Notes, musings, and observations from the New England Patriots' 59-24 victory over the Indianapolis Colts.
So let's do a quick recap of this past week.
Andrew Luck was a rookie phenom who was just torching defenses on his way to four straight wins and the dawn of a new era of winning Colts football. The Patriots had just barely eked out a home win against the Buffalo Bills as the question marks on defense continued to pile up and everyone started to wonder if the offense really had what it takes to carry the defense through games.. Luck vs. Brady was billed as the potential changing of the guard, so much so that this game was flexed to a later start time in order to maximize viewership and show just how much this rookie and his white hot offense could do against a struggling defense.
Not so fast there, hoss.
Beatdowns like the one we saw yesterday don't come around too often, but when they do, there's not much else to do besides smile and enjoy it. And I know that Peyton Manning wasn't on the receiving end of this one, but my dislike of the Colts still runs deep enough that I was able to watch every second of this blowout with a smug, self-satisfied grin on my face. Sure, New England started slow and continued to get beat deep, but that's what we'll be seeing from here on out regardless of who is on the other sideline. All that matters is that the team adjusted, all three phases of the team stepped it up, and the Patriots let the Colts know that, while they are a nice story, they still aren't quite on their level yet.
- Manning or no Manning, there's still something about a Pats/Colts game that resonates very deeply with me. Just a strong tingling sensation that, once I made sure that it wasn't a sausage-induced heart attack, made me appreciate how great this rivalry was.
- It clearly isn't as appreciated everywhere, though, because I got stuck watching overtime between the Cowboys and Browns for the first part of the quarter. Talk about opening the door expecting the pizza man only to find a flaming back of dog crap on your Welcome mat.
- The first play I actually saw of this one was a 40 yard PI penalty on Kyle Arrington. As far as PI calls go,it wasn't a bad one to take, seeing as -shockingly - Arrington got beat deep and that would have been a touchdown had he not mauled Donnie Avery.
- A few weeks ago I wrote a piece about how I wanted the defense to become a little more balanced and start asserting themselves early instead of taking a while to wake up. Well just to clarify, by "balance" I didn't mean they should come out of the box sucking against the run as well. I was kind of hoping they would improve against the pass instead. Oh well.
- Not sure I like constantly swapping out the RBs early, not allowing any of them to get into a rhythm. But I guess when the passing game is working, it doesn't matter too much.
- Is Stevan Ridley a good east to west runner? He isn't, right? So what's up with the toss plays?
- Did I see a Rob Gronkowski sign that said "Cha Cha Bitches" after that first TD? Is there any way I can make that a catch phrase without offending anyone?
- Somehow, CBS went the entire first quarter without breaking for commercial. Good job, guys. Why can't it always be like that?
- Of course, they made up for it in the second quarter by breaking every time there was any kind of clock stoppage whatsoever.
- Phil Simms on T.Y. Hilton: "His name is Eugene, in case you were wondering what T.Y. stands for." Got it, Phil. Thanks.
- I'm glad that the Patriots realized that a lot of rookie quarterbacks have trouble reading blitzes and choke under pressure early on in this game.Once New England figured out that the whole "sit back and hope he makes a mistake" style of defense didn't work, they started bringing more pressure and forced Luck to get rid of the ball before he was ready. Who would have thought that that strategy would have worked.
- OK, I was wrong. Brandon Spikes' helmet is now absolkutely terrifying. He looks like the shark from Finding Nemo.
- When NFL fantasy experts write their "Start Em, Sit Em" articles every week, do you think we'll ever see just the word "everyone" in the start column going against the Pats D?
- The cutaway of Tommy B and Adam Vinatieri talking before the game legitimately brought tears to my eyes.
- I wonder if Vegas will take odds on the number of punts that take place in a Pats game?
- Tommy B just throwing at will out there yesterday - and yet Brandon Lloyd still couldn't get any yards after the catch. I want to see him return a kickoff just so I know what he looks like running with a football in his hands.
- It sounded like the Foxboro faithful was louder when the Patriots had a 3rd down than when the Colts did.
- Atta boy, Julian Edelman. Make the Colts pay for not converting 3rd downs at will.
- WELCOME TO NEW ENGLAND AQUIB TALIB!
- The latest reason why it's unfair to compare Andrew Luck with Peyton Manning: after Luck threw that pick six, he was furious with himself, apologetic to his coaches, and took personal responsibility for overthrowing it. I haven't seen Manning do that after a pick since...I've actually never seen Peyton Manning do that.
- One thing you really don't see a lot of with New England is cornerbacks passing receivers off to the safeties, which doesn't let them take many risks and try to jump routes. I don't know if this is a scheme issue, a skill issue, or a trust issue, but it does explain why a lot of Patriots turnovers come on tips instead of a defender actually making a play.
- Andrew Luck is a good quarterback. He is not yet a great quarterback. But there were times yesterday where he made the Pats D look as amateurish as I think any quarterback has made them look this year. He eventually struggled down the stretch, but it's almost getting to the point where I kind of want to see the Pats play the Packers just to see how Rodgers does.
- Who the hell is LaVon Brazill?
- Fairly solid day from Shane Vereen. Ridley was having some trouble getting going, so Vereen came in and found some success running up the middle.
- Man, Luck is a difficult guy to sack. Big, mobile, and decisive.
- Adam Vinatieri missed wide left at Gillette and I was happy about it. I'm never, ever going to get used to that.
- While I strongly believe that anyone willing to do so should contribute to Movember in order to raise money for cancer research, I think that contributors should be allowed to grow a mustache by permission only. Some people just aren't meant to have facial hair.
- I'm starting to like Edelman more and more each week. He's protecting the ball better and has deceptive speed.
- It's now at the point where the Colts don't even want to touch Gronk. They are just going to try and push him out of bounds and hope for the best.
- Finally started to see the injuries to the offensive line taking their toll. For a tough, between-the tackles runner like Ridley, running behind two backup guards is going to hurt your yards per carry.
- Gronk liked that Edelman spike. You could tell by how high he held his hand up for the congratulatory high five. I think poor Julian had to get a boost from Welker to reach him.
- Brandon Spikes just absolutely short-circuits runs up the middle.
- There are few things more unintentionally funny than a very fat man sitting in the stands with his arms crossed and wearing a too-tight beanie.
- Sorry about that last note; my entire apartment rumbled after Vince Wilfork dove for that tipped pass.
- I absolutely hate myself for laughing at the E*Trade commercials. "Talking baby" ranks only slightly above "shot to groin" and "ill-timed fart" on the bad humor scale, but dammit if I don't laugh every time.
- My buddy Big Mike, who was at the game yesterday, keeps telling me to use his nickname for Rob Ninkovich every time Nink makes a play. And while the nickname is absolutely hilarious, I'm pretty sure it's racist if it is introduced to the football world by a pale white guy.
- The second Rob Gronkowski TD was set up by a great route from Visanthe Shiancoe in which he faked an out block and ran a corner route which allowed Gronk to break (*sniff*) up the seam completely uncovered.
- Time to retire the Discount Double Check, All State. Not funny anymore.
- God I hate that roughing the passer call.
- Trevor Scott had a really good game yesterday in limited action.
- Henry Kissinger making an appearance in Bob Kraft's owner's box. The Pope ain't too far behind.
- Is a 45-17 4th quarter lead enough?
- Aqib Talib gave up some plays, which is expected from a defensive back still getting acclimated, but one thing he didn't do was get beat after the catch. Very solid, squared up tackler.
- Let's just blitz Arrington on every down. He has the exact same chance of covering a receiver when he's blitzing as he does when he drops back.
- Poor Antoine Bethea; what the hell do you do against Gronk? How do you even try to cover him? Kick him in the shins right off the bat?
- Watching Phil Simms struggle with Michael Hoomanawanui's name would be a lot funnier if he didn't have equally as much trouble with basic English.
- Aqib Talib had a perfect Patriots initiation: didn't turn his head on a coverage play, got beat short for a TD, got beat deep for a TD, made some great tackles, had a pick six, and broke up a few passes. That's pretty much gonna do it.
- You're going to have a hard time convincing me that Bill Belichick's reason for keeping Tommy B in until there was less than two minutes left in the game was anything other than giving Andrew Luck a gentle reminder who the best QB in the game is.
- Alfonzo Dennard's pick six was the longest runback for the Patriots since Darius Butler, who was apparently primed for a huge day today against his old team.
- Bill Belichick clearly likes Mike Rivera a lot. I have no idea why.
- What's the best word to describe this win? Shellacking? Drubbing? Trouncing? Spanking? Whuppin'? Yeah, that's it. This was a whuppin'.
- The most noble aspect of the NFL's commitment to donating $100 to the Salute to Service Initiative for every point scored during the month of November is that they don't have an asterisk next to it their mission statement that says "except for Patriots games."
- Keep your chin up, Andrew Luck. You have one helluva career in front of you. But you remember who you played against yesterday. This may be the only time you ever play against Tom Brady - don't you forget it.