8 and OH!
League's Dream Game Is Set
Forget the Dallas game. If ever there was a statement game, it was this one.
All the talk about "running up the score." All the talk about "cheating." All the talk about a "weak schedule." If you're buying into it, you can start crying now.
The Bill Belichick-coached New England Patriots just told the league, the other 31 teams, and all their fans to cram it sideways. You want to pile on? We'll pile on.
This, of course, sets up the best game of the season .. No. The best matchup of the decade! .. No! The greatest game in the history of pro football .. NO! The greatest single event in the whole of human experience! Sheesh. TV people!
So let's look at some numbers, and there are a lot of them:
- Tom Brady: 29 of 38 (76.3 percent), 306 yards, 3 passing touchdowns, 4 carries, 14 yards, 2 rushing touchdowns
- Matt Cassel: 2 of 3, 15-yard rushing touchdown
- Laurence Maroney: 14 carries, 75 yards (10, 54 in the first half), 2 receptions, 37 yards
- Kevin Faulk: 5 carries, 32 yards, 7 receptions, 57 yards
- Heath Evans: 5 carries, 24 yards
- Wes Welker: 9 receptions, 89 yards, TD
- Randy Moss: 3 receptions, 47 yards, TD
- Donté Stallworth: 4 receptions, 44 yards
- Jabar Gaffney: 4 receptions, 39 yards
What do these numbers tell us?
The first thing to notice is that Washington, like Cleveland, Dallas and Miami the last three weeks, did what they could to shut down Moss. And they did. Worked really well for them, too.
Welker extended his team lead in receptions over Moss from 3 to 9. Moss merely maintained his lead (5) as both he and Welker caught touchdowns. Moss did make a godly catch on the sideline where he just checked up as the ball arrived and let the ball fall into his hands.
There were some records too. The Patriots accumulated 34 first downs, a new franchise mark (previously 32). Brady set a new career mark with his 30th touchdown pass of the season (previously 28). Contrary to the mistake I made in the in-game notes, that does not tie Vito "Babe" Parilli, who had 31 one season. Brady extended his record of consecutive games with 3 or more touchdown passes to 8 (previously 5 by Steve Young). Brady's two rushing touchdowns are a single-game career high.
Gillette Stadium must have sounded like a pop music station, playing the same songs over and over and over. (They play AC/DC's "Thunderstruck" and part of the "1812 Overture" after every touchdown.)
There were some defensive stats, too.
- Mike Vrabel: 11 solo tackles, 2 assists, 3.0 sacks, 3 forced fumbles, 1 offensive touchdown reception
- Tedy Bruschi: 6 solo, 4 assists
- Vince Wilfork: 3 solo, 2 assists
- James Sanders: 3 solo, 2 assists
- Junior Seau: 4 solo
- Asante Samuel: 3 solo, 2 passes defended, team-leading 4th interception
- Rosevelt Colvin: 2 solo, 1 assist, fumble recovery
- Ty Warren: 1 assist, 2 fumble recoveries
Washington assistant head coach (defense) Gregg Williams must be one of them. Bet dollars to doughnuts (whatever that means) that he said, "They'll never throw to Vrabel here."
How -- HOW -- do you not cover Mike Vrabel lined up in an eligible position at the 2-yard line? Almost every living person in the world knew Vrabel was a target. Note to Joe Gibbs: If you're looking for a defensive coach, I'm available.
Meanwhile, the defense as a whole gave up nothing until they were in cruise mode with mostly second- and third-stringers and a 52-point lead.
After all the ludicrous talk about New England being soft against the run, the Patriots allowed just 40 yards on 11 carries in the first half and .. um .. 7 yards on 4 carries in the second half. I mean, talk about forcing an overmatched quarterback to try to win the game -- against an enormously better defense. Gibbs can't even try to pin this solely on Williams. Why did they abandon the run when Jason Campbell clearly had no chance to keep the Redskins in the game?
Here are a few more stats for you:
- First downs: Patriots 34, Redskins 13
- Patriots offense: 35 rushing plays, 38 passing plays (no stat padding there)
- Third-down conversions: Patriots 6 of 11, Redskins 2 of 12
- Fourth-down conversions: Patriots 2 of 2, Redskins 1 of 2
- Stephen Gostkowski: 9 kickoffs, 2 touchbacks, 7 of 7 on extra points, 1 of 1 on field goals
- Red-zone efficiency: Patriots 6 of 7 (5 of 5, goal to go), Redskins 1 of 2 (1 of 1)
- Time of possession: Patriots 37:49, Redskins 22:11
- Average starting field position: Patriots, own 39; Redskins, own 25