Julian Edelman's Fire Cannot Be Contained And Other Leftover Patriots Thoughts
By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) -- Oh my goodness, that was ugly!
So ugly, in fact, that it seems almost uncouth to even speak of this game now, more than a full 36 hours after its final second mercifully ticked off the clock. Talk about that game? How could you?!
Ah, yes, it was not one for the ages, but it is one we must nevertheless dissect, lest it be forgotten to history, smoothed by the sands of time, drifting in the wind of our collective lost consciousness. Some might argue that it's best to just forget this game, and under different circumstances, they might be right.
But come on, folks. The New York Jets just stumbled into Gillette Stadium and fell flat on their face, and they remained there on the soggy turf for three full hours, all for your enjoyment. You're saying you don't want to relive some of that?
That's what I thought.
So here we go, leftover thoughts from the Patriots' 41-3 victory over the lowly, hapless Jets.
--The best part of the blowout home win for the Patriots over the Jets is that they definitely will not be forced to play them again in a postseason game in a few weeks and randomly lose. That really is a huge benefit this time around.
Too soon? Too soon. OK. Sorry! I'm sorry. We'll get past this.
--I knew very early on that we were in for a marvelously inept offensive showing from the New York Jets. In fact, there was a precise moment when this became clear:
Does that look like the face of a man who is capable of completing even one pass against the Patriots? Or does it more accurately look like the face of a man who can complete infinity times more passes to the Patriots (1) than to his own team (0)?
--I hate to kick a man when he's down, but Bryce Petty was horrible. And obviously, an 0-for-3 showing with an interception thrown and two sacks taken details that very clearly. But there were some plays out there that an NFL quarterback just does not make.
Petty showed horrific "evasiveness" on the Chris Long's opening-drive sack, as the quarterback ended up running directly into his left tackle before hitting the deck. Later in the first quarter, Petty mixed it up by running directly into his right tackle before taking a sack. Was he trying desperately to recreate the Butt Fumble as a Christmas gift to all of New England?
It looked like when your mom gets sick of watching you play Madden for 30 hours per day and decides she wants to play against you, only she doesn't know any of the buttons, so when she runs a play she basically just has her quarterback run around like a beheaded chicken before getting lit up by a defensive lineman.
Petty took the "Mom Playing Madden" parallel to the next level at the end of the first quarter when he threw a horribly inaccurate duck to Quincy Enunwa, who was several yards short of the sticks on a third-and-4. That was when your mom realized that hitting the "X" button could pass, so she'd throw it to the same receiver every play, no matter what.
I've honestly never played Madden against my mother, but trust me -- this analogy is perfect. Thank you.
--Look, when you win a game 41-3 against an awful team, some of the specifics might get washed away amidst the general putridity of the football game. It's only natural. But! Some of the passes Tom Brady completed were utterly unbelievable.
Some were more obvious than others, like when he posed like a professional dart player and hit the bull's-eye on Martellus Bennett in the end zone, or the picture-perfect rainbow lob to James White in front of the right pylon for another score. But others came on more ho-hum types of completions, like the teeny-tiny window through which Brady fit a bullet to Malcolm Mitchell on the Patriots' second offensive snap of the game:
That was also fit right in over the head of a linebacker:
I was amazed by this pass ... but then I remembered that it was thrown in cold and rainy conditions, and so the PSI of the football was lower than 12.5, and so it became incredibly easy for a man to throw these passes, and that's the only reason Brady's ever had any success in his career. And so I was less impressed. What a loser.
--I know, I know, beating a dead horse and everything, but the world created an 18-month "scandal" out of this ignorant nonsense, so damn it I will be heard! So, for real, the temperature was 40 degrees, and it was pouring rain. If I were the owner of the Patriots, you can bet I'd be lobbing a formal complaint in which I accuse the Jets of having deflated their footballs in this game. Oh, you could bet on it. I mean, I can only speak for myself, but as an average viewer watching from home, I found it difficult to enjoy the football game, knowing that the PSI of the footballs might be slightly lower than the arbitrary number assigned by the manufacturer as the standard. And frankly, I won't rest until a full-scale investigation gets to the bottom of this tomfoolery. I won't stand for it! The integrity of the game is at stake!
--Another beaut from Brady came late in the second quarter, when James White couldn't catch a ball on his fingertips.
That would have been a cool 30-yard gain, but instead it went for zero and forced the Patriots to punt.
For Brady, there must have been flashbacks of Shane Vereen running wheel routes just burning through his brain.
--Probably the most impressive play made by anyone on the Jets came from Sheldon Richardson, when he one-armed tackled a full-speed LeGarrette Blount behind the line of scrimmage.
I don't know for sure, but I'm willing to wager money to say that Mr. Richardson lifts weights.
--The second-most impressive play by a member of the Jets came from Bilal Powell. The man ran right through Devin McCourty, discarding the All-Pro safety like he was but a wee little man.
McCourty, who sealed last week's win in Denver with a punishing hit on Demaryius Thomas, doesn't finish too many plays in that position.
(McCourty did make the tackle, of course.)
--The most underrated play by any Patriots player came immediately after Todd Bowles elected to kick a field goal while trailing by 41 points and facing a fourth-and-goal from the 11-yard line. Shaq Mason let Jets linebacker Freddie Bishop know that there would be no free shots on any running backs allowed:
Bishop is 6-foot-3, 255 pounds, but Mason made him look like a rag doll there.
--Another impressive athletic feat: Malcolm Butler perfectly playing an underthrown ball and fighting through a push-off by Robbie Anderson en route to making an interception:
--Julian Edelman is so uniquely Julian Edelman. That's what makes him him, obviously. And he's a guy who very clearly shows no desire to ever operate on a football field at a volume any lower than 11. That's probably why he wears that jersey number, come to think of it.
Anyway, that attitude showed itself quite clearly early in the second quarter, when a Jets assistant coach (Brant Boyer, maybe?) not-so-subtly stepped in front of Edelman while clapping toward the field to encourage his players.
The coach then actually dropped a shoulder into Edelman's chest (as Edelman was presumably yapping about whatever):
Then, another member of the Jets sideline came over and actually put his hands on Edelman, while the coach who initially contacted Edelman proceeded to waltz toward the field as if nothing had happened:
It was at that point when Edelman found himself at the center of multiple men, none of whom particularly cared for him.
Edelman decided to fight rather than flee:
The offending coach needed to be consoled after the verbal beatdown from Edelman:
Here's a video recap for you:
Again, this is Edelman. His fire is always raging. But with the playoffs so close, and with a league office that a history of perhaps leaning on the stronger end of punishments, perhaaaaaps the Patriots might want to keep that guy in a cage next week. He's now gotten testy on the field in two straight games, and if Roger Goodell abruptly decides that "being mean and angry" is suddenly punishable by four-game suspension, the Patriots may find themselves in deep dog-doo.
--The Patriots went undefeated in December, giving them their second undefeated month of the season and their 23rd undefeated month since 2001. The Colts have the second-most undefeated months in that span, with just 15. Now, yeah, obviously "undefeated months" aren't a real thing that anybody keeps track of. But -- but! -- that is 23 months. That is nearly two full calendar years of undefeated football over the past 15 years. That is bananas. Ba. Nan. As.
--OK, warning, I'm going back to the PSI here: How did Khiry Robinson fumble if the PSI was lower than 12.5? HOW?! I was lectured by so many sage football minds that a lower PSI equals fewer fumbles, because as everyone knows, you squeeze a football with your fingertips and you don't hold it like a baby in your arms.
Hey! For that matter, how in the world did Jets quarterbacks combine to complete just eight of their 24 passes while throwing no touchdowns and three interceptions?!?! I was told that a lower PSI makes it easier to pass, because ... well, because obviously it does! That's what everyone told me!
I am not happy about this, folks. I feel as though I may have been lied to. It does not feel good.
--On a real note, that hit by Elandon Roberts to force the fumble was a professional football hit. Helmet to the jaw on its way to the football, all at 100 mph. What a hit.
--Eric Rowe made a great play on a Ryan Fitzpatrick pass, and he showed remarkable focus to maintain possession, but forget all that: What was most incredible was how quickly Rowe went into full flex mode. Seriously.
Play on ball:
He must practice that. There's no way anyone can just pull that off in such a fluid fashion.
--I don't love the idea of utilizing the Bob Gronkowski "Zero Humans" graphic renderings for anyone not named Bob, but sometimes, Patriots opponents leave me no choice. And so, without further ado, I give you ...
Just ... cover No. 11. Please. Cover 11. He's so good. You need to pay attention to him. Please. Strategize better. Execute better. Whatever you have to do. Just try harder to cover him.
--Speaking of ol' Bobby Gronk, when he went down earlier this year, I looked into the back story of this Matt Lengel fellow who was filling a tight end spot on the roster. He had a very interesting story, having missed two full seasons in college after tearing the same ACL in his knee twice. And that came after he enrolled at Northeastern for his redshirt season ... just as Northeastern decided to shut down its football program.
He's a large man (6-foot-7, 266 pounds) but hadn't caught a pass in the NFL. Until Sunday.
And it was no gimme! He had to work to catch that thing, as Juston Burris was all over his back.
Call me sappy, but it's cool to see a guy overcome so much, to continue his dream of playing in the NFL, and to have it all come together in the form of a touchdown pass from Tom Brady. That's just cool -- as was the mobbing of Lengel performed by his teammates. Seemingly nobody was happier for Lengel than Edelman.
--If we're going to do a "Zero Humans" graphic, then it's only right to point out a #FerociousJuke by Dion Lewis. It's only right, folks.
In fact, it was two ferocious jukes for the price of one. First victim: Rontez Miles.
The next victim: Darron Lee.
Sorry, Darron and Rontez, but you just got juked -- ferociously.
--Not that special teams talk is too exciting following a 41-3 win are all that fun, but it's worth noting that Stephen Gostkowski's first two kickoffs -- both booted in the pouring rain -- were perfect. Just look where they came down:
Those Jets drives both began at the 21-yard line.
And his kickoff after the Jets accepted an offside penalty was a thing of beauty:
That drive began at the 14-yard line.
Gostkowski is also 14-for-15 in field goals and 19-for-20 in PATs since the bye in Week 9, thus rounding into his normal self as the team rolls toward the postseason. That development is much-needed for the Patriots, and Gostkowski -- even as the winter weather has become a factor -- has answered the challenge.
--I'm not imagining things, I swear: Tom Brady looked so uncomfortable to be standing on the sidelines with a jacket on. The man is just completely out of his element when he's taken out of a game. You could accuse me of inferring these feelings based on nothing at all ... or you could look at the photographic evidence depicting the most unsure smile of Brady's entire life.
The defense rests, your honor.
--It's been covered extensively by now, but it can't go without mention that the Patriots were fine with draining the clock before halftime and heading to the locker room with a 20-0 lead. But when Todd Bowles called timeout, the Patriots went into "OK, Let's Dance" mode, which you really don't see them utilize too often these days.
After Bowles called the timeout, Brady quickly got down to business, completing a pass to Edelman to convert a third-and-4 before unleashing a bomb-and-a-half. Look, when Tom Brady is in this position against you ...
... you should know that you've done something wrong. And calling a timeout in that spot constitutes doing something very, very wrong.
That pass, of course, resulted in the 47-yard pass interference penalty, and Brady hit White for a touchdown on the next play. A hilarious sequence of events, really. Scoring that touchdown was mean ... but the Jets kind of asked for it.
--Later, when the Jets accepted a penalty after a kick return had them starting a drive at their own 27-yard line, only to completely botch the ensuing re-kick and then start the drive at their own 14-yard line, it was pure Jets.
--Me at the beginning of 2016 vs. me at the end of 2016:
--This play kind of just speaks for itself.
I mean ... what the heck? Why not?
You have to love Dan Fouts popping in with the, "Yeah he looked a lot like Fran Tarkenton there, didn't he?" That's a very timely, relatable reference for the viewers at home.
--Speaking of being a viewer at home, did you notice that double-box with the replay in one window and the live action in the other? We need more of that!
I've been clamoring for that for years, especially in hockey, where play can continue with some boring dump-ins and line changes while we never get to see the spectacular save or some bone-crunching hit that happened during the course of play. I've kept those requests mostly to myself, because in my mind, there was a HUGE payday for me down the line for coming up with that idea. But now that it's out of the bag, let's go! More of it!
--Football: You get hit, absorb your opponent's best shot:
And then you continue on your merry way. requiring the attention of two more fully grown men to bring you down.
That's at least what "football" is when you're LeGarrette Blount, who appears to be having the time of his life playing for the Patriots this season.
--Blount scored his 17th rushing touchdown of the year, extending his own franchise record and keeping his spot atop the NFL. Seventeen! That's wild. Last year's rushing TD leader had 11 (it was a four-way tie). In 2014, it was 13. In 2013, just 12 rushing TDs was enough to lead the league.
A running back hasn't scored 17 rushing touchdowns since LeSean McCoy back in 2011. And if Blount scores another touchdown next weekend, he'll become the first back with 18 rushing touchdowns in a season since Adrian Peterson in 2009.
--We've all seen Bill Belichick on the sidelines for many, many years. We've seen just about every single possible mood along the way. But on Saturday, we were treated to a new one -- the "Did you seriously call a timeout before halftime?" face.
And, to be fair, Todd Bowles' "Hey man, look, it's been a rough couple of days" face isn't so bad in its own right.
You can email Michael Hurley or find him on Twitter @michaelFhurley.
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