(Photo from Boston.com)
I remember saying to my dad after the Giants game a few weeks ago that sometimes watching this Patriots team is like watching the last two minutes of a basketball game. Things are fairly tight and close and then, all of a sudden, it's like the team collectively goes, "All right, enough futzing around. Let's do this thing." Then they go out there and score 14 points or make a huge defensive stand or force a turnover or something. More than likely, that's the result of their excellent coaching and their ability to make snap adjustments. But honestly sometimes it just looks as if someone flipped a switch.
Now when my dad called me after the game last night, he contended that the switch-flipping happened on the Garrard fumble recovered by Mike Vrabel that resulted in the Patriots' second touchdown. But then, my dad has long been championing Mike Vrabel as the unsung hero of this Patriots' team. Myself? I think it might've been Brady's Statue of Liberty "Kevin has the ball, OH WAIT NO, HERE IT IS!" trickery that netted Wes Welker a touchdown in the back of the endzone during the third quarter. My reasoning being that the game was still too close for comfort at the time of the Vrabel play, huge though it was. Because the defense still had problems stopping Garrard. Interesting that the running tandem of Jones-Drew and Taylor that had cost me so much sleep during the week ended up not being the problem but that when forced to throw the ball, Garrard more than rose to the challenge.
But regarding the Brady shenanigans, Belichick mentioned in his post game interview that it was a play they'd run against Jacksonville previously and they thought they'd try it again. So, like the long bombs to Moss twice in a row that burned the Giants two weeks ago, Jacksonville bit on the same play and was burned both times (in fairness, I don't recall the first time that worked). In the parlance of the kids and their internets today, "Pwned!"
What it did remind me of was the direct snap to Kevin Faulk in the Super Bowl against the Panthers that resulted in a successful 2-point conversion. Safe to say that Brady's acting has gotten significantly better since then. But Belichick, being interviewed on Letterman after the Super Bowl win (imagine coaxing a laugh out of that guy), spouted some mumbo jumbo about success rates and point spreads and blah, blah, blah until Letterman just said, "No. It's because you're the smartest."
Maybe he's right.
Belichick and Brady get the lion's share of he credit around these parts and it's well-deserved, but occasionally, I like to make the case for a player who doesn't get interviewed at the podium during the post game or talked about in the papers. Most of the season it's been Wes Welker who has, in my opinion, allowed Randy Moss to be as deadly as he's been. (And who also looks amusingly like Mr. Incredible at times). But last night I honestly had a hard time choosing. Could have been Benjamin (he prefers "Benjamin," you know?) Watson and his two touchdown passes as I have long lamented the case of cement hands with which he often finds himself afflicted. Could have been Laurence Maroney who seems to have learned in short order how to be a slot receiver as well as a running back. (And is it amusing to anyone else when his teammates refer to him as "Laurence"? I always expect them to have a snappy nickname for him or at least to call him "Lomo" since, you know, I do, and we're clearly on the same wavelength, the Patriots and me). Or it could have been Jabar Gaffney who, as Brady pointed out, no one noticed but he was throwing blocks all night, allowing his teammates to spring for big gains. (And seriously, when did he get so damn adorable?) But I'm going with Kevin Faulk who, truth be told, could have been considered expendable at the beginning of the season with the acquisition of Sammy Morris and the predicted re-emergence of Lomo. At 31, Faulk isn't quite the Old Man River I'd assumed he was, but he's also no spring chicken. And I'd be hard-pressed to find a more selfless player than he is.
So now David Garrard can go back to being delightful and we can hunker down and lay in the emergency supplies and K-rations for next weekend's apocalyptic football. Colts fans seem to be salivating over the possibility of a rematch, apparently unconcerned with the ways of karma and counting their chickens. Plus they're already blabbering on about the Colts being "classier" than the Patriots or something because I guess they've appointed themselves the moral arbiters of the NFL. I must have missed that memo. Also? Spare me. And so, despite the fact that I am no big fan of Phillip Rivers and Shawn Merriman, I hope they run all over the Colts today and send them packing. It seems unlikely but in what Amy has dubbed "The Bitch Bowl" for the frequent bitch-faces so often employed by Peyton Manning and Philip Rivers alike, I suppose anything is possible.
For now, I'm going to be thankful that I can continue watching football for at least another week, and I'll spend the downtime creating elaborate scenarios wherein Bill Parcells becomes puppetmaster coach of the Dolphins by mid-season next year "Dance for me, Cleo Lemon, dance!" and what it was, exactly, that Bill Belichick said to Josh McDaniels to get him to refuse all offers of interviews by other teams interested in him as a head-coaching prospect.
Amy: Probably he just wordlessly handed him a picture of Eric Mangini.
Me: Or quietly asked how his children were doing. "And that pretty little wife of yours. How's she faring these days, Joshua?"
Amy: Billiam is scary.
Me: Would you cross him.
Amy: I shudder even to think about it.