Train Kept a-Rollin'
Patriots Are 4-0 in AFC East (6-0 Elsewhere)
"I'm with the New England Patriots," Randy Moss said. "What more could you want?"
Like many players in the NFL, the ones who aren't there just to cash in, Moss just wants to win. Ten years into his career, he found his home: a team whose sole pursuit is winning.
It's almost astounding that it took so long for a team like New England and a player like Moss to find each other. But this team is put together just so. A 6th-round draft pick as the greatest quarterback, a bunch of rag-tag undersized unsung blue-collar guys like Tedy Bruschi, a collection of has-beens (Junior Seau), and now an influx of wealth in Wes Welker, Adalius Thomas, Donté Stallworth, Sammy Morris (before he was injured), and a supremely talented receiver, misunderstood, cast off by a categorical disaster of a team in exchange for a 4th-round pick.
And these guys are 10-0?
56 - - - 10
Um .. yeah. That's it. That's the ticket.
The complaining about New England "running up the score" has to stop, and I think some people are starting to understand. The NFL does not employ a mercy rule. That's no fault of the Patriots. They put Buffalo away as soon as they could and would have put them out of their mercy if some vehicle to do so existed. Maybe.
But the league mandates that teams play a full 60 minutes. Even then, the Patriots didn't. I don't think anyone doubts New England could have scored 70 easy. Heck, both Heath Evans and Kyle Eckel -- players few outside New England even know exist -- each rushed for more yards than any other player on the field, including both starting running backs.
Yes, some people will complain, but if you think the franchise record-tying 56 points was a lot, stay tuned. The Jets and Dolphins are coming to town in another month.
But there was a game Sunday (or something like one) to talk about.
Um .. Is that Kyle Eckel? Yes, that's Eckel in the third quarter Eckel picked up 40 yards on 10 carries and added a touchdown.
Photo courtesy: The Boston Globe / Matthew J. Lee
Really, this game was over not long after the end of the 4 p.m. games; and if you really think about it, it was over when the league penciled a date next to the matchup.
But there was little mystery left 3 minutes into the game. After Buffalo picked up a first down on the Bills first play from scrimmage, Adalius Thomas sacked J.P. Losman for a 9-yard loss, and a screen pass went almost nowhere when Rodney Harrison slammed that door shut. Randall Gay picked Losman's next pass, not a good one, and returned it to the Buffalo 13. It was over.
Tom Brady threw his first pass to Jabar Gaffney. Let me say that again: Brady threw is first pass to Jabar Gaffney. Not Moss. Not Welker. Not even Stallworth. After that, Maroney cut up the middle untouched to score his first touchdown of the season, in the process becoming the 19th Patriots player to score a touchdown in 2007. It was really over.
Buffalo went three-and-out. That series included James Sanders coming untouched from about 20 yards away to make a tackle in the backfield and then a(nother) sack by Mike Vrabel, who now has 9.5 on the season. Must be tough getting old. For those not familiar with football, it was over.
The next Patriots drive consisted of six plays -- two of them were drops of perfect Brady passes by Stallworth and Moss, one was a 2-yard rushing loss by Maroney. But the last was a 43-yard touchdown to Moss. He was so wide open, he looked like the tree in the middle of the field The Natural that gets struck by lightning. The first-quarter game clock hadn't wound halfway down, but the game was over.
Unbelievable Defense For all the talk about the Patriots offense, the defense does more than its own part. J.P. Losman (7) is engulfed by Adalius Thomas (96) and Ty Warren (94) with Tedy Bruschi close by.
Photo courtesy: The Boston Globe / Gettty Images Photo / Rick Stewart
The next 38 minutes was a full season's worth of highlight clips, statistics and records, and then Bill Belichick started sitting the starters.
Actually, that's not entirely true. Maroney didn't play once the Patriots had 28 points on the board. His last carry was for no gain on first down from the Buffalo 40. A few plays later, Faulk was injured, and that was the last you saw of either of them.
With Morris gone for the year and Faulk definitely out for the game, there was no sense throwing the last of your top three running backs against a physical defense. Brady might get hit. Maroney (except that first 6-yard run) will get hit.
'They're Not Human'
This afternoon on ESPN, Trey Wingo compared the Patriots and the rest of the NFL to Tiger Woods and the rest of the PGA. Mike Ditka said the gulf is more vast.
Merrill Hoge, who had the Pittsburgh Steelers ranked ahead of New England a couple weeks ago, compared Blichick to Gen. George S. Patton: "We don't hold our ground. Make the enemy hold their ground. We attack, attack, attack."
Mark Schlereth, one of the big early detractors on the "running up the score" mob mentality witch hunt, recounted how the Patriots are different from previous successful teams in that they show no signs of complacency, how they take offense to every little mistake of their own and they work to correct them, how every player appears dedicated to playing his every best, every play, every day.
"They're not human," he said.
Giants of the Game Randy Moss and Tom Brady stay humble during a interview with NBC's Andrea Kremer.
Photo courtesy: The Boston Globe / Matthew J. Lee
With the Patriots 10-0 after Week 11, they will finish ...
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