Notes, musings, and observations from the New England Patriots' 42-14 dismantling of the Houston Texans.
You know what makes me happy? A Patriots win. You know what makes me even happier? A Patriots win over a quality opponent on national TV. But you know what REALLY gets my ample belly rolling with the jollies? When I have to hear about how said national game was going to be the matchup of the year and how this one could be the one that finally ends New England's home win streak in December and how the Houston Texans' fierce pass rush was going to give Tom Brady all kinds of problems and blah blah blah and then the Patriots go out and absolutely light Houston up in a game that was never even close and all those experts who told us to get ready for a close one continue to look like idiots. That kind of game is going to make me smile every single time.
Make no mistake; this game was sheer dominance. The offense got it done, the defense got it done, and even the special teams unit got it done. One unit picked up the slack when another unit was struggling, and at no point were the Texans a serious threat to win this game. Whether it was a clinical offensive drive, a 4th down stop, a punt return to set up field position, or grinding out tough yards on the ground, New England brought the pain last night and didn't let up until the game was over. They came into this one with the mindset of making sure that Houston left Gillette Stadium with absolutely no desire to ever see the Patriots again, in this season or the next. Well mission accomplished, fellas. Message received.
- I should start today's Fan Notes by congratulating Tommy and Mrs. Tommy B on the birth of their daughter, Vivian. I better hurry up and have a son so those two can get together. It may be my only ticket into the Brady family.
- I'd also like to mention how nice it was of Giselle to time the birth of her daughter around Tommy B's football schedule. I bet he sat her down this past week and said, "listen, hon...you know I love you, and I can't wait for this child to come...but I'm only going to have my hands between one set of legs this week looking to receive something oblong, and that set of legs belongs to Ryan Wendell."
- I know a lot of people dislike Jon Gruden's style, and I get that. But I'll take Gruden over Chris Collinsworth any day of the week. I wish I got that excited all the time over even the most minor things.
- They didn't waste any time getting Brandon Bolden back into the fold; he was the first man downfield on almost every kickoff. Strong start, strong finish.
- Can pretty much anyone rock a cowbell at a sporting event? I feel like that's something you have to earn.
- The way the Texans came out running, you knew it was just a matter of time before Schaub took a shot deep off the playaction. But the Patriots didn't bite and the playaction remained mostly ineffective.
- Kyle Arrington in the slot is a completely different defensive back. I have no idea why, and I don't really care, either.
- As great as that Wes Welker punt return was, I feel like Julian Edelman could have taken that one to the house. Edelman can't touch Welker's quickness, but he's definitely a faster runner.
- Helluva good start, wasn't it?
- Texans have a very balanced offense; it's easy to overlook just how many weapons they have when Foster and Johnson on your roster.
- McCourty! Natural Born Saftey!
- Tommy B looked almost bored on the drive following the McCourty safety. You could almost hear his thoughts: "Got it. Defense dissected. Guess I should get to work now."
- Well... I guess when Brandon Lloyd is that open, he doesn't need to immediately fall down.
- Did you see that sideline point between Tommy B and Josh McDaniels after the Lloyd TD? Gave me chills.
- This revamped New England defense kind of reminds me of a boxer who needs to get clocked a good one before he wakes up and starts swinging. Got gashed early, then put the fists up and started punishing. And punish they did.
- You know what would be sweet? If the NFL installed helmet cams for various positions that were available to the general public in between plays. I'd love to be inside Wilfork's helmet for a play or two, so I could see the looks of absolute terror in the eyes of whatever poor schlub has to block him.
- Total BS PI call on Welker there. Wasn't a catchable pass, incidental contact...total hometown discount. I'll just consider that a make-up call for that nonsense defensive holding call that probably costs us the Ravens game.
- I feel like the Patriots are the only team in the NFL that seems to confuse defenses to the point where there is a completely uncovered receiver on at least a few plays every season. That speaks more highly of Tommy B's understanding of defenses and mastery of tempo than any stat ever could.
- Absolutely love the Paul Rudd vs. Ray Lewis Madden commercials. That I didn't think up the "you just Fa-La-La-La-La-La-La-La-LOST!" line is going to haunt me for years.
- I didn't watch much Aqib Talib when he was a Buccaneer, but I never would have pegged him as a corner capable of covering Andre Johnson one on one. Overall, Talib did a very solid job, considering that man is pretty much uncoverable.
- Vince Wilfork is having a career year. He is playing more, doing more, and doing it all at an amazingly high level. The nature of his position means that he'll probably won't be in the Hall of Fame conversation, but he's an absolute game changer.
- As much of a blowout as this game was, it could have been a lot more. A few back-to-back big penalties cost the Patriots a drive, and Welker dropped a lot of passes - even for him.
- Looks like my aggressive letter writing campaign to One Patriot Place asking for more Jerod Mayo blitzes is finally starting to pay off.
- How badly did you all want to see Danny Woodhead just blow up JJ Watt on a blitz pickup?
- It's hard to be upset with a 21-0 halftime lead...but thinking about how many times in the 2nd quarter the Patriots could have pretty much put this one away gets me a little rankled.
- Why the hell did they show that stat? New England has 60 straight wins when leading at halftime? Come on, guys.
- The 3 yard run is the only play in professional football that makes both the offense and the defense happy.
- Alfonzo Dennard, rookie 7th round pick, on Andre Johnson. And dammit if the kid didn't do a solid job.
- How can you let Watt come unblocked after Tommy B?
- Brady's inaccuracy in the 2nd half goes to show just how important it is to hit him and hit him often. His play was like night and day between halves.
- Wes Welker's drop streak continues!
- WELCOME HOME, DONTE STALLWORTH!!! Was that a one-handed grab?
- New goal: get Tommy B to point at me like that at some point in my lifetime - even if the point is immediately followed by, "it's that guy, officer. The big fat one with the stains on his shirt. He is in blatant violation of his restraining order."
- What exactly constitutes OPI? I'm with Gruden on this one.
- A+ for effort, Kyle Love - but you aren't going to chase down Foster on a screen pass.
- One of the most impressive stats of this game was zero catches for Kevin Walter. I had him pegged as the X factor in this game as the Pats tried to take away Foster and Johnson. But he was an absolute non-factor for this one, and I think Houston's offensive struggles reflected that.
- Do you think Jon Gruden spent a lot of time training his eyebrow muscles? Like does he just stand there in the mirror staring himself down?
- Man was this game a tale of two halves offensively. Other than that long bomb to Stallworth, Brady really couldn't get anything going for much of the half.
- Good thing that vaunted Patriots defense stepped it up when they needed to.
- Gruden on Michael Hoomanawanui: "Doggone Brady, throws to the one guy I can't pronounce." Welcome to every single day of Dan Dierdorf's life, Jon.
- God dammit Lloyd get up and run, will ya?
- That said - that playaction stretch play was working like magic all night long. Perfect way to exploit man to man coverage.
- Tom Brady rushing for a first down is as enjoyable to watch for me as bikini models jogging in slow motion. The best part about it is, Brady at full speed is pretty much just as fast as a bikini model jogging in slow motion.
- Well that fumble certainly worked out, didn't it? Thanks, J.J. Watt!!!
- Does that Woodhead fumble count as a touchdown pass?
- Let the record show that I really, really like Watt as a player. He's an absolute beast and I would love to see him in a Patriots uniform. But after hearing all the media fawning and adoration Watt received all week, it felt pretty damn good to see him looking all despondent on the sidelines.
- Matt Schaub, too.
- Not the most flattering big-heads, Pats fans. Especially that one of Welker. Eek.
- I wanted to see Ryan Mallett take a shot deep so bad.
- STATEMENT GAME. ‘Nuff said.
Well, not quite ‘nuff said: wanna know what that statement is? Well I'll tell you:
"We don't care what you say in September. We don't care what your Power Rankings say. And we don't care about pre-snap predictions. We own December, this is our house, and if you want to prove you are among this league's elite you better bring your very best game. And even then, we're still going to beat you, because that's what we do. It's what we have done for the last 10 years and we aren't going to stop now. So go home and watch the game tape. Make sure you remember what we did to you here tonight. You might get another shot at us in a few weeks, and if you do, you're going to need to do a hell of a lot better than that. We are the New England Goddam Patriots. Don't you ever forget it."
Or something like that.