game either pacing around like a madman or slamming my face into the radiator, and I don't have the heart to go back and watch it again.
Let's get to it.
- I was stuck in traffic getting home yesterday because I was on the opposite side of the highway for an accident and everyone had to slow down and gawk at it, which was unbelievably frustrating.
- Not quite as frustrating as the first play of this game that I saw, which was a 29 yard catch by Kerley. I should have known right there that this game wasn't going to be fun to watch.
- Get some more bars on that facemask, Brandon Spikes. Maybe get some vertical bars as well, go for that plaid look.
- It's gotten to the point where I simply expect the opposing team to score every time they get the ball. It's like sitting in the dentist's chair and waiting for the drilling to start. Field goals are the new punts.
- Did...did Devin McCourty just run one back? Did that happen? No flags? No re-kick? Huh. Well look at that.
- Was...was that kick return followed by a sack and a three and out? What the hell is going on here??!!
- Don't blame Sanchez for ducking one bit on that first sack. If all I saw was a massive wall of 7 and 4 right in my face, I'd not only duck, I'd run the opposite way.
- How much tape do NFL trainers go through per game on players' ankles alone?
- Gronk is hurt - but he ain't THAT hurt.
- Luckily for us, the only player in the NFL slower than Tommy B is Mike DeVito.
- I need whatever hoodie the coaching staff was wearing yesterday and I need it now.
- How the hell did we not come away with that Shonne Green fumble?
- HA! Nice kick,
PeleSanchez! Looks like your Latino heritage did squat for your soccer game.
- When you are about to get flattened by Vince Wilfork, "fumble for safety" is probably your best possible outcome.
- Stevan Ridley is deceptively good at making guys miss. You don't really think of him as a highly elusive back, but he has a great first cut and defenders come up with air more often than not.
- Don't make me like you, LaRon Landry. Stop clapping for our players and helping everyone up.
- Why don't teams just throw deep on every play? When was the last time a 20+ yard pass didn't result in a completion?
- That, of course, assumes the wild notion of a competent NFL quarterback.
- Can someone who knows explain exactly what constitutes illegal hands to the face? I have no idea, especially since Chandler Jones spent the entire game with his chin pointed directly skyward.
- Thank you, Mark Sanchez, for welcoming Alfonzo Dennard to the NFL with a nice, easy pick to raise his confidence.
- Are you kidding me with that one handed grab, Herndo? That wasn't even thrown softly. And thanks for not replaying it, CBS. I'd much rather watch Sanchez pump fake his way to an epic fail.
- Uh, Tommy? Open tight end downfield. Wide open, raising his hand. Might wanna throw him the ball. Just putting it out there.
- Pats could have put the game away three times in the first half and they didn't. This is definitely a trend.
- Gillette wasn't even quiet yesterday. It was SILENT. Just when I thought it couldn't get any more embarrassing. I don't even think the stadium was full. Pats fans are just the worst.
- Rex Ryan sure was pumped for that late half field goal.
- Is the tradeoff for a good kick return game a lousy kick coverage game? Because I don't know if I like that tradeoff.
- Sign that fall is officially here: the fat shirtless guys in the stands were as pale as it gets.
- We're going to hear a lot about body language this week. And while I HATE talk about body language, how many Patriots looked like they were playing a division rival for first place yesterday?
- Jets did a great job covering Welker. He had a relatively quiet day, but I'd argue his lack of involvement was way more Jets based than Pats-based.
- That said - and as usual- every play Welker made was absolutely huge.
- Play of the game: Patriots have a 3rd and 8 right about at midfield. Gillette is so dead that you can hear individual conversations of players on the sideline and I start to wonder if Bob Kraft lost is marbles this week and decided to fill the stadium with cardboard cutouts. Brady throws a quick screen to Welker, who picks up 21 yards, gives the entire team and stadium life, and kept alive what would be a huge touchdown drive.This offense runs through #83 no matter what.
- Is there any down more stressful for fans of either team than 3rd and goal at the 2?
- For the most part, Sanchez can still evade the sack with the best of ‘em.
- I've always been a big fan of the "give small guy the ball and let big guys push him forward" style of rushing attack.
- A long, sustained drive in the 4th quarter that ended in points would have built a 17 point lead and pretty much iced this game. Instead we got a short run and two screens for losses, followed by a punt.
- That the Jets were going to score a touchdown on the ensuing drive was about as much of a certainty as me giving up on a diet the second I smell deep fryer grease. We all knew that the Jets were going to score on that next drive, and that they were going to score pretty quickly.
- We also all knew that right after that 14 play, 92 yard drive in which Mark frigging Sanchez looked absolutely clinical, the Patriot offense was going to stall immediately.
- God bless Stephen Hill. Nothing like relying on gimme drops and the other team's mistakes to make a man feel really, really confident about the state of this team.
- Is Brandon Lloyd only capable of catching passes if he has to lay out for them?
- How about we only instate the new OT rules when it benefits the Patriots?
- Who here thought Gostkowski was going to make that FG to tie it? I know I didn't.
- Who here thought that Gostkowski was going to make the FG in overtime to give the Pats the lead? I know I didn't.
- Who here thought the defense was going to strip sack Mark Sanchez to clinch it? I know I didn't.
I'm going to pretend that the Jets are actually a good team and convince myself that this win was a hard-earned team victory against a quality opponent in which they only looked flat, unenthusiastic, and sloppy because the defense they were up against was stifling and the offense they were up against was high-octane. That should help.
I'll be more positive later in the week. I promise.