Sunday, January 15, 2006

Pats vs. Broncos - Running Log

With the Patriots playing in the AFC Divisional playoffs in Denver today, I figured I’d take a page out of the “Bill Simmons” playbook and keep a running log. We’ll see if I can make it not too boring.

8:10 – It’s “10 minutes after kickoff time”, i.e. still showing CBS promos time. Nice use of the Queens of the Stone Age. I always liked CBS promos more than Fox’s, and 90% of that is musical catalog. Fox seems intent on using puns in their song choice, and I have no doubt in my mind that today’s would have been set to “Rocky Mountain High”. Good omen for today’s game: the Queens of the Stone Age tune makes liberal use of the cowbell. You can never have enough cowbell.

8:14 – And let’s go to the field for……. Bonnie Bernstein? That’s the new kicker right? No? You want to tell me how Tom Brady is confident? Well ok.

8:17 – Finally. Hobbs returns to the 25, it’s game time.

8:18 – Dillon out, Faulk in on the 2nd play of the series (8 yard pass to Branch over the middle). Looks like the Pats will be wanting to test the pass defense early.

8:19 – Well, looks like I don’t know what I’m talking about, screen to the fallback and a run to the left with Dillon on the next two plays, 3rd and 6. (Make that 3rd and 11 after the false start). So they aren’t committing to the pass yet, but the way this series has looked so far, they may have to.

8:21 – A nice punt by Miller. Man, do I not miss the days of Ken Walter. Not even a little bit. There was that game in 04 against Miami in the snow that they brought in a walk on punter and benched Walter (I think his name was Brooks, clearly I have a crack research team), who punted 10 times in high wind and had a pretty good game… well, as good a game a punter can have at least. And sure enough, next week he was cut and Walter was back. It reminds me of Terry Francona trotting out guys like Embree and Millar all season, no matter the level of suckitude. Of course, Terry Francona probably would have made Walter the slot receiver before benching him.

8:24 - Time to see if having Seymour, Bruschi, and some competent DBs make as big a difference as everyone thinks they will.

8:25 - What just happened at the start of that series? 1st and 10. Denver false start. 1st and 14. A 4 yard penalty? Does that make sense to anybody else?

8:26 – Nice catch on the run by Tim Dwight after the 3 and out. Oh boy more commercials! **eye roll**

8:27 – I spoke too soon. I really like this Nextel commercial with the guys dancing to Salt n Pepa. Push it real good.

8:29 – CBS is making liberal use of the “SkyCam”, which has grown pretty popular now on NFL telecasts. ESPN even has a “SkyCam play of the game”. I think I’m the only one who remembers that it was Vince McMahon’s XFL who came up with that. So Tammy Maddox and the SkyCam, you decide which one was the greater gift.

8:31 – Third false start of the game, so the crowd is doing its job. Of course, one of those was for Denver, so they haven’t quite figured out the subtleties of being a good home field crowd yet (let your own QB hear himself, geniuses). Best stadium fans I’ve seen at that: Penn State. 110,000 fans and you can hear field action from the nosebleeds on the offensive series. Coolest/creepiest thing I’ve ever seen at a stadium.

8:34 – Looks like Belichek will go for it on 4th and 1. A little too close to punt, a little too far to kick, a bit risky but not a terrible call.

8:35 – Brady going with 5 wide, no one in the backfield? Bwah? Pressure causes Brady to throw behind Fauria. I was almost expecting a QB sneak there. But I guess that’s just further evidence I don’t know what I’m talking about.

8:40 – Denver gets one first down, then get stopped up. Defense looking pretty good so far. A little concerning that Bruschi was replaced with Chad Brown on third down.

8:42 - Brady and the offense will be pinned at the 4, now would be a good time to get a sustained drive. I’d consider a field goal a victory.

8:43 – So Wendy’s is all about “building your own burgers” now, according to their commercials. Except, due to the bad season down south, my local Wendy’s have been running out of tomatoes, which makes for a very bland burger. So now I can say Hurricane Katrina has directly affected me. I’ll be applying for Red Cross relief next week.

8:45 – Brady has to call timeout with the play clock winding down. Offense seems to have trouble getting into gear. They better figure it out sometime soon, because the defense isn’t going to shutout Denver all day.

8:48 - And Brady tosses it to nobody. The Patriots really need a big play to quiet the fans down, be it a turnover or a big offensive play.

8:51 - And an offside allowing a rekick, and it backs them up about 20 yards from where they had it previously. Of course, a pass to Lelie gets the Broncos right back across the 50.

8:53 – End of the first quarter, no score yet. Ho-hum.

8:55 – Another playoff promo, this one using a riff from the Killers. I don’t know who is selecting this music, but I approve.

8:56 - A great catch by Rod Smith for 15 yards, and Denver has the best field position of the night. Defense needs a stop here on 3rd and 7 to hold them to a long FG try.

8:58 – Incomplete throw on 3rd down, but the hold gives them another shot and they need 17 yards. The decision backfires as the TE catches a 24 yard pass. I’m second guessing him there, as I wouldn’t have accepted the penalty and let the try the 40+ yarder. That’s a pretty rare occurrence. Ron Borges I am not.

9:01 – 3rd and inches from the 3. I have no idea what Denver will try this play. There, I said it.

9:02 – Stuffed up the middle and Denver takes a timeout. Not out of the woods yet, but that last play was a big one.

9:04 – Tom Selleck and Steven Baldwin in the same TV movie! I am there! And someone really needs to pass a law that requires Tom Selleck to have his Magnum P.I. mustache at all times. That goatee just isn’t working.

9:06 - Incomplete to Lelie in the end zone, as he is smothered by Asante Samuel. Pats take over on downs. That was quite the goal line stand. Once again, they’ll start backed up against their own end zone, let’s hope they can get something going this time.

9:08 – Thinking back over the last Denver offensive series, it seems almost every Jake Plummer pass is a bit off the mark. They are sailing wide, dropping low, or floating overhead. I wonder if one will sail enough for a pick soon.

9:10 – Another false start, this one getting rid of a possible first down. Going to need another big kick from Josh Miller.

9:11 – And another 50+ yard punt. Nicely done.

9:13 – The Pats need to start getting more pressure on Plummer. He’s having the time to make nice calm throws. He’s Jake Plummer, don’t let him do that.

9:15 - The Asante Samuel interception ruled out of bounds. This needs a challenge from Belichek… and it’s going to get one. This might get overturned. Regardless of the outcome, this was a real good play by Samuel.

9:19 – Overturned. 1st and 10 on the 11. Not only a turnover, but despite being deep in their own territory, it’s still better than the field position on the last two drives.

9:20 – OH MY! Champ Bailey allows a long 51 yard pass play to Andre Davis. I’ve always thought Champ Bailey is one of the more overrated defenders in the league. He’s good, but every so often he’ll have a game where he gets worked on and give up tons of yards. One was last season against Oakland on ESPN Sunday night. It was snowing, and he still got (I think) 3 long pass plays for TDs thrown on him.

9:24 – Timeout called on 3rd and 7. Patriots in field goal range. Even without a 1st down, the Pats should come away with some points.

9:27 – Vinateiri drives one through, and that’s the first score of the game. A scary kick, but it gets the job done.

9:30 – Samuel almost gets another one. He’s had a pretty solid 1st half so far… man I hope I didn’t just jinx him.

9:31 – And the Broncos have to punt. Pats get the ball back with about 2:45 left. It would be nice to see a drive here to get some more points before halftime.

9:32 – Pinned inside the 10 again. This field position is getting a little absurd.

9:33 - A quick pass to Givens and good run by Dillon on first down gets the Patriots out of a hole at the two minute warning. A ten point lead at halftime sure would be nice.

9:35 – How is it that Jon Cryer is still gainfully employed? Has he had any memorable performance since Ducky?

9:36 - Faulk coughs up a fumble. Crap on a crap cracker. Denver has the ball at the NE 40.

9:36 – If this is a late pass interference flag, it is completely ridiculous.

9:37 - Watching the replay, that is an absolutely terrible call. Lelie interfered with Samuel more than the other way around (Lelie grabbed his left arm while Samuel was looking for the ball). And now Anderson goes in for the TD. Late Christmas present for Denver.

9:38 – On a lighter note, apparently the Denver Cheerleaders are dressed as slutty Army officers. There’s something I never thought I’d see.

9:40 - And the kicker of all people causes a fumble on the kickoff. This could be a really awful final two minutes of the first half.

9:44 - Pats got them at a 3rd and 3. Plummer passes incomplete, which means the clock stops. FG try, and the pats should have a chance to get the ball back regardless.

9:46 – Elam just barely gets the 50 yarder. The Pats will need a big return here if they want to try and get some points before half. Without a big return, this should be the score at halftime.

9:49 – Not that big of a return. Brady takes a knee. Score is DEN 10 NE 3. Not what I was hoping to see. It will be interesting to see what adjustments teams will make heading for the second half. This score could be a lot worse if it weren’t for the goal line stop and the Asante Samuel pick. I’ll take 10-3 over 17-3 or even 24-3 with no hesitation.

9:55 – They just replayed the Samuel interference call. I still think it was absolutely terrible, and it looks like Boomer agrees with me. Which means nothing, of course. What kind of nickname is “Boomer” anyway? No punch line, I just think it’s a silly nickname.

10:03 – Phil Simms is wearing a pink shirt and tie? I half expect that next time they cut back to him his collar will be popped.

10:06 – The Patriots force a quick three and out after another off the mark Plummer pass. The defense has been playing a real good game. If the offense can get it going on this drive, the Pats are right back in it.

10:10 – Pats drive it to midfield. The pass protection is starting to come together. It’s going to have to continue if the Pats want to come away with some more scoring this drive.

10:11 - Drills it to David Givens. Into Denver territory. I am now officially getting antsy.

10:15 – They drive deep enough for a 33 yard FG attempt by Vinatieri. Might as well be a XP, as it sails right through with no trouble. Denver’s lead is now cut to 4. With a quarter and a half left, this may be setting the stage for another late Brady led comeback. I’d rather see them get ahead and stay ahead, I don’t need a heart attack before I’m 25.

10:19 – Wow, there are a lot of commercials.

10:21 – It makes me happy that the snapshot CBS uses for Plummer’s player photo is the one with the goofy porn stache. He looks more like the creepy old guy in the Florida bar during spring break, hitting on the college coeds than he does an NHL QB.

10:24 – Mike Vrabel gets the sack on 3rd down. Vrabel may be my favorite Pats player, he has been for a couple of years now. And not just because of his totally sweet number.

10:27 – Nice Sony ad with the Cal –Stanford reenactment using Electric Football. I especially liked the last player sweeping out all the little cardboard band players.

10:28 – First play, to Troy Brown for 33 yards. Second play, a flea flicker to Branch for another 26 yards. Nice quick strikes, looks like Brady is starting to take over against the Broncos pass defense.

10:30 – In the time it took me to write that, it’s 1st and goal at the 5. This is quite the drive they are putting together.

10:33 – Oh no, Champ Bailey intercepts Brady in the end zone. Ben Watson came out of nowhere to lay a killer hit on the one yard line. Belichek is challenging… something. The ball going inside the pylon, I guess. I don’t really know what difference that makes.

10:35 – Oh, it’s a touchback for NE if it goes inside. Wow, that would be a ridiculous change of possession.

10:37 – Ruling on the field stands. The team needs a big stop now, otherwise they are going to be down by 11.

10:38 – So much for that idea. It’s going to take some heroics for this game to end in the Patriots favor.

10:43 – I wonder just how often Lindsey Jacobellis really is recognized on the street. I’d be surprised if it even happens that often on the ski slopes.

10:45 – McGinnest shoving Larry Izzo on the sideline. I wonder what that was all about.

10:47 – Patriots are on the move again. They need a TD here to keep the pressure off for their next possession. A TD and a 2-point conversion makes the difference only a field goal.

10:51 – Vinatieri misses the 43 yarder, his first miss in the 4th/OT in 22 attempts. The defense needs to get the ball back as soon as possible, the Patriots can’t afford to go down by anymore points.

10: 53 – A bear trap? Brilliant!

10:55 – Why is the clock running, wasn’t Lelie pushed out of bounds at the 50? Bwah? I have no idea what’s going on anymore.

10:59 – Pats get the stop at 3rd and 2, they’ll be getting the ball back needing two scores. Hopefully they won’t be pinned quite as deep as they have been.

11:00 – And they fumble the fair catch, Broncos ball on the 15. Special teams is normally such a hallmark of Patriots football has been pretty ugly all game. In fact, it may cost them the game.

11:03 – Another Broncos TD, this one a pass to Rod Smith. The Pats now need Heroics with a capital H.

11:08 - Looks like the Patriots aren’t going quietly. The first play is a 73 yard completion to Branch. Hot damn.

11:10 – TD pass to David Givens. That TD took 33 seconds to score. The defense needs to get the ball back to give Brady and the offense to get two more scores. Looks like my hope of avoiding that heart attack may have been a little premature.

11:15 – Third and 1. If the Pats can’t stop them here, they may run out of time.

11:16 – They get the first down, but then are stuffed for no gain on the next play. Clock still winding down.

11:18 – The Pats force a 4th and 2. A kick makes it a 14 point game. Shanahan may decide to go for it. Either way, I may have an aneurism.

11:20 – Kick is good. Pats need two touchdowns to force OT. Time to see exactly how many miracles Tom Brady has left in that arm.

11:22 – Another bad place to start a drive. They’ll have to drive around 90 yards, and they’ll still need another score after that one. Things are not looking good.

11:24 - Givens isn’t getting up after that play. Not what we needed right now. He is at least walking off under his own power.

11:26 - But the Brady INT really wasn’t needed. This one is pretty much over.

11:30 – Plummer taking a knee. So much for 3 in a row. This has still been a hell of a run, and it’s been a pleasure watching this team at its peak. Congratulations to the Broncos. Sure, seeing the Pats lose is no fun, but considering how things have gone since 2001, I’ve got no right to complain. And I won’t. Of course, now I don’t know what I’m going to do with myself until pitchers and catchers report… when does the rollerball season start?