BOSTON (CBS) — It started early on Sunday. Tweets came from folks inside the stadium who “saw a look” in Tom Brady’s eyes. Certain reporters and analysts talked of their “gut feelings” that Brady would have a big game, because Brady didn’t like hearing all the questions and hype of Andrew Luck this week. And then, after a 59-24 victory in which Brady threw for 331 yards and three touchdowns, those same folks pulled the ‘I-told-you-so’ routine, as if media chatter about a rookie quarterback was the inspiration for Brady’s outstanding showing.
Are you people all crazy?
Look, I know Tom Brady is not like the rest of us. He’s wired with a competitiveness that’s made him one of the best quarterbacks of all time. I mean, he can still recite the names of the six quarterbacks who were drafted before him in 2000, including Spergon Wynn and Giovanni Carmazzi, so I have no doubt that he was bothered by having to spend this week talking about how wonderful Luck is.
However, to say that such discussions provided him with more inspiration on Sunday is sheer lunacy and is an insult to Brady. The guy comes out every single week and treats every single game like the Super Bowl and expects perfection on every single play. That’s who he is — no matter if Peyton Manning, Blaine Gabbert, Andrew Luck or Tyler Palko is on the opposing sideline.
If you think he tried harder or felt a stronger urge to win because of the Colts’ quarterback, you need to get your head checked.
Now that that’s out of the way, let’s get into all the leftover thoughts from the Patriots’ 59-24 thrashing of the Colts.
–It has to start with the bad news, which is of course that Rob Gronkowski broke his arm and will miss the next four to six weeks. The impact of this injury cannot be overstated. The entire passing game goes through Gronkowski, and he never gets enough credit for being among the best blocking tight ends in the NFL. Brady may the No. 1 reason why the Patriots have the top-ranked offense in the entire NFL in yards and points per game, but Gronk has to be No. 2.
Aaron Hernandez will be back at some point, and the receiving corps of Wes Welker, Brandon Lloyd and Julian Edelman is very good, but how good are they when defenses don’t have to worry about double-teaming Gronkowski? We’ll find out between now and Dec. 30, and it will likely determine whether this team wins 12 games and gets a first-round bye or wins 10 games and will have to win three postseason games just to get to the Super Bowl.
–If you’re a Patriots fan and you booed Adam Vinatieri, you should just give it up. Just give up sports. You’re not welcome here.
Really, nothing shows a lack of understanding of the real world better than booing Vinatieri. Besides the obvious of winning three Super Bowls and being the greatest Patriot to ever drive his Reebok through the pigskin, the man’s “decision” to leave for Indy seven years ago was a no-brainer. He had been franchised, which for a kicker does not make you very rich, and he was making $2.5 million as a base salary in ’05. He was then offered a big money deal that came with a $3.5 million signing bonus when he was 33 years old. I know he had some local endorsements here, but I don’t think you get $3.5 million for doing Papa Gino’s ads.
So he signed it, and he was instantly set for life. If you fault him for not passing up the opportunity to guarantee him a lifetime of riches — an opportunity he was never getting in New England, despite winning those Super Bowls — then that’s fine I guess. Just stop booing him at Gillette Stadium because you’re making the entire fan base look like buffoons.
–Gronk’s injury has gotten a whole lot of attention, and combined with the blowout it has made a lot of people forget that Chandler Jones left the game due to an ankle injury. The defense got creative and made the pass rush work without Jones, such as an Alfonzo Dennard corner blitz on a third down, but that’s not going to work long term. The Patriots need a healthy Jones.
–After Gronkowski’s first touchdown, as he geared up for the spike, you could see the official foolishly step toward Gronkowski then immediately rush to cover his important parts before the spike. He just barely protected himself in time:
–After the PAT on that touchdown, Brady was caught on the sidelines by the CBS cameras blowing snot rockets in a rather meticulous fashion. For the sake of human decency, I won’t post a screen shot of that activity, but I do wonder what Gisele’s model friends thought about it.
–I’d pay decent money to be able to have listened to Bill Belichick’s long “discussion” with his defense after the Patriots fell behind 14-7.
Afterwards, when a reporter asked Belichick a long question about what was said in that meeting, Belichick simply said, “We were talking about the plays that happened earlier in the game.” I believe that was the abridged version of what he actually said on the sidelines. I’d bet there were a few naughty words and at least 17 uses of ”Do your job!”
–I once wrote almost exactly a year ago that Julian Edelman was going to be cut from the Patriots. You can now take a moment to laugh at me.
–Do we really have to engage the people who hoot and holler whenever the Patriots “run up the score?” Are these even human beings making these complaints at this point, or just mindless drones that are programmed to get a rise out of people?
These “people” think the Patriots should have just called for Brady to kneel it when they got the ball with 7:37 left in the game? Are they upset that the grand RUN-IT-UP strategy of the evil Belichick looked like this: handoff to Shane Vereen, handoff to Shane Vereen, handoff to Shane Vereen? Did they not see the Colts turn a 31-3 Patriots blowout into a 31-24 game in a very short period just 11 months ago in this very same building?
You see, these are the reasons why I cannot believe the “people” complaining are actually humans.
–And if people say Belichick “got what he deserved” for having Gronkowski on the field in a blowout, you can tell them that it was for a PAT attempt. (Clearly, Belichick was trying to run it up and instead should have called for a quarterback kneeldown instead of classlessly tacking on another point.)
–I’ve watched that PAT a hundred times now, and it just looks to be a freak injury. It looked like he took one step out to slow down the outside rusher and then reached back inside to get a piece of Sergio Brown, but he just got his arm in an unfortunate position. You have to chalk it up to bad luck:
–I imagine there was much giggling and chortling in the Gillette Stadium coaching offices when Darius Butler was named AFC Defensive Player of the Week on Wednesday, but there must have been some outright guffawing on the sidelines when Sergio Brown boneheadedly jumped early on a punt and it immediately led to Edelman’s return for a touchdown.
–Brandon Spikes probably won’t get fined this week, which is good, but his buddy Jerod can expect another envelope in his locker come Friday for drawing a personal foul penalty when he hit Luck. Kyle Arrington will too, even though he wasn’t flagged for this one:
–NFL’s “Play 60″ campaign is designed to inspire kids to go outside and play for an hour a day. The campaign’s official sponsor is a video game console. This is the world we live in.
–List of guests who sit in Robert Kraft’s box: Rock star Jon Bon Jovi, fashion designer Tommy Hilfiger, rich bozo Donald Trump … and Richard Nixon’s Secretary of State, Henry Kissinger. If that’s not the motleyest of motley crews ever assembled, I’m not sure what would be. They should all move into Kraft’s house and then get their own CBS reality show. It’d be weird. I’d watch it.
–Much like “Jacked Up” segments have become guilty pleasures of a bygone era, to the point where any celebration of massive hits has become totally taboo, I think the next thing to go from the “old school” era of football is the complete disregard for humanity on scrums for fumble recoveries. That poor Nathan Palmer fella recovering the fumbled kickoff looked like a fresh carcass thrown into a lion’s den. It was a 5-on-1 mugging.
–Tavon Wilson has four interceptions. That’s tied for third-most in the NFL. Say what?
–Jerod Mayo leads the league in tackles with 101, if you’re into that. He led the league in 2010 with 175 tackles.
–Shane Vereen has scored three touchdowns on just 33 rushing attempts. I’m going to try with all my might to get “Shane Vereen The Touchdown Machine” to be a thing. I’d appreciate your help.
–Everyone knew that Obama was a 100-percent lock to carry Massachusetts in the election this year, but had Dante Scarnecchia thrown his hat into the ring, I think he might have given Barry O. a run for his money. The coach has a new O-line to work with every week. Potential Hall of Famers don’t show up for work all summer. Three-time All-Pros keep suffering nagging injuries and miss half the games in the season. The backups who filled in admirably aren’t even healthy enough to play. And what happens? The Colts don’t so much as catch a whiff of Brady’s deodorant (I’m sure it was something fancy) all afternoon and evening, and the Patriots gain a more-than-respectable 115 rushing yards.
–Sports are weird. Like, really weird. To wit: The Patriots have now scored 50 or more points in wins against the Colts on the calendar day of Nov. 18 three times. They beat the Baltimore Colts 50-21 on Nov. 18, 1979, and they beat the Indianapolis Colts 50-17 on Nov. 18 in 1984.
Also weird: Julian Edelman became the third Patriot to return a kick for a TD and catch a TD in the same game, and the only other two Patriots to do that also did it against the Colts.
Almost weird, too: Edelman came very close to scoring a rushing touchdown as well, which would have given him a punt return TD, a receiving TD and a rushing TD. The last Patriots player to score touchdowns in three different ways was David Patten in 2001. He ran for a touchdown, caught a touchdown and threw for a touchdown that day, and he did it … against the Colts.
–Alarms don’t necessarily need to be sounded in the wake of the Gronkowski injury, but clearly, the offense is going to have to change quite a bit over the next six weeks. For example, three weeks ago, the Patriots’ offense opened the game with five straight touchdown drives. Against the Bills last week, the Patriots again scored on their first four drives. This week, the offense scored on three of its first four drives, with the only failure coming on missed field goal.
The offense simply won’t be able to fire on all cylinders without Gronkowski, so the defense is going to have to keep on forcing turnovers. That hasn’t been a problem thus far, with the Patriots getting 27 takeaways, which is second in the NFL only to Chicago, and posting an overall turnover differential of plus-20, which is by far the best in the league. Still, even with that advantage each week in the turnover department, I’d expect the Patriots to find themselves in close, tight games just about every week from here on out.
–When Brady stepped to the podium after the game, he said, “That was awesome. That was a fun day.” These guys know what he was talking about:
Screen shots courtesy of NFL.com/GameRewind.