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Patriots vs. Falcons: Fan Notes from the Game

Notes, musings, and observations from the New England Patriots' 30-23 victory over the Atlanta Falcons.

Kevin C. Cox

I'm sorry, Tommy. I'm sorry, Bill. I'm sorry, Patriots. I'll never doubt you again.

I had the Patriots losing this game. I had them losing back when the schedule first came out, I had them losing yesterday morning, and I had them losing when Tommy B fumbled that 4th down conversion to ice the game. I picked the Falcons in my Pick Em pool, I told all my friends to expect an L, and I spent most of yesterday afternoon steeling myself for 3-1 while telling myself that this would be a good loss to take, as it's out of the conference and should help get the team focused. I doubted this team. I couldn't imagine the Falcons losing at home in a must-win game following a big loss the week before.

And here we sit, undefeated.

That's the beauty of the 2013 New England Patriots. They don't care about what I think. They don't care about what anyone thinks. Let the Manning love fest continue. They are just going to keep improving, keep getting healthy, and slowly but surely become a team to be reckoned with in the AFC.

Let's get to the notes.

  • How can anyone not love Tony Gonzalez? Guy is just an All-World player. It always chaps my ass to root for players going up against New England, but Tony G is the man.
  • In the middle of Atlanta's first drive, Vince Wilfork got manhandled to the ground and then stayed there for the duration of the play. Something's up here.
  • Of course, as soon as I wrote that Wilfork got hurt. I don't know what I did to anger the football gods so.
  • I was a little perturbed at the lack of facial hair and pervert-staches on the New England offensive line when the starters were announced. I hope there isn't some kind of Samson effect going on here.
  • Heyyyy no opening the game with a three and out! I'll take it!
  • The Georgia Dome wasn't as loud as I remember it being the past (Editor's note: I wrote that before New England faced their first third down. Yikes).
  • Is every fan nationwide booing every single NFL injury a thing that we're doing now? Did I miss a memo?
  • That "I hate watching with Ramsey" commercial hit a little too close to home - except for the whole "every time he comes over, we win" thing. That doesn't happen when I watch games at my friends' house.
  • Don't worry, Joe Vellano. Nobody will even notice the difference between you and Vince.
  • Glad to see Chandler Jones finally drawing some flags. I feel like he has been getting absolutely manhandled all season and nobody has been noticing.
  • Can someone explain to me how Julian Edelman calling for a fair catch and then getting absolutely lit up by an Atlanta gunner isn't a Fair Catch interference penalty? How is that a judgment call?
  • Guess who benched Stevan Ridley in fantasy this week in both leagues?
  • When are the gamecallers going to stop throwing themselves a party whenever they pronounce Michael Hoomanawanui's name correctly? It's your job, guys - now get it right or pay the price.
  • How about Brandon Bolden's touchdown run that got called back? Decided to try and weave in and out, eventually said screw it, lowered his shoulder, and plowed some poor schmuck over on his way to paydirt. It reminded me of when I was in kindergarten and the teacher announced Free Play; there were only so many Tonka Trucks to go around, and you weren't going to see me stuck with the Cabbage Patch Kid with one eye - no sir.
  • Usually when I say "Yes! Great play...random guy I've never heard of!", it's after a pick from a member of the New England secondary signed off the street a few days before. Welcome aboard, Matthew Mulligan.
  • One thing I liked about the game yesterday was how quickly the New England secondary wrapped up and tackled receivers almost immediately after the catch. YAC is a huge stat for the Falcons and the Patriots did a great job of shutting that down.
  • Thomas Dmitroff looks like a guy who just got his prom date scooped out from underneath him and has to spend the last dance of the night in the corner by himself.
  • Kenbrell Thompkins bought himself a whole lotta drops with that catch over William Moore.
  • Brady still isn't as accurate as we're used to. I really don't know why that is; for the most part, he had plenty of time to throw last night. He just missed some open guys.
  • New England seemed perfectly content to resort back to their 2011-2012 defensive strategy of playing soft zone, giving up chunks of yards underneath while they prevent the big play, and stiffening up in the red zone. When you have a high-powered offense, giving up field goals is fine, but when you're likely to win a lot of games this year 24-20, I don't know if I like it.
  • Shouldn't "fear of missing out on football" be #FOMOOF? Isn't getting Fomoofed funnier than getting fomofed? The ad guys missed a gold mine with that one.
  • I take back all the nice things I said about Tony Gonzalez.
  • Not really. He's still the man. Looking forward to seeing him in Canton.
  • Not a great start to the second half, fellas.
  • Dont'a Hightower got whupped up and down the field last night in coverage. Tony Gonzalez is one thing, but I imagine the Patriots drafted him in part to blanket receiving backs like Jacquizz Rodgers. Maybe the original 54 can give him a few pointers.
  • Is it me, or have way more punts than normal been taking some crazy bounces that pin the Patriots way back deep?
  • Why did the Patriots abandon the run in the 2nd half? It was working incredibly well for them.
  • Why did Chris Collinsworth keep comparing KT to Chad Johnson? Thompkins had more touchdowns last week alone than Johnson had all season.
  • I'm still mad at Asante Samuel for dropping that damn pick. IT WAS RIGHT THERE! JUST CATCH IT AND THE GAME IS OVER! God dammit now my heart is pounding again.
  • Gronk? Where are you? Hello?
  • Oh good. Dobson is hurt too. This 2013 season is going to go down in history regardless of how it plays out.
  • New England against the run without Wilfork is significantly weaker than we're used to. If Big Vince is out for an extended period (which I think is likely, to be honest), the slate of quality backs ahead could cause a lot of trouble.
  • Kenbrell Thompkins, what did you have for breakfast on Sunday morning???
  • Garbage call on the personal foul following the huge Thompkins conversion. Absolute crap. What the hell is the safety supposed to do there?
  • I'll tell you what the safety is supposed to do...desperately try to chase LeGarrette Blount as he barrels into the end zone.
  • Blount's running style reminds me of Donkey Kong, Jr. in Super Mario Kart for Super Nintendo, which is hands down one of the Top 10 greatest video games ever made. It always took about six seconds for DK to get going, but once he did you better watch your ass; he was burning rubber and taking names. Blount is the same way.
  • I feel like the 2013 NFL season has seen a significant increase of unsuspecting fools getting taken out by a player sliding out of bounds.
  • No Tommy Kelly? No Vince Wilfork? No problem! Bring in some more undrafted rookies! Hey coach, I'm big and fat - put me in!
  • Kenbrell Thompkins touchdowns? Three. Kenbrell Thompkins spikes? Zero. Loving every one of those numbers.
  • Other than that one huge catch at the end of the game in perfect coverage, Julio Jones looked a whole lot like Who?lio Jones last night. Lock Aqib Talib up long term NOW before he gets any more picks and we can't afford him anymore.
  • How the hell did Tommy B hit Josh Boyce for a huge gain in the 4th quarter?I thought that was about to be an Intentional Grounding call.
  • Thank you, Al Michaels. Thank you for FINALLY acknowledging the massive, massive disparity between Peyton Manning's weapons and Tom Brady's. I think you're the first one to do so this year.
  • I don't want to harp too much on the Broncos on a Patriots blog - doing that is petty and unnecessary - but how come nobody is calling out Denver for running up the score on opponents? The 2007 Patriots were averaging 38 points a game through four weeks and were getting absolutely crucified for it. The 2013 Broncos are averaging 44 points a game and it is somehow the epitome of the NFL at it's finest. Let the record show that I have zero problem with the Broncos running up the score. None. The offense's job is to score points, so they should score. If you don't like it, stop them. And Manning is having a season for the ages right now. I'd just like to know why when the Patriots did it in 2007 they were the second coming of Satan and a disgrace to the game but when Peyton Manning is doing it everyone oohs and aahs and washes his jock. End rant.
  • Stephen Gostkowski has rediscovered his leg and his accuracy and I for one couldn't be happier.
  • 30-13 with six minutes left in the game is a totally safe lead - right?
  • Bill Belichick goes to prisons? He visits schools in the inner city? He does charity work just for charity's sake and doesn't care about throwing a press conference to let everyone know what a great guy he is? You sure? But he's a cold, uncaring jerk, isn't he?
  • If Floyd Mayweather is impressed by your cufflinks, you have yourself some baller cufflinks. Bobby Kraft gettin' it done.
  • Didn't hear Kyle Arrington's number called all night. Until I wrote that last note and he got pinged for a hold.
  • Logan Ryan on Tony Gonzalez equals zero chance of making the play.
  • I have absolutely no idea what happened on that onside kick. It seemed like everyone just sat around and watched it bounce.
  • How dumb did all those Falcons fans who left early feel after Atlanta came storming back?
  • What an awful ball spot on that Blount 3rd down run. Straight up post-Denny's crap. And then Tommy B fumbles another 4th down snap. That's twice in one season now.
  • As soon as Brady gave up that fumble and Matt Ryan connected with Jones for 49 yards, I started mentally preparing myself for a night spent lying in bed staring up at the ceiling after a blown 4th quarter lead. If the Patriots had lost both the game and Wilfork last night, I don't know what I would have done.
  • Luckily for me, we have ourselves a defense. Solid in the red zone as always, and the decision to treat Gonzalez like a poor, unsuspecting hottie who had the misfortune of walking in between the Butabi brothers really paid off.
  • 4-0, baby. Thank you Talib.

This has already been one of the most trying seasons and offseasons that I have ever experience as a fan, yet in spite of it all the Patriots have the best record in the AFC and they are doing it with rookies. The toughest test still lies ahead, as there are some great teams still on the schedule and Belichick has to figure out how he is going to replace Wilfork, but I'm officially done second guessing these team. I'm all in. Bring on Cincinnati.