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Pats Prove Mental Toughness Again.

 

By TOM

December 27th, 2010

I was wrong. I have never been so happy to be so wrong in my life! AFC regular season champs. The path to the Super Bowl travels through Foxboro! This game was their second biggest win of the season. I know it offends Basketball Bob for some reason when I write that the second Jets game was the biggest regular season win in franchise history, but in my opinion this was their most impressive victory of the season. They had everything going against them. Yet they gritted it out. They had the flu, the injuries along the D-Line were becoming devastating: they started Love at NT- a Practice Squad player, their All-Pro NT (in my opinion) at D-End, and Some-Guy-Named-Moore at D-End- he was a UFL guy they picked up to play OLB/PR and he was now starting at D-End, Brady was sick and unable to prepare as he usually does, they were down to their 4th string O-Guard who was actually their 2nd string O-Center, and there was the Hartford Whaler factor. I compared the Bills to the old Whalers. The Bruins used to kick the crap out of the Whalers, until they couldn’t take them seriously anymore. Then the Whalers got a little talent and started kicking the crap out of the Bruins. To the Whalers the Bruins were their biggest rival, but to the Bruins they were the young stepbrother they kicked the crap out of whenever they wanted. So I thought the Bills might finally have just enough talent and be on just enough of a roll to take revenge on the Pats, but I forgot how bad an owner and coach they have. Those two working together could screw up any victory.

For the Pats, this was a pure mental toughness victory. In order to win in the Playoffs, you have to get lucky and you have to be the most mentally tough team in the League. The Playoffs are all about mental toughness. Every team in the Playoffs is beat up. Every player in the Playoffs is beaten up. It takes a will of steel to garner victories in the Playoffs. They didn’t physically beat up the Bills until the second half. In fact, I think you could argue the Bills were the more physical team in the 1st half. However, they mentally beat the crap out of the Bills in the 1st half.  To me their were four guys who displayed that will of steel leading this team. BB and Brady (of course), and Wilfork and Mayo. Wilfork led the defense during the week and Mayo had maybe his best game as a Pro during the game. They weren’t just a little mentally tougher then the Bills, they were light years ahead of the Bills mentally. This was another Playoff grind game, like the Green Bay game, and they showed they were mentally ready to win in the Playoffs.

The game started out predictably with Buffalo trying to stuff it down the Patriots wounded defense’s throat: Jackson off tackle for 27, Spiller on a Draw for 7, Jackson for 3, Jackson for 10,  a dancing Draw to Spiller for 7, Jackson for 6, and then they decide to throw for some reason. Making it 2nd and ten from the 13. Jackson runs for 5 to bring the ball inside the ten, but set up 3rd and 5. They have to throw, and that forces a field goal. Bills-3, Pats-nothing.

Brady starts off with a play action to the Benny, and Gronk is wide open 27 yards down the Seam, and Brady under throws him terribly. Woodhead saws for 8 yards behind the pulling Ryan Wendell. Then Benny cuts-back behind Wendell for a 1st down. Brady comes out in the Shotgun and Welker for three. Then Benny hops through the line as Wendell seals Kyle Williams nicely. Benny for nothing as Wendell missed his block. They play action to Benny as Wendell pulls to the left and pass blocks, an interesting twist on the play-action. This gives Brady all the time in the world, but he throws it low again to set up 3rd and 9. Gronk can’t hold onto the ball again as Whitner hammers him. Punt.

A false start previewed trouble for Buffalo coming.  On 1st and 15 Fitzpatrick came out empty and throw to Jackson for 3. I start to wonder why they aren’t passing? On the first drive they ran the ball seven out of the first eight plays and averaged over 9 yard per carry, and now they have thrown 4 out of the past 5 plays for virtually no gains?  They throw over the middle by the 1st down marker, but Mayo and Guyton team up for a Smackdown and Jackson was crushed by Mayo to make it 3rd and 7. Another pass led to another bad play by Buffalo , and a nice pass defended by excellent coverage by Butler . And bad coaching forces a punt as they have abandoned the run that averaged over 9 yard a carry on the first drive, for a passing attack they has struggled terribly from the first pass.

The Patriots sensing blood in the water come out running as Benny goes diagonal behind excellent blocking by the O-line for 5. The super robust Benny powers his way to a 1st down with four or five defenders on his back. The Amazing Woodhead disappears behind Wendell pulling through the hole for a solid 8 yards. The Patriots come out in the shotgun, and a Draw pulls the Amazing Woodhead out of a hat as goes unseen by most of Buffalo ’s defenders, and he is suddenly sprinting full speed into the Endzone for a magical Touchdown. Pats-7, Bills-3.

The Bills come out throwing, again, and finally completed a pass. However, the coverage was excellent and Spiller really had to make a spectacular play just to catch the ball. Jackson runs into Ron Brace for 3. And the Bills are back in the Shotgun again for a nice pass to Steve Johnson for a 1st down. Another pass lead to an apparently surprise blitz by Ninkovich, though I don’t know why the Bill’s O-Line would be so surprised by his blitz. He flushed Fitzpatrick out of the pocket, and forces Fitzpatrick to scrambles right into Guyton. Guyton tries to tackle him, but knocks the ball out of his hands instead. The magnificent Mayo falls onto the ball for another big game changing play. Lets face it, the biggest factor in a Super Bowl run is how long the Pat’s big play defense can keep creating these big play turnovers. We know the offense will be fine, but the defense has to keep up the big plays. Playoff football is different from regular season football, and defense becomes even more important then the offense, at least before they changed as the passing rules. Like I said much earlier in the season, with the making of punishing receiver for going over the middle illegal, some offense is going to pass their way to the Super Bowl. However, you need a tough defense in the Playoffs or a Big-Play defense like New Orleans to win it all. Pats-7, Bills-3, Big-Play TO’s by Defense-1.

Brady doesn’t waste anytime as he play-actions and riffles the ball to Branch for a 1st down. Then the robust Benny has another big run for 10, as Wendell gets to the 2nd level and takes out Posluszny. The robust Benny cuts back and brawls his way through two Linebackers for five yards. Then Brady runs for the slowest 1st down in NFL history. Two penalties giveth and then taketh away, to make it 1st and 15, but it’s no problem for Brady as he: jogs casually for 3 yards, hands off to Woodhead for 7, and on 3rd and he reads the all-out blitz and throws the ball to Gronk who is sprinting down the seam. Gronk reaches back behind himself, snagging the ball with one hand for an amazing catch. Woodhead skips and hops his way for 3 yards and inside the ten. A play-action to Benny left Gronk wide open out in the flat and he just accelerated and leaped into the Endzone for a Buffalo crushing TD. Pats-14, Bills-3. Big Play TOs by our Big Play defense-1.

After being down 14-3 the resilient Buffalo Bills charged down field. Seeming to pass and run at will. Their Offensive Line playing better than it has in years, and the coaches decided to try and run again. Until a Holding penalty put a cramp in their style. First Chung defended a pass. Then a Bubble screen to Donald Jones made it 3rd and 12, and a bad pass by Fitzpatrick made it 4th and 12. They decided to go for it with everything to gain and really nothing to lose. A pass over the middle to Jones, and Fitzpatrick placed the ball right in his hands. Boom, a beautiful Mayo-Smackdown. He drove his shoulder right into Jones’s back and smacked him down to the ground without the ball. In the new age politically correct helmet rules it was a perfect shoulder hit right into the back. It was a truly amazing display of aggressiveness, smarts, and body control. It was looking like Mayo was having the best game of this season, and maybe of his career. It seemed he was making every tackle, knocking not just the ball out- but punishing receivers not once- but twice, garnering the Pats first TO so far, and now giving the ball back to the Pats in excellent field position with a terrifically vicious hit on 4th down for another big TO. Though it is not recorded as such, a stop on 4th down is a big Turnover, and maybe the biggest of big-play turnovers. Pats-14, Bills-3, Big Play TOs by our Big Play Defense-2.  

The Pats came out with an End around to try and slow down the Bill’s passrush a little, and Tate went for 11. On 2nd and ten Brady threw to Morris who swung out of the backfield for a short gain to set up 3rd and 6. Brady surveyed the field with his forceful confidence and zipped the ball to Branch for an easy 1st down. The Amazing Woodhead dived right up the middle for 8 yards as he made himself appear as a big power runningback. Then the suddenly speedy Benny bopped and weaved off tackle and charged into the Redzone like a run away buffalo. Woodhead scampered behind a crushing Crumpler block, as Alge crumbled the D-End, for 4. A screen to Welker fell to the ground as Welker had an early drop, as he is wont to do, to set up another early drop by Welker, as he is wont to do. However, a short field goal made it Pats-17, Bills-3, Big Play TOs by our Big Play Defense-2.  

Buffalo came out finding themselves in a fight they weren't ready for, and false started their way to 1st and 15 when they needed to regain some momentum the most. However, Johnson made a nice catch right on the sideline at the 1st down marker. Jackson powered straight up the middle for 2, and a Mayo Smackdown. Some guy named Cohen was in the game now. The Bills decided to pass, and David Nelson was foolish enough to try and catch the ball between Mayo and some Dane named Fletcher, and received a Dane assisted Mayo Smackdown for his trouble. This might not be the best of game his career, as he had that game his rookie year when he had about 30 tackles, but it was clearly the best Half of his career. Fitzpatrick dropped back and looked confused as he is not the smartest QB to ever play this game, and threw the ball right in front of my main man Chung who leap to the ground and scrapped the ball off the turf for another big defensive turnover. Pats-17, Bills-3, Big Play TOs by our Big Play Defense-3.  

BJG-E fell down for one at the two-minute warning. The Pats came out slicing as the Amazing Woodhead sliced through the defense for a split seven. Then BJG-E weeble wobbled for a 1st down inside the Redzone. Welker cut inside and Brady hit him as he dosey-doed to the 6-yardline. On 2nd and 1 the ball was tipped and Branch didn't have time to adjust, so Brady snuck it down to the 4-yardline. Then Brady zipped the ball to the Pats unsung hero Alge Crumpler. Pats-24, Bills-Irrelevant. Big Play TOs by our Big Play Defense-3.

Buffalo came out looking shell-shocked, but kept fighting like they have all season, and Fitzpatrick zipped the ball to Johnson for a 1st down. Then Fitzpatrick threw the ball deep to Donald Jones who leaped up and was dropped by the much-malign Meriweather and dropped the ball as he slammed into the ground. Then he hobbled and wobbled around the field until they finally called a time out as he was obviously in disrepair. On 2nd and ten Fitzpatrick tossed it to Jackson who was dragged down by some guy named Moore to end the half.

The Patriots had completely outclassed the Bills, and I had forgotten one of the great aspects of BBs genius, the second time he faces a young QB he destroys them. It was half time, Buffalo was on the spicket and it was time for Second Christmas. The best part of having divorced parents is Second Christmas. We had turkey and potatoes, squash and hot buns, I had to make the gravy as all the skinny folks didn’t seem interested for some silly reason.

Final score, Pats-34, Bills-10, Big Play TOs by our Big Play defense-8. And the path to the Super Bowl goes through Foxboro. 

Draft Post Script:

I will not be covering the game this week, for obvious reason. There are too many Bowl Games and too little time. However, here's my Miami preview: How the hell should I know? The game is really meaningless to both teams. Whose gonna play who ain't? I sure as hell don't know! The only thing that really matters is managing the players. BB has to keep the players sharp over the Playoff Bye, and giving them two weeks off is too dangerous to try. He will have to play every healthy starter he can for the 1st Half, and then I think he lets them rest. Remember the Colts Way is to rest their starters for the Playoffs and lose (in their one Super Bowl victory they had to win their last game so they didn't rest anybody), and the Patriots Way is to play everyone, and play everyone to win every game. So if you laughed at the Manning last year when he was pouting on the sideline as their idiot coaches ordered by their idiot GM (who said, "we care about winning the Super Bowl not records," a clear attempt to slap BB in the face), as they handed the victory to the Jets last year, then you can't complain if the starters are in and trying to win.

If you have any questions or comments feel free to email me:

patsfanmock12@yahoo.com

 

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