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Tuesday, January 25, 2005

How would the Patriots be able to stop the best power run game in the NFL as well as the NFL's hottest new celebrity player? How would they score on the best defense in the NFL. This is how:

With their "terrible towels" waving, Pittsburgh got the ball with an awkward kick from Vinaterri that resulted in only a 1 yard return and nearly gave the Patriots coverage team a chance to take the ball. The Pats would get the pigskin soon enough though. Bettis' first rush was a good one for 4 yards. Roethlesberger then ran it for 3. On 3rd and 3, Big Ben was forced to pass. It was a terrible one. Asante Samuel tipped it but couldn't catch it. However, Eugene Wilson hustled over and dove to grab it. The tone for the game was set a mere 1:19 into it.

Before the game started, I figured the Pats would run some misdirection plays ranging from Draws to Reverses. The first play on offense, Branch got a handoff on an end around for 14 yards, taking advantage of the very aggressive Blitzburgh defense. From the Pitt 34, Dillon ran for 1 yard and then 3. An incomplete pass forced a field goal attempt from the 30. No visiting kicker has ever kicked a FG longer than 46 yards in Heinz Field's history. Vinaterri, however, nailed his 48 yarder to put the Pats in the lead. They would stay there for the remaining 56:44 of the game.

The Steelers got the ball back on their 31 yard line and gave the Patriots a heavy dose of Bettis. The Pats replied with a heavy dose of gang tackling. Bettis ran up the middle for 5. Then he was stopped at the line by Ty Warren. (Its very nice having several former DTs at DE in games like this) On 3rd and 5, Ben hit Burress for 16 yards to the NE 48. Bettis went up the middle for 3 and then for 3. Each time he was stopped, Tedy Bruschi was getting into his face. Haynes got the ball on 3rd down and nearly got the 1st. On 4th and 1 Bettis not only got stuffed, he got stripped by Roosevelt Colvin. Mike Vrabel then recovered it.

Last week the Patriots got praised for their ability to grind out the clock in painstakingly lengthy and run heavy drives. This strategy probably wouldn't work against Pittsburgh's tough run defense. So what is a team to do? How about throw the ball 60 yards to Deion Branch for a touchdown? Good strategy and great execution.

The Steelers responded with a 3 and out drive that saw Troy Brown and Hank Poteat making 1st down saving tackles. The Pats didn't come out as explosive as they were on their previous drive. Some incompletions and a false start penalty forced them to punt and give the Steelers the ball back in New England territory.

On 1st down, Roethlesberger hit Ward for 19 yards. The drive then sputtered and stalled. Staely got a 4 yard gain but then got stuffed by Samuel. Ben then threw an incomplete pass that Samuel could have picked. Pittsburgh settled for a field goal making the score 10-3.

The Pats ended the 1st quarter with a couple of Dillon runs for 2 yards a piece. Brady then hit Patten for 8 and a 1st down. Dillon rushed for a solid 5 yards but then lost 2 the enxt play. An incomplete pass forced the Patriots to punt. This time though, the Steelers field position was not as great as it was on their scoring drive.

The Steelers tried running the ball down New England's throat with 4 straight Staley runs. For 5, then 6, then 0, then -2. Roethlesberger's incomplete forced Pittsburgh to punt.

Brady started the drive with a pass to Fauria for 9 yards to the 39. Dillon got the 1st with a 2 yard run to the left. Brady hit Branch for 45 yards into the red zone at the PIT 14. Dillon caught a 5 yard screen pass to get to the 9. Brady audibled the next play from a run to a short pass to Givens. The Cornerback fell down as the ball was thrown and Givens waltzed into the end zone to give the Pats a 14 point lead after the extra point.

With 7 minutes left in the half, the Steelers needed a scoring drive and it looked like they might get it. Staley got 4 to begin the series. Ben then hit Tuman for 8 then Ward for 28. Staley got the ball to the NE 35 with a 2 yard run. He then ran to the right for 3 more. Roethlesberger got 9 on a QB Draw. Staley got into the red zone with a 4 yard run to the 19. Then Roethlesberger choked and threw a ball right at Rodney Harrison who caught it at the 13 and ran back 87 yards for a touchdown. It was 24-3. The Steelers, who had ended the Pats winning streak, were being dominated.

With only 2:06 left, the Steelers attempted to mount a scoring drive but failed to get the ball out of their half of the field. They were forced to punt with 0:40 left. Dillon got the ball twice to end the half with the Pats leading 24-3.

The Pats looked a little flat to start the 2nd half. Dillon lost a yard on the first play, then Brady got sacked. On 3rd and long Brady threw a questionable incompletion to Patten that was originally ruled a catch but was overturned. The Pats were forced to punt. The Steelers then marched 56 yards downfield and into the end zone. The game wasn't completely locked up by any stretch of the imagination.

NFL.com's play by play thingy ends there so I'll end there. Roethlesberger showed that he is a rookie QB and Brady showed that he is the man.

The Man of the Game is Deion Branch who caught 4 balls for 116 yards and a TD and also ran twice for 37 yards and a TD.

Monday, January 17, 2005

Perhaps the best sign ever. I'd love to get a picture of it but Yahoo doesn't have one and I steal all my pictures from them typically.

The game started as a defensive struggle. The Colts went 3 and out on their first drive with 2 mediocre runs by James and a 2 yard pass by Manning. The Pats got a first down on their first play from scrimmage as Brady hit Branch for 15. They got 5 yards in 2 plays but a delay of game call forced them into a 3rd and 10 situation which they did not convert. Miller then punted the ball into the end zone.

The Colts again went 3 and out with 2 incompletions from Manning and a 7 yard Edgerrin James run. Brown, who saw alot of action at cornerback, returned the punt for 20 yards to give New England great field position on their 44. The Colts were able to stop Dillon for a loss of 2 and then a loss of 1 more on a 2nd down screen. Brady missed Brown and the Pats punted again. Miller again made the end zone but a holding penalty gave the Colts the ball at their own 10 yard line.

The Colts put together a solid drive that got them into New England territory. Manning hit James for a 15 yard gain. James then ran for 5 and then 3. On 3rd down, Peyton hit Harrison for 18 yards. Harrison did a great job staying in bounds but the call was questionable so the Colts ran a quick dive play to prevent a review. Manning then attempted to pick on Brown by throwing to Stokely twice. Brown had good coverage though and the Colts were forced to punt.

The Patriots got the ball at their 16 and put together a scoring drive that could have been more. Dillon ran to the left 3 straight times for 5, then 8, then 7. Faulk then ran up the middle for 13. After Graham moved early, Faulk ran the ball up the middle for 6. On 2nd and 9 from the 50, Brady hit Dillon for 4. Patten then caught a 12 yard pass for a 1st down. The Colts ended the 1st quarter with a sack of Brady that resulted in a loss of 7.

The Patriots opened the 2nd quarter by moving the ball forward on 7 of their next plays. Brady hit Brown for a 10 yard gain and on 3rd and 7 he hit Givens for 9 more. The Pats went into a no huddle as Johnson caught a 9 yard pass. Brown then caught a 3 yarder. Brady snuck for 3 more yards to get to the Colts 7 yard line. Dillon ran the ball to the left for 4 and then up the middle for 2. On 4th and goal from the 1, the Pats were going to go for it and appeared to score before it became apparent that Matt Light had moved before the snap. This meant the Pats were moved back to the 6 and kicked a field goal to go up 3-0. The drive went 78 yards and lasted over 9 minutes.

Given their first lead of the game, the Pats defense came out and sacked Manning for a loss of 8. Vrabel's hit was so hard that Peyton lost the ball. It was recovered by an offensive lineman for a total loss on the play of 12 yards. Manning then threw two consecutive incompletions.

An 8 yard punt return gave the Pats excellent field position starting at their 39 yard line. After an incomplete pass, Dillon had a huge run for 42 yards. It was the 3rd longest run from scrimmage in Patriots playoff history. The Pats couldn't get another 1st down but were able to get another field goal.

The Colts got the ball back and began driving. James ran for 6 then ran for 1. Manning then hit Stokely for 8. He then threw to Wayne for 10 more. James ran for 5 and Harrison caught a 7 yard pass. James ran for 3 and then caught a pass for 7 more. The pass was nullified though due to offensive holding. Manning passed to backup RB Domineck Rhodes who was stripped of the ball by Tedy Bruschi. It was technically a fumble but it was a straight out steal.

The Pats didn't do much on offense. Brady threw an incomplete pass and then got sacked for a loss of 9. They ran a draw play with Faulk for 11 yards and some field position. The turnover didn't result in points but it meant the Colts had to regain alot of territory and spend more time doing it.

The Colts used the last 1:52 of the half to march down field and kick a field goal. The score was 6-3 at halftime. Not exactly what the "experts" expected.

Bruschi had a nice return on a short kickoff to give the Pats great field position. They went 3 and out and the Colts got a generous penalty from Larry Izzo to give them the ball at the 31 instead of the 16. The Colts were able to drive near mid-field but they stalled at their on 48 and punted on 4th and 1. The Pats got the ball back at their own 13.

The Patriots had never had a drive of 87 yards or more all season until that point. Dillon started the drive with a loss of one but then Fauria got a 17 yard reception. Dillon ran for 4 yards and then 9. Then Faulk ran for 9. After an incomplete pass, Dillon ran for 5 and then 4. Faulk got 2 yards and then Brady converted on 3rd down with a pass to Pass for 14 yards. Dillon ran for 5 and then Faulk got 9, 4, and 1.

On 3rd and goal, Brady hit Givens for a 5 yard TD pass. The drive lasted over 8 minutes.

The Colts responded weakly with a drive that had one solid pass from Manning to Wayne for 13 but did nothing after that. The Patriots ate up half of the 4th quarter with a nice drive that resulted in a QB sneak for a touchdown. The TD was set up by a 27 yard run by Dillon. The game was effectively over at 20-3.

Tedy Bruschi once again recovered a fumble and the game was pretty much over.

The Pats ate some more clock, punted and then Manning threw a pick to Harrison in the end zone just like he did last year. Patriots 20, Colts 3.

The Pats play the Steelers on Sunday. After all the talk about stopping the MVP led best offense in the NFL without Ty Law, Tyrone Poole, and Richard Seymour, the defense held the overrated Colts to 3 points. Meanwhile, the Patriots offense was able to put together long drives that put up points and ate the clock.

Overrall the Pats had 210 rushing yards. 144 from Dillon, 56 from Faulk, 6 from Brady and 4 from Branch. They held the ball for over 35 minutes and never turned it over.

The Man of the Game is Corey Dillon. He never got into the end zone but he set up Brady's TD run and a Vinaterri Field Goal. He also caught more passes than any other Patriot with 5 for 17 yards. He allowed the Pats to keep the ball and keep the lead.

Boston College also continues to roll, squeeking by Villanova 67-66. They play at St. John's on Saturday.

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

"The Patriots cannot win this game without Ty Law."
"The Patriots are not as good a team now as they were in the beginning of the season."
"We're coming home next Sunday and we'll be going to the AFC Championship game."
"The Patriots are ripe for the picking."
-Mike Vanderjagt

"You want me to comment on something a kicker said?"
-Tedy Bruschi

Sunday, January 09, 2005

These teams just can't get enough of each other. They played in Week 1 (seemingly ages ago), in last year's AFC Championshio, in Week 13 last year, and back in 2001 these two teams were division opponents. The Colts were wins #8, 14, and 16 in the Patriots record winning streak. However, that was then and this is now.

Manning's playoff record is less than stunning. He's 3-4 in the postseason. When not playing Denver, his Interception to TD ratio is atrocious. 6 non-Denver INTs and 5 non-Denver TDs. He is 2-9 against the Patriots and has never won in Foxborough.

History aside, the game presents a major challenge to New England. With Law and Poole gone and Seymour an unkown, playing defense against the stellar Colts offense will be difficult. A major advantage the Patriots have is their experience against Manning. Bruschi, McGinist, Johnson, Harrison, Wilson, Seymour, and Vrabel all know him pretty well. The key to beating the Colts is to pressure Manning without blitzing him. If you blitz, he will find the open man in one-on-one coverage before his protection breaks down. If you can pressure him with 4 guys, you can leave 7 men to cover as many receivers as the Colts want to throw at you. For all the talk about Law and Poole being out, not having Seymour would hurt even more. An advantage the Pats have in pass rushing is the 3-4 defense and the players the Patriots have. The 3 down linemen will rush along with an unkown player. McGinist, Colvin, and Vrabel can all play OLB on the line ready to pass rush or to fake a pass rush. Warren, and Seymour are both tackles playing DE and can rush the passer and stop the run. The Pats have depth on the defensive line with guys like Wilfork, Traylor, Green, McGinist, and Klecko. The Pats must not blitz in this game. Harrison being covered by Randall Gay will not work out for the Pats unless Randall's got some help.

Offensively, the Pats need to score TDs and keep the ball. They also need drives that at the very least pin the Colts deep in their own territory. The Colts have the worst rush defense in the league. The Pats need to run with Dillon, Faulk, and Pass. They need to run to the inside and to the outside. Dives, draws, leads, slams, tosses, smashes. Everything. They need to run right at Dwight Freeney to keep him at home for a second setting up play action passing. They need to pass the ball short and long. Dink and dunk passes for 3 yards and bombs for 53 yards. They must not turn the ball over. They need alot of points. They need to score TDs when they get to the red zone, not just FGs.

In other news, BC is still undefeated after beating Providence College 69-60. They have the week off then go down to Morgantown, WV to play #23 WVU.

Wade Boggs is going to go into the Hall of Fame in a Red Sox cap. So is Jim Rice, but Jim will have to pay admission, unfortunately.

Carlos Beltran will not be playing for Houston next season and it looks like the Mets are the front runners to sign him. The Cubs are in the hunt as are the Yankees, of course.

This is both funny and sad

Thursday, January 06, 2005

I was wrong about two things in my last post. OU did not beat USC and the BC/UConn game was in Hartford, not Storrs. Anyway, Boston College was 11-0 coming into this game but they still hadn't demonstrated any major amount of ability. All but two of their games had been at home, and only one of those road games was outside of Massachusetts. They hadn't played a good team all season. They beat Maine, UNH, Clemson, Long Island-Brooklyn, UCLA, Holy Cross, BU, Yale, Duquesne, Kent State, and UMass. They were supposed to stumble against #9 UConn. They hadn't beaten UConn in Hartford since 1987. Then they were supposed to struggle against PC, and then lose in Morgantown to #23 WVU and their run would be all but over. But they beat the Huskies to open their Big East season.

Monday, January 03, 2005

I went to this game. It was my first Patriots game ever and the first time I have ever been inside Gillette. I gotta say that it is a beautiful facility. The concourses are wide open with plenty of space for milling around. You can also see the field from the concourse in the upper deck. Although the seats may seem far away, you can see most everyhting from the upper deck. The seating is a little cramped but that can actually be a good thing if its cold. There are plenty of concession stands and there is little to no waiting to use the bathroom or get food as long as it isn't halftime. It only took about an hour to get out of Foxborough the town and get past the I-95 exit. Parking was expensive ($35) but considering that you're allowed to bring anything in to tailgate it is pretty reasonable. We got in at about 9:15 and set up our little bitchy tailgate with a small grill I stole from my friend (a Phins fan) and some burgers and brats. The guys next to use were also rookie tailgaters and they gave us moose meat which was delicious. You guessed it, they were Mainers.

The game itself was pretty good. The Patriots were playing to win the game so they could go into the playoffs on a good note and avoid any rust. Dillon had some incentives to pickup and made $1.5M yesterday.

The 49ers got the ball first and drove 16 yards before punting the ball. Before the kick I noticed that Bethel Johnson was back to return the punt and said that he'd take it to the house. He did take it to the house but the TD was nullified by a blocking penalty that I didn't even see.

The Pats started on their own 7 but were able to drive the ball into San Francisco territory. They used the no huddle and the same formation with 3 WRs, a TE, and Dillon as the setback. Dillon caught a nice 18 yard pass but fumbled the ball.

The 49ers got the ball on their 29 but were penalized three plays in a row back to their 5. They ran the ball 3 times and then punted. The Pats again used the no huddle and began to drive. Brady threw a ball towards Dillon that went in between his fingertips and was intercepted and returned to the New England 22. The 49ers only needed a few plays to put the ball into the end zone via a Ken Dorsey pass.

The Patriots once again used the no huddle but to no avail. They went 3 and out partially due to stupid penalties like Andruzzi's holding penalty and Koppen being caught down field.

The 49ers got a gift from the refs with a bullshit 15 yard facemask penalty. Barlow ran the ball up the middle 4 times in a row for 12 yards in total including 3 on a 4th and 1 attempt. Later on 3rd and 6, Dorsey hit Curtis Conway for 14 yards.

The drive stalled, however, as Barlow was taken out for Hicks who ran the ball for 2. Barlow was obviously tired having run the ball up the middle 5 times, and gotten receptions on 2 other plays. Hicks then had a catch for -4 yards. Dorsey threw an incomplete pass on 3rd and 12. The 39 yard field goal attempt hit the right upright.

The Patriots came out and again used the no huddle. This time they had more rhythym. After an incomplete pass, Dillon ran to the right for 11 yards. Fauria got the ball into San Fran territory with an 11 yard reception. Dillon went up the middle for 19, then 6 more.

Brady then got the ball to the 2 with a 22 yard pass to Givens. On 1st and goal, Vrabel was brought in as a TE and Russ Hochstein as a blocking back. Vrabel moved early though and the jumbo package was removed. Dillon got the penalty yards back with a 6 yard run to the 9. Vrabel and Hochstein again came in. Brady hit a wide open Vrabel to tie the game.

The defense held the 9ers to a 3 and out. The game was basically over at this point. The Patriots drove the ball 50 yards deep into San Francisco territory but Brady fumbled while bringing his arm back to pass. The 49ers tried getting a deep ball to get a lead before halftime but were called for offensive pass interference. The half ended with a 7-7 tie.

The Patriots had a solid drive to open the 2nd half, getting the ball to the San Fran 40. Josh Miller had an amazing punt and the coverage team did very well to pin the ball inside the 1 yard line. The 49ers got out of the shadow of their goal posts and gave their punter some room but the Pats got the ball back in very good field position, their own 49. Dillon ran to the right for 8 and then to the left for 29. This gave Dillon his 8th 100 yard game which tied Martin for the team record. Brady hit Fauria for 8 yards and then found Deion Branch for an 8 yard TD pass.

The 49ers went 3 and out. The Pats were able to get a quick 1st down but stalled near mid field. Dorsey got the ball near midfield with a 13 yard pass to Conway. Barlow broke a big run for 20 yards before being forced out of bounds by Gay. Barlow was then stuffed for a loss. with Barlow tired, Hicks came in and fumbled the ball.

The Pats went into the no huddle again and drove the ball down the field with ease. Brady hit Brown for 6, then Johnson for 10. He then hit Weaver for 25. Pass carried the ball for 5, then 1, then 2. On 4th and 2 at the SF 17 yard line, they went for it. Brady went up the middle for 3 and a 1st down. The 3rd quarter then ended. Rohann Davey replaced Brady at QB. Dillon got 8 around the left end. As the croud chanted his name, he got 6 more and scored a TD, his 12th of the season which is tied for 3rd best in team history.

The rest of the 4th quarter was a struggle between a 2-14 team's starters and a 14-2 team's backups. The 9ers drove into the red zone but were stuffed on 4th and 1. The Pats drove to midfield but were stopped. Miller had another great punt downed at the SF 4. On 4th and 1 at their 13, Hicks got 2 but put the ball on the ground again. The Pats couldn't get a 1st down and turned the ball over. With 15 seconds left, Dorsey hit Woods for 59 yards. The game ended with an incomplete pass.

The Man of the Game is Brady. The fumble wasn't his fault nor was the INT. He went 22/30 (73.3%) with a pair of TDs. He hit 10 different receivers and had a nice 3 yard run on 4th and 2. Dillon had an amazing game averaging over 8 yards a carry. He had 116 rushing yards, and 18 receiving yards. However, he should have caught Brady's INT, and he had a fumble on his one reception. Weaver had a 62 yard receiving day. Fauria had 37, Givens had 30. Miller had 2 punts inside the 5. Bruschi had 9 tackles. McGinist had a sack. Troy Brown injured a player on defense.

The Pats have a bye week and will play one of three teams at Gillette Stadium in the early game on Sunday.

Buffalo could have made the playoffs with a win and either a loss by the Jets or the Broncos. The Jets did lose in OT but Buffalo had already lost. The Jets backed into the playoffs having lost 3 of their last 4 games, all of which were against playoff teams. The Broncos got in by beating an Indy team that did not committ to winning the game. Denver will fly back to Indianapolis with the Colts and play them in the dome in the Wild Card Round. The Jets will have to go down to San Diego and play the Chargers. The Broncos just beat the Colts and the Jets beat San Diego in California in week 2 by a score of 34-28.

If the Colts beat Denver, they'll come to Gillette no matter what. If Denver wins, the winner of the Charger/Jet game will come to New England. Denver will not play New England unless it is the AFC Championship Game.

In the NFC, the 8-8 Rams got in by beating the Jets, and the 8-8 Vikings backed in with a loss. The Vikings will play Green Bay in Lambeau. Green Bay beat Minnesota twice this season. The Seahawks will host the Rams in Seattle. The Rams went 2-0 vs. the Seahawks this season.

In other Patriot news, the Browns have asked permission to talk to Scott Pioli and Romeo Croenell.

Boston College won its 5th straight bowl defeating future ACC opponent UNC in Charlotte in front of about 65,000 Tar Heel fans. They rebounded nicely from the loss to Syracuse and pulled away from UNC 37-24. Paul Peterson broke his leg in the 4th but not before throwing for a pair of TDs.

#3 BC Hockey won the Florida College Classic Tournament beating #10 Cornell, and St. Cloud St.

BC Men's basketball is 11-0 after winning the Commonwealth Classic against UMass. BC plays #9 UConn in Storrs on the 5th.

The Yankees bought Johnson for about $10M. Technically they traded for him but they just so happened to throw in $9.86M in the deal along with Vazquez, Halsey, and Navarre. Didn't Selig say he wasn't going to allow this type of shit to go on after the A-Rod deal? I think that money used in trades like this should count towards the luxury tax, not that this would stop the Yankees.

Is it safe to say the luxury tax has failed in its purpose? If anything, it makes it harder for teams to compete and profit. The Yankees can pay whatever tax Selig applies but teams like Boston, Chicago, and LA can't afford to do this year in and year out. This system allows the Yankees to spend at will while their chief competitors (Boston) are hindered by a tax. Meanwhile, the smaller market teams get a small amount of crumbs from the Yankees' table but with the Yankees continue to drive the prices up on players like Beltran, Mussina, Giambi, Sheffield etc, the small amount of revenue received from sharing doesn't amount to a hill of beans. When the next CBA arrives, some serious thinking needs to be done about a cap or a more devestating luxury tax that increases exponentially.

The Angels changed their name to the LA Angels in an effort to get more Los Angeles fans to come out. I think the move is kind of silly considering that it is a blatant marketting move.

The Red Sox are in talks with the Rockies about trading BH Kim along with most of his salary for a top prospect in the rockies organization. I like getting a prospect and I love getting rid of Kim. His salary is a waste of money as it is so paying 80% of it while he pitches for another team doesn't bother me so long as we get something in return.

Tonight, Oklahoma will beat USC by a TD or more.

Sunday, December 26, 2004


Chad Pennington sucks. Tom Brady is the man. Yes, he sucked last week but he rebounded like he did after the Denver game in '01, or the Buffalo game in '03.

Tedy Bruschi had the first big play of the game when he intercepted a Chad Pennington pass and returned it for 36 yards giving the offense great field position. Bruschi doesn't get too many picks but when he does, it is typically because the QB can't see him stooped in coverage waiting for the ball or a receiver to come into his zone.

The offense didn't get going and punted the ball. They did give the Jets pretty poor field position which was nice considering Pennington led a 50 yard drive downfield that still did not put them in scoring range.

The Pats weren't able to do much with their next drive but a 29 yard pass to Givens gave them the edge in field position. After the Jets went 3 and out, the Pats got the ball on their own 31. Then they kicked it into high gear. Dillon ran for 3 hard yards up the middle. Brady hit Fauria for 15 yards. Dillon ran for 2 yards and then 6 more the next play. Brady ran for 5 up the middle for a 1st down. Pass had a big reception for 18 yards but it was taken back because of an offensive holding penalty.

Brady hit Dillon for 5 yards, then hit him again for 7 more. Pass then rushed around the end for 5 yards. He ran for 10 more after Brady threw an incomplete pass. Dillon ran up the middle for a yard, then Brady hit Pass for a few more. The drive finally stalled and the Pats were forced to kick a field goal. They did beat the Jets defense and had a small number of plays that didn't go for 3.3 yards or more, the average amount that is needed to get a first down on 3 plays.

The defense held the Jets to another 3 and out and once again the Pats offense rumbled down the field, this time into the end zone. The big play of the drive was a 35 yard pass to Givens that was perfectly delivered. Brady hit Graham in the end zone a few plays later.

The Jets once again went 3 and out and once again, the Patriots moved the ball down the field and scored. This time it was a field goal. The drive only took 1:06. It seems like whenever the Patriots have the ball in decent field position at the end of the 1st half, they will always march down and get that score that gives you momentum going into halftime. The Jets nearly allowed them do score again as they mishandled Vinaterri's well-executed squib kick. The Pats recovered the ball but 50 yards into the wind was too difficult of a kick for Vinaterri to nail.

The Patriots were able to move the ball a few yards in the opening drive of the 2nd quarter, but were unable to get past midfield. They were forced to punt. The Jets moved the ball into New England territory but the defense tightened up and forced a punt.

The Patriots got the ball on their 13 yard line and drove for 7:31 to score another field goal. Dillon and Pass were the featured players on the drive, rushing the ball and receiving it.

The Jets were down 16 points and needed to score to stay in the game. They started their drive on their 30 yard line. Ty Warren did a good job of holding up Curtis Martin at the line of scrimmage and Rodney Harrison finished the job. On 2nd and 9, the Jets hurried to get a play in before the 3rd quarter ended. Jarvis Green took Pennington down for a loss of 10. After a false start penalty, the Jets were looking at a 3rd and 24. Pennington is not exactly the greatest long ball QB and this was demonstrated as Eugene Wilson picked him off.

The Pats did not have much of a field to march down. They moved the ball 15 yards. Branch got the TD reception when he beat the CB covering him causing him to fall down.

The Jets were able to march down field, however, and scored a TD with 9 consecutive pass attempts. They thought about going for 2 but settled for the extra point. For a moment, it looked as though the Jets might make the game interesting.

The Patriots moved the ball to the Jets 25 yard line but Dillon was stopped on a 4th and 1. The drive did take 4:00 off the clock, however, and left New York with 5 and a half minutes to score twice.

Pennington threw to Moss for 17, then to McCareins for 18. He then hit Chrebet for 6. The drive stalled as Pennington passed to Jordan for a loss. He then threw incomplete to Moss. He hit McCareins on 4th and 6 but Asante Samuel made a great tackle to hold McCareins to 5 yards and not allow him to reach the ball across the plane of the 1st down line. The Patriots regained posession.

The Pats went 3 and out but took 1:11 off the clock with 3 straight runs and forced the Jets to start from their own 19. The Jets gained 10 on a pass interference call, then 36 more with a pass to McCareins. On 1st down, Roosevelt Colvin came on a blitz and sacked Pennington. Chad put the ball on the ground and it was recovered by Jarvis Green.

The game was all but over. Abdullah rushed the ball twice getting the required 1st down. Brady then took a knee three times. Game over.

The game was a great rebound for the Pats. Even without Ty Law, Bethel Johnson, Randall Gay, and Kevin Faulk, the Pats were able to go into the Jets' house (where they were 6-1) and completely dominate them. The Pats knew that a win secured a 1st round bye and they also knew that after this game is an easy and meaningless one against the hapless 49ers (which I am going to).

It seemed like everyone on the Patriots had a very good day. No-one screwed up. Brady was 21/32 with a pair of TD passes, and 264 yards. Dillon ran the ball 29 times for 89 yards and passed Curtis Martin for the Patriot single season rushing record. He also caught a pair of passes for 12 yards. Patrick Pass filled in nicely for Kevin Faulk rushing the ball 4 times for 17 yards. He had 5 receptions for 32 yards. Branch caught the ball 7 times for 82 yards and a TD. Givens had 2 big receptions for 64 total yards. Fauria had 3 catches for 44 yards. Graham had 2 for 30. Tully Banta-Cain had a solid special teams day recovering a fumble on a Vinatierri squib kick. Adam had 3 field goals and 2 XPs, giving him 11 more points. Miller had 2 punts inside the 20. Bruschi had 6 tackles and an INT. Johnson also had 6 tackles. Davis had 4 in off-and-on duty. Vrabel, Colvin, and Green each had a sack. Troy Brown added 2 tackles to his season total.

The Man of the Game is tom Brady. He looked very good once he got going. He made all the right decisions and helped win the game for the Pats.

The Pats sealed up the 2nd seed in the playoffs. The Steelers are the #1, the Colt s are #3 and the Chargers are #4. Right now, the Jets and Broncos are the 5th and 6th seeds. The Bills are currently tied with Denver but have a weaker conference record. Buffalo will be in if they beat Pittsburgh and either Denver or the Jets lose. The Jets are in if they win. The Broncos are in if they win. The Jaguars and Ravens need alot of help to get in.

Okay, I'm glad we kept Tek, and i'm even happier we named him captain even though the title isn't what is important, how he acts is what counts. I do think $10M a year is a bit much for a catcher in his early 30s. I'm glad the deal is only 4 years but nevertheless, he'll be 37 when the deal ends. I guess an eventual move to first isn't completely out of the question.

We've got Mueller, Millar (for now at least) and now we have Wade Miller. I think this is a solid pickup of a good pitcher whose arm is in question. For $1.5M this is a low risk, high reward gamble that might pay off alot.

One thing I don't like too much about this offseason is the amount of money we're spending, or rather not spending on pitching. We've got Schilling at $13M, Wells and Clement at $8M each, and the rest are pitching for peanuts. We've spent the same amount of money on 6 starting pitchers as we are spending on our 3 starting outfielders.

The Patriots can clinch a 1st round playoff bye with a victory against the Jets.

Monday, December 20, 2004

For the third time in his career as a New England Patriots, Tom Brady had a terrible game and is the most repsonsible for the Patriots losing. The first was in 2001 against Denver. The last was last season against Buffalo. It happens some times. Alot of other players contributed to this loss though. Rodney Harrison had an absolutely idiotic pass interferance call on a pass that he could have intercepted had he simply turned around. Dexter Reid had a mistep on a special teams coverage play that resulted in a 72 yard punt return that set up a Miami field goal. All night, the Patriots simply could not stop Jason Taylor from screwing up the Pats offense. The play calling was not as good as it has been nor as it should be.

Here are some things that contributed to the Pats loss in no particular order:
1. The Pats have no-one good to return kicks or punts
2. No Tyrone Poole, no Ty Law
3. Troy Brown on coverage far too often
4. 6 Patriots drives that did not achieve first downs
5. 4 INTs by Brady
6. Not running the ball late in the game
7. Brady throwing the ball as he fell instead of taking a sack and punting
8. Containing Walker on the 72 yard punt return

Even though the Pats lost, the Man of the Game is Corey Dillon. He ran for 121 yards, and a TD. He also had 2 receptions, one for a score.

The Pats play New York next week and have to win in order to get home field advantage throughout. They also need the Steelers to lose twice.

A win next week will ensure a 1st round bye.

I like this pickup alot. The deal is $25M over 3 years. He is 30 but is nowhere near the oldest pitcher on the team. There really wasn't any other move Theo could pull off with the resources he has.

As far as this offseason goes, I think we have improved at shortstop, improved slightly in the long-relief department, and our rotation has gotten somewhat better at the #3 spot and somewhat worse at the #2 spot. We've lost some depth and the Varitek situation is a silly, stupid mess. The Yankees, meanwhile, have added the top pitching free agent in Carl Pavano, and are looking to trade for the guy that shouldv'e won the NL Cy Young, Randy Johnson. They're also talking to the top hitting free agent, Carlos Beltran. I think we all knew this would be coming. Johnson refuses to go anywhere but New York (BTW, Fuck him if the World Series Champions aren't good enough for him) and we all knew Steinbrenner would go out and spend tons of money. Meanwhile, the Red Sox have an actual budget, although it may be large, it cannot compete with the limitless resources of the Yankees. We don't have any pitching prospects to trade for guys like Hudson or Mulder. If we sign Varitek, I think we'll be a slightly better team than last season, but I don't know if we will have improved as much as New York.

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