First and foremost, best wishes to Colt’s Head Coach Chuck Pagano for a quick and complete recovery who was diagnosed with leukemia. This sobering news is a reminder on how there are so many more important matters in life than sports, even though it consumes so much of our time and thoughts.
So the Jets got blown out 34-0 Sunday afternoon. Normally that would be huge news for Pats fans; instead it was nearly a forgotten afterthought. I’m not sure how much of that is due to the Pats’ huge come from behind victory or how much of that is due to people not taking the Jets seriously this year, and the outcome of that game not being the least bit surprising. Who is most on the hot seat: Rex Ryan, Mike Tannenbaum or Mark Sanchez?
Congratulations to Bill Belichick on becoming the eighth winningest coach in NFL history. BB now has 194 wins (the third times a charm), passing former Rams, Bills and Seahawks coach Chuck Knox. Next up is Dan Reeves, who had 201 wins with the Broncos, Giants and Falcons.
Balance, Part I: To me the key to the victory was a balanced offensive attack, something many Pats fans have desired for a while. While the Pats did commit to the run they did not neglect the passing game. The end result was two players each finishing with over 100 yards rushing for the first time since Don Calhoun and Vagas Ferguson did it in 1980, with Brandon Bolden gaining 137 yards on 16 carries (8.6 yards per carry, 1 TD) and Stevan Ridley running for 106 yards on 22 carries (4.8 yards per carry, 2 TD). The Pats finished with a whopping 19 rushing first downs and a gaudy 6.2 yards per carry. It should be noted that the Pats also had only three runs stuffed for a loss, and they only lost four yards on those plays.
Balance, Part II: But as Ron Popeil and his disciple Billy Mays loved to say, but wait, there’s more! As mentioned earlier the Pats offense was balanced; there were also two players (Wes Welker, 129; Rob Gronkowski, 104) in triple figures for receiving yards. That is only the second time in NFL history that a team has had two 100-yard rushers and two 100-yard receivers in one game. In today’s pass-happy NFL the Patriots actually ran the ball (40 times) more often than they passed (36 times) – for the second time this season! The net result was 580 yards, 52 points, and a net average of 9.0 yards gained per play.
Balance, Part III: The defense showed up as well, sacking Ryan Fitzpatrick three times after going without a single sack in the six previous quarters. The highly rated Buffalo offensive line was held in check in the running game as well: the Bills entered the game third in the NFL with 178 rushing yards per game and second in the NFL with 5.6 yards per carry; the Pats defense held them to 98 yards rushing and yards per carry. More importantly they forced Fred Jackson and C.J. Spiller to both lose the ball on critical fumbles, and picked off four Fitzpatrick passes. When your defense forces six turnovers, you’re going to win every time.
Play Of The Game: there are several worthy nominations but to me it was Brandon Spikes meeting C.J. Spiller head on and forcing a fumble which Vince Wilfork alertly recovered. Wes Welker committed a rare fumble, setting up Buffalo with the ball deep in New England territory late in the first half. The Bills were already leading 14-7 and moved the ball to the four-yard line and looked to go in to the locker room up by touchdowns. Even though Buffalo scored to open up the second half that play was a big momentum shifter.
Worth noting: Vince Wilfork had a tipped pass that led to a Jerod Mayo interception to go with the fumble recovery. He, Rob Ninkovich and Chandler Jones were able to get good pressure on Fitzpatrick with just a three man rush while the Pats played in nickel and dime formations for much of the game. … After having three would-be picks slip through his hands in previous games, Devin McCourty had two interceptions. he also had a pass defensed, five tackles and one tackle for a loss on the day. … Tavon Wilson had an interception and a fumble recovery. I haven’t re-watched the game yet, but on first glance neither Patrick Chung nor Steve Gregory looked all that special; I wonder if at some point in the near future if he will take over for one of them and start. … When I do re-watch the game I want to focus on Jermaine Cunningham and Dont’a Hightower, they seemed to play well also.
On offense the Pats had four rushing touchdowns, which tied a team record set in 1983. … Wes Welker passed Troy Brown for second most receiving yards in Pats franchise history. Welker has 6,485 yards as a Pat; Brown had 6,366 – but he is still a very long ways from Stanley Morgan‘s record of 10,352 receiving yards. … Tom Brady passed Kerry Collins (!) for 11th most passing yards in NFL history, with 41,206 yards. … I will admit that I was wrong about the Pats’ offensive line. Mea Culpa. I’ll say ten In Bill Belichick We Trust‘s and ask for forgiveness. Donald Thomas in particular was a pleasant surprise. … Yes, Stephen Gostkowski missed a couple of field goals, but they weren’t gimmes. It’s not time to sound the alarm – at least not yet. Whether or not he returns next year may be a better question. Gostkowski has a cap hit of $3.4 million next year and $3.8 million in 2014; Belichick may not consider his production to be a worthwhile value.
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October 1, 1971:
Rod Stewart and the Faces’ Every Picture Tells A Story begins a four week run as the top selling album, and Maggie May started a five week run as the number one single.
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