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Knee Jerk Reactions to Week 14: Pats vs Browns

Things to consider while watching Belichick try to kill TJ Ward with his Sith Lord powers:

*I’ll be honest with you. It’s gotten to the point where I can’t even process these games any more. The Pats have played 13 games and 10 of them have been decided by a touchdown or less. And it feels like more. Like every one of them comes down to a Gillette Fusion ProGlide-thin margin. And one call, one play, one bounce, one drop or one toe in bounds ends up being the difference every, single time. Then everything you thought you were going to say about the game goes in the recycle bin and you start over. It’s chaos, but this Pats team thrives on being on the brink of disaster for some reason. And we just have to resign ourselves to the fact that this is how it is this year. They won’t play four quarters of football. They’ll never make it easy. But they’ll keep finding ways to pull wins out of their collective ass. And in the end it’ll be like sex with me: An ugly mess that’ll take forever and no one will enjoy, but eventually the job gets done. If it doesn’t kill me first.

*As far as the Pass Interference call… you can argue the tickiness and tackiness of it all you want. And if anyone wants them to quit NBAing up football, I’m all for it. But they make that call all the time. And since this was the same crew that blew the end of the Carolina game, I won’t apologize for accepting the karmic refund here. And if anyone wants to gripe to Pats fans about bad breaks, it’d be like someone from Zihuatenejo squawking to Andy Dufrensne about their parking ticket.

*The general consensus seems to be that Ward isn’t to blame for Gronk’s knee, the NFL is. That when you start penalizing and fining guys for delivering hits to the head, you’re giving them no choice but to go low. I could point out that at 6’7” Gronk has a good five feet of target area between his chin and his kneecaps, but I won’t. Because whatever. Ward said all the right things and doesn’t seem like a punk. And besides, Gronk’s out for the season regardless of what the intent was.


*I think it all comes down to his style of play. Gronk is relentless and hard to bring down. If defensive backs try hitting him in the 10-ring, they just bounce off. So they end up grabbing his ankles, rolling up on him or flying at his knees. And as long as he’s going to keep fighting for every inch on every play, these injuries will probably keep happening. Just know that if you want to call that him being “injury prone,” you are the worst sort of human being and need to stop following sports immediately.

*Whatever hospital they take him to today, I hope none of the other patients need a nurse. Because that MRI unit is going to the kind of girl-on-girl bloodbath we haven’t seen since the last Filene’s Basement dress sale. So looking on the bright side, at least our loss is the nursing industry’s gain.

*Is it too far fetched to say Steven Gostkowski had an even bigger day than Matt Prater kicking a 64 yarder, booting a 50 yarder then being involved in recovering an onside kick? When you see a kicker sleeping on the rug and he starts twitching and barking and moving his legs, this is the kind of game he’s dreaming about.




*I have no idea what they do without Gronk going forward. Obviously team’s aren’t going to leave Matthew Mulligan unguarded like they did yesterday on that catch and run where he tried to hurdle the guy. Though my impression is they won’t have to pay too much attention him or Michael Hoomanawanui, if he ever comes back. On a few plays they lined Josh Boyce up tight and actually ran behind him, but at 205 lbs he’s hardly the answer. All I know is you just lost a guy who drew defensive backs to him like planets orbiting a star, and now those guys will be freed up to go after the Edelmans and Amendolas. And if Josh McDaniels can figure out a way to keep putting up points, he deserves the Nobel Prize for Offensive Coordinating.

*Cialis wasted a ton of money yesterday because they don’t make a boner medicine powerful enough to counteract the effects of seeing Gronk get carted off the field. No pill’s gonna cure my ill, I can assure you.

*When Brady puts up almost 400 yards it’s hard to argue somebody else carried them on his back, but I’m going to argue Shane Vereen did exactly that. The 3-play, 72-yard touchdown drive was all him. Then when they got the ball back they went to him the first four plays. So that’s 7 straight calls to the same guy as they turned the momentum their way.

*The McOffense is at it’s best when they spread 5-wide and Brady looks for the mismatches. It’s like playing “Go Fish” except he can see your cards. And when Vereen’s in that mix, he can either be the mismatch or motion to the backfield so they can audible to a run. Minus a tight end threat of any kind, he just became the second most valuable Patriot.

*I’d love to say that the Browns suck. That of all the Cleveland Browns in the world, they’re the Cleveland Browniest, or words to that effect. But if they were a stock, I’d buy them. There is some legit talent there. I still can’t get over the way D’Qwell Jackson – a 240 lb 30 year old – managed to drop 15 yards to make that pick. Jordan Cameron could be an elite tight end. Paul Kruger penetrated to blow up two consecutive bubble screens. Joe Haden is sneaky one of the best corners in the league. And they shut the Pats down for 3 quarters without Desmond Bryant, who’s their best Front 7 guy. They’re stocked with picks too, so Mike Lombardi could be building the next emerging superpower Belichick destroys.

*Though clearly it all begins and ends with Josh Gordon. I still say a wide receiver can’t carry a team, but he’s making me question my beliefs. The guy is virtually uncoverable. Aqib Talib was throwing everything at him and was just getting overpowered. He’s so goddamn strong he’d either knock Talib off him with an arm bar off or use his body to shield himself, like he did on that big 3rd & 17 late in the game. Talib matching up on Gordon was like watching Indiana Jones fight that big bald Nazi and he realizes he’s given the guy his best shot and he didn’t feel a thing. Only for Talib there wasn’t a propeller around to even the odds.


*In fact the only thing that can stop Josh Gordon right now is a dirty urine.

*I give credit to Rob Chudzinkski for some solid playcalling. Bootlegs. Rollouts. He called that reverse to Gordon at exactly the right time and caught the Pats leaving the side of the field wide open. I admit at first he looked to me like the retarded brother in every horror movie where a carload of teenagers gets tortured by hillbillys, but the man can coach tackle football.

*The best player on the field for either team was Joe Thomas. I said last week Chandler Jones has been the best Patriot and I meant it. And Thomas took him completely out of the game. He got credit for a couple of tackles, but even those might have come while he was lined up inside on subpackages. That long 1st down conversion by Campbell came when Jones got frustrated and tried an inside move and Thomas just rode him out the play. The guy just has perfect technique, never reaches, never gets caught off balance and incredibly, has never missed a play. Fricking amazing to watch.

*Still, it’s hard to take Cleveland serious just because they’ve been so bad for so long. I used to associate hose helmets with Jim Brown and Otto Graham. Now they just remind me of Nemo.

*We are all dumber for having listened to Steve Tasker explain the playoff picture. It was almost as if… as if he was trying to communicate with us somehow…

*As much as I want to give the refs some slack for the assist at the end of the game, it can’t fill the league with confidence to see Jerome Bogar looking up to count his fingers while he called “2nd down.”

*Not to mention that bogus quick whistle on Dont’a Hightower’s non-forced fumble. The fact that Belichick didn’t use the Dark Side of the Force that time either tells me his Jedi training is going well. Still, it shows what a tough time Hightower is having that even when he makes a great impact play it doesn’t count.

*My Inner Rick Reilly Quip of the Week: “Muffing that onside kick was the worst thing to happen to a guy named Fozzy since Statler and Waldorf took seats in the balcony! Wakka wakka!!!”

*I’d like to hear from anyone who knows the guy they showed who was wearing the big tricornered hat and the red throwback #23 jersey. I mean, is he a big Leigh Bodden fan? Duane Starks maybe? Or is it an old Horace Ivory? Either he is or he bought the only Marquise Cole shirt ever sold.

*I’m trying to move on, but I couldn’t feel sicker about Gronk’s injury if it was being celebrated by the Westboro Baptist Church.

*I have no idea what’s going on in the Pats secondary at the moment. They seemed to start Logan Ryan and then when they went to nickel subbed him out for Alfonzo Dennard and Kyle Arrington. But aside from that breakdown on the Gordon catch & run (Devin McCourty came down like he had sole responsibility on the tight end and left them in MOFO, which could NOT have been the right read) they took the deep stuff away. Most importantly, Ryan had two big tackles on that final drive which left the Browns in Beyond Billy Cundiff range.

*This week’s Applicable Movie Quote: “Helllooo, Cleveland! Rock and Roll!!!” – This is Spinal Tap

*I’ll grant you that the road to Lombardi IV just got a lot steeper.  But if we lose faith and give up now, then Mandela died for nothing.

*The only thing that can make a Billy “Finkle” Cundiff end-of-the-game miss better is a Mr. Kraft fist pump. Two great tastes that go great together…