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Patriots vs. Bills: Fan Notes from the Game

Happy 2012, Patriots Nation!

I've always thought that New Year's Eve is hands-down the most overrated holiday of all time. You get all dressed up, go out to an overcrowded bar where you drink overpriced beverages, cheer and sip on crappy champagne when midnight hits, and then wonder what the hell you are going to do with the rest of your night come 12:05 and you realize December 31st is just like every other night of the year. Then you spend the first day of January exhausted, groggy, and hung over, trying to figure out how in the hell you are going to get in shape or learn French or write a book or whatever it is that seemed like a good idea to you in late December.

I'm sad to say that not above the madness; I've had more than my fair share of botched New Year's resolutions. While I've gotten fairly used to failure over the years, I will say that starting each year off on the wrong foot has really been wearing on me. I really didn't want my 2012 resolution to join the ranks of my expired gym membership, my dusty guitar, my treadmill-turned clothes rack, and my still in the box 2007 Word-a-Day Calendar. I wanted to do 2012 right for a change, and so I thought long and hard about what I was going to resolve to do.

One of the resolutions I toyed with for a little while was not to freak out so much over the New England Patriots. I'm very aware that the way I react to the ups and downs of this team is a recipe for disaster and an early funeral. And while it would certainly be nice to take a more relaxed attitude towards the Pats, deep down I knew that just wasn't going to happen. Plus, with the way the Pats came out of the gate against the Bills yesterday, I'm glad I pulled the plug on that one, lest 2012 go down as my fastest resolution fail of all time. Granted, I should know better by this point, but that didn't stop me from swearing like a maniac for the first 15 minutes of that game. Luckily for my downstairs neighbor me, New England turned it on for the final three quarters and locked up the #1 Seed with a convincing 49-21 win. Not only that, but the Jets lost, thus officially eliminating them from the playoffs and completely alleviating that niggling feeling that they were going to be the ones to knock the Pats out of the postseason again.

To make yesterday even better, I'm happy to say that I'm pretty sure that I finally came up with a New Year's resolution that I can stick to. I plan on getting started right after I finish this post, and I don't plan on stopping. But first thing's first. Time to take a look at yesterday's win- game notes after the jump. See if you can guess where in these notes the 1st quarter ended and the 2nd began.

  • FINALLY! Pat Chung back at safety! I had completely forgotten he was active today, and when I saw a different body lined up back there I angrily asked myself, "Oh great. Who the hell do they have back at safety today?" Then I realized it was Chung. Oops.
  • And Chung brings the pain right away! Great hit on Stevie Johnson.
  • What percentage of deep passes against New England either end up as completions or Pass Interference calls?
  • That's enough, Lexus. The holidays are over. Everyone who was going to buy a car for their significant other already got one.
  • I just can't get enough of Ryan Wendell's mustache. That thing is absolutely phenomenal.
  • These slow New England starts are going to be serious trouble down the road.
  • Good (??) to see a non-Devin McCourty defensive back get absolutely abused for once.
  • I'm actually surprised teams don't go for it more on 4th down against New England. You know the Pats offense is going to score, and it's not like the D can stop anybody.
  • Watching Wes Welker drop a pass gives me a very uneasy feeling.
  • New England had two first downs in the first quarter, and one of them came on a defensive penalty. Good Lord.
  • I have to admit - I was under the delusion that the return of Chung would make this defense competitive again. Chung is only one man - and he's a serviceable safety, nothing more.
  • I know I shouldn't - but I can't help but think about what Drew Brees would do to this secondary. The mere thought of it is absolutely terrifying.
  • Come to think of it - maybe yesterday's first quarter was part of Belichick's playoff preparation plan. The odds of teams scoring on every possession in the postseason is much higher, so it's good to get that kind of in-game experience. Situational football, right?
  • I always liked Lousaka Polite, and was glad to see New England sign him. Not sure how much of a help he'll be, but he's a great step back to the old-school days of tough-as-nails fullbacks who block with their faces.
  • 3rd and 18 following the Mark Anderson sack, and I was still surprised that the Bills didn't convert.
  • I feel like the sudden infusion of plumber's crack that has become prominent across the NFL is a fairly new phenomenon. Pull your pants up, guys. Please.
  • Started that high step a little early, Aaron Hernandez. Your touchdown dance is elaborate enough as it is.
  • Bob Kraft got plenty of high fives yesterday. Nobody leaves that man hanging. NOBODY!
  • Sergio Brown had a very solid day on special teams. I say we just keep him there.
  • Brandon Spikes! So excited to be out there. Love the emotion.
  • Something's up here. I've watched Ryan Fitzpatrick play this season, and even when he has had time, his accuracy has been suspect. Yesterday he could have dropped a football in a wastepaper basket from 40 yards. I'm guessing it's a combination of getting up to play the Patriots and the massive amounts of confidence QBs must have going up against the 32nd ranked defense.
  • I think teams have finally figured out how to stop Rob Gronkowski: defensive holding.
  • I had been feeling that Brady interception coming for a while now. I'm just glad Tommy B got it out of the way yesterday in a fairly non-crucial situation.
  • Drops by Welker and Gronk yesterday. Maybe the Mayans were right about 2012.
  • Is CJ Spiller good?
  • Come back, Andre Carter. Please come back.
  • I'd give the fans yesterday flak for not showing up more for third downs - but I kind of get it. It's like cheering for the Washington Generals.
  • I will, however, give Miami Dolphins fans flak for literally not showing up for yesterday's game against the Jets. Not only was it Jason Taylor's last NFL game, but it was also a chance to eliminate the Jets from playoff contention. I can't imagine a better Week 17 scenario if your team is already out of it.
  • Not your fault, Ocho. Tommy B put a little bit too much on that ball.
  • Did Randy Cross really confuse Lousaka Polite and Danny Woodhead? A massive black fullback and a tiny white running back? I want to party wherever Cross was last night.
  • Ocho was wide open on that 3rd and goal where Tommy B tried to take it himself. Leave the running around like an idiot to Tim Tebow, Brady. You just do what you do best.
  • I wonder how much weight opposing coaches put into offensive performance against New England. With a defense as hot/cold as the Patriots', it must be tough to gauge offensive progress.
  • Sterling Moore! Where the hell did you come from? Weren't you cut or something?
  • Um, coach? Why did you put Benny in there when Ridley was running so well?
  • Brady's spiral isn't as tight as it usually is...
  • Brady broke Dan Marino's record yesterday. Nobody else seems to care, but that's pretty remarkable.
  • I was surprised to see that Spiller only had 44 yards on 10 carries through 3 quarters. I feel like he was gashing New England left and right yesterday.
  • Good things seem to happen to the Patriots when I'm not in the room. That McCourty interception happened when I went to the kitchen for another beer. It's been happening all season and I'm starting to get very conflicted about watching Pats games.
  • I was also checking on the score of the Jets game on the Aaron Hernandez completion that set up the Benny TD. I don't know what to do now.
  • 35 unanswered points. That's worthy of a note unto itself.
  • Make that 42 unasnwered points. Boo ya.
  • Umm sorry. 49 unanswered points. What's better than Boo ya?
  • the defense good now, or what?
  • Great coverage by Mayo on the CJ Spiller wheel route to force a Bills punt. That was absolutely a mismatch and Fitzpatrick was right to make that throw.
  • For some weird reason, it got really dusty in my living room when CBS cut to last week's game ball presentation and the Myra Kraft oil painting given to Bob Kraft in memory of his wife's passing. I must have stirred some up cheering for that Marvin Mitchell interception on Mark Sanchez.
  • Speaking of, a non-Pats game related note: I wonder how Sanchez must feel being out-quarterbacked by Jeremy Kerley on the way to blowing the Jets' already slim playoff chances.
  • Jeez, Gronk, watch out for Welker on those spikes, will ya? That would be one helluva way to go on IR - getting impaled by a football.
  • It looked to me, on that McCourty personal foul negating the Kyle Arrington pick, that McCourty was running full speed at Martin and did everything he could to slow himself and avoid any kind of unnecessary contact. I get the penalty, I guess, but I can't help but feel that what constitutes unnecessary roughness in this league is a total judgment call.
  • Still waiting to see Ryan Mallett take the garbage snaps.
  • Oh, Gronk. Now you're just showing off. Get that record, homie.

Sure, we could sit here and wildly celebrate back-to-back #1 AFC seeds. We could blow up message boards about how great this team is and throw fully catered parades in honor of this momentous occasion and party like yesterday's victory came in February instead on January. But we're not going to do any of that. We're going to continue to leave that kind of behavior to our newly-golfing friends over there in New Jersey. AFC accolades may be enough for the Jets, but it doesn't carry much weight over here in New England. In fact, all I want to hear about over the next two weeks is how horrendous the Patriots were in the first quarter. I want critics to question Brady's accuracy and dissect how if New England starts slowly in the playoffs, they might not be as fortunate as they have been the past two weeks. I want to read articles titled "Who are the Real Patriots?" and "Is This Defense Enough?" The more the media can downplay this team and exactly how remarkable this accomplishment actually is, the better off we'll be. We are all very aware that the only thing that has mattered to this team since the season started is how the Patriots fare in the playoffs. It's time to rest up, get healthy, figure out what the hell we have been doing in the latter 3 quarters of games that makes us so damn good, and come out of the gate swinging against not-the-Jets when they come into town in two weeks.

Now if you'll excuse me, I believe it's time to get my New Year's resolution off to the right start. There's a slab of thick-cut Boar's Head bacon with my name on it.

That's right. My New Year's resolution is to eat more bacon.