At least during the second half of last night's eventual 28-3 shellacking of Jacksonville. The first half, not so much.
The first half was, how you say, interesting. Unlike nearly any half of football I've seen the Pats this year. Usually, it was the offense running on all cylinders, and the defense struggling to find the line of scrimmage with both hands.
But for 30 minutes last night, Gillette Stadium moved several inches to the right into Bizarro World.
Defense came out growling, raring to go, ready to play. The front 7 was all up in the grille of Byron Leftwich all night long. The secondary, well, they're still in a different universe from , say, the Buccaneer or Redskins secondary ( which by the way were pretty damn amazing). There was the occasional big play given up, but when it came to 3rd down or the red zone, they came through when it mattered.
For once, it was the offense, and particularly one THOMAS BRADY who could not seem to get it in gear. 3 straight penalties to start the game. And then, the weirdest pass play I have seen since Brady completing one from the seat of his pants against the Bengals last year. Brady throws the ball- and it BOUNCES OFF THE REF. Right off his nose. Something was off from the start.
*Imaginary Brady pokes Emma with a stick*
Yeah, yeah, I know, it wasn't totally your fault. Those Jacksonville DBs are no slouches, and were playing quality man-to-man for much of the first half. And Lil' Deion and Benji dropped a couple of balls. But you had several chances with open receivers where you just could not get your schwerve on.
Okay, so you did get a TD pass in the first half. But that is because Troy Brown is awesome.
(Funny story: Watching the Monday Night game with the Jets, my mother watched a similarly awesome TD catch by the aforesaid Brown. I tell her the story of Troy Brown V.2004-wideout, d-back, punt returner.
Mom: "Can he play shortstop?")
*Imaginary Brady sits down and threatens to hold his breath till he turns blue*
Waitaminnit, I'm getting to the second half. Here's a cookie.
So, though the halftime lead is 7-3 ( and the Jags have those points by the grace of God and a lack of wind-Josh Scobee's wide eyed look of relief was comedy gold) I'm not sitting down with any composure or calm. With what I had seen out of the D this year, I was not anywhere sure that the D could continue to hold them of. If the offense continued to sputter, the Jags would continue to hang around, and bad things would happen.
Fortunately, the Pats V. 2004 ( or someone similar) made a return engagement. Starting on the unlikeliest play imaginable. And maybe a little divine intervention. Pass complete to Benji Watson-big hit by the Jags Mike Peterson...FUMBLE. OMG, FUMBLE. And then, who to my wandering eyes should appear, but Andre Frakkin' Davis, managing to recover said fumble.
I have to say, I'm not at all sure what would have happened had Jacksonville recovered. I don't ever want to know. But it all changed from there. It put a charge in the offense, starting with the ensuing TD pass to David "Wins at Life And Other Worthy Endeavors"(TM Amy) Givens.
While the Jags were still in shock, the D forces another punt, and though it looks at first like the offense has receded into futility, here comes the otherwordly intervention again. Pass complete (again ) to Ben Watson, and he redeems himself for the fumble, tenfold. After being tackled, and almost pulled to the ground, he breaks free, rips off 63 yards to the house, 21-3 Pats.
However, it ain't' over yet, oh no. The defense wants to get in on the fun. Ensuing Jags possession, into the red zone. Asante Samuel weaves the most beautiful pick I have seen in a long while on a deke coverage, and runs it all the way back home, putting the final nail in the coffin of the Jags. And the lasting image I'll take from that? Defensive stud Willie McGinest, haunter of the dreams of quarterbacks around the nation, with 4.5 SACKS(!), raising both arms to the heavens in praise of his teammate. Don't get any sweeter than that.
Sure, Michael Smith
may be right when he points out that the Pats needed a whole, whole lot of luck to win that game. But luck is a part of the make-up of every championship team. Luck provides the oppurtunities; great teams capitalize on them.
That doesn't mean they won't need a whole lot more then they showed this week to beats the Broncos or the Colts.They can't afford the first half offensive futility. Hear that? *Whacks Imaginary Brady upside the head with a rolled magazine*. Because while the D has improved remarkably, and will further improve if Tedy comes back for next week's game, both of those offenses are better than the Jags; they will score their points. Both units need to bring their best game if they even want to hang around.
However, I have faith that they can. I saw flashes of the Champion Patriots last night. Welcome back, guys. Time to go to work.