A few thoughts after re-watching the Pats thrashing of the Jets as a tasty desert to Thanksgiving dinner:

– I will readily admit that I was concerned when I read that Marcus Cannon would be starting in place of Sebastian Vollmer. Even though the Jets had only one player among their front seven that I considered to be a serious threat (Mo Wilkerson), I had flashbacks to Cannon looking as if he was on ice last August, constantly being beat. Dante Scarnecchia and his ability to make the offensive line perform at a high level regardless of who is or is not available is nothing short of phenomenal.

– The Mark Sanchez butt-fumble had me laughing so loudly the wife asked me to quiet down. Freakin’ party-pooper. I expect that play to follow him around for the rest of his life, like Joe Pisarcik and his last-second fumble in the Medowlands from a generation ago.

– Yes the game was over early, but let’s not forget that the much-maligned (and deservedly so) defense that has been so prone to allowing big-yardage plays did more than create turnovers. The Jets did not have a single play of more than 15 yards until more than 35 minutes had been played; at that point the Pats were up 35-3. Some folks are saying you can’t judge the Pats D in this game because it was over so early. I disagree, and thought the defense played exceptionally well.

– Unfortunately the gloom and doomers will instead seize upon the stats that show that the Pats allowed four more plays of 20+ yards and that they allowed yet another scrub QB to pass for 300 yards. All I can say to that is that stats are deceiving; remove the final drive with four minutes remaining and Sanchez’ stat line changes from 26-36-301-1-1 to 21-30-221-0-1. The stat line of course does not include the six-point fumble, or the fact that the Jets were scoreless on their first five possessions and had all of three points in their first eight possessions.

– Back to the OL: Donald Thomas did not look good on the first possession, but was fine after that. Wilkerson was a non-factor. If you didn’t know Cannon was starting you wouldn’t have even noticed – which is pretty much what you want from an offensive lineman. In a league where you are limited to how much you can do in terms of depth due to the salary cap, winning this easily with 40% of your line out – regardless of the opposition – is very impressive. NFL games are still won or lost in the trenches.

– Back to the defense: forcing a punt is nice; getting a turnover is better. Time for people to stop acting as if a defensive turnover is the equivalent to finding a 20-dollar bill in the parking lot. It has just as much if not more to do with the defense doing something right as the opponent gifting you with a present. The Bears are lauded for forcing turnovers, but the Patriots are simply lucky Huh?

– I wasn’t a fan of his in his rookie season, but Brandon Spikes is a freakin’ beast that has been unleashed.

– After a couple of games where he seemed to be a bit sluggish at times, Vince Wilfork was very productive. Brandon Deaderick got a lot of playing time; I’d like to see him continue to get enough snaps early in the game so that Big Vince can be effective rather than worn out in the 4th quarter.

Dont’a Hightower played really well.

– Definitely nice to see Shane Vereen playing well, giving the Pats another viable option at RB to their offense.

– Hopefully the ten days off will be enough for Julian Edelman to not have to miss any games. With Gronk out and Deion Branch gone the Pats could really use his continued presence.

– I haven’t been a fan of Steve Gregory all season, he seemed to constantly be out of position. Whether it was the Jets or playing alongside Devin McCourty rather than Patrick Chung or Tavon Wilson, he looked like a completely different (and obviously much better) player Thursday.

– It didn’t affect the outcome, but yes, I am beginning to wonder about Stephen Gostkowski. I was willing to write off the earlier misses but it’s starting to become a pattern.

– There was one pass by Brady to Danny Woodhead near the sideline that was woefully short; I re-watched and couldn’t figure it out. Maybe he was just throwing it away? Overall he wasn’t particularly sharp, with several other incomplete passes to seemingly open receivers.

– The refs screwed up on the call on Aaron Hernandez; fortunately it didn’t matter. Definitely nice to see Hernandez back on the field though.

– Speaking of refs, don’t blame them for the stupid call in the Lions game. Those guys are charged with enforcing the rules as they are written; the blame falls on the usual suspects in the Competition Committee.

– Hilarious look on Fireman Ed‘s face during the game; cherry on top was him leaving early and then deleting his twitter account.

– Am I alone in thinking that was a big WTF moment when they showed the picture of Woody Johnson with … who was she? His wife? Daughter? Granddaughter? Sorry, but I just found that to be creepy.

– With each week that goes by I feel better and better about the Pats chances against either the Texans and/or the Ravens.

– As anybody that ever makes it to the bottom of these columns knows, I’m a big fan of old time rock and roll. However, I really did not care for the networks half time entertainment choices. Lenny Kravitz was meh; Kid Rock was an abomination in the first game. There are plenty of more current rock and roll acts that I would have much preferred to see and hear. Note to the suits: go ahead and get younger with the music, us old fogeys won’t mind one bit.

Gary Myers of the New York Daily News: thanks so much for declaring that the Patriots would surely lose because Rob Gronkowski was used late in the game against the Colts on an extra point. Your lame excuse to yet once again bring up spygate in order to generate web views is duly noted.

– Sad news about Hector Camacho. Just a reminder to all of us how precious life is, and to tell those who matter to us how very much they mean to us while we still can.




This Day In Patriots History


November 23, 1962:
Boston Patriots 21, Buffalo Bills 10 at Nickerson Field

Tom Yewcic completed over 70% of his passes and threw for three touchdowns as the Pats improved to 7-3-1.

After Jack Kemp scored on a 6-yard run to give Buffalo an early lead, Yewcic hit Jim Colclough with a 31-yard TD and then connected with Ron Burton on a 69-yard pass to give the Pats a 14-7 halftime lead. The Bills closed to within four with a 3rd quarter field goal, and then Yewcic threw an 18-yard 4th quarter touchdown pass to Gino Cappelletti to finish the scoring. Yewcic ended up with 231 yards passing, Burton had 133 total yards from scrimmage and Colclough finished with 72 yards receiving.


November 23, 1969:
Boston Patriots 35, Buffalo Bills 21 at Alumni Stadium

Mike Taliaferro threw three touchdown and Carl Garrett had 226 all-purpose yards as the Pats rallied in the 4th quarter to beat the Bills.

Taliaferro threw two first quarter touchdowns to Charley Frazier, and then in the 2nd quarter hit Ron Sellers (5 catches for 102 yards) on a 35-yard TD to give the Pats a 21-7 lead. However, Buffalo came back on a pair of touchdown passes from Jack Kemp to Haven Moses and the score was tied at 21 entering the 4th quarter. Jim Nance found the end zone on a 2-yard plunge and then Garrett scampered 65 yards for the final score.

The Pats defense did an excellent job, picking Kemp off four times; Ed Philpott had two interceptions, and Larry Carwell and John Charles had one each. Garrett finished the game with 96 yards on 13 rushes, two receptions for 26 yards, a 63-yard kickoff return, and a 41-yard punt return.


November 23, 1975:
Buffalo Bills 45, New England Patriots 31 at Rich Stadium

Sam Cunningham ran for 100 yards and scored three times in a see-saw battle in Buffalo.

Joe Ferguson‘s 77-yard touchdown pass to J.D. Hill gave the Bills an early 14-0 lead, but the Pats tied it on two scores by Cunningham: a 10-yard run and an 11-yard pass from Steve Grogan. After Buffalo regained the lead Grogan connected with Russ Francis on a 21-yard touchdown pass to cut the Bills’ lead to 24-21 at halftime.

Cunningham’s third touchdown of the day gave the Pats the lead but O.J. Simpson (who had scored earlier on a 2-yard run) caught a 3-yard pass from Ferguson to give the Bills a 31-28 lead after three quarters. John Smith‘s 34-yard field goal tied it but Simpson scored two more times, on a 1-yard run and a 3-yard pass, to win it for Buffalo.

For the Patriots Grogan finished the game with 365 yards passing, Cunningham had 100 yards on 19 carries, Francis had 7 receptions for 125 yards, and Randy Vataha had 5 catches for 96 yards.


November 23, 1980:
New England Patriots 47, Baltimore Colts 21 at Schaefer Stadium

The Pats ran for 245 yards and the defense forced five Baltimore turnovers – returning three of them for touchdowns – as the Patriots steamrolled the Colts in Foxboro.

The Patriots led 10-0 at halftime, and then Rod Shoate picked off a pass and returned it 42 yards for a touchdown; after a Colts TD and a John Smith field goal the Pats led 20-7 at the end of the 3rd quarter.

Rick Sanford recovered a fumble and returned it 22 yards for a touchdown to give the Pats a 20-point lead, but two touchdown runs by Baltimore’s Curtis Dickey sandwiched around a 9-yard TD pass from Matt Cavanugh to Carlos Pennywell cut the lead to 33-21. Don Calhoun (19 carries for 106 yards) then scored his second touchdown of the game, and Allan Clark finished things off with a touchdown on a 15-yard fumble return.

Defensively Steve Nelson and Roland James each also had an interception, while on offense Vagas Ferguson joined Calhoun with 100 yards rushing of his own; the rare feat of two New England players rushing for 100 yards in the same game would not be repeated until 2012, against the Bills. Coincidentally the three-touchdown returns was a record for both the Pats and the Colts; it would be repeated 32 years later in the Pats 59-24 win over the Colts in 2012.


November 23, 1986:
New England Patriots 22, Buffalo Bills 19 at Sullivan Stadium

Greg Baty‘s 13-yard touchdown pass from Tony Eason gave the Patriots a come from behind win, for the Pats sixth consecutive victory and a 9-3 record on the season.

The Pats seemed to be in control early, scoring on a safety, a Craig James run, and a pair of Tony Franklin field goals before a Scott Norwood field goal got the Bills on the scoreboard as the Pats led 15-3 at halftime.

The Patriots couldn’t get much going offensively in the second half and Buffalo kept chipping away. Norwood booted three more field goals and then Jim Kelly threw a touchdown pass to give the Bills their first lead of the game, 19-15, before Baty’s game-winner.

Tony Collins had 8 receptions for 84 yards t lead the Pats offense. Defensively Raymond Clayborn and Ronnie Lippett each had an interception while Johnny Rembert had a pair of sacks, and Don Blackmon, Larry McGrew, Steve Nelson and Brent Williams had one sack apiece.


November 23, 1997:
New England Patriots 27, Miami Dolphins 24 at Foxboro

The Pats jumped out to a 24-3 halftime lead and held on to beat Dan Marino and the Dolphins.

In the 2nd quarter a wide open Troy Brown scored on a 35-yard option pass from Dave Meggett to give the Patriots a 10-3 lead. About three minutes before halftime Larry Whigham picked Marino off and returned the ball 60 yards to put the the Pats up by two scores. Miami drove down the field and with 20 seconds left on the clock Jimmy Hitchcock one-upped Whigham, returning an interception 100 yards for another New England touchdown. Adam Vinatieri kicked what turned out to be the game winning points on the opening drive of the 3rd quarter with his second field goal of the game. Miami scored three times on one-yard runs by Karim Abdul-Jabbar but the Pats were able to hang on for the win, despite Miami recovering two onside kicks. With the win the Pats moved in to a second place tie at 7-5 with Miami in the AFC East.


November 23, 1998:
New England Patriots 26, Miami Dolphins 23 at Foxboro Stadium

On Monday Night Football the Patriots rallied for a 4th quarter victory on Shawn Jefferson‘s 25-yard touchdown reception from Drew Bledsoe in a game which took second billing to news that the Patriots would be moving to Hartford in 2001.

The winning touchdown capped a 15-play, 80-yard drive with Bledsoe gutting it out after jamming his finger on his throwing hand after slamming it on a helmet, converting two 4th-and-10’s on the drive.

The Pats abandoned the run in this game, throwing the ball 54 times while running it just 19 times. Bledsoe finished the game with 423 yards passing; Jefferson had six catches for 131 yards and one TD; Ben Coates had nine catches for 78 yards and a TD; and Adam Vinatieri was 4-for-4 on field goals of 25, 44, 45 and 24 yards.


November 23, 2000:
Detroit Lions 34, New England Patriots 9 at the Pontiac Silverdome

The Pats only points came on three Adam Vinatieri field goals as they lost in their second-ever Thanksgiving game.

The game was actually a lot closer than the final score would indicate, with the Patriots leading 9-6 in the 3rd quarter before Detroit took the lead on a 1-yard TD pass by Charlie Batch. Then in the 4th quarter the Lions scored three times. The dagger was set up when a Drew Bledsoe pass was intercepted deep in Patriots territory, setting up a TD; the exclamation point was a 101-yard interception return by Bryant Westbrook off another Bledsoe pick with 4:13 to go. After that turnover Bledsoe was done for the day, replaced by rookie Tom Brady. After the game was over Willie McGinest led a players only meeting, saying that “I told them that I take these games personally. Our team has to be accountable for our mistakes. As a team, this can’t go on.”


November 23, 2003:
New England Patriots 23, Houston Texans 20 at Reliant Stadium

The Pats won in overtime for the second time of the year, and won their 7th game in a row as Adam Vinatieri rebounded from one field goal attempt that bounced off the upright and another that was blocked by kicking a 28-yard game-winning field goal. Mike Vrabel had intercepted a pass on the first play from scrimmage in OT but a Texan broke through from the left side to block Vinatieri’s kick. The victory improved the Pats record to 9-2, their best ever after 11 games.

Tom Brady threw for 368 yards, including a 27-yard touchdown pass to Bethel Johnson and a 4-yard TD to Daniel Graham to tie the game and send it to overtime. Earlier in the game Johnson, who got the start due to an injury to Troy Brown, made a nice play to strip the ball away after the Texans had intercepted Brady; his recovery set up a field goal by Vinatieri. Houston had taken the lead when they scored a TD after a fumble by Brady and a FG after a blocked punt. Kevin Faulk had 188 yards from scrimmage, with eight receptions for 108 yards and 80 yards rushing. On defense Rodney Harrison and Richard Seymour both had a sack, and Mike Vrabel had an interception.


November 23, 2008:
New England Patriots 48, Miami Dolphins 28 at Dolphin Stadium

Randy Moss scored had three touchdown receptions as the Pats broke open a tight game with 31 second half points.

Matt Cassel was 30-43 for 415 yards and three touchdowns as the Dolphins were able to force the Pats to punt just one time; for Cassel it was his second straight 400-yard game. Moss finished with eight catches for 125 yards, Wes Welker eight catches for 120 yards, Jabar Gaffney had five catches for 88 yards, and Kevin Faulk had 105 yards from scrimmage (53 rushing, 52 receiving). Besides Moss’ three touchdowns the Pats also scored three rushing touchdowns (by Cassel, Faulk and BenJarvus Green-Ellis), and Stephen Gostkowski kicked a pair of field goals.

Brandon Meriweather‘s interception with under 9 minutes to play on the first play from scrimmage after the third touchdown by Moss pretty much sealed the victory, with the Pats up 38-28. Four plays later after a Gostkowski field goal made it 41-28 Matt Light and Channing Crowder got into their famous fight, with both being ejected.




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November 23, 1992:
Miley Ray Cyrus was born in Nashville

November 23, 1994:
Songwriter Tommy Boyce died; wrote Last Train To Clarksville and Steppin’ Stone for the Monkees

November 23, 1995:
Singer and saxophonist Junior Walker died; besides his solo career he also played sax on Urgent for Foreigner






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