Monday, December 24, 2007
The Patriots tied the NFL record for regular season wins by beating Miami 28-7. The Patriots also have an perfect record within the AFC East for the first time in their history. The Patriots are one win away from a perfect regular season, and four wins away from a completely perfect season. Tom Brady is one touchdown shy of Peyton Manning's record. Randy Moss is one touchdown shy of Jerry Rice's record. The Patriots are two touchdowns shy of breaking Miami's record for TDs. The Patriots are 6 points away from breaking the NFL record for points scored in a season.
There was a sign I saw at Gillette Stadium yesterday. It read: "Watch out, Timbaland, the Patriots are producing records."
The man of the game was Laurence Maroney, who rushed for 156 yards (career high) in 14 carries. He broke two 50+ yarders, and averaged 11.1 yards per carry. This is the first time in his career that he's had back-to-back 100+ yard games. His 59 yard touchdown run was the longest of his career.
Randy Moss had two touchdown catches, and five receptions overall for 50 yards. Moss, who began the year with 505 yards in the first 4 games, has been held under 100 in the last 2 games, and in 4 of the last 5. There were some plays in which Moss appeared to be the victim of pass interference, but flags were not thrown. There was only one that I thought should have been called, but the others could have gone either way as non-calls or penalties. There was also one bogus offensive pass interference call.
Brady had a mediocre day, throwing 3 TDs and a pair of picks. He very nearly threw 3 INTs, but one slipped right through the DB's fingers and into Jabbar Gaffney's hands. Only one non-WR caught a pass, every other catch was by Moss, Stallworth, Welker, and Gaffney.
Tom's first half play was the direct opposite of his second half. In the first, Brady was 14 for 18, with 163 yards, 3 TDs, 0 INTs, and a rating of 143.98. In the second, he was 4 for 15, with 52 yards, 0 TDs, and 2 INTs. That's a rating of 1.94. That's not a typo.
Troy Brown dressed for the first time this year for what may have been his final game at Gillette Stadium. He seemed rusty, uncharacteristically misjudging a punt. The ball humorously bounced off his facemask, and into the clutches of a Dolphin. By playing in the game, Brown is now 4th in Pats history for games played with 192. It also officially makes this season his 15th with the team. Apart from the muff, he did a solid job returning punts.
Speaking of Troy Brown, Wes Welker's 5 receptions gave him 101 catches for the season. This ties Welker and Brown for the Patriots' reception record.
Mike Vrabel demonstrated why he's a Pro Bowler, taking down Cleo Lemon on two occasions. Vrabel now has 12 sacks, a new career high. He is the first Patriot with 10 or more sacks in a season since Willie McGinist in 1995.
Tedy Bruschi had one of his best games of the season. He racked up 9 tackles, and broke up a 4th down pass that would have been a touchdown. Despite how deep we are into the NFL season, older guys like Bruschi, Seau, and Vrabel are still performing very well.
Jarvis Green and Richard Seymour each had sacks. Ty Warren had 1.5. Combined the Patriots defense sacked Lemon 7 times.
The Patriots could have done much better in this game. On their second drive of the game, they were unable to convert a 3rd and 1, forcing them to punt. Who knows what would have happened had the drive continued.
Brady's first interception came in the end zone. I think it's safe to say that it was a score altering interception. Brady's second pick came on the next drive, this time a deep ball intended for Moss was the culprit.
The Patriots still won convincingly, but the game could have been over much earlier than it was. That's what this running up the score business is all about: finishing the game early by getting so far ahead of your opponent, they lose the will to fight.
Oh, well, a win is a win is a win.
The Pats have a short week, with a holiday mixed in, then they face the Giants in New York. The season began in Giants Stadium, with SpyGate, and a 38-14 drubbing of the Jets. The Giants are a very good team. Even though they'll be the 5th seed in the NFC playoffs, their 10-5 record is good enough for 3rd best in the conference. They're one of eight teams in the NFL with 10 or more wins.
But the Giants have everything wrapped up. They're locked in as the 5th seed, which means they'll be playing on the road in two weeks. The Giants even know who they'll be playing. So will they focus solely on beating the Patriots? Or will they mix in some preparation for Tampa Bay? Will they play their starters for the same amount of time? Or will they give some of them breaks?
Regardless of what the Giants do, the Patriots should win this game. The Giants are good, but they're only NFC good. Moreover, they're 3-4 at home this year, and Giants Stadium is hardly an unfamiliar place for the Pats to play.
Happy Holidays, and Go Pats!