(Photo from Boston.com)
The sorriest corner in the league says "How do you like me now, Philip Rivers!"
I wish you could all see the spontaneous dance that Amy and I broke into the second Brady took a knee, sealing the game and the trip to the Super Bowl. It was really something to behold. I believe it consisted of some fist pumping, some head shaking and the uber-clever lyrics, "We're going to the Super Bowl! We're going to the Super Bowl! We're going to the Super Bowl!" Greta sat on the couch between us, protecting her head from flailing fists and dutifully wearing the Doug Flutie jersey in support of tiny athletes everywhere. (Wes Welker obviously being a favorite).
No LaDainian Tomlinson tears of outrage this time. No Shawne Merriman Annual Sack Dance Mocking. No Philip Rivers jawing with fans in the Gillette Stadium parking lot (I mean, I'm guessing). Just a Norv Turner boneheaded decision to give the ball back to the Pats with nine minutes left and essentially, hand over the victory and the season. But it wouldn't be a Norv Turner-coached game without a bonehead play, no?
Brady by no means had a great game. I was loathe to say anything while it was happening but it was disturbingly reminiscent of last year's AFC loss to the Colts and 2005's game against Denver where Brady inexplicably turned decidedly human. Anthony Cromartie end zone interception = Champ Bailey end zone interception and all that. Except not quite. Because the defense, the much-maligned defense even (unfairly, it seems), stepped way up and kept San Diego out of the end zone all day. And as has been said multiple times since, "Field goals don't beat the Patriots. You need touchdowns to beat the Patriots." San Diego wasn't going to get any.
Bob Ryan's piece in the Globe, aside from being hilariously fangirly, "Earth to Norv Turner: HE'S TOM BRADY!" also made a valid point that I, for one, keep forgetting: this, this kind of smashmouth, beat 'em down, take no prisoners, trench warfare football is Patriots football. This is what we do around here. 65-yard bombs to Randy Moss are wonderful and scores of 52-10 are joys to behold, but they're not real things here in New England. Real football things are Laurence Maroney churning out yards in the cold, Kevin Faulk coming up with some huge catches and the defense playing the whole game in gut-check time and keeping the opponent out of the end zone. This is Patriots football. This is what we do. Which is good, because every now and then, Tom Brady is going to turn human momentarily. And a team built solely on his cleft-chin persona and fast-growing legend won't be able to overcome that. But a team that is still giving him crap about the infamous goat picture and that wants, more than anything, to win a Super Bowl for 39-year-old Junior Seau, that team can overcome seemingly anything.
I mean, you'd think that the entire broadcasting community and all commentators contained therein had undergone some kind of Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind process with the way they mentioned the non-factor (catch wise) of Randy Moss. Guys, seriously? He's still a new toy. Tom Brady remembers how to play and win football games without him. If he didn't, he wouldn't be Tom Brady.
As for our opponent, I'd have rather had Green Bay. If for no other reason than another sporting event pitting Boston against New York is unnecessary and, sigh, so very, very tired. But also I would love to have a Super Bowl without the presence of a Manning. Unless it's Cooper and he spends the whole time making fun of his baby brother. I'd like to say that the Giants have no business even being in the Super Bowl but I know "any given Sunday" and all that. And, I mean, as a Patriots fan, I can't reasonably bitch about ANYTHING that's gone down this season. I expect the football gods, even in the midst of their unprecedented bounty, have a limit to their benevolence. I didn't really expect to be able to choose our opponent too. So we'll take New York if that's what we're given. And we'll take Bill Belichick, with his group of battle-tested, playoff-tested, Super Bowl-experienced veterans and TWO WEEKS to prepare for Eli Manning. I'll take it.
As for the AFC game, Amy's wings once again proved paramount. Good things happen when she brings out those wings, people. But there were various undertones to the game that also made it excellent and, dare I say, fun. Chief amongst them was the commentary from the announcers to the tune of, "Yes, Philip Rivers has gotten you this far on one good leg without fucking up royally but, you know, that was a nice run and all so you should probably put in Billy Volek now so that Rivers doesn't completely implode and embarrass himself." This, despite the fact that the game was close and I'm pretty sure Rivers, immobile though he was, had only been sacked once at that point. I'm just saying, you're clamoring for BILLY VOLEK when Rivers hasn't done anything egregious. That might betray your confidence in Rivers' abilities just a bit.
Then there were the eleventy trillion and one mentions of LaDainian Tomlinson and the fact that he was located, at that very moment, not on the field of play, but on the sidelines, very much not participating in the game. He wasn't playing, is what we're saying here. Not on the field, Tomlinson is. Not playing. Also? He's on the bench. Endless shots of The Dainian in his giant coat-cape and Ricky Williams-type visor led to an impromptu game of Pimp That Helmet since we're pretty sure that every time they cut to Tomlinson on the bench (not on the field, by the way), something else had been added to that helmet of his. The visor and the coat and the weird cage thingie and then there was a blue mouth guard on the side and he looked like a Storm Trooper all dressed up in formal wear.
"I swear, the next time they cut to him, he's going to have installed tiny spinning rims on the sides of the helmet over the earholes." I said.
"Or possibly a black light, all around the under parts." Greta added.
"Whatever, y'all," Amy said, "I'm just waiting for the bangin' sound system."
Pimp That Helmet: all the rage for bench-bound running backs.
This was followed by a rousing rendition of the new song, "Logan Mankins: You're the One" set to the tune of "Rubber Ducky" and inspired by Phil Simms' comment that Mankins was, apparently, the one. Not sure what he was talking about but honestly, it doesn't matter. Come on, sing along!
Logan Mankins, you're the one.
You make the O-line lots of fun.
Logan Mankins I'm awfully fond of you!
We are not well. Perhaps Amy's putting hallucinogens in her wing sauce.
And did I not tell y'all like a week ago that Kevin Faulk was the unsung hero of this team? I believe I did. I love it when I'm right.
I'm off to watch highlights. Gotta soak it up.