The week between Christmas and New Year's is widely and correctly considered the laziest week of the year. Most offices are closed, and those soulless, heartless corporations who do make their employees come in get to enjoy paying their employees to completely mail it in for a few days. Now you would think that the concept of mailing it in doesn't apply to the Patriots, but based on yesterday's game, that clearly isn't true. The Pats have played some lackadaisical games in the past, and they'll likely play some more lackadaisical games in the future, but what we saw yesterday ranks up there with any stinker I have ever watched. Offensively, I don't think the Patriots ran more than five or six plays over and over, and defensively they went extremely vanilla with soft zone. The time of possession was roundly in New York's favor, and at no point was there any urgency from anyone whatsoever.
And you know what? That's alright. I'm cool with it.
To be honest, I more or less napped through this game, which I can assure you never, ever happens. I dozed off several times during what should have been key moments, and when the Jets won in OT I got up and got on with my day. I know that I'm supposed to hate the Jets, and I know that I was supposed to get all this satisfaction about crippling their playoff chances, but to be honest as of last week the 2015 regular season is more or less over in my book. The difference between the one seed and the two seed this year is fairly negligible, the Patriots can still lock it up next week against an atrocious Dolphins team, and as we have all been saying for a while now, it's just about being healthy in January. Nothing else matters.
And if the Pats are allowed to mail it in, then so am I.
- The New York Giants were eliminated from playoff contention before this game even started, and then the Patriots deferred. As far as I'm concerned this game was a win as soon as the coin toss was over.
- New England, hoping to manage the loss of McCourty and Chung, came out in a Nickel base that invited a lot of underneath throws and baited New York to run. For a quarterback like Fitzpatrick, that's the equivalent of the Up Up Down Down Left Right Left Righ A B A B Select Start Contra code.
- Who else was freaking out on New York's first punt of the day with Keyshawn Martin back there? Even when he called for a fair catch, I watched that play with one eye open.
- Granted, I watch a ton of football with one eye open, but this time getting too hydrated on Saturday night had nothing to do with it.
- Does Marcus Cannon kind of look like Uncle Phil from The Fresh Prince of Bel Air, or is that just me?
- I hate - hate hate HATE - the FB dive play on 3rd and short. The Patriots have been running it since 2009 with Sammy Morris and I'd be amazed if it has a 50% success rate.
- But hey - the may not have converted a 3rd and short, but at least they lost another lineman. So there's that.
- The two linemen protecting Tommy B yesterday were Waddle and Cannon. That sounds like a duo of old men who sit in the balcony during the Muppet Show and hurls insults at the cast.
- I know there are tons of jokes about Waddle, and waddling, and all that good stuff, but I just don't have the energy anymore. These are just taking it all out of me.
- OK, just one: he Waddled in, and it didn't take him long before he Waddled right back on out.
- So Vollmer is probably out for the year, right? No chance he's back in time to make any kind of impact, correct? I'm basing that on nothing, except for the fact that that's pretty much how it is this season.
- New York's first scoring drive was exactly the kind of drive I was expecting to see from the Jets: strong runs and short passes to move the chains. New England seemed to be inviting the run in order to, in my guess, keep the clock moving as much as possible so the Patriots could just get the hell out of there.
- It was also vintage Jets in that Billal Powell was gaining about 50 yards per carry and Chris Ivory was gashing the middle at will, so as soon as they got in the Red Zone New York decided to throw a few corner end zone routes and had to settle for 3.
- New England's first scoring drive, however..that was about as un-Patriotsy as it gets. Gadget plays out the wazoo.
- Seriously - is there a cameraman whose sole job is to follow the Patriots sidelines to see if there's ever anyone limping? The speed with which they cut to limping Pats is mind-boggling.
- Then again, pretty much everyone on the team is limping at this point, so it isn't a very hard spot.
- Jets receivers were as open as I have seen receivers get against this defense all season. This was exactly the scheme we had to deal with every single game in 2011. How did we live through that?
- I don't know why the Jets didn't just give it to Powell every single snap. What a day from that guy.
- Remember when the Patriots cut Kenbrell Thompkins and kept Aaron Dobson? Yeah that was awesome.
- That the Patriots got the ball back, down seven, with two full minutes and two timeouts left in the first half tells us everything we need to know about how they approached this game. Just let that clock keep ticking.
- I saw a few times how Brandon Marshall made contact with a defender beyond one yard. Where's the OPI?
- New England actually had some success against the zone looks, but that success, to my knowledge, didn't come from an audible or any kind of unique look or audible. Tommy B just hit the receiver that got open over the middle.
- On the Brady sack that set up New England's second FG of the game, that was the kind of play where, had there been some more experienced receivers out there, Tommy B is probably able to get rid of the ball for positive yards. But despite shuffling around back there like a married man at his 75th wedding anniversary, he couldn't find the open man because nobody came back to him.
- Remember when everyone couldn't get enough of the Dolphins signing Ndamukong Suhand nobody really talked about Jabaal Sheard?
- One of the places during the game where I was napping, unfortunately, was the strip sack that Collins ran back. I only woke up because I got a slew of text messages extolling Sheard's rushing ability. But I will say this after the replay: watching Jamie Collins just push Brandon Marshall out of the way with one hand as he walked into the end zone was about as satisfying as it can get in a game like this.
- Man did the Patriots miss Patrick Chung yesterday. The notion of "beat them with their third option" becomes a buttload easier when there really isn't anyone who can tackle out there doing damage.
- I guess I can take that last note and apply it to about 15 other guys as well.
- Do mine eyes deceive me, or did the Patriots play a game without a muffed punt or a special teams penalty? And folks are complaining today?
- Unless, of course, you want to count the decision to kick as a special teams mistake.
- I personally have no problem with the decision to kick. The defense was playing infinitely better than the offense, and so I think the idea was to hold the Jets, get decent field position, do enough to get into FG range, and then kick a field goal to win it. Honestly, I don't think that's a horrible strategy.
- This offensive line. Yeesh. It's like the Jet's weren't even blocked at all.
- I'm not going to lie - a not insignificant part of me thought that Steven Jackson was going to go off yesterday. It makes absolutely zero sense for a 32 year-old back starting his first game in a year to have a monster game against a run defense like New York's, but part of me was definitely thinking that.
- How many times cal you throw to Bolden in the flat for one yard?
- That the Patriots were even still in this game late in the 4th quarter is mind-boggling. Not sure if that's a credit to the defense or a bad sign for the Jets offense.
- That Brady wasn't sacked on the ensuing 4th and 9 play is almost as mind-boggling as the playcalling on the down that preceded it. Deep to Martin into double coverage? Really?
- Even more mind boggling was that, on that Gronk catch, the safety didn't go low on the tackle. That might have been a picture wrap on the 2015 season.
- Was that DPI on Butler garbage? I have absolutely no idea. Maybe. Who knows. Nobody does, including the refs. Zero sense getting upset about penalties like that. You just have to hope the NFL piles the bullcrap equally across the league when it's all said and done.
- Why would New England take it's 3rd and final timeout with 33 seconds on the clock? Because if someone fields that punt, they muff it, the Jets get the ball, and kick a FG to win. Anyone want to challenge that logic?
- Honestly, not that any of us should point to the coin toss as the reason the Pats dropped this one. The truth is that the Patriots were lucky to even take this game to OT with the way they played. When the team that deserves to win the game loses it, it's absolutely brutal. We as Patriots fans know that all too well.
- "I hate ties, OK? I hate to wear 'em, and I hate to watch 'em." Never change, Dan Fouts. Never change.
- Eh. Whatever. Let's just not lose any more players.
- To those of you screaming, "If they aren't even going to try, why bother starting anybody at all? Why not just sit Brady and put Jimmy G in there!", ask that question again objectively. What would the narrative, the repercussions, and the message be if Belichick had visibly rolled over right away and didn't even bother to go through the motions? He would have gotten crucified (not that he cares). He would have sent the wrong message to the locker room. You can't just visibly quit on a game like a Week 16 matchup when the 1 seed is on the line. Instead you just go extremely vanilla, run a lot of draw plays and quick outs to expendable players, and get the hell out of there. I have zero problem with any of it.
- Now, that said, let nobody misinterpret that last note as me making some kind of excuse. And by no means am I implying that the Patriots were trying to lose. Rather, they installed a very safe, very bland gameplan and stuck with it with no adjustments or deviations. Part of it was that they just didn't have the personnel to do much else, but I think that another big part of it is because they knew that health was more important than Ws. They field tested a few gadget plays to gauge their effectiveness, but other than that I don't think they ran more than four or five different looks all game. The Jets deserved to win this one. They took advantage of the looks New England gave them and executed very well. They played like a team in must-win mode. Good for them.
Dolphins next week, and that first round bye is still right there. At least now next week will be interesting.