Monday, October 12, 2009
BIG DADDY DENVER
I'm not ashamed to admit that the Denver Broncos own the New England Patriots. Tom Brady is 1-6 against them. He's 104-23 against everyone else. And Sunday afternoon said ownership continued unabated.
The Patriots lost this game in so many ways. Certainly the officiating wasn't Pro-Bowl calibre. Throwing a taunting flag before the alleged taunt occurs is just weird. Maybe the ref was a pre-cog from Minority Report or something. My theory is he was going to call a late-hit flag on Meriweather, but realized it was a clean play. Then Meriweather provided enough material to call a taunting penalty. That being said, the penalty amounted to 15 yards of Denver's 98 on the drive, so the Patriots bear the responsibility for the resultant touchdwon, and no the refs.
If Gostkowski hits that last field goal. If the Patriots win the toss. If Orton's 3rd & 12 pass that bounced off two Patriots and landed in Gaffney's hands had found the ground. If a Patriot falls on a fumble instead of a Bronco. If the refs didn't call taunting. If the refs didn't have quick whistles. If the replay booth actually replayed questionable calls. If, if, if. If is a middle word in life
The big "if" is, IF the Patriots had played better. Plain and simple. Tom Brady is the leader of the Patriots, and he led them in poor play Sunday. Bill Belichick is an aggressive coach, who loves to pass the ball. So why do you think he was calling so many running plays late in the 4th quarter? He didn't have faith that the pass would work for them. Not at that particular moment.
On paper, Brady's day wasn't awful. 19/33, 215 yards, 2 TDs, 0 INTs. That's a 97.4 rating. But those incompletions. Missing a wide open Moss for an easy touchdown. Underthrowing and overthrowing. He's comfortable in the pocket now, but he's not yet in tune with the playing field beyond the pocket. He and Welker haven't clicked and gotten those YACs we're used to seeing. And he has looked awful when trying to hit Moss deep.
The good news is that these things SHOULD come back to him. The bad news is they might not. The clock is ticking. Then again, to be 2-1 after playing Atlanta, Baltimore and Denver ain't too shabby. Then again, the Patriots haven't won outside of Gillette Stadium since December 2008.
Tennessee comes to town in a nice respite from these big games. Then it's Tampa Bay in London and a much needed bye week.
I anticipate that after that, Brady & Co. will be on the same page. Which is good because it goes Dolphins-Colts-Jets-Saints-Dolphins after the bye.