November 22, 2009
Patriots Lay Down The Lumber
BY: Kevin Rousseau
For sure, the fourth quarter meltdown against the Colts hangover still lingers like expired sushi. It will until the Patriots can beat the Colts (preferably in Indianapolis and during the playoffs). Even if the team goes into New Orleans and beats the Saints on Monday night, there will be that "Well, yeah but…" in the back of your mind. But with a defense that came back to life with five turnovers and allowing 226 total yards against the Jets, the Patriots did exactly what they had to do on Sunday.
Let's see. Essentially eliminated the Jets from playoff contention? Check. Settled a score from the Jets' week two "Super Bowl" defeat of the Patriots? Yep. And proceeded to rebound both offensively and defensively from one of the most gut wrenching losses in recent memory? Roger that as well.
And about that game…
Well, you might have noticed I didn't get around to a column last week after the flip-flop throwing, couch pillow punching, expletive-laden fourth quarter living room meltdown. I had every intention of banging one out on Monday night, then Tuesday night and even on Wednesday night but I kept asking myself "Just why do you need to put yourself through re-living that maddening set of circumstances?" You can thank me later but you just found out one liberating thing about not getting paid for something you like to do. I might not be making any money pulling these columns together for the last eight years but at least I can still call my shots on content and submission.
To wit, the Patriots started to call their own shots on their 2009 fate by coming out and laying down the lumber on the Jets early in the game. In reality, over the mid-season stretch that includes the Dolphins (twice, the Colts, the Jets and the Saints, the team had to go 3-2 to set themselves up for a cream puff December schedule. They are 2-1 with games remaining against the Saints and Dolphins. So while this Saints game might make for good theatre and improve the Patriots silly Power Ranking with a win, the real goal will be to continue to build momentum that can be cashed in the following Sunday versus the Dolphins since the division in all likelihood can be wrapped up in two weeks with a win in Miami.
Indeed as we sit down on Thursday and ask the annual rhetorical question "Why do the Lions buzzkill our Thanksgiving every freaking year?," we will have plenty to be grateful for in Patriots Nation.
Without question, the best news to report to a Patriots fan who has been in the wilderness of sub-Sahara Africa since August is that Tom Brady is just fine, thank you very much. Sure, we saw a few games that we wish we could have back. But he looks like the same TFB that makes me scream like a school girl. I don't care what 20 HOF quarterbacks tell Andrea Kremer. I'll still take him in January over anybody past or present. Case closed.
The second thing we would tell our recently returned Patriot Nation citizen is that the kids are alright. For the first time in a few years, the Patriots had one of those drafts and free-agent signing periods that made them what they became at the beginning of this decade. The Colts fiasco aside, the defense is indeed younger and faster than it has been in the past few years. Butler, Chung, Guyton, Mayo, Wilhite all are long-term contributors on defense and project upward. And on offense, my tailgating compadre Matt can stop sending hate mail to Matt Light now that Sebastian Vollmer looks like the stud left tackle for the rest of Tom Brady's career. Oh, did I mention that Julian Edelman is quickly becoming a reliable target at wide receiver?
"There's been some really good leadership for a pretty young team," said Brady after the Jets victory.
Not to get too far ahead of ourselves but it is shaping up that the level of success in the 2010 NFL draft will go a long way to solidifying the Patriots as a force over the next five years. A new running back, edge pass rusher and tight end would be on my shopping list.
We should also be grateful that the above-mentioned cream puff December schedule is set up to be the perfect confidence builder for January with games against the Bills, Panthers, Jaguars and Texans.
For sure, there are areas to be worried about. The Pats have a running game that feels like it could implode at a moment's notice. And an injury to Moss or Welker would bring the party to an end pretty quickly.
But really, folks. We are Boston sports fans. We always look on the positive, bright side, don't we? (Editor's note: Hold here for reading audience to remove tongue from cheek.) Well, we should on this Thanksgiving week. Our team is 7-3 and trending upward.
Given that reality and all the other great things in my life, I'll gladly hum some "Alice's Restaurant" and honk on some scallops wrapped in bacon while watching the Lions on Thursday.
You should too. We'll be in the mix in January.
Site-specific editorial/photos Copyright 2001-2004 PatsFans.com. This website is an unofficial and independently operated source of news and information not affiliated with any school, team, or league.