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Patriots vs. Bengals: Fan Notes from the Game

Related: 10 things we learned from the Patriots’ loss to the Bengals

NFL: Cincinnati Bengals at New England Patriots Eric Canha-USA TODAY Sports

Happy Holidays, everyone!

I’ve decided to give myself a Christmas gift that I never thought I’d want, need or enjoy, but here we find ourselves: I’m going to keep these Fan Notes relatively short. I’ve said all I have to say about this team and this point, it’s too festive a season to be dwelling on whatever it is that tries to pass for New England Patriots football in 2022, and to be honest I have more important things to attend to this year that try to find humor in a failed season that is only funny in the “If you don’t laugh, you’ll cry” sense. So once again, thanks for continuing to read, and don’t worry, this won’t take long.

  • I imagine that I’m not alone in that I had familial obligations yesterday, and I spent most of the day decking various halls and jingling various bells. I was also posted up well outside of any local broadcast station that would have allowed me to have the game on in the background as the holiday cheer ramped up. So I may or may not have had to access the password from someone who may or may not have an account that allows me to stream out of market games on my iPad.
  • In other years, this is the kind of loss that would have had me up all night staring at the ceiling. The Patriots looked all-time bad for an entire half, then came storming back with some big plays only to fumble it away at the goal line in an absolute must-win game.
  • But this year, it just seems to be par for the course. The Patriots have now lost:
  • A game in overtime;
  • A game on a catch that was a catch but ruled not a catch even though it was a catch;
  • A game on a wild, absurd lateral that wasn’t;
  • A goal-line fumble.
  • All we need now is for them to lose to Miami next week on a Hail Mary TD and I’ll have bingo.
  • I spent the first half of yesterday’s game thinking that last week’s Raiders game may have broken a lot of players’ brains, and while mentally tough teams use moments like last week’s to galvanize themselves, rally around each other, and go on a run... poorly disciplined, mentally weak, completely lost teams don’t. The Patriots basically took that final play of the Raiders game and somehow made it last for an entire football half.
  • But the defense, as always, figured it out after a few tough drives and absolutely balled. The offense, as always, found new ways to wallow in its own stink. They put together their patented one decent drive per game late in the third quarter/early fourth, but it was sandwiched in between so much incompetence that it ultimately didn’t matter.
  • You know that basketball scene in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest where every time the Big Chief touched the basketball they scored, but the inmates were so busy running around in circles and cackling to themselves that it didn’t matter? I feel like that’s Kendrick Bourne and the rest of the Patriots receivers.
  • Kendrick Bourne catch? Good. Hunter Henry catch? No good. Keelan Cole TD? Good. About as consistent as a political opinion.
  • Trent Brown made it almost a full game without a false start! It’s a Christmas miracle!
  • One of my favorite games to play during every Patriots preseason is “Who the hell is that guy?”, where I try to figure out which of the four players wearing No. 24 is going to make the roster and which ones will be selling insurance after Labor Day. I do not, however, enjoy playing it in December. Who the hell is Scotty Washington?
  • Hunter Henry injured his leg running into his own man. ‘Nuff said.
  • No, wait! Another muffed punt led to a 22-yard kick just before Cincy scored their third straight TD. That’s ‘nuff said.
  • Patriots fans are the absolute worst for a lot of reasons, most of which aren’t their fault. Two decades of unprecedented success will do that to a fanbase and there are a lot of fully-grown adults who were literally children the last time the Pats were bad. And I now get to add the Zappe chants coming out of Gillette to the list of reasons why we suck.
  • Zappe isn’t the answer, I promise. Mac Jones has had some bad games for sure, but this debacle isn’t on him.
  • Live look at Pats fans everywhere when Mac Jones hit Jonnu Smith early in the second quarter to set up a 2nd-and-1.
  • To get more in line with the spirit of the season, Marcus Jones is one of the most exciting draft picks this team has made in a very long time. He’s absolutely electric and a legitimate threat to score every time he touches the ball, in all three phases of the game.
  • Not only that, but Mac Jones FINALLY took a deep shot to Tyquan Thornton. Thornton dropped it as it landed right in his breadbasket and the Patriots punted again, but the attempt was made. I’ll take that as a massive, massive win.
  • Has a D/ST unit ever scored more touchdowns on the season than an offense did?
  • Mac Jones reaching the end zone with ease from the 45-yard line makes last week’s Raiders game that much worse.
  • As somebody who is the proud parent to a 125-pound Bernese Mountain Dog, I can say with absolute certainty that, while a new GMC truck is a great gift, the girlfriend 100 percent won out on that exchange.
  • I experienced my first football Sunday Saturday during the season more or less not paying all that much attention to a Patriots game, and I hate how nice and relaxing it was.
  • Don’t worry; I’m not going anywhere. I’ll watch every game for the rest of the season, and next season, and every season after that. I’m on the USS Patriots for life and the submarine cams will find my skeleton cuffed to the brig long after the ship has sunk. But if the Patriots aren’t going to show up until late in the third quarter, I’ don’t see why I have to.
  • Those of you who have been following my Fan Notes since their inception all the way back in 2011 know that I have a bit of a tradition around this time of year, both on this amazing website and in my personal life. Every year on Christmas Eve, NBC airs what I consider to be one of the very few perfect films in existence, It’s a Wonderful Life. And every year on Christmas Eve, I fail to get through that movie without turning into a sobbing, blubbering puddle of a man. Yet somehow, for some reason, it’s a different scene every year that sets me off, and while I’m sure that there have been some repeats over the years - after three plus decades of watching the movie, how can there not be? - I’m still amazed at the hows and whys of it all.
  • This year’s winner? I’m happy to say that I held it together for most of the movie this time around; the tears usually start right about the time George and Clarence get kicked out of Nick’s Bar. But this year I made it all the way to George reaching into his pocket and discovering that Zuzu’s petals are all there, right where he left them, and letting out a “what do you know about that??” in a broken, high pitched tone that would be funny if I wasn’t so busy wiping my eyes.
  • And if I’m not straight up bawling by the time George extends a grateful wink skyward as he utters, “That a boy, Clarence!”, you can bet I am by the end of it.
  • And I will go to my grave repeating over and over and over again, at every opportunity I can, that the single greatest moment in cinema history is George Bailey stopping to kiss the broken newel post on his way up the stairs to embrace his children.
  • Two games to go, then it’s over. We can hang in there, folks.

I hope that Saturday’s game didn’t put too much of a damper on your various holidays; I’m over it at this point, and it’s Christmas. Let’s all be merry and bright. So get the hell out of here and go spread some joy.