This may come as a surprise, but I ate and drank myself stupid this past weekend. Nothing kicks off the summer season quite like binge eating at a Memorial Day BBQ and reminding all of my friends why they only invite me to events sporadically. I'm still feeling the after-effects of my meat coma, and so I'm not feeling creative enough to write a humorous intro to today's Top 20 Most Memorable Patriots Moments of 2012. So I'll spare you all what would undoubtedly be a horrendous failure and just get right to it.
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. picks off in the end zone to seal the game vs. the .
#16. A diving catch in the end zone shows off athleticism as well as his pearly whites.
#15. ’ forced fumble of to seal the game against the #14. New England engineers an 7-plus minute drive to close out the Dolphins and clinch the AFC East.
#13. Baltimore Beats New England 31-30 in a disastrous weekend of replacement reffing.
#12. Julian Edelman's electric punt return TD against the .
#11. New England's 28 point comeback against the .
#10. forces a fumble to seal the game against the in overtime.
#9. Dual 100 yard days for Ridley and Bolden, dual 100 yard days for Welker and Gronk against the Buffalo Bills.
#8. playaction pass to Brandon Lloyd against the Texans, the rout is on.
We stay with the Texans for our #7 Top Play of 2012, as that game was such a blowout it wouldn't be fair to just highlight one moment.
7. A Danny Woodhead fumble becomes a Brandon Lloyd touchdown, courtesy of JJ Watt
To say that the matchup between the Houson Texans and the New England Patriots didn't quite go as expected would be an understatement. A game that was supposed to be a hard-fought battle between two of the AFC's premier teams was pretty much over by the second quarter, and the rest of the game was just a matter of watching the Patriots make a statement. And perhaps no play exemplified just how one-sided this matchup was than the second play of the 4th quarter. With the Patriots comfortably ahead 28-7 at that point, questions arose as to whether or not they would take their foot off the gas, play a little more conservatively, and milk the clock as they protected their lead. New England quickly put those questions to rest as they opened the quarter in shotgun formation, still perfectly content to sling it and rub a little more dirt and shame into those shiny new Varsity jackets Houston wore to the stadium. After a short pass attempt to Wes Welker fell incomplete, the Patriots went right back to the shotgun, bringing Danny Woodhead into the backfield, isolating Lloyd on the right side, and bunching Aaron Hernandez and Matthew Slater in tight on the left. Houston came out in a 3-3-5 Nickel, trying to take away the deep ball and protecting the middle of the field. Brady, seeing the Texans cheating over to Hernandez's side, audibled to a check-down route to Woodhead that saw Mankins, Koppen, and Connolly chip block their initial assignments before sprinting out to the right in order to give Woody a lane. Antonio Smith was able to charge in completely unblocked, which didn't give the play as much time to develop as it needed, and Tommy B was forced to get rid of the ball sooner than expected. Woodhead made the catch in the backfield just as Connolly got to Tim Dobbins, but he wasn't able to completely shed the tackle and Dobbins got a small piece of him. Glover Quin seemed poised to stop the play after only a few yards, but Woodhead was able to spin his way out of the tackle and take off downfield. At that point he only had one man standing between him and the end zone, but J.J. Watt, who was out of the play almost from the getgo, was impressively able to chase Woodhead down from behind and knocked the ball loose at about the 13 yard line as he wrapped him up. The ball flew about 10 yards, took a small bounce, and landed right in the arms of Brandon Lloyd, who fell on it for what was later classified as a rushing touchdown. Any small hope of a Texans comeback was officially dashed, and most of the Houston team could only stand around shaking their heads as they tried to figure out how absolutely nothing could go right for them that night.
There was a lot to like about this play. One, up until the fumble, it was a very nice play by Woodhead, turning a potential loss of yards into a positive gain through speed, elusiveness, and great on-field awareness. Two, it is the perfect representation of one of those nights when the ball just bounces your way. The Patriots seem to have been on the receiving end of more than their share of unlucky bounces, questionable calls, and miracle catches over the years, so it was nice to mark one up for the good guys for a change. And three, what made this play especially sweet was that Watt was unintentionally yet directly responsible for that touchdown. I'm actually a pretty big J.J. Watt fan, but by Thursday of that week I had already had enough of hearing the media gush over him and what he was probably going to do to Tommy B and the entire Patriots offensive line. That kind of unapologetic, blatant, overinflated, obsequious rumpswabbing is usually reserved solely for Peyton Manning and LeBron James, but for some reason everyone in the media was all kinds of high on Watt that week and I was plenty sick of it. Watt finished the day with four tackles, zero sacks, and the assist on a Patriots touchdown, which isn't exactly the day anyone envisioned.
You can relive that play here.