2020 Patriots Season:
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Dec 6th

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patfanken

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Pulled an all nighter playing poker from Saturday to Sunday Morning so this will be a Monday edition, rather than a Sunday one. I'm having trouble getting a handle on this game. Was it a good game, or a bad one? Should we revel in the win, or be concerned that we almost lost to the likes of Mitch Tribisky? :eek: When the game was over I shut the TV off and my first thoughts were that I've felt better about some losses the Pats have taken over the years than I did about this WIN.

There were many positive aspects to this game I thought. The pass rush was particularly impressive (relatively speaking). They consistently made Tribisky move in the pocket. While sometimes the results didn't turn out to be what we wanted but the fact that they showed up so often was encouraging. The second general's thing that stood out up was the play of the offensive line. The Bears defensive line is one of a better units the Patriots are going to play. The offensive line pretty much neutralized them unit. We didn't have the kind of success in the run game that we've seen recently, but when you added it all up they got a respectable 108 yds rushing to go along with the OUTSTANDING pass protection. But more on that later.

In the end, I think the overall factors you can take from this game is that the Pats are a far from finished product at this point. But still they are 5-2 despite all the questions, injuries and issues that have cropped up so far this season. But its time to break this down.

1. General offensive comments - The Bears were supposed to have one of the better D's in the league so, while the offense couldn't be called "impressive" yesterday, the 24 points they they DID generate was a decent result. There weren't any short fields. In fact the 2 times they had relatively short fields in the 4th quarter, they came away with no points. IMHO that was the most disappointing thing about the Gronkless offense today.

Before the game I opined that the Pats wouldn't try and butt their heads against one of the best rush defenses in the league. It would be a game reminiscent of when we played those great Steeler fronts, when they would spread them out and pass them ragged and rarely run the ball. Of course they come out and they successfully run for about 30 yds in that first series, and I'm reminded again why I'm watching from my living room that THOSE guys are on the sidelines actually coaching the game. ;) Even after Michel went out, the Pats continued to run the ball. They ended up running 27 times, which was a surprising number given the losses of Michel and Gronk, AND who they were playing. Rushing the ball 43% of the time in this day and age is a high number. It's a surprising result given the circumstances.

When the Pats got the ball with about 4 minutes left in the game I was adamant that they NOT try and just run the ball to kill clock. Rather they needed to run their full offense and move the ball like we've seen most of the game. So what do we get? 9 straight runs that very surprisingly led to 2 first downs and killing all but 30 seconds of the clock. :eek: I still maintain, especially on that last 3rd down try, that a play action pass would have been successful. Where's the downside. If no one is wide open then just eat the ball and the results are the same the clock winds down. Just sayin'

2 good stats this week is that the Pats were almost .500 in 3rd down conversions (6-13) and 3-4 conversion rate in the red zone. It should also be noted that that the 2 fumbles cost the Pats 2 possessions and a LOT of snaps, so keep that in mind when you look at the stats of that game.

2. QB- Not one of Brady's sharpest days, which sounds kind of stupid when you consider he completed nearly 70% of his passes. But he missed a few guys today. The 3rd down wobbler to Gordon and the pick were 2 bad throws that come to mind that were very unBradylike. Still he moved beautifully in the pocket all game and made a lot more good throws than bad.

It looked like he got unlucky with that pick (what's that his 4th deflected pick this year:?) Still it probably should have been picked cleanly before it got to Devlin. All in all a very bad choice for him to throw the ball at all.

In the end, he had a very good day for 90% of the other QB's in the league, but just a "decent" game for Tom Freakin' Brady.

3. RB's - As I started to write this they broke the news that Michel's injury is NOT as serious as it looked at the time and while he might miss some time it is likely that he WILL be back. If that ends up being true, we probably won't see him until after our bye, but given what it looked like, that is GREAT news. But back to this game.

James White CONTINUES to impress me. Just so clutch. He catches the ball so well and ran it almost as well on Sunday as a bonus. I don't know where the offense would be without him. And that is coming from a guy who has spent most of the last few years trying to figure out a way to supposedly UPGRADE from him. ;).

Barner runs both hard and decisively, but isn't a guy who can push the pile if necessary. In reality is a 3rd down back, not a first down running back. Great protection if White went down, but we NEED another RB before we go to Buffalo and I'm sure THIS topic will be the one that will fill most of the week's narrative.

If it is true that Michel isn't out long, and that Burkhead will be coming back off the IR, I question the value of trading for someone, even if there were someone worth trading for. If it were me, I'd go for some big back who is currently a FA (Gillislee perhaps), then when Burkhead and Michel come back, release Barner. Maybe we can get Detroit to release Blunt and we can do LG part 3. ;)

4. OL - Trent Brown has been a revelation. He seems to be getting better every week. What a pick up. BTW- what did we have to give up to get him. They mentioned a 3rd rounder on TV, but I thought it was something lower?

Brady was sacked only once and THAT looked like a missed assignment than someone being beat since Smith came in untouched. I would be surprised if Brady got hit more than 5 times all game. A GREAT overall job against a very good DLine. They also managed to open up a few running lanes without Gronk being in the mix.

The great Kalil Mack was erased by this OL and credited with just one tackle for the entire game. Most of that work was done by Trent Brown. I saw D. Allen had his way with him too on a few occasions. Granted they said he wasn't full speed this game, but he was healthy enough to play the entire game, so I wonder if that was more of an excuse. BTW- It seemed that Mack was on Brown for most of the game. Wouldn't you rather have your best rusher going against Waddle???? If you were a Bears fan, I'd be questioning that coaching decision.

5 Receivers - Most of talk HAS to be about Gordon. It really is exciting to watch him SLOWLY grow into this offense. His 4th down catch was truly a thing of beauty. (that being said, I would have hoped on 4th down we could have figured out a safer throw)

Was it just me or did anyone else think that Gordon looked very slow on his big catch and run to the 2yd line. About the only thing about Gordon that has disappointed me is his apparent lack of any burst speed thus far. It could be that he still isn't at his top physical conditioning. It could be his hamstring. OR it could be that this is how fast he is at this point and the guy who pulled away from Talib a few years ago just isn't coming through that door anymore.

Hogan, White, and Edelman provided the bulk of the receiving targets and catches and essentially kept the chains moving. Just one complaint. I know that Dwayne Allen isn't a great receiving option but when he was in Indy he was good enough to have 20 TD's and over 12o receptions. So you would figure that without Gronk OR Holister, you could figure out a way to get him a few targets during a game. BTW- he did an awesome job blocking from what I saw, including one KMack pancake.

When you watch CPatterson run, you can't help but marvel on how hard and decisively he runs. You would THINK that they would find more ways to get him the ball in the passing game. He seems to catch the ball well. He blocks VERY well, so we know he's a tough kid. I know route running has been a problem for him at all of his stops, but you'd think there would be a way to get him the ball downfield more. Just sayin'

6. Defensive generalities. - I think that the defense will end up being good enough to make a deep run into the playoffs even though it doesn't look like it right now. NOW it seems like all the pieces (DL, L B's DB's) work individually but just not together or all the time. It's like the engine with a bad timing chain. I think the QB pressure was the best it has been this year, but SO many missed tackles in the backfield or EASY picks that were dropped. It was driving me NUTS. However, I think the "parts" are just good enough that if we can get the "engine" tuned and working together over the next 2+ months, the Patriots will be a tough out in the playoffs.

If I had a comparison, I'd think about the 2011 defense which was statistically among the worst in NFL history, yet by the time the playoffs came around they were playing as well as any of the top teams that year. It certainly wasn't the defense's fault that we lost that Superbowl.

BTW- a lot of the Bear's offensive yardage came during "garbage" time. Over 100yds of Tribisky's 333 passing yards came at the very end of both halves. That's why passing yds as a stat is often misleading.

Stats that WERE disturbing was the the Bears 4-4 success rate in the redzone and the 50% success rate on 3rd down. *(6-12). I'm sure those 2 stats will be a major topic at Gillette this week.

7. Front 7 - They got good consistent pressure over the course of the game - Tribisky had to move around the pocket a lot that game. However they JUST couldn't "seal the deal" on too many occasions to call it a good day for the group. That being said, I thought they "controlled" Tribisky a bit better in the second half by rushing in a controlled manner more. But with 88 rushing yds, it was clearly a very frustrating day for those players chasing Mitch around all day.

Hightower made another impact play, so maybe HE is starting to round into the kind of player who is worthy of the big money they are paying him. I LOVE the fact that ERoberts was there to pick off that ball. His pass coverage has improved a LOT this season. But I hated that it was just another play the Pats failed to "seal the deal" in this game. The 2 dropped picks led to 14 Chicago points, not to mention more offensive chances.

Outside of Tribisky the front 7 shut down any rushing attack from the Bears keeping them to just 3ypc and only 53 yds on 19 carries. It was a great job and should be noted.

8. Secondary - Another very up and down game. Lots of penalties or at least a lot more than you'd like to see. 7-65yds mostly on the defensive side and IIRC 4 on the Pats secondary only one of which I would have considered a bad call (the "hands near the face" call).

There were a couple of match up questions I had during this game. They had Rowe on Gabriel in the slot. THAT's not a good match at all. That is setting up Rowe to fail. Rowe would have seemed more suitable on a bigger receiver (Miller) and putting JJones or one of the quick kids on Gabriel. BTW- It looked to me that Rowe pulled his groin again, so all the Rowe haters can rejoice. I don't think we will see him back before the bye.

I also wondered why there wasn't some kind of adjustments made on Burton in this game. after about his 5th catch in the same area you would have thought something might have been done. But no, he was left alone in the middle for 4 ADDITIONAL catches coming to 9 for 126 yds. :eek: The kid had 9 catches and I don't think there was a single contested catch in the bunch. That is NOT the fault of the players. There was a hole in the defense. That's not odd. What is odd is that when the other team exploited that hole we didn't seem to make the adjustment to stop it. For some reason, unbeknownst to me, they thought leaving that area open and protecting elsewhere was a better concept.

Stephon Gilmore erased Allen Robinson. He is another guy who continually impresses. I think it is important that your big money guys earn their money and the Pats didn't overpay for the performances we are getting from Gilmore....to date.

We can only surmise that it was the overall good coverage the Pats were getting that forced Tribisky to decide to run the ball so often.

9. ST's - We saw WHY Bill takes so much time and puts so much of his roster capital in ST's We saw the negative side on the Patterson fumble, and the positive with the KO return and punt block. ST's teams COUNT. You kind of knew that the block could happened. They got real close on a couple of occasions before the one they got. Evidently they knew of some weakness and finally made it happen.

KO coverage also improved a lot with 3 KO's pinning the Bears inside the 25. The only blemish in the kicking game was the punt into the endzone on the Pats last drive. It was kicked so deep in the endzone, I'm wondering if BB just told him to do it. If they were trying to pin Chicago deeper than the 20 if failed.....badly.

Sorry about the delay in getting this out. I got stuck playing poker and sometimes I just get stubborn. It took me from 2pm on Saturday to 7am Sunday morning to get even. Unfortunately I left at 7:30. ;) I didn't win, but I wasn't "stuck". Just sleep deprived.
Actually I stayed awake all of Sunday and didn't fall asleep until midnight. I got up at 11am today and finally got this out. I'll try to be more diligent this week.
 

PATSYLICIOUS

Pro Bowl Player
I think on the last punt they just told allen to get the kick off at all costs and not even worry where it lands, which id be ok with in that situation.

I like the 2011 comparison even though this secondary is alot better. The ‘talent’ on that defensive roster was fightening (especially when they lost andre carter who was a pleasant suprise that year) but bb had them playing good enough by December. This d has a ways to go but I think theyll get there.

Im with the crowd who wants a rb not just with michel out but even when hes back. The workload on him and white is alot. Doesnt have to be a major move but there seems to be some rb options out there better than barner.

I was really happy with the win, sloppy but it showed alot of character. When youre on the road and had to deal with the early fumbles, michel going down , not having gronk, and the refs making huge call after huge call in Chicago’s favor, that is ALOT to overcome within 60 minutes and they pulled it out.
 

maineman209

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@patfanken

I've been wlking around all day feeling like I'd forgotten something. Then, you posted and ... AHA! Thanks for doing these and I'm glad that you at least broke even.

WRT the OL performance vis-a-vis the ground game and pass-pro, Brady himself noted that the Bears' D played a "light" box (more coverage) and only a 4-man pass rush most of the game. And, actually, a 57%-43% pass-run ratio is only slightly under the NFL average these days.

At this point, I'd say that Barner is better than Gillislee. Barner follows his blocking a lot better and more consistently and is much better at running through first contact.

Agree about Trent Brown. The Pats traded their #95 for Brown + the #143 (a 4th). As a sidebar - in the latest "Advanced Stats Metric" from BSPN ("Pass Block Win Rate"), they have Solder ranked next to last among Tackles. Chad Wheeler, the right tackle for the Gints, is the only guy who ranked worse. (FWIW)

Brady himself singled out Dwayne Allen for praise in run-blocking.

Also agree about the defense. The players and scheme are plenty good enough. The issues have been sloppy tackling, brain farts, coverage penalties (JC Jackson) and not spending enough time with the JUGS machine.

You may not have seen it yet, but Reiss tweeted about how the Pats had used their standard "light" package of players for the first three Bears' punts, and then subbed Shelton, Brown, HT and KVN for Hogan and other skill-position players for the one that got blocked. It was definitely deliberate.
 

luuked

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Granted they said he wasn't full speed this game, but he was healthy enough to play the entire game, so I wonder if that was more of an excuse. BTW- It seemed that Mack was on Brown for most of the game.

He missed multiple practices and after injuring his ankle last week in Miami he never was the same even then. But then again we have had out fair share of attrition as well so on some level those are the things to be expected.

It looked like he got unlucky with that pick (what's that his 4th deflected pick this year:?) Still it probably should have been picked cleanly before it got to Devlin. All in all a very bad choice for him to throw the ball at all.

I agree. After he decided that Edelman was too dangerous of a pass (because it could have been tipped) he should have just eaten it and taken the sack. If this was a do or die situation obviously it is different but being 2 scores up with 7min to go is the time to be clever not heroic. Great game otherwise from Brady.

Was it just me or did anyone else think that Gordon looked very slow on his big catch and run to the 2yd line. About the only thing about Gordon that has disappointed me is his apparent lack of any burst speed thus far. It could be that he still isn't at his top physical conditioning.

Supposedly this is what it is. According to Loyko he came to the Pats in not "the best of shapes". I initially also thought it was his hamstring but looking through the tweets from our beat guys right after it happened they were all saying that he didn't look for medical attention and no one from the medical staff went over to him. So I kinda believe that "exhaustion" narrative for now.

eiving targets and catches and essentially kept the chains moving. Just one complaint. I know that Dwayne Allen isn't a great receiving option but when he was in Indy he was good enough to have 20 TD's and over 12o receptions. So you would figure that without Gronk OR Holister, you could figure out a way to get him a few targets during a game.

He often released delayed after chipping or helping with a block but Brady looked at other places. Can't do anything if you are not targeted.

I know route running has been a problem for him at all of his stops, but you'd think there would be a way to get him the ball downfield more.

I don't think getting him the ball downfield is necessarily the right thing to do. But I am surprised he is not used on slants or other crossing routes (i.e. in space) more often. But then again we have enough mouths to feed on offense (Gronk, Gordon, White, Edelman..) so putting him in for a designed play means taking no huddle or quick snaps off the menu.

If I had a comparison, I'd think about the 2011 defense which was statistically among the worst in NFL history, yet by the time the playoffs came around they were playing as well as any of the top teams that year. It certainly wasn't the defense's fault that we lost that Superbowl.

I said it in another thread but I really don't agree with the 2011 comparison. The 2011 DBs had a fatal flaw that was not fixable and were not put into bad positions by the offense and ST that often.

That being said this defense needs the other units to play more complimentary and not turn the ball over so often. There was a sequence in the game where the defense was on the field for what seemed like almost 10 minutes straight because we had: a full D series, Patterson turnover, D series, Michel turnover after a few plays, full D series, Patterson KO return, full D series.

They need the offense to control the tempo of the game and the ST to not **** their pants.

Hightower made another impact play, so maybe HE is starting to round into the kind of player who is worthy of the big money they are paying him.

His lateral speed is still concerning but when he doesn't get mismatched in coverage he is still the very impactful player that he always was. That being said I am sick of people whining about how Hightower sucks because he is too slow to deal with RBs when McDaniels similarly designed plays that ended up in mismatches with Floyd on White. This is the league right now with OCs drawing up plays to get their players into mismatches they can exploit.

But I hated that it was just another play the Pats failed to "seal the deal" in this game. The 2 dropped picks led to 14 Chicago points, not to mention more offensive chances.

Not an excuse but I saw a beat guy reporting that Gilmore said he lost the ball in the sun. I don't think the same excuse can be used for Roberts because he had it in his chest but the sun definitely made an impact in the game.

I also wondered why there wasn't some kind of adjustments made on Burton in this game. after about his 5th catch in the same area you would have thought something might have been done. But no, he was left alone in the middle for 4 ADDITIONAL catches coming to 9 for 126 yds. :eek: The kid had 9 catches and I don't think there was a single contested catch in the bunch. That is NOT the fault of the players. There was a hole in the defense. That's not odd. What is odd is that when the other team exploited that hole we didn't seem to make the adjustment to stop it. For some reason, unbeknownst to me, they thought leaving that area open and protecting elsewhere was a better concept.

I said it in the GDT and will say it again. They had players chipping him on release but that was pretty much all the attention that was paid to him. I suppose the staff decided that him catching passes underneath was not likely to be a winning condition for the Bears as much as Gabriel beating them deep or Cohen having an explosive play. That is where most of the resources went.
 

luuked

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WRT the OL performance vis-a-vis the ground game and pass-pro, Brady himself noted that the Bears' D played a "light" box (more coverage) and only a 4-man pass rush most of the game. And, actually, a 57%-43% pass-run ratio is only slightly under the NFL average these days.

That is why getting Michel back would be so huge. If he can continue where he left off whenever he comes back teams will have to reconsider the light box and flooding the underneath approach. And this will become even more deadly if Gordon can kinda catch up in terms of conditioning because then we can threat any part of the field with similarly talented players.

You have Gordon/Gronk as deep/intermediate threats, Edelman/White as the intermediate players and then Michel as the running option. This is an insanely stacked offense that is operated by the GOAT.
 
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SEA_Pat

Rotational Player and Threatening Starter's Job
I also wondered why there wasn't some kind of adjustments made on Burton in this game. after about his 5th catch in the same area you would have thought something might have been done. But no, he was left alone in the middle for 4 ADDITIONAL catches coming to 9 for 126 yds. :eek: The kid had 9 catches and I don't think there was a single contested catch in the bunch. That is NOT the fault of the players. There was a hole in the defense. That's not odd. What is odd is that when the other team exploited that hole we didn't seem to make the adjustment to stop it. For some reason, unbeknownst to me, they thought leaving that area open and protecting elsewhere was a better concept.

I think they started using a LB to spy Trubisky after he broke that long run. Therefore that left a hole in the zone.
 

luuked

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I think they started using a LB to spy Trubisky after he broke that long run. Therefore that left a hole in the zone.

KVN had some snaps as spy but according to Howe Burton got most of his catches against zone.


Playing a substantial amount of zone in a game with 82 defensive snaps is a necessary evil. Can't be playing everything in man.
 

sambam94

In the Starting Line-Up
If Gordon's hamstring wasn't a factor o that 55 yard catch and run, them it's a bit concerning. He looked really bad IMO trying to score.
 

borg

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My 2 cents ....(really only a half cent this go around)

The Patriots D blows

Foles, Bortles, Mahomes, Trubisky........the most recent JAG & Neophyte gunslingers to test the Elastic Eleven.....all agree
 
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Ice_Ice_Brady

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Just saw Eli “put up” 400 yards on like 80% passing but it was about the emptiest stat sheet imaginable. Completely useless unless the situation is irrelevant to the outcome of the game. Passing stats are often times really overrated and don’t tell the whole story.
 

slam

In the Starting Line-Up
Just saw Eli “put up” 400 yards on like 80% passing but it was about the emptiest stat sheet imaginable. Completely useless unless the situation is irrelevant to the outcome of the game. Passing stats are often times really overrated and don’t tell the whole story.
Looking at the stats in the early part of the game was funny. Midway through the 2nd, both QBs had 1 incomplete pass between them in 15 or so attempts, with good yards/attempt. No turnovers. No missed Field Goals. With all that they were in a scoreless tie.
 

luuked

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Just saw Eli “put up” 400 yards on like 80% passing but it was about the emptiest stat sheet imaginable. Completely useless unless the situation is irrelevant to the outcome of the game. Passing stats are often times really overrated and don’t tell the whole story.

About 100 yards (or a third overall) of Trubisky's yards came on two Hail Mary drives where the defense had only one objective and it was not to prevent yards. All of this is so meaningless..
 

DarrylS

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Do not get where everyone was so happy over a "road win", in the past 19 years there have been a lot of "road wins"...

The second quarter was probably the most "Unpatriot like" quarter that I have seen in a long time, turnovers & stupid penalties defined this segment, despite that debacle the Pats lead at half time.

Not at all impressed with Tribisky, seemed rather pedestrian to me.. his running was problematic, but how long can he keep that up??

Why use Gordon in the Hail Mary D?? Seems as though Cordarelle Patterson may have been a better choice, same physical characteristics, but Gordon's hamstring causes concern...

A win, is a win, is a win.... there are no style points in the NFL. When Gronk and Michel are neutralized, the O will have more issues than need be..
 

luuked

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Why use Gordon in the Hail Mary D?? Seems as though Cordarelle Patterson may have been a better choice, same physical characteristics, but Gordon's hamstring causes concern...

Because CP might just fall over himself while running towards the ball ?

On a more serious note I would assume it is because Gordons vertical leap is better than what CP can do. Normally it is Gronk back there. The objective of "the jumper" is only to get as high as possible to be competitive at the point of catch and potentially swat the ball away.
 

betterthanthealternative

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The second quarter was probably the most "Unpatriot like" quarter that I have seen in a long time, turnovers & stupid penalties defined this segment, despite that debacle the Pats lead at half time.

Agree, and because much of it is correctable, it gives me hope.
 

PP2

Pro Bowl Player
There were a couple of match up questions I had during this game. They had Rowe on Gabriel in the slot. THAT's not a good match at all. That is setting up Rowe to fail. Rowe would have seemed more suitable on a bigger receiver (Miller) and putting JJones or one of the quick kids on Gabriel. BTW- It looked to me that Rowe pulled his groin again, so all the Rowe haters can rejoice. I don't think we will see him back before the bye.

I also wondered why there wasn't some kind of adjustments made on Burton in this game. after about his 5th catch in the same area you would have thought something might have been done. But no, he was left alone in the middle for 4 ADDITIONAL catches coming to 9 for 126 yds. :eek: The kid had 9 catches and I don't think there was a single contested catch in the bunch. That is NOT the fault of the players. There was a hole in the defense. That's not odd. What is odd is that when the other team exploited that hole we didn't seem to make the adjustment to stop it. For some reason, unbeknownst to me, they thought leaving that area open and protecting elsewhere was a better concept.

Good post as usual, Ken.

Don't forget that as good as Flores has been, he is still a rookie DC that lets the game get away from him from time to time.

Those two were not the only baffling coverage issues- one other was assigning a consistent spy on Trubisky to chase him down if he broke out of the pocket.

Our DE's still have bad lane discipline when rushing, but I think that's far more instinct than anything.
 
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