I decided to leave the Patriots out of my overreactions last week because I was more overreacting to the off the field issues plaguing our fine division. So this week I will devote an entire column to the glory of the New England Patriots.
As Dan Shaughnessy would say, “line up the tomato cans.” The Indianapolis Colts are just not in the same class as the Patriots and it seems unfair that the Pats earned a spot in the AFC Conference Championship game with a win over that team.
I’ll start with my contribution to the game. First, I decided that I would in fact attend the game. This is significant because the New England Patriots have never lost a game with me in attendance- this streak dates back to 1994 and includes one away game in Denver (12/18/2011). Second, in order to increase the amount of karma due to me, I gave the cop that was standing in front of a work zone on my commute throughout the polar vortex a coffee from Dunkin’ on Friday morning.
Now to the guys on the field. The Pats just ran all over the Colts pathetic defense to the tune of 224 yards and six (6) touchdowns. If you were at all surprised by this, then you just know Legarrette Blount. He is hands down the best running back to lace up a pair of cleats in the NFL since Jim Brown and he showed that to the world over the weekend. He is the perfect combination of speed and power and strikes fear in the hearts of any defender who dares cross his path. Mr. Blount was simply amazing in this game scoring four touchdowns (three in the first half), but he was not alone. Stevan Ridley, a man that was almost tarred and feathered in the streets of Boston just a few short weeks ago (there was a special election held and the opponents of capital punishment outvoted the rest of us by just four votes), returned to the good graces of the populous by scoring two touchdowns and a two point conversion. The Patriots offense was very reminiscent of the glory days when guys like Cory Dillon and Antwan Smith were grinding out Lombardi trophies for Bill B and Co.
Speaking of the glory days…The Pats defense has been beastly in recent weeks and Saturday night was no exception. Alfonso Dennard proved once again that when he’s not in a courtroom or jail cell, he is a top flight NFL QB. Dennard really set the tone for the whole evening when he wrestled Andrew Luck’s first pass of the night away from some nameless Colts receiver and returned it to the two yard line. Ninety or so seconds into the game you had a pretty clear idea of where this one was heading.
And that brings us to the man of the hour, Jamie Collins’ stat line of 6 tackles (two for loss), three QB hits, one sack and one interception is the type of stat line we expect out of a guy like Ray Lewis in his prime (all lathered up in deer antler spray), not a second round pick that has seen nothing but spot duty throughout the season playing in his first ever playoff game. If the mathematical progression continues (and why shouldn’t it, it is math after all) then Mr. Collins is set to lead the team in tackles, sacks, interceptions, forced fumbles and fumbles recovered this week in the AFC Championship game and he is sure to be a first ballot hall of famer once he decides to retire with every defensive record ever.
Last, but not least Stephen Gostkowski needs a little bit of an honorable mention for his work as a punter. I know kickers aren’t really football players and all, but being called upon to do someone else’s job, then doing that job better than most people (it could be argued that he did it better that Ryan Allen did in the first place…) you deserve at least some mention here. After his performance on Saturday, he may even be able to tell the Hall of Fame to put K/P on his bust making him the first punter to be elected (sorry Ray Guy).