What I Saw ~ Week 12 ~ 3rd Quarter GameTape!!
~ At 01:47:15, on the Opening Drive of the 2nd Half, we had a 2nd & 10 at our own 20. Nothing spectacular happened on this Play, but I found it utterly awesome, anyway, because it continued a beloved trend that's been Born Again, this year, for the first time, really, since Corey Dillon's rapid decline in 2005: Using The Whole Pig!!
The Announcers'd just mentioned that the Patriots were a miserable 8 for 10 on the Ground in the first Half.
And of course: we were at 2nd & 10.
For most of the last 7 years, the Patriots would've consequently gone with a Pass ~ probably out'f a Spread ~ on that 2nd & 10, and pretty much abandoned the Run for the rest of the day. And it's not as if there haven't been days this Year ~ and this, in fact, was one'f'm ~ when we saw far too much Passing ~ 44 Attempts against the Dolphins ~ and far too much Spread for my taste: I'm certainly not advocating for taking the air out'f the Ball or anything, and The Spread is an invaluable part of our complex Arsenal. But when we allow the Passing Game to dominate our PlayCalling, 3 things happen, none'f them good:
1 ~ Tom Brady gets beat up and worn out, leaving'm battered and bruised by the time the PlayOffs start.
2 ~ Years of that will not only make him less effective when we need'm most, but will also shorten his Career.
3 ~ The Offense becomes Predictable, allowing teams like the Giants to tee off on us and attack our weakest, most vulnerable points, rather then us keeping them constantly off balance: Predictability means we play Offense in fear. Unpredictability means that we drive the Enemy before us and listen to the Lamentations of their women!! Hah!!
So when the Patriots handed the ball of to Stevan "You May Fire When Ready" Ridley on 2nd & 10, at that point, I was far more pleased than the average Fan, I suspect!!
And it was a damned good Play, against a tough Dolphins Defense: Daniel Fells "Parkway" aligned at Right Tight End, Aaron The Navigator next to'm at Right Wing Back, and both attacked downfield, while Left Guard Donald Thomas pulled from the left side and charged downfield between Fells and Right Tackle Sebastian The Cruel.
Everyone did a solid job on their Blocks, including Wild Wes Welker on the outside, and Ridley himself made a nice Cut between Welker on the Outside and Fells & Hernandez on the inside to surge downfield and rack up 7 Big Ones.
We'd go 3 & Out on the next Play, but an enormous step forward had been taken: Mad Mac, Brady, and Company had announced that the Run was not going to be abandoned...And that we had the full capacity to punish the Fish with it, if we were so inclined.
We would only score 6 Points the entire 2nd Half, as the Game became a War of Attrition...But after going 8 for 10 in the Running Game in the 1st Half, we racked it up for 24 Carries and 98 Yards in the 2nd Half.
Perhaps the most encouraging Aspect of these 2012 New EngLand Patriots is that one gets increasingly confident that we can and will win these Wars of Attrition, an Attribute all too often absent in our team over the last 7 Years.
For all the blather about this "Passing League", you usually do need to be able to win those, to go all the way.
We've got a ways to go...But the way we grunted this one out was evocative of that tough, scrappy Dynasty team.
~ At 01:51:00, with the Fish starting their first Possession at 1st & 10 on their 23, my man Brandon Spikes got the Defense's Half off to a strong start, facing down Reggie Bush on a 1 on 1 up the middle, and stuffing'm for but a 1 Yard Gain. And it certainly didn't hurt Spikes's chances that Dolphins Center Mike Pouncey fell on'is face and rolled into Bush's path as Spikes corralled'm!! Hah!!
~ At 01:51:35, on the next Play, the Fish were looking at 2nd & 9 from their 24...and my man Brandon Spikes made another great Play, this time in Pass Defense ~ Yes!! Brandon Spikes made a Play in Pass Defense, Haters!! ~ timing the Pass perfectly, stepping right in front of Anthony Fasano and thwacking Ryan TanneHill's Pass!!
One Play later, it was 3 & Out.
The Defensive Tone for the 2nd Half had been set...Thanks, above all, to Brandon Spikes.
~ At 02:03:30, on the next Fish Possession, the Fish had a 1st & 10 at their own 42. My boy Kyle Arrington came tearing in from the Slot on a Corner Blitz, and ripped TanneHill to the ground!! TanneHill absolutely panicked, tossing the ball downfield, and was lucky he didn't get Intercepted. Great PlayCall by Coach Patricia.
Arrington has gotten a lot of crap, this Year. And I don't dispute that he hasn't had'is best Year.
But it seems very likely, considering Mad Bill's penchant ~ a very wise one ~ for keeping Bumps & Bruises as close to the vest as possible...that Kyle Arrington didn't play the first two months or so at 100%, or nearly close to it.
I mean: He didn't suddenly get old, right?
Chances are: Something undisclosed was holding'm up, slowing'm down.
And he's been light years better, the last few weeks...hasn't he??
...Almost as if he's worked'is way back to full Health.
I maintain that Kyle Arrington is not only a tough, scrappy, classic Patriot, and nasty against the Run, which is invaluable to a Championship Defense..But that his Verticity, his Processing Speed, and his Burst is far better than he's being given credit for, lately.
I see'm as a vital part of this team ~ which I've never wavered on, thank you!! ~ and hope he plays here for a long time...But at the same time, I like'm far better ~ as I've always said ~ as a Slot Corner or even at Dime!!
~ At 02:04:10 ~ The very next Play, with the Fish looking at 2nd & 10 ~ Vince Wilfork continued to assert his Dominance, barreling through Richie Incognito and then just destroying Daniel Thomas, for a 4 Yard Loss!!
~ At 02:08:10, after the Fish punted, the Patriots were backed up to their own 2, 1st & 10. And I'll tell you: I didn't see much'f an Hole where Stevan Ridley chose to run it, through the left side. But he somehow managed to surge through and rack up 5 Big Ones on a critical 1st Down. I'm a big Fan of what our O Line has managed to accomplish, despite the myriad of hardships it's been beset with, this year...but that play was all Ridley!!
And that wasn't the first time.
Consequently, we were able to grunt our way to a 1st Down, two Plays later. A Little Thing, perhaps, but I maintain that in FootBall, Little Things mean a great deal, and especially so in a War of Attrition such as this afternoon's Battle with the Bad Fish: Had we gone 3 & Out after getting squeezed down to our own 2 Yard Line, the Fish would've had themselves a boatload of Momentum...and that might've ultimately proved fatal.
~ At 02:15:55, the Fish had a 2nd & 10 from our 49. Here I have to give long-overdue Props to Coach Patricia and'is consistently unpredictable PlayCalling: This was a pivotal moment, here, with the Dolphins still enjoying the advantageous Field Position they'd earned on their previous Possession, but ~ at 2nd & 10 ~ quickly in danger of losing a great deal of their Advantage.
What I loved about this was that, rather than going Bend But Don't Break, the Patriots ~ as they have started to do increasingly, since the pivotal acquisition of Aqib Talib, much to my delight!! ~ made another aggressive and unexpected move, sending in Steve Gregory on a Safety Run Blitz!! He tore upfield and blew the play up, and then my man Rob Ninkovich finished it off, stuffing Reggie Bush for a critical 3 Yard Loss. Nice.
One Play later, it was a vital 3 & Out.
These forgotten Games ~ these forgotten 3 & Outs ~ are where Championships are forged.
~ 02:17:50. Kitties.
~ 02:18:15. Patriots with a 1st & 10 from their own 20 on the ensuing Punt. Another Little Thing That Means a Lot: The Patriots run it to the Right Side. The Blocking is pretty good, all told, but Super Beast Paul Soliai is driving Ryan Wendell directly into "Shattering" Shane Vereen's Path. Vereen ~ who's Explosiveness has only been glimpsed, so far, my Friends ~ instantaneously Ricochets off'is right foot and Bursts downfield towards the Center of the Line, and claws out 4 Big Ones on a Play that should've netted'm Zero.
So much for my man Vereen being only an "outside" Runner.
2 Plays later, we Move The Chains.
This is when it happens, Gentlemen.
And this is how it happens.
~ 02:19:50. Patriots with a 1st & 10 from the 32, after Aaron The Navigator makes a nice Play to get the first Down, 2 Plays after Vereen's Run. Picking up a little steam after Moving The Chains, the Patriots lay down some terrific Team Blocking, and manage to crank open up a skinny little Hole for Uncanny Danny WoodHead, off the left side...and WoodHead just tears through it, racking up 13 Big Ones for a 1st Down!!
That sequence really got us going against this tenacious Defense.
~ 02:21:10. Patriots with another 1st & 10, this at the Dolphin 44, and gaining Confidence with every fresh set of Downs!! "Shattering" Shane Vereen took it up the middle, and looked stopped for a 1 Yard Gain...but he shook the Defender, bounced it outside to the Left and scratched up 2 more.
Again: Little things.
Getting stuffed on 1st Down would've taken some'f the air out'f our Momentum...But when your O Back scrapes and claws for everything he can get ~ and subsequently gives you far better options at 2nd & 7 than at 2nd & 9 ~ it's inspiring to the other 10 guys out there...and to the entire Team.
This is when It Happens.