EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - NOVEMBER 13: Deion Branch #84 and Wes Welker #83 of the New England Patriots celebrate after a touchdown against the New York Jets at MetLife Stadium on November 13, 2011 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Photo by Chris Trotman/Getty Images)
The Patriots dominated the Jets on Sunday Night Football and took control of the AFC East, just like every other year. Meanwhile, Rex Ryan and the Jets look lost in November. Just like every other year. But there's a twist. Plus: Beware of the 49ers and Bears, that new Cowboys t-shirt, Mike Smith keeps it real, the photo of the season, and more.
Thearen't dead. Anyone expecting to dance on the Patriots grave came away disappointed after and the Patriots unleashed a classic ass-whooping on the on Sunday night. Tom Brady looked like Tom Brady again, a patchwork Patriots secondary held the Jets in check for the entire night, and a close first half gave way to a second-half blowout that left no doubt about who the kings are in the AFC East.
So staring down the barrel of what would've been three-game losing streak, the Patriots looked like one of the best teams in the NFL. It was a crucial statement game, and if you don't believe me, just look at exhibit A, where we have Bill Belichick breaking character. From the New York Post:
As the Patriots coach walked off the MetLife Stadium field, he threw his arm around his son, Stephen, and added an exclamation mark to the Patriots’ 37-16 victory over the Jets. "Thirty-seven points on the best defense in the league, s--- my d---," the Patriots coach said in celebration.
NOTE: If there's any justice in the world, that quote will be blown up and run on sports shows all week, just for the entertainment value of watching commentators fumble the profanities and/or take to the pulpits to moralize about Belichick's lack of respect.
More importantly: That quote is your proof that the Patriots needed this game a lot more than stoic Belichick would have ever let on. In past years, wins like Sunday night were expected. Belichick would've been unmoved. This season, there's been real chinks exposed in the Patriots armor, so winning a battle in New York is more than just business as usual. "It's really great to come down here and win," Belichick said in his postgame press conference.
In the tradition of Belichick press conferences, that qualifies as downright ecstatic. And if nothing else, the ecstasy afterward gives you an idea of what things were like beforehand. For a minute there, we actually got a glimpse of what a vulnerable New England team looks like.
Now, though, the Patriots have a one-game lead on the Jets, and having beaten New York twice already, they own the tiebreaker in the AFC East. Tom Brady looks as good as ever, and after teetering on the brink, the Patriots are firmly entrenched at the top. Again. Business as usual.
Meanwhile, Rex Ryan is throwing up his hands. As he said afterward:
What am I going to say? Maybe I should guarantee the fact that we're out of it. The last time I did that, we made the playoffs. Yeah, we don't have a chance.
They're not out of it, obviously, but afterand the Jets offense couldn't put up more than 9 points on the Patriots injury-ravaged secondary through three quarters, the morning-after may be particularly brutal in New York this morning. The same way the Patriots always seem to find a way to stay a step ahead in the AFC East, the Jets always find a way to ratchet up the degree.
In 2009, a blowout loss to the Patriots in Week 11 dropped the Jets to 4-6, guaranteeing they wouldn't win the division, and making even a wild card berth look like a pipe dream. By the end of the year, they were the surprise team that made the AFC Championship Game.
In 2010, a blowout loss to the Patriots in Week 13 guaranteed that they wouldn't win the division, and left their chances as a wild card team looking slimmer than ever. By the end of the year, they'd beaten the heavily favored Patriots and nearly taken down thein the AFC title game.
All of which is to say that the offense looks anemic, the defense looks overrated, and even if both units bounce back, it'll take a serious second wind for the Jets to recover and make a playoff run. So here we are again midway through November with the Pats looking like champs that won't die, and the Jets looking dead in the water.
Business as usual, yes—just remember how that business has finished the past few years.
Quick notes from elsewhere...
Theare probably waiting for next year. Yes, the Jets have bounced back to do some great things the past few years, but they never looked quite as lost as the Eagles do right now. Philly's had some bad luck in losses this year, but on Sunday they were just bad. It just seems like this is one of those years where the Eagles were cursed from the outset, and they just need to press the reset button. Fire Andy Reid, shore up the offensive line, then come back and go 12-4 next year.
Theand just keep on being the worst great teams in football. Their offenses aren't great, they have quarterbacks infamous for self-destruction, and every week seems like the week they're finally due to get exposed. This is why it's so incredible to see the Niners and Bears just chugging along, their physical defenses beating the crap out of everyone they face, and their offenses doing just enough to get them over the top.
Maybe they're not dominant in the traditional sense, but they are the classic teams that frustrate the crap out of whoever they play. A little bit like Rex Ryan's Jets the past few years. In other words, if you think their success is inevitable now, just wait till we get to the playoffs.
Theare that awesome new t-shirt. I'm not going to jinx Dallas after the best game they've played all year, but I will say that somebody needs to make a Fab Five-style t-shirt for them.
For the Cowboys it would be four, though.
You could even throw a few Cowboys stars instead of the A's in "DALLAS" if you wanted to get fancy with it. Point is, for the first time in a few years, the Cowboys have some playmakers to get excited about. But let's try not to jinx anything. I've already said too much.
The ongoing assault on Joe Flacco's reputation continues. But you know, Flacco takes a lot of heat for how he looks when the Ravens lose (29-52, 1 TD, 1 INT, 67.4 QB Rating), but offensive coordinator Cam Cameron is the one who only handed the ball tofive times yesterday. How do you have one of the best two or three best running backs in the league and only hand him the ball five times? When that happens, Baltimore deserves to lose.
When keeping it real goes wrong. The only time it makes sense to risk losing the game on one play is when success on that play would guarantee a win. If thehad succeeded on Mike Smith's fourth down call yesterday? It would have been first and 10 on the Falcons' 30, with another 40 yards to go until field goal range. Taking a stand is cool, but not when the other guy's a 10th-degree black belt.
|When Keeping it Real Goes Wrong - Darius James|
God hates Cleveland, man. From the Associated Press:
When Phil Dawson trotted onto the field, theseemed moments from victory. ... Dawson's 22-yard field-goal attempt sailed wide left after a bounced snap from with just over two minutes left, giving the visiting a 13-12 win against the bungling Browns, who again failed to score a touchdown at home and couldn't count on their steady kicker to bail them out.
"You leave with a helpless feeling. It's tough," Browns quarterbacksaid. "We should have won -- more than once. You kind of scratch your head and wonder, 'Where is all this bad luck coming from? Why?'"
There's really nothing to add except to say that business as usual for Cleveland is the cruelest business of all, and that Colt McCoy might be the most Cleveland sports fan quote of all time.
"You leave with a helpless feeling. It's tough. We should have won -- more than once. You kind of scratch your head and wonder, 'Where is all this bad luck coming from? Why?'"
I mean, GOD.
Hindsight Is always 20/20 with stupid parlays. From @RJinVegas:
As a consolation to the rest of us, though: even if that bet looks brilliant now, if you're the type of person who puts 100 bucks on the, , Rams, and 49ers to win outright, then something tells me you're the type of person that's gonna lose that $8,400 in the long run.
At least that's what we can tell ourselves until next week.
And finally, God bless this photo. It wasn't ruled a catch and the Chiefs wound up losing to Tim Tebow and the fighting Tebows, but long after we forget all about Week 10 and Tim Tebow and the Chiefs and the whole damn 2011 season, this photo will still be totally awesome.
(Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)