"Hell may have no fury like a woman scorned but heaven hath no sweetness like a sports fan vindicated." - Samcat

Monday, October 05, 2009

Back on Top

(Photo from Boston.com)

You'll forgive me if I don't have much to say about the whole Terrell Suggs business or Jared Gaither's injury (which sounds terrible and, of course, I wish him a speedy recovery) because, you see, I didn't get back home until about halfway through the second quarter as I was laboring over a 22-mile training run and hating everything that came after mile 15. And the thing about 22 mile training runs is that they take a long time. And so you're probably not going to be able to be home in time to watch the start of the Patriots game like you'd planned. Which is maybe actually a good thing because the bloodcurdling screams you're sure to unleash when someone heads in the direction of your quarterback's knees are probably enough to get the neighbors to file a complaint.

So what I'm saying is, I'm glad I missed any controversy in that arena.

What I did see, however, when HJ was kind enough to drive me to the bar (so he could watch his Jets and I could get buffalo wings because I am that distinct kind of creature who fuels marathon training not with Gatorade and PowerBars but with buffalo wings and onion rings), is the Patriots fight off a very determined - and I think very good - Baltimore Ravens team. Were it not for a critical case of cement hands by Mark Clayton, the Patriots do not win this game. HJ and I have talked about how everyone has been saying for years that Baltimore is going to be really dangerous when they get themselves an offense. And we just might be living it now.

Greta, because she is from Baltimore and because she is also my best friend, knows that we do not speak during Patriots/Ravens games but she was quick to tell me afterwards that she went out and bought an Ed Reed jersey, which thing I am actually quite proud of because the girl did not grow up watching football and she credits me with making her a fan. Which could either be good or bad, depending on how many times she gets her heart broken. But then, as soon as the game was official and I told her that I really am impressed with her quarterback and his Unibrow of Doom, we went on to hating Rex Ryan and rooting for the demise of the Jets together. But quietly, of course, because HJ did get me those much-needed buffalo wings after all.

All in all, I am glad to see the offense figuring things out. Week 4 seems late in the season for the first Tom Brady to Randy Moss touchdown but we knew they'd get around to it eventually. Likewise, the return of Wes Welker was fantastic to see, if for no other reason than opposing fans HATE the slant route to Welker because no one can seem to figure out how to defend against it. When really I think it's just that they can't commit to defending against it because on any given play, the Pats could go slant to Welker, hand off to Taylor (or Maroney or Faulk or Morris) or long bomb to Moss. Or even Ben Watson who is becoming a personal favorite. They have a lot of weapons, is what I'm saying, and it's hard to defend against them when you don't know which one they're going to employ.

I suppose that's true of every half-decent football team but the fact remains.

As for the Jets, I've been pissy these past few weeks because everyone was fawning all over them and had all but handed Rex Ryan the Lombardi trophy while ignoring the fact that a) they were not the only 3-0 team in the NFL and b) I think there are actually other, better teams out there (like perhaps New Orleans or those aforementioned Ravens). So it was nice to see them humbled by New Orleans. As HJ was quick to point out, the point differential actually falls squarely on the shoulders of one Mr. Mark Sanchez and the Jets defense should be proud of their performance but I did find it interesting that you could pinpoint the exact moment the national media turned against Mark Sanchez. It was after the fumble that led to a recovery by the Saints and subsequent touchdown. That's when the network played their hastily edited video I've decided to call "Mark Has the Dropsies" which included all of his fumbles thus far. You know, in his three previous NFL games.

"Wow," said Dan, watching with us at the bar, "that was quick."

"Do you think they have some intern feverishly editing together two reels, one of Sanchez's good plays and one of his boneheaded plays and they wait to see if he'll be awesome or if he'll suck and then they just have a reel ready to air?"

"Yup," he said, "I think that's exactly what happens."

I shudder to think "poor Mark Sanchez" because, you know, enemies and all, but the fall from grace can be quick and the landing, I have heard, is not soft.

Perhaps Keith Olbermann said it best on the Sunday Night Football pregame show as he wrapped the Jets/Saints highlights. "So the Jets lost which means tomorrow New York papers will call for Ryan to be fired, Sanchez to be benched, the team to be moved to Canada and football to be declared illegal in the United States." Sounds about right. And having been forced to listen to a goodly amount of WFAN (the travails of dating a New York sports fan, you see), I think that's probably exactly what's happening right now.

So, at the end of the day, the Patriots sit at 3-1 with a matchup against Denver looming next weekend. 3-1 is not a bad place to be and given the finesse that'll need to be worked out in re: Brady and his receivers over the subsequent weeks, it's as good a place as any.