It's times like these I wish I owned a pipe, a silk bathrobe, and a massive fireplace.
A win like this one, on the road against the New York Jets after a week spent listening to everyone act like they were basically preparing for the Patriots' funeral, feels like one that needs to be enjoyed in front of a roaring fire in my silk bathrobe while smoking my pipe and contemplating how great it is to be me. Alas, I have none of these things, so I had to resort to celebrating in front of my TV with an entire bag of Jack Link's beef jerky and a glass of chocolate milk.
And you know what? It was still pretty sweet.
It's amazing what one win will do to put all things right with the world in New England. With one (or two) earth-shaking Rob Gronkowski spikes, all the doom and gloom surrounding this team went up in a puff of smoke and the Patriots are once again in at the top of their division. No, it wasn't perfect - and we'll all be waiting anxiously to hear an injury update on Devin McCourty - and no, last night's victory isn't cause to get complacent and take your foot off the gas. But, that was as complete and as convincing a win as I've seen from this team this season. When the offense was struggling, the defense stepped up. When the defense was on its heels, the offense delivered. Special teams handled their business and the coaching staff made all the necessary adjustments. Last night was the epitome of a team victory.
There's still a lot of football left to play, but I'd like to hope that last night was a turning point of sorts for the Patriots. They proved, to themselves and the league, that when they are on their game, they are a very tough team to beat. With a defense missing two key starters and losing another halfway through the game, New England was able to drop Mark Sanchez 5 times and force two interceptions, one of which was returned for a touchdown. An offense that had been labeled as stagnant and predictable switched to the no-huddle and took advantage of whatever mismatches the Jets gave them. A slumping quarterback looked himself in the mirror, said "I'm Tom %@$!ing Brady, dammit!", and went out to throw for 329 yards and 3 touchdowns.
It's a beautiful, beautiful day here in New York City. Game notes after the jump.
You know what the best part about last night is? It's not that we're now alone in 1st place in the AFC East. It's not that we swept the Jets and own all kinds of tiebreakers over them should it come down to that. It's not that we beat them by 3 scores on the road and scored the most points ever against Rex Ryan at MetLife Stadium. As great as all those things are, none of them makes me as happy as knowing that the Jets are officially out of our hair for the rest of the regular season and, as long as we take care of business, they are an absolute nonfactor for the Patriots' playoff chances. They can flap their gums all they want. They can talk trash and make headlines until they are blue in the
feet face. They can even win a few more games if they want to. Doesn't matter to me. The remainder of the Patriots' schedule looks relatively soft and they are still very much in the conversation for a first round playoff bye. And amid all these factors, amid all these reason for celebration here in New England, knowing that I don't have to pay a lick of attention to a damn thing Rex and company does is a very nice feeling.
Of course, I'm still going to pay attention. I remember feeling the same way this time last year when the Pats thumped the Jets in the 2nd game of the series and restored order to the AFC East - we all know how that ended. That's why I'll be cheering for Tim Tebow for the first and only time in my life this Thursday, just in case. After all, it can never hurt to keep myself updated on the goings on in and around New York. To be honest, I would be totally fine with not having to face these Jets again until next season.
But I'm going to be doing all that because I want to. Not because I have to. That's a big difference.