I have an absolutely massive amount of work to do right now, work that needs to get done before the weekend gets here. And so naturally, I'm putting it all off so I can continue counting down the 20 Most Memorable Patriots Moments of 2012. Today I'm taking a look at #16, but first, a quick recap of the list so far:
#20. The Patriots surprise everyone, sign
#19. The move up in the draft, select and in the first round.
#18. comes up with a huge 3rd down sack on , holding the to a field goal.
#17. Devin McCourty picks off Ryan Fitzpatrick in the end zone to seal the game vs. the Buffalo Bills.
I deviate from the norm a bit with this next pick, as it wasn't technically the moment itself that put it here, but the events that transpired after it.
16. A diving catch in the end zone shows off Brandon Lloyd's athleticism as well as his pearly whites.
The Patriots came into Buffalo in late September last year at 1-2, sitting below .500 for the first time since the Nixon administration. After a first half that saw two Patriots turnovers and a huge goal-line fumble by C.J. Spiller, the Bills entered the third quarter up 14-7 and poised to blow the game wide open after holding New England to a three and out to start the second half, almost immediately followed by a 68 yard Donald Jones touchdown pass that had the ineptitude of the Patriots secondary on full display.
Down 21-7 and desperate for a score, Tommy B got to work. He actually got to work to the tune of six straight touchdowns, two coming in the third quarter and a whopping four coming in the fourth.
I have a funny feeling all of the offense that the team produced will be making an appearance a little higher up on this list in a few weeks, so I won't spend too much time here talking about it. What I'm going to focus on instead is the last Patriots touchdown of the day, as it has since been immortalized forever in the minds, hearts, and magazine pages of sports fans everywhere.
After a Ryan Fitzpatrick to Brad Smith 35 yard touchdown pass to make the game 42-28, Tom Brady once again realized that no lead was safe with this defense, and so he came out slinging it. Starting from the Buffalo 48 following an onside kick recovered by Rob Gronkowski, Brady completed a deep post route to Wes Welker for 17 yards to bring the Patriots down to the Buffalo 30. After a few runs up the middle by Brandon Bolden, Tommy B took advantage of single coverage outside on Brandon Lloyd and threw a sideline pass towards the end zone, which Lloyd caught via a spectacular diving grab that saw him completely laid out for the ball. New England went up 49-28, and any dim hopes of a Buffalo comeback were dashed.
On the surface, there was nothing incredibly memorable about this catch. Granted, it was a beautiful grab that put Lloyd's athleticism on full display and put a great exclamation point on a 52-28 blowout during which the Patriots were in real danger of losing at one point. However, it's not like Lloyd's catch represented the game-winning score or anything like that. If he hadn't made that reception, it would have been seen as a great effort on an overthrown ball, and that would have been it. What puts this moment at #16 on my list isn't so much the catch itself as opposed to what happened the next day. As Patriots fans everywhere were reveling in the offensive powerhouse that was on full display the previous Sunday, watching highlight reels and soaking up the "The Patriots Are Back" articles, we were all blown away by a simple moment forever captured in time.
In short, we all got a glimpse of this picture.
Now this might just be my fan bias talking here, but I think that that is one of the greatest sports pictures ever taken. If I didn't know any better, I'd say it was Photoshopped. Not only is Brandon Lloyd in midair, making a great catch and scoring a touchdown, but he is looking directly at the camera and smiling as he does it. You can completely read his thoughts as he says, "Oh yeah. That's right. That just happened." If this catch had resulted in a meaningful score, it would probably be #1 on my list. But, since it was a garbage time touchdown, I think it's appropriately placed at #16.
Brandon Lloyd is seen by some as a bust in New England. I think he was a fantastic 4th receiver who did a great job in his role, but that's just me; there's definitely a chance that we've seen the last of Lloyd in a Patriots uniform. But even if that is the case, he will undoubtedly always have a place in the Patriots archives because of this catch and the photographer who documented it.