Archive for November, 2010

Patriots Week 12 Recap: Detroit Lions on Turkey Day

Sunday, November 28th, 2010

After a close victory against the Indianapolis Colts 89 hours earlier in New England, the Patriots had to prepare and fly out to Detroit for their traditional Thanksgiving game against the Lions.  This had “trap game” written all over it.  Similar to the Cleveland Browns game, this seemed like a game that would be overlooked.  Just after playing the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Indianapolis Colts, and the rival New York Jets coming up next week, a losing team could have been an easily ignored and forgotten.

And for the first half, it looked as though the Lions were at least going to hang with the Patriots if not completely out-gamed.  The first half saw the Pats were down by 11 and ended down a touchdown.  The third quarter ended with the game all tied up at 24 each, but Tom Brady was starting to heat up.

Then the final quarter went completely New England’s way with three touchdowns against the no points scored for Detroit.  Brady was absolutely carving up the Detroit defense without throwing a single incomplete pass.  He scored three of his four touchdowns in the fourth quarter, the other one was in the third; with two of them going to Deion Branch and the other two going to Wes Welker.  And to stay with the powers-of-two, BenJarvus Green-Ellis had two rushing touchdowns.

The biggest fear that I have with these 2010 Patriots is their inability, it seems, to close out games.  Indy made it close because the defense was letting the Colts easily march down the field in the fourth quarter and score touchdowns at will while the offense was just going three-and-out with no time off the clock.  The same happened to the defense against the Steelers, though the game was well in hand and it was clear that they were in a prevent defense (as well as the offense was scoring; though I would like to point out that if the offense didn’t do anything, we would be talking about how the young defense let Pittsburgh win the game).

But in a span of 12 days, they have played three tough games that may start to define the 2010 New England Patriots.  Following a 34-14 loss against the Cleveland Browns that just became a real head-scratcher, the Pats have reeled off wins at the Pittsburgh Steelers, at home against the Colts, and in Detroit.  It seems that year in, year out, the Pats are always playing meaningful games against the Steelers and the Colts for top-dog of the AFC, so to win them back to back this year at least gives them some sort of measuring stick.

And now they practically have a bye-week with 11 days off until they play the Monday night game in Foxborough against thew New York Jets, a team that has been keeping pace with the Patriots (or vice versa).  A lot has been made about many of the Jets latest victories, though they seemed to handle the struggling Cincinnati Bengals fairly well on Thanksgiving day.  And with them also having 11 days off as well, two well rested teams will be duking it out for the top position in the AFC East, and will likely decided how the playoffs will setup (with the one-seed being either team).

Patriots Week 11 Recap: Indianapolis Colts

Saturday, November 27th, 2010

There was just over two minutes left in the fourth quarter, and I decided that maybe the best place to watch the rest of the game was on my hands and knees… praying… to the porcelain vortex.

Okay, maybe I really didn’t watch the rest of the New England Patriots game against the Indianapolis Colts from the bathroom.  But a nauseating sensation of déjà vu wasn’t just creeping in – it was flooding in.

The Patriots missed a great opportunity to score a touchdown at the start of the final quarter and settled with a field goal to go up 31-14 with over ten minutes remaining.  And then what followed has happened many times in the last few meetings between Indy and the Pats: no lead is safe with that Guy across the field.

In the next 2:26, Peyton Manning marched down the field and scored a touchdown.  The Patriots responded with a 40-second three-and-out. The Colts then scored another touchdown in 2:18 (which also included a very helpful unnecessary roughness penalty by Tully Banta-Cain).  That’s 14 points in 5:24 to make it 31-28.

So, with 4:46 to go, I was looking for a nice old fashioned staple of the New England Patriots: the clock draining drive.  Get first downs.  Make the opposing team use timeouts.

Instead, the Patriots got one first down and punted on the next set of downs to kill 2:21 of clock.  That allowed Indianapolis to have 2:25 with all three timeouts and the two-minute warning.

And there was Manning driving yet again.  Going to do it yet again against New England.  Then with over 30 seconds left, the Colts had first down on the 24 yard line.  With an Adam Vinatieri game-tying field goal already in their pocket, Indy decided to go for the glory and get the seven points for the lead (and essentially the win).

And then the young defense finally got a little pressure at the right time.  Jermaine Cunningham came around the edge and made Manning hurry a throw (and I thought that he got a finger on his arm just enough to make his throw alter ever so slightly).  The pass was off the mark and James Sanders was able to pull down the interception.

A win is a win is a win, I suppose, and this one is over Indy at that.  But boy do they make it interesting.  And at 8-2, they now lead the NFL with the best record along with AFC East rival New York Jets (why won’t they ever seem to go down), and the Atlanta Falcons.