It the playoffs! As usual, one team played, three teams watched. Let’s get right to it.
In last place, The Miami Dolphins. They watched.
In second to last place, The Buffalo Bills. They watched.
In third to last place, The New York Jets. They watched.
In first place, the New England Patriots. They played, and boy did they play well. The Pats played the “Annual Dan Shaughnessy Memorial Tomato Can Game” against the Kansas City Chiefs on Saturday afternoon at Gillette Stadium and the Chiefs were every bit the Tomato can opponent that the Colts, Texans and Broncos have been in past seasons. The final score was close, but the game never really was. The Pats offense opened up in 5th gear, driving right down the field on their opening drive to score a TD and take the lead for good. This game had everything, two Rob Gornkowski TDs, one where he was barely covered, countless third down conversions by Julina Edelman and his broken foot, a perfect “Step too late” Devon McCourty play on a third down where although he was late, his helmet hit the ball and dislodged it, and two quintessential Chandler Jones plays. The first, when a Kansas City running back had gotten to the second level, Jones was beaten on the play but in an effort to get back into it, he waved his giant paws wildly and with great fortune happened to hit the ball about a half second before the runner had gone down, forcing a fumble that essentially wrapped up the game. And later, Alex Smith, taking off right past Jones like he had done so many times before in the game, was tripped by his own lineman and “Mr. Spice” was the first to fall on him and was credited for the sack. Ahh, when things are going right, they really go right for the Pats. They even had their first interception of the game overturned, but it happened on 4th down so they actually gained 25 or so yards on the play.
So for the fifth straight season, the New England Patriots are playing in the AFC Championship game with the right to go to the Super Bowl on the line. This is the 10th time Tom Brady and Bill Belichick have led the Pats to this game, a record that will no doubt never be matched. It has me wondering, when all is said and done, will the NFL think about renaming the game and/ or the trophy after either of these two men? I mean, both have done far more for the game than Lamar Hunt ever did…How about the winner of the “AFC Tom Brady Game” (“Tom Brady” is a synonym for “championship” according to Webster’s) gets the “Bill Belichick Trophy”? Seems like the only logical course of action when 2/3’s of the last fifteen seasons have seen these two men competing in the Conference Championship.
Now to Denver, had the Pats not treated the final four games of the regular season like a December preseason, this game would be held here in snowy New England (where we are expecting a Nor’ Easter and up to three feet of snow), but alas Bill Belichick had other things on his mind (no doubt preparing a spectacular winter wonderland for the neighborhood kids) and now the Pats have to travel to Mile HGH Stadium and face the Forehead on his own field. The pats are the better team and if this game were in NE, the score would likely be somewhere in the range of 100-6, but in Denver it will be far closer. The Pats will be traveling to Denver on Friday in an effort to adjust to the elevation, time change and make sure that Chandler Jones can get some real weed. I think the Pats return to the Super Bowl, but it will be a nail biter the whole way.