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.

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