I was resigned to watch yesterday's game at either the Tir Na nOg or ESPNZone (both at the Inner Harbor), or perhaps not at all. The wife suddenly tells me that she wants to take the 2 kiddies to breakfast and then later to have haircuts, herself included. She also wanted to go to work at the Med Center for an hour or two, and the kids could play on the computers while they waited. Sensing an opportunity, I asked if I could drive to Alexandria VA to watch the game at this Irish restaurant called Murphy's, at which a lot of Pats fans gather. We found the location on Google Maps, and saw that it was only 60 miles away, almost all of which were highway miles. We all left the apartment after 10:30; I drove down the B-W Parkway (MD-295), which becomes I-295 inside the Beltway. I figured that I-95 & 495 would be too congested because of the Redskins game. The parkway is a nicely scenic road, though only two lanes wide. The driving was steady and accident-free, all the way to my exit. I wouldn't want to commute there on weekdays, however. Elapsed time was just over an hour; it would have been slightly less, except that I had to drive around a couple of blocks to find a parking space. By the time I arrived at Murphy's, it was not even noon yet. The ground floor is the restaurant; I headed upstairs. People were already sitting in front of the giant- and I do mean giant -screen television, so I grabbed a chair at the bar, near the flat-screen TV up and at the corner. I ordered the Irish breakfast: bangers, bacon, eggs, potatoes and bisciut. Dig it. By kickoff time, all the barstools, tables and chairs were taken, and people were standing around the televisions. We all cheered when the cameras showed BB, Pats players, Romeo and Willie Mac. Lots of folks were wearing NEP jerseys. It was nice to be in that atmosphere again. Whenever the NEP would gain a first down, someone would say: "New England Patriots?" and the rest would say: "First Down." After a TD, we sang Gary Glitter's Rock and Roll song, then added at the end: "Jets Suck." As for the details of the game, the general consensus was: Sammy Morris > the 2005/06 Corey Dillon. Not that we could hear well, but was any explanation given for Faulk's absense? Maroney needs to be activated for Dallas. No excuses. Watson's confidence is at an all-time high. He didn't even fumble the deep-seam pass, his curse from last season. Stallworth should have caught the 3rd-down pass on the crossing pattern. He might have gone all the way. Still, it was good to see him continue to contribute, and his TD was awesome. Hochstein filled in well for Koppen; no snap eff-ups, anyway. Perhaps the tape would show subtle lapses in execution, but to the naked eye at game speed, we thought he was all right. TB definitely missed a couple of open targets; he also had a couple dropped, e.g.: Stallworth, and Heath Evans late in the 4th quarter. The defense had steady pressure on Anderson, and turned up the heat when needed. We couldn't see it ourselves, but I've read that Jarvis was being held by Joe Thomas more than once. We were very concerned when Adalius limped off the field near the end of the first half, and very happy to see him on the field in the 2nd half. Our 5 LBs need to stay healthy all season, because there is nothing - sadly, again - behind them. There was a huge cheer when Rodney appeared on the field. His energy is contagious; he just needs to try to avoid the personal fouls. Tedy and Junior also feed/feel the crowd, and their activity and enthusiasm yesterday belie their ages. The secondary generally avoided the big plays, and tightened-up on 3rd down; therefore, Cleveland couldn't sustain many time-consuming drives, which are Kryptonite to our LBs. P.S.: why was Wes Welker returning KOs instead of Hobbs? As for the things that need work: TB eyeballs his targets, esp. Moss, too much. Whenever he sells play-action, or looks one way but throws another way, he almost always succeeds. Opponents will double-team Moss from now on, Tom. Don't force things, a la Lord Favre. Probably due to Faulk's absense, the screen pass was used only once, if I recall, and that quite successfully (edit: for just 4 yards) - except for Neal's penalty. Don't forget the screen, Skippy. Speaking of Skippy, the offensive execution in the 3rd quarter was truely offensive, and should be executed. Let me repeat: I hate empty backfield formations, esp. when you have a 2nd-half lead. There is minimum protection, and no RB about whom the defense should worry. NEP's 3rd quarter = bad formations, bad play-calling, bad execution. Edit: to be fair, one of those drives stalled because of Stallworth's offensive holding penalty. Last, and certainly least, Chris Hanson must go. Now. He was so disgusting yesterday, that folks at Murphy's starting shouting: "I love Waltah." BB should have let Gostkowski try a 57-yard FG, or just attempt a 4th/5 conversion at Cleveland's 40, in the 3rd quarter. Speaking of the Ghost, his KOs were unimpressive. Must have been the wind, or something. To make a long story longer, I believe that any problems the NEP had yesterday are all correctable (except Hanson). A diet of humble pie, sprinkled with enough sugar, should be enough to sustain the folks in Foxborough this week. As for Murphy's, it was all I had read it would be. Thanks, Pats 1, for the strong recommendation. I felt as if I were somewhere at Fanueil Hall, or at one of the bars near the Garden. Whenever there's a game that's not on local TV, you'll see me at Murphy's. With the wife's blessing, of course.