Knee Jerk Reactions to the AFC Championship Game: Pats vs Ravens
Things to consider while Bernard Pollard gives me deja, deja, deja, deja, deja vu:
*It’s surreal to be waking up this morning and realizing a year in my life has gone by and absolutely nothing has changed. I was in this exact same spot 50 weeks ago. Writing about a game I just as soon forget. Where an unstoppable, record breaking offense got completely manhandled by a middle-of-the-pack defense when it mattered most. Where they got treated like the Sisters treated Andy Dufresne in the Shawshank prison laundry, only they never fought back. The only difference between this year and last is now we’re that much closer to the end of the Brady Era and Belichick has one more inexplicable, titty-twisting postseason loss on his record. And I’m one year older but still writing for a smut site. As Pink Floyd put it, “Shorter of breath and one day closer to death.” But besides that everything’s fine.
*Another difference between this year and last: Instead of getting tortured with Eli Manning’s goofy. crooked, slack-jawed grin all over the place, we got a loving 30-second close up of Ray Lewis’ ass. We don’t need to stare at it; we already know what it tastes like. And it ain’t Honey Nut Cheerios.
*You could feel this one coming early. Too many points left on the board. Too many stalled drives. It wasn’t any one thing, but by halftime you were doing the Han Solo “I have a bad feeling about this.” Once the Ravens opened the 3rd with a touchdown, I was plugging all my mental components into an emotional surge protector to protect their circuits from shorting out. You learn to do that when you’ve sat through enough of these gut-busting losses. And I have. Plenty enough.
*In The Super Bowl That Shall Not Be Named II, when Welker dropped that pass the ref said “”That’s the ballgame.” Last night was a Kellogg’s Variety Pack of “That’s the ballgame” moments, you just have to pick your favorite. Welker drops a sure 1st down catch (deja, deja). The bad clock management at the end of the half, trying to line up for a play instead of calling time, taking a quick shot at the endzone, then settling for 3. A hold on Nate Solder that negated a huge 1st down. A Shane Vereen drop of a potential 1st down. Ridley’s fumble will be the one we’ll all remember because of the visual. But it has plenty of company.
*Is it safe to assume they didn’t emphasize the Tennis Racket Drill in practice this week?
*It would be loser talk use Aqib Talib’s injury as an excuse. So that’s precisely what I’ll do. Talib was making all the difference, matching up on Anquan Bolden and leaving Alfonzo Dennard on Torrey Smith and Kyle Arrington on the slot guy and Flacco had nowhere to go with the ball. Once Talib went out and Jim Caldwell got up from his nap and started letting Flacco chuck it, Arrington was out too and you were trying to make it to the Super Bowl with Marquise Cole single covering Bolden in the endzone. You might as well have had Julian Edelman back there like last year.
*So no kidding, losing Talib hurt. But on the other hand, when your defense’s one indispensable guy was sitting out a suspension in Tampa at the beginning of November? You’ve got to step up your offseason personnel game.
*No quarterback in the league makes the Pats his bitch the way Flacco does. He just elevates his game against them more than any other QB. He’s their Omar Vizquel, who used to hit .210 against the rest of baseball but against the Red Sox he’d be Roy Hobbs. He’s got kind of a Civil War cannon arm; powerful but not super accurate. So I guess when he faces a secondary that emphasizes the deep ball and sidelines but leaves the midrange middle open, it makes a perfect matchup for him. Anyway, you know he’s arrived as a pro when iPhone autocorrect stops changing his name to “Flaccid.”
*But I want to get Flacco on Oprah’s couch to admit he had his unibrow widened. Time to come clean.
*I’m struggling with the thought that all we have to tide us over until real football again is hockey, a flawed, aging basketball team and baseball team that hasn’t been likable in years. With all due respect to guys who love to talk about the Bruins 3rd line or get all goosebumpy about the Red Sox equipment truck leaving, I’ll quote Mike McDermott quoting Papa Wallenda: “Life is on the wire. The rest is just waiting.”
*In hindsight, with
Gonk Gronk out, maybe it didn’t make the most sense to stick with the 2 TE offense. Given that neither Hoomba nor Daniel Fells were even remotely involved it seems like a waste of a position. They were just vestigial organs, the appendix and the tailbone of the McOffense.
*I mean, the Ravens defense was vulnerable in the short/intermediate zones. The Pats faced a lot of 3rd & shorts that were ripe for tight ends running crosses but Hoomba and Fells weren’t targeted once. Even though Lewis might as well have been running around pushing a walker with tennis balls on the bottom. Just a huge opportunity wasted.
*Credit where it’s due: The Patriots are a tough, physical team but Baltimore was tougher and physicaller. It says it all when the hardest hit they dished out was Spikes drilling Dennis Pitta in the 10-ring right at the goal line and Pitta not only hold onto the ball, he catches the next one for a touchdown. And the hardest hit the Ravens dished out forced a turnover and knocked a big running back into the concussion dark room.
*Though to be fair, before the Pollard play on Ridley, the hardest hit of the game by Baltimore was when that Al Roker-looking official tackled Brady. Plus he looked faster than the Ravens. If he also happens to be a mouthy sociopath, there’s your replacement for Lewis or Suggs.
Wilcock Wilfork positively decimated the middle of the Ravens line. Matt Birk in particular whom he used as a blunt instrument to bludgeon Flacco over the head all night. But last night Birk, Marshall Yanda and Kelechi Osemele were nails. The Pats front 7 was adequate in stopping the run but never got a push, never collapsed the pocket. VW did have one huge penetration where he slipped around Osemele and hit Flacco in the sternum but he still had time to complete that for 25 yards to Smith. And the shame of it is Birk is retiring too but no one is talking about him. And he had twice the game Lewis did.
*Where do I send for a written transcript of the conversation between Gronk and Les Moonves? I’m guessing it didn’t really flow until Moonves mentioned CBS also own Nickelodeon.
*I’m sure by now the whole country is bitching about Brady’s foot coming up into Ed Reed’s nuts on his slide. And I could defend it as an accident but screw it. I’d rather think he did it on purpose. Because why not? The world hates the Pats anyway, why not give them something to hate? If they’re going to treat you like you’re Cobra Kai, you might as well sweep the leg, Johnny.
*Drop or no drop, Wes
Wekler Welker still did more to carry you to the Super Bowl than anyone on the field. Catch and runs. Punt returns. Your only touchdown. Durability is a talent, and no one in football has it more than he does. Welker has testicles made of the same material as Captain America’s shield, and you can’t measure that at the Combine or find guys with that in their draft profiles. Sign him, whatever the cost.
*This week’s Applicable Movie Quote:
John Bennett: “This is the American fantasy right here. A professional football player is called upon to save the world.”
Ted: “Tom Brady could do that.”
John Bennett: “Tom Brady could do that!”
(Note: I was saving that one for the Super Bowl but to hell with it.)
*America can love the Patriots losing all they want. But just wait until #HarBowl mania reaches its peak and reporters are camped outside Mrs. Harbaugh’s abdomen to find out how her uterus could produce two Super Bowl coaches. Or until the two of them are throwing competing hissy fits on the sideline after every call. You’ll miss the quiet, sullen little troll in the grey hoodie then, believe me.
*I’m really disappointed we didn’t get treated to Gil Santos taking a lap around the field doing the Squirrel Dance. Godspeed, Gil.
*This isn’t the most disappointing loss we’ve ever suffered around here. Not by a factor of 10. And soon enough we’ll crawl out of the rubble and see we’ve got the youngest team of the Belichick Era and cap space and all the pieces in place to keep this thing going indefinitely. But it’s too soon for that. Right now all I know is that if I’m sitting here writing this same drivel next year at this time instead of “Knee Jerk Reaction to the Super Bowl Victory,” I might lose the will to live.
Final note: Before I ever hooked on with Barstool I was writing these Knee Jerks on the PatriotsPlanet message board, just for my own amusement. I started posting them here and I’ve always appreciated the response, good and bad. It’s opened a lot of doors for me in the legit media and with Pats fans in general and I’m grateful anyone takes the time to read them. Anyway, I’m still going to be here every day. The NFL is the No. 1 sport in America and the No. 2 sport is the NFL offseason. Besides, there’s still the daily collection of smut to keep up on. But this is it on KJRs for another season. Go Pats. Sign Welker.