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Idle thoughts - the "3rd and 18" edition

Discussion in 'PatsFans.com - Patriots Fan Forum' started by patfanken, Jan 22, 2018.

  1. patfanken

    patfanken PatsFans.com Supporter PatsFans.com Supporter

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    With the Eagles ahead 38-7 and a LOT of Saints fans anguished by the result, it's time to get going on another chapter of this season-long trip to yet ANOTHER Superbowl opportunity. (and a chance to get it done by 1 am ;) )

    What a freakin' roller coaster ride, and I don't just mean this particular game. From preseason where thoughts of an undefeated season ran amok in the national consciousness, to the 2-2 start with key figures like Hightower Rivers, McClellan, Valentine, Cannon, and Edelman injured and others expected pluses like Ealy, Harris, and Branch, either gone or simply swept aside by others. Expectations of this team have been up and down the entire season.

    We all can't deny that this team never turned out to be the juggernaut the media hype wanted us to believe we had. For whatever reason, this was a flawed team physically and talent-wise compared to the other elite teams. The offense rarely had their full complement and a defense that in the end, had a front 7 that ended being made up of other people's cast-offs, UDFA's, and other relative no-names who are never going to be featured on anyone's media pregame show.

    BUT like most (but not all) of BB's teams, this was a very hard working, focused and mentally tough group that epitomized the concept of the "sum being greater than the individual parts". They showed time and time again that "playing the full 6o minutes" and "the next man up" are NOT just random cliches. But rather living concepts that reside in Foxborough MA, more than any other place in the NFL.

    This is a team that is going to be a favorite to win their 3rd Superbowl in 4 years (again), but NOT because they have more talent on their team, but rather because of who they are and how they play the game. So that in the minds of so many that it doesn't matter that the Eagles might be the more talented team, or that our 2nd best player might not play. All that matters to the perception is that they are the Patriots and they will somehow find the way. How lucky we all are that we get to be fans of this team. But enough of waxing poetic, time to look at this game and try and examine what happened and why.

    I saw Blake Bortles play the best game he's ever played in a game of significance in his life...and it STILL wasn't enough. He completed 63% of his passes. He was 6 of 9 on 3rd down conversions before going 0-6 in the 4th. Even some of his incomplete passes were on the money and it took great defensive plays to break them up, including that 4th down play that Gilmore broke up.

    I thought the Jags came into Foxboro with a GREAT offensive game plan and executed it to the letter for 3 quarters. And their defense was as strong as advertised The point I am making here is that the Jags didn't come in here and give the Pats a THING. I thought we saw all the REASONS Bellichick had recommended Dough Marone TWICE for the HC'ing job. It was a good team, well coached, who went on the road into a very hostile environment and took the game directly to the Pats. They exploited weaknesses and ran to their strengths just like a good, well-coached team should.

    In other words, they didn't come in and throw up on their shoes as so many mediots expected them to do. This reality doesn't lessen the win any. In fact, it makes the win all the more impressive. The Pats beat a really good team, and I don't give a crap what the Felger/Shaughnessy, Volin crowd think. If they watched this game and are even half honest with themselves they should now have a much higher opinion of the Jags than they did going in.

    1. Offense - General thoughts

    a. I expected Josh to come out conservative and he did. They had a nice opening drive, but stalled in the red zone with a couple of questionable calls that got blown up. Worse they just SUCKED on 3rd down only 3 of 12 for the game, and 1 for 9 starting out. It was beginning to look like Josh's swan song was not going to be one of his better efforts.

    b. And then the 4th quarter came and they seemed to turn on the Jets AFTER Gronk was gone. It was OK. but still not one of his better efforts. I thought Lewis was held out too long after his fumble (jmho). Burkhead played very few snaps (injured?)

    c. 3-12 on 3rd down will NOT win us a Superbowl THAT will have to improve.

    2. QB- I thought Brady AGAIN played a great game. 68% completion rate and 300 yds against the best pass defense in the league and WITHOUT your #1 threat (only 1 catch for 21 yds). That's not only a good job, but a very clutch one.

    b. Brady didn't hit on may long passes tonight, but I felt that overall he was accurate on many of them. Even the ones that weren't caught were right there, either causing PI's or great defensive coverage. The Pass to Dorsett was a thing of beauty. Bad cut or not, it wasn't a factor in this game, at least not to my eyes.

    c. As to the whole Brady injury saga this week, as Emily Litela might say, "Nevermind". (nailed it.....finally. ;)

    3. Offensive line -

    a. Out freakin' STANDING. Yes Brady was sacked 3 times, but 2 of those were coverage sacks that he almost got back to the LOS on. And Yes he got hit a few times, but that is going to happen, especially against an elite DL, with fast LB's, and a great secondary. But for the most part, I felt that while the Jacksonville pass rush got some sacks/hits/hurries. their overall impact on the game didn't match their stats.

    Next time we will face an equally effective pass rush that is just as good as this one, but even deeper. I think it will be a hard challenge, but not harder than the one we faced today...and overcame.

    b. As far as being effective in the run game....not so much, which was surprising given the fact the Jags rush defense stats weren't outstanding like their pass D. I was surprised that we weren't more successful running the ball. The OL has to take some heat for that. I'll be looking forward to the review thread to try and figure out why we only had 14 rushes. Perhaps being behind or time of possession were factors?

    c. Never heard Cam Flemming's name mentioned. That must be a good thing. Waddle should be back in 2 weeks. It will be interesting to see who plays.

    4. Receivers -

    a. Ya know, usually when you get 100 receiving yds and help cause 2 long PI's you get a LOT of attention after the game. I don't think Brandon Cooks got a single mention in the post game narrative I was watching. It was probably the quietest 100 yd playoff game in history. Good for Cooks. Maybe this will quiet the haters for a week or so.

    b. "Playoff Danny" was playoff Danny again. 6 fourth quarter receptions and none more clutch than 3rd and 18. FYI, no one has a 3rd and 18 play in their game plans. ;) Hard to believe they were 1-9 before that play. Maybe the problem was their other 3rd downs were too short. ;) The thing was they made it look easy.

    In his presser, Danny mentioned that he knew roughly where he was going on that play and that he'd be open, and Brady threw the "laser" right to him. Danny had 2 other noteworthy catches. The 2nd TD in the back of the end zone, and the layout on a short gain that Nance was desperately trying imply was not a catch. It was only after multiple replay angles confirm the catch that he RELUCTANTLY conceded the point. :rolleyes:

    c. Dorsett had one target and one catch, and it was as beautiful as it was important. Hogan had one catch but again was a non-factor in the game.

    d. Gronk had just one catch. He was getting doubled early had only 1 21 yd catch before he got cracked. (btw- in my view it was a deliberate head shot. Church is claiming otherwise, but not from where I sit.) I would assume that he'll be back for the Superbowl, but you can't predict those things. But by the time he got to the locker room he no longer looked groggy to me. I expected him back in the 2nd half.

    5. RB's

    a. Lewis and White had 10 catches....but only 54 yds for their efforts. That is NOT particularly good. Add the miserly 38 yds on 12 carries between them (with half those yds coming on one run) the run game was even worse.t

    b. Where was Burkhead. He had the one carry and the one drop and he was never seen again. Hurt? You'd have to think that was it, but while he was mentioned a lot , pregame, his absence was never discussed.

    c. On the Lewis fumble, I thought he had regained control when his knew was down, and then lost control as he fully hit the ground. If the call had been originally called, Pats possession, I don't think that one gets overturned either. Close call. I was more pissed at the time than I am now

    d. As I mentioned earlier, I thought Lewis was kept on the bench too long after the fumble. of course, it's just my humble opinion.

    e. I'm thinking the run game has to improve in Minnesota.
     
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  2. patfanken

    patfanken PatsFans.com Supporter PatsFans.com Supporter

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    6. Defense - General thoughts.

    a. Again it was very conservative play calling by Patricia early on. This is when the Jags had early relative success in the run game. He certainly wasn't gashing them by any means, but getting the 3 or 4 ypc necessary to give Bortles easy 3rd down opportunities that he cashed in on.

    b. They also did had a few wrinkles of their run/pass option look that caused the Pats some problems in that 2nd quarter. I remarked in the game thread that watching them get 2 first downs in a row on two 3rd down dump-offs was particularly painful. McCourty said the improvement in the 2nd half was more about improving awareness of the play than any major adjustment. Personally, I'm just glad they did something because it was driving me crazy.

    c. In the review thread, I'd like to see exactly why those mickey mouse passes were so effective. I can understand the bunch formation crossers, but when some of the dump offs to the RB's were completed, I was surprised to see how much space there was before he was challenged. I'd like to know why. On the other side, our RB's seemed to have no room on swing passes.

    d. Matty had some very nice corner blitzes schemed that while they didn't cause a sack, they did force Bortles to get rid of the ball faster. And while Bortles completed a couple of passes against that particular blitz scheme, he never really hurt the Pats on those passes. It was cool that he often used different DB's in this scheme. Chung, Butler, and Rowe all took their shots.

    e. and as usual, the defense got better as the game went along. IIRC the Jags were 0 for 6 on their last six third down opportunities. This has been the one universal thing you can expect from a Pat's defense. It WILL get better as the game progresses.

    7. Front Seven - They held Fornette to just 3.4 ypc on 24 carries. That good but not great. What was great was WHEN they started to shut down the run late. By the end of the game, Fornette was lucky to get to the LOS most of the time. Guy and Brown were particularly effective, but RJF made a few plays as well.

    a. I was surprised to see Alan Branch on the inactive sheet for this game. He seemed a perfect fit for the Jags run game. I'm guessing if he wants to see any action going forward he's going to have blow some people up when the Pats have their final padded practice this week. If we are looking to add a few million to our cap next season, cutting Branch would be one of them. Branch had a few good years with the Pats, but this wasn't one of them.

    b. I noticed James Harrison lose leverage on an early run that got a first down. He set the edge strongly but squeezed in to much and lost his outside leverage. Late in the game when he became part of the rush package, he again showed up well. He didn't get any sacks, but he was a constant irritant to the QB late in the game, with at least 3 QB's in the 4th quarter alone.

    c. KVN and Roberts did well for the most part with 9 and 7 tackles between them. I was a little disappointed in MFlowers production. He didn't have much of an impact (1 tackle) on either the run or pass game. Last week I had hoped he would develop into a Ninko-type story. This week, not so much.

    8. Secondary - played a little loose early on, but tightened up considerably as the game wore on. Also, the tackling on those little dump offs wasn't as good as usual until later in the game.

    a. NOW we know why they paid Gilmore all that money. He shut Westbrook out for all but one catch, and made the big play to end the last Jags threat with an outstanding play. I expect him to be on Jeffery next week, with Butler on Tory Smith. Meanwhile, Ertz with 8 catches will be quite a challenge for Chung. It will be interesting to see how Patricia will make the matchups

    b. Chung might have given up the TD, but the Jags TE's only accounted for 2 catches for a combined 8 yds in the game (one each for Lewis and O'Shaughnessy).

    c. Hard to see just what the ratio of man to zone was in this game. Early on there seemed to be a lot of yac room on the outside. Could be a bust or missed tackle, or could have been that they caught them in man.

    d. The tougher challenge next week than this one for the secondary. Like I said Ertz is a key target for Foles, and Smith and Jeffery present a difficult size and speed problem to shut down and there RB's .

    9. ST's - Great as usual on KO coverage, even better on punts. Having Allen pin them down around their 10 on 3 different occasions late made a big difference.

    10 General thoughts

    a. I thought the Jags did everything they could tonight. They played good enough to win most games. They won the TO battle. They knocked out our best offensive weapon. They had a GREAT game plan that was good enough to make Blake freakin' Bortles look like competent QB. No doubt they are a talented group that SHOULD be heard from in future years

    b. I call this the 3rd and 18 edition because it was just one of those improbable plays that this team makes in critical situations so often. It reminded me of the 3rd and long against Seattle that ignited the Pats late run on offense in the Superbowl. Or the 3rd and long from the GL early in the game-tying drive against Atlanta, and you can name a dozen more. WOW, just WOW.

    c. Now a few rants. I've had enough of Jim Nance. He made every call the Pats got seem suspicious regardless of how obvious they were. He took every chance he could to question those calls and to point out the effect of them on the game. Now the haters narrative has focused on the refs and their rallying cry. The fact that only ONE of the calls was even possibly marginal and several legitimate calls were ignored, never was presented. Nance has entered into the Fox News version of "fair and balanced" reporting. It wasn't fair, NOR was it balanced. Sometimes Romo went along for the ride, but it was Nance who initiated the narrative and kept it alive. It was screaming at the TV-worthy and I bet I wasn't alone.

    d. I was really worried about Beakman's crew and their propensity to throw flags. I was dead wrong. They only threw 7 combined accepted penalties all night. And for all their *****ing, the Jags only got called for 6 with only one being even marginally questionable. With few calls and only one review, the game had a good pace.

    e. When the NFC game started I was rooting for the Eagles. Selfishly I didn't want there to be a home-field advantage in a Superbowl the Pats were in. I was right in thinking that. I also thought the Eagles were the weaker potential opponent. I might have been just a little off on that one. ;)

    f. There was one play made by Nick Foles that proved to me that he is more than just a weak backup. In it, while he was being pressured in the pocket, he was forced to pull back a throw because there was a rusher in his face and reload, and then, still under great pressure, he changed his arm angle to avoid another rusher and threw a 20 yd completion outside the hash off his back foot. THAT was the Nick Foles who threw for 27 TD's and 2 picks 3 seasons ago.
    He also threw for 354 yds tonight on just 33 attempts against the best defense in the league. :eek: If Carson Wentz had that kind of production against the Vikings they'd be ordering his bust already.

    Now it seems Foles is a feast or famine kind of QB. Tonight was a feast of epic proportion. I don't know who will show up in 2 weeks. I just know that our defense just helped make Blake Bortles look good, so I hope no one looks past the Eagles or get insulted if anyone likes them to win.

    g. I think the worst part of sitting there in the 4th quarter staring the REAL possibility of the Pats losing this game, was the shot they took of Coughlin sitting in his box and then telling us how he has been the Patriot'a Kryptonite over the years. I HATE that narrative. Again, Coughlin didn't plan the Helmet catch, or the Manningham/Eli prayer. Besides, the Giants were supposedly the better team in 2011. The fact is that in 2 games the Giants won 2 extremely close games. It is also true that OTHER than those 2 years the Giants have been barely relevant over the last several years. They have NEVER been in the Pats head, nor should they be.

    h. RPO will become part of the lexicon of all Pats fans before the next 2 weeks are up. Deal with it. ;)

    i. Can we put the whole Jimmy G thing to rest. As good as he is right now and how good he MIGHT become there is one unbreakable truth that should be clear to EVERYONE. Jimmy was the 2nd best QB on the Pats this year, and he would have been the 2nd best QB on the Pats next year as well. There was never a reasonable scenario where Jimmy could have remained with the Pats when the EARLIEST he might be likely to play was 2019 and THAT was just a possibility, and NOT a guarantee

    OK let's stop here. It's almost 3 am, though I did nod off for a couple of hours so it isn't as bad as it looks ;) Enjoy the win, and the 2 week run up to the Superbowl. At least I hope they let us enjoy it.

    Your comments are not only welcome but demanded. ;)
     
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  3. UptownPatsFan

    UptownPatsFan Standin' Pat

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    Shoutout to Mr. Phillip Dorsett! He takes a lot of flak around here (as do many others :D), but came up HUGE today when his number was called. I’ve been pretty pragmatic about his role/ lack of playing time all season, but I knew he would hold his own when the time came. It was only 1 reception for 31 yards, but it was during a crucial moment in our season. It’s a game of inches, and all 1,116 inches were required. Hats off to one of the guys who’ll likely get no acknowledgement, but do indeed deserve it.
     
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  4. pheenix11

    pheenix11 PatsFans.com Supporter PatsFans.com Supporter

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    Good thoughts although I would like to point out that the 2011 Giants were 9-7 and had a negative point differential for the season. They were probably the worst Super Bowl participant ever. No way they were considered better than us.
     
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  5. resdubwhite

    resdubwhite In the Starting Line-Up

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    very tired. Do I have to read all of that? thanks anyway ken.
     
  6. UptownPatsFan

    UptownPatsFan Standin' Pat

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  7. archstanton543

    archstanton543 In the Starting Line-Up

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    People praising the Jags for three quarters of great football must have missed how the first half ended.
     
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  8. archstanton543

    archstanton543 In the Starting Line-Up

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    Also, name me one play Caughlin called in the game and I'll eat my shoe. The guy is a front office guy and not a game-day coach.
     
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  9. DaBruinz

    DaBruinz Pats, B's, Sox PatsFans.com Supporter

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    Ken - Love your stuff, as always.

    Official line was this (according to the NFL.COM BoxScore:
    Lewis - 9 carries - 34 yards
    Burkhead - 1 Carry- 5 yards.

    Burkhead was out taking special teams snaps in the second half. I think after the hit to the kidneys, they wanted to play it safe with him, honestly.

    C. I watched the Lewis fumble numerous times. He got control of the ball on his hip before he hit the ground. He still had control after he hit the ground. It was only as he rolled that Jack pulled the ball from him. I still can't fathom how they called that a fumble. That was the only call I felt that Cleteman blew all game, which surprised me. They did call all the other major infractions outside of the slam on White by Myles Jack in the end zone. Jack should have been flagged for unnecessary roughness on that play since White was well into the endzone and the whistles had blown before he even started the slam.
     
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  10. DaBruinz

    DaBruinz Pats, B's, Sox PatsFans.com Supporter

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    Coughlin may not have called plays, but you could clearly see that Marrone and Wash pulled Twists, Stunts and Late ILB Blitzes from the Giants' playbook. One of the sacks came on a stunt where the RDE was coming around Dareus. Mason saw it, took his eye of Dareus and Dareus used that to push him aside and get to Brady..

    The ILB blitz that was late clearly pressured Brady. There were other plays as well that clearly had the hallmark of the Giants gameplan.
     
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  11. archstanton543

    archstanton543 In the Starting Line-Up

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    Well, it didn't work, so good job, question mark?
     
  12. DaBruinz

    DaBruinz Pats, B's, Sox PatsFans.com Supporter

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    On the first one, the Swing pass to Yeldon, Van Noy blew the coverage. He over-committed and took himself out of position to make a tackle on Yeldon. Once Yeldon got by him, he had Mercedes Lewis blocking McCourty and Marquise Lee blocking Butler and knocking Butler over.

    On the second one, the short flip to Clement, Lawrence Guy was rushing in. Harrison, who was the LB who should have had Clement, both covered Mercedes Lewis. This left Clement WIDE open on that side of the field until McCourty was able to bump him out of bounds.

    There was another play that Harrison was burned on where he was asked to cover Allen Hurns. It's a mismatch in favor of the offense and should never happen, imho. Not sure if that was a blown coverage as well or not.

    After Harrison blew that coverage, I'm pretty sure he was sat until after the half..
     
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  13. DaBruinz

    DaBruinz Pats, B's, Sox PatsFans.com Supporter

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    Where did you get these numbers? Brady only had 38 drop backs in this game. And the Jags got more than 10 pressures on him by themselves.

    Brady was sacked 3 times and hit more times than I counted..
     
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  14. DaBruinz

    DaBruinz Pats, B's, Sox PatsFans.com Supporter

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    Did you watch the same game as everyone else? They got plenty of pressure on Brady, sacking him 3 times, pressuring him nearly dozen and hitting him more than anyone should like. Saying that it didn't work is pretty insulting to both them and Brady because that would mean that Brady didn't do anything spectacular to lead this team back from 10 points down.
     
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  15. pdangle

    pdangle Rotational Player and Threatening Starter's Job

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    I think NE was 2.5 point favorite that game.
     
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  16. PatsFan2

    PatsFan2 Pro Bowl Player Weekly Picks Winner

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    Rex Burkhead is made of Glass. As great as he's looked everytime he gets tackled he comes up injured. :rolleyes:Please Activate Gilly next game BB. I would not extend Burkhead either he spends too much time in the tub.
     
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  17. PatsFan2

    PatsFan2 Pro Bowl Player Weekly Picks Winner

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    Good game by Cookie he had that drop that could have gone for another 40 yards...but made up for it with those Come Backs and DPI's. Cooks was abusing that Jaguar CB. Can I say it Playoffs Cookie.:cool::D
     
  18. maineman209

    maineman209 Veteran Starter w/Big Long Term Deal

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    So, during the week, I read Warren Sharp's analysis about how the Jags pass defense and pass rush had been wildly successful against 11-personnel (3WR) and relatively poor against 12, 21 and 22 sets, AND about how the Pats ran pass plays out of 12 personnel more than any other team in the league. So, I was expecting the Pats to run a lot of sets with Gronk + Allen and 2WR, or Gronk + 2RB.

    Without re-watching, it appeared that McD had the Pats in 11-personnel far more than their usual (even before Gronk got hurt) and was challenging the Jags' defensive strength straight-up. Even though that likely was a factor in the weakness of the Pats' ground game, it ultimately worked.

    BTW - Perhaps the major reason that the Jags swing passes were so successful early on is that their WRs got some tremendous blocks (and Rowe missed a couple tackles).
     
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  19. farn

    farn Veteran Starter w/Big Long Term Deal

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    I agree that the O was conservative at the start. Before the game, I would have thought it to be the correct way to go about this game. But I figured Bortles was going to crap his pants.

    Letting Brady « rip it » to the small receivers was the key. Maybe that doesn’t work if you try it all game ? I dunno. It does seem like the little receivers / passing backs have been the key to success of both the first set of 3/4 titles and of this current run as well.
     
  20. Mike the Brit

    Mike the Brit Minuteman Target PatsFans.com Supporter

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    Thanks, Ken. What a great write-up!

    You're right to give the Jags a lot of credit. The ferocity of their TE/WR blocking on outside plays and their defensive tackling when the Pats tried weak-side runs and screens were really impressive. Until that decisive first down run I can hardly remember Lewis making anyone miss (which is no knock on him).

    It's just amazing that the Pats could beat a team at the top of its game without Gronk and with a turnover against them.

    Danny A was absolutely out of this world. I can remember him making catches like the TD at the back of the endzone when he was with the Rams, but, until now, he's been more reliable than dramatic for the Pats. Last night he was both.
     
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