BOSTON (CBS) – I’m not afraid to admit that I was 100 percent convinced that the Patriots’ offense was in for a rude awakening this week in the absence of Rob Gronkowski, one of the most dangerous weapons in football.
Tom Brady reminded me that he’s still at the top of that list.
Of course, the blowout victory on Thanksgiving night was not entirely thanks to the offense, as two touchdowns came directly on turnovers, of which the defense forced five and thereby gave the offense a few extra possessions.
Regardless, Brady couldn’t have been much better than he was against the Jets: 18-for-28, 323 yards, 3 TDs, 0 INTs.
On the season, he now has 24 touchdowns and just three interceptions. It’s easy to forget that other teams don’t have that kind of luxury at quarterback. Tony Romo has 13 touchdowns and 15 interceptions. Eli Manning and Jay Cutler both have 11 TDs and 12 INTs. Drew Brees leads the league with 28 TDs but still has 9 INTs. Peyton Manning’s seven interceptions make him look pretty good, and then you remember that he’s thrown 250 percent more picks than Brady.
Thursday night’s win didn’t prove anything necessarily, but it did serve to remind everyone who’s the best quarterback in the NFL and why the Patriots will be a Super Bowl contender as long as he’s under center.
Now let’s get into all the leftover thoughts from the Patriots’ 49-19 demolition of the Jets.
–I told so many relatives throughout the day on Thanksgiving that the Patriots were going to find themselves in a close game that would be decided by a field goal. Like, a lot of people. Like, everyone I talked to. I might not be able to show my face at Christmas.
–I’ve said this a million times, and it’s embarrassing that I have to keep saying it, but please, opposing teams, I have one simple strategy for you: Cover Wesley Welker.
He’s No. 83 in the white jersey. You know, the guy standing all alone in the end zone? Yeah, that one. Cover him.
–Tim Tebow may be a miracle worker, but even he couldn’t pull off the green pants/green jersey combo the Jets were rocking Thursday night. Ugly stuff.
–There were a lot of crazy things from this game, but none crazier than this: The Patriots outscored the Jets 35-3 in the second quarter, a period in which the Patriots possessed the ball for just 2:13.
–Twitter was basically a four-hour comedy show during this game, but this was the funniest tweet of them all:
— I’ve never in my life seen anyone cockier than the kid in the commercial with the full battery on his phone. Does he not realize he’s carrying around a mini-power plant and is taking it out at bars? Am I to believe ladies flock to you at fancy nightclubs if you carry around a giant hunk of plastic which keeps your phone charged? And why doesn’t he let other people charge their phones? Does he need to be at 100 percent? How about letting it get down to 80 percent and spreading the wealth, jerk?
Jay-Z just gave you what you deserved, fool. You’ll never get to talk to B. Never.
–From halftime against the Colts through halftime against the Jets, the Patriots had outscored their opponent 70-10 over four quarters of football. In 1992, it took the Patriots from the start of the season until Week 8 to score their 70th point. Kansas City has scored just 152 points this entire season. Just so you know what you’re watching.
–The Patriots have also scored in the following ways in the past two games:
Punt return (1)
Interception return (2)
Fumble return (2)
Rushing play (4)
Passing play (6)
Those passing touchdowns went to four different receivers, those rushing touchdowns were scored by three different players and the interception returns were made by two different players. There’s no grand point here, but that’s some solid depth.
— It was nice of Lenny Kravitz to dust off some new jams for us at halftime there. “Are You Gonna Go My Way” (1993) and “American Woman” (1999 and also a cover of a 1970 song) were so fresh. Has anyone maintained a “rock star” image as long as Kravitz without actually doing anything to deserve it?
— On the topic of music, I didn’t believe it to be possible for other teams to have “anthems” worse than that Aerosmith noise that comes on every week during Patriots games, so Thursday was an enlightening day. Kelly Clarkson for the Cowboys, Kravitz for the Jets, Kid Rock for the Lions … my goodness.
–With the Patriots leading 35-3 in the third quarter, Tom Brady threw an incompletion to Julian Edelman. Brady then screamed an expletive, upset with himself for not being perfect. On the next play, Brady looked thoroughly distraught after overthrowing Brandon Lloyd. Again, the score was 35-3. These, and not the clear moments of success, are the moments that define Brady.
–Also typical Brady: The quarterback chiming in when Vince Wilfork told Michele Tafoya that Steve Gregory made a few picks in practice, making sure the world knew Gregory made those picks against Ryan Mallett.
–We now get into the sad portion of this story. First, I’m still not sure we know exactly what the Patriots have on offense without Gronkowski. It’s not that the offense didn’t play well against the Jets, it’s just that after the turnovers and the 83-yarder to Shane Vereen, the Jets weren’t exactly spirited. There’s no reason to feel bad about the offense, but I’d caution against jumping to the conclusion that this team will continue to put up 50 points every week.
–The other sad portion of this story is that people like this still exist:
Sal Maiorana @salmaiorana: Belichick is such a [bad word for jerk]. Run the damn ball, kill clock n get the hell out of town. If guys get hurt, I’ll smile. Sorry. No need to pass
My favorite part about people like this (and there are many) is that they think that somehow it’s less offensive when your opponent stops trying for an entire half of football because they’re beating you so bad. If you have any sort of pride, you want to keep playing the game and try to stop their best. If they start running two-yard dives three times then punting every possession? That’s more of a slap in the face than anything else.
But yeah, keep rooting for players to get injured to prove your point that Belichick has no class. That will help get your point across, oh righteous one.
–Brady throwing passes in the middle of the fourth quarter is sure to raise some eyebrows, because it always does, but I think it may have to do with the team having zero real practices without Gronkowski this week. Obviously, it’s a huge change for the offense, and getting some practice in a live game can be invaluable for the rest of the season.
As for the “risking Brady gets hurt” thing, would you be saying the same thing if Brady was throwing passes in a tie game in the middle of the fourth quarter? He’s a football player. Let him play football. Coaching against injuries is a battle you can’t ever win.
–Do referees learn at referee school that they have to dramatically pause between the words “pass interference ” and “offense”? It’s a bit much, guys. We know it’s coming most of the time, so you’re not exactly pulling a rabbit out of a hat.
I have one question left after this game: Why? Just … why?
–If I was campaigning for Dante Scarnecchia for president last week, what exactly am I supposed to do this week, when he made his line work with Donald Thomas at left guard and Marcus Cannon at right tackle but still gave up zero sacks and blocked for another 150-yard rushing game? Scarnecchia for pope?
–Mark Sanchez running squarely into the rump of his own offensive lineman was maybe the funniest thing I’ve ever seen in a football game. The best analogy I could come up with was that it looked like when someone’s running full bore and doesn’t notice a sliding glass door and just completely wrecks himself at full speed.
Basically, Mark Sanchez is this guy:
–It became a popular activity on Twitter to post screen shots of the faces of poor Jets fans, which was pretty funny, but hey, those are human beings and I won’t embarrass them here.
Rex, on the other hand …
–I do think I legitimately feel bad for this guy. He looks like he had visions of grandeur for the greatest Thanksgiving of his life. Instead he got … that.
— The Tom Brady QB Sneak remains unofficially 100 percent successful. I used to think it was magic working between him and Dan Koppen, but after this season with the makeshift offensive line, I’m convinced Brady could pick up two yards behind Foxboro’s Pop Warner C team’s offensive line.
–There’s plenty for the Patriots to feel good about from a 30-point win, obviously, but where I found they really showed character was early in the fourth quarter. Facing a third-and-7 from the Jets’ 12 and leading 35-12, you could have forgiven the Patriots if they let off the gas pedal and lost a bit of desire. Instead, Brady spun away from pressure and hit Vereen in the flat. Vereen looked to have nowhere to go, but he burst through LaRon Landry’s tackle and made it past the sticks for a first down. Earlier on that drive, on a third-and-4, Wes Welker ran a precise five-yard out and hauled in a pass to keep the drive alive.
It was just great team-wide focus, and it’s where the Patriots shine where many other teams might not.
Screen shots courtesy of NFL.com/GameRewind.