So I know that I always title these articles "Patriots vs. Whomever: Fan Notes from the Game." And because I'm guessing that's what everyone who reads my column has come to expect, I kept the title of this week's article the same. However, the events that took place yesterday afternoon make that title a little misleading, as it implies that I in fact was able to catch the whole game. In reality, the title of this piece should be "Patriots vs. Dolphins: Fan Notes from the Second Half Because Alec Got Dragged on a Sunset Cruise by His Girlfriend Causing Him to Miss the 1st Half of the Game and Rack Up About $200 in Roaming Charges as He Constantly Checked His Phone For Scoring Updates to No Avail." I had absolutely no clue what was going on around the NFL today until about 6 PM EST, as I sprinted from the dock to our room with absolutely no regard for my own safety or resort etiquette, where I was lucky enough to have the Miami-based CBS feed and didn't have to watch the game on some illegal Russian website that probably would have caused my computer to blow up halfway through. So feel free to mentally switch the two titles out.
I was initially thinking of DVRing the game and then coming back to these notes once I get back to America, but then I realized that I probably wouldn't be able to get to it until Thursday or Friday of this week and by then we'd all be focused on the playoffs. So, I forged ahead anyway. I basically came back to the game right as the second half was kicking off, and I only have internet access in the lobby of the resort, so these notes are slightly abbreviated and were written by a seasick, fairly ignorant, six daiquiri deep, lobster-red fan who is one day really, really going to regret failing to appreciate being out on the water for a spectacular Caribbean sunset because he wanted to go back to his hotel room to watch a football game. So I'll thank you for taking them with a grain of salt.
- The first play of the game that I saw was Reggie Bush converting on 3rd and 1 to give the Fins what I'm guessing is their 1st first down of the second half. But since the game was 21-0 at that point, there was no profanity from me.
- It's actually kind of nice to come into a game at the beginning of the 2nd half when your team has a three score lead; it saves me all the nervousness of a 0-0 game that comes with tuning in right at the beginning.
- What is Jerod Mayo doing covering Reggie Bush? And didn't I write that exact same thing last time these two teams played?
- I learned that Denver is winning 28-3 about 4 times in two minutes, but I still have no idea how the Texans game ended.
- HOUSTON LOST! HUGE! And yes, I just found that out now.
- Now that I think about it - I should have realized that the Colts were going to win that game a while ago; I had completely forgotten that Chuck Pagano had beaten leukemia and was back to coach his team yesterday for the first time since Week 3. The only game more predetermined that Houston at Indianapolis 2012 was Atlanta at New Orleans 2006 where the Saints were playing their first game back in the Superdome after the city was rocked by Hurricane Katrina.
- And a final note on the Colts game: I invite all of you to head over to Stampede Blue at some point this week to commend all Colts fans and Colt Nation in general on the support, energy, and positivity they sent to Coach Pagano as he battled his way back to the Indianapolis sidelines. The hatred has run deep between the Pats and the Colts over the years, but at it's heart the New England/Indy rivalry has always been one fundamentally based on respect and the understanding of just how special it was to watch what became a yearly battle between the two greatest quarterbacks ever to play this game, and the 2012 Colts are an absolutely incredible story. Welcome back, coach.
- Who rung Ryan Tannehill's bell? I have absolutely no idea what's going on right now.
- Looks like whatever pass protection problems that were plaguing the Patriots the past few weeks have been quelled. Tommy B had all day to throw back there. It's just too bad that nobody could get open.
- Literally the second after I wrote that, Brady got sacked on a corner blitz. Dammit. At least that was apparently his first sack of the day.
- In case any of you are wondering, Phil Simms sounds equally as incompetent from the Caribbean as he does in the Northeast.
- Pat Chung is just plain mediocre as a cover safety. I feel like he should gain about 50 pounds and just play linebacker.
- Who the hell is number 26? Derrick Martin? He was active?
- If you would have told me that Steve Gregory would take Anthony Fazano out of the game, I would have called you crazy.
- Ridley not really feeling the blitz pickup, is he?
- As much as we've missed Gronk (did he play at all in the 1st half?) as a receiver and blocking tight end, the drop-off hasn't been quite as steep at the blocker position with Daniel Fells in the lineup. Great blocking TE.
- Never thought I'd live to see one man pull a large, brown, oblong object from the buttocks of another man on national television, but that's exactly what happened on that bizarre Wes Welker incompletion/interception/whatever that was.
- I was pulling for AP to break the rushing record with everything I had yesterday. That he is did what he did this year completely by himself while coming off major knee surgery in an NFL completely dominated by the pass is nothing short of remarkable and deserves to be remembered for a very long time. If they give Peyton Manning the MVP Award now, I hope he chokes on his trophy just a little bit.
- I also hope he chokes in the playoffs a lot.
- Justin Francis has been one of the best stories of the 2012 Patriots season. Undrafted rookie came into camp, impressed the coaching staff, and worked his way into the rotation, where he has become a fairly disruptive force. Looking forward to several years of Francis and Chandler Jones.
- Nice hands, Chung.
- Yikes - there were Dolphins open all over the field in the first half. Here's to rookie quarterbacks in December.
- Should I take it as a sign that the Patriots didn't score a point since I started watching them?
- Last #1 AFC seed to win the Super Bowl was New England in 2003. Finally, I stat I can get behind.
- Ha! Jets lost 28-9! BUTTFUMBLEBUTTFUMBLEBUTTFUMBLE
- Hey Tannehill - you cold, bro? Why not put on a scarf and winter cap to go with that wetsuit you have on.
- Phil Simms, as the Dolphins are already on the field and lined up in shotgun formation: "I think if you're the Dolphins, down 21-0 in the 4th quarter, you have to go for it." Ya think, Phil?
- Yesterday seemed like a great example of the conditions and the weather having a genuine effect on a visiting team. A lot of drops, slips, and shortcomings by Miami.
- How much do you think it would cost Bob Kraft to heat up a 30x8 foot plot on the sidelines to a consistent and balmy 80 degrees all year round, thus keeping New England's cheerleaders in their summer uniforms all season? I'd gladly contribute $20 to that cause.
- Gronk dropped two passes that he usually would have caught. Neither of them was potentially well thrown or right on the money, but regardless they were passes he should have pulled in. I think those two drops are the answer to the question "what the hell was Gronk doing in that game in the 4th quarter?"
- I get sick of Christmas commercials on or around December 10th every year. By that point it has been at least 2 straight weeks of the same 20 or so commercials on a constant loop on every single channel I watch, and I've just had enough of them. So when they continue to play Christmas commercials after Christmas is over, I just wanna punch something. Congrats, you bought your daughter a giant pink castle. I get it.
- That 7 yard out route from the slot is hands down my favorite that Wes Welker runs. The Z receiver just runs a Go route to clear out the edge corner and keep the safety from cheating in, then Welker makes a quick stutter step and cuts to the sideline where Brady hits him on the numbers. It's virtually unstoppable and yesterday was just another big conversion that came via that pass pattern.
- Weak spike, Gronk. Very weak. Gonna chalk that one up to shaking off the rust.
- OK, 28-0. Let's get everyone the hell out of there. Mallett, get to work.
- Or not. But leaving Tommy B in to hand off to Brandon Bolden seems like the one quarterback activity that Ryan Mallett can perform just as well as Brady.
- I was way more relieved than I should have been to learn the Giants were eliminated from postseason contention today. I'm not going to say anything else lest I anger the football gods, but I'm happy to know that if by some chance another absurd, never-again-in-a-million-years play ends up sending me spiraling into a depression, it won't come courtesy of the Manning brother that looks like he lived under the porch until his 16th birthday.
- And just because it is still - and always will be - hysterical: BUTTFUMBLEBUTTFUMBLEBUTTFUMBLE ENJOY YOUR OFFSEASON JETS BUTTFUMBLEBUTTFUMBLEBUTTFUMBLE.
There are a lot of very good reasons for a team to want to host a playoff game on Wild Card Weekend, and had Houston won yesterday I would have written an article highlighting them all. But the bottom line is that you just can't beat having an extra week to get healthy- that's really what it's all about. Sure, there are the added benefits of having extra time to prepare, to scout opponents, and all that jazz, but the real benefit of the bye week is that rest you get as four other teams are playing as hard as they possibly can with their seasons on the line.
And don't even get me started on how badly I need this bye week. This season has been really stressful for me - maybe even more so than usual - and I'm really looking forward to one anxiety-free week before I become an absolute nervous wreck for the remainder of January.