It’s that time of year again – Christmas is over, New Year’s Eve is approaching, and everyone is anticipating a fresh start and the new year.
For football fans, the playoffs are approaching and the excitement of the possibility of your team going to the Super Bowl is growing. For Patriots fans, dreams of another Lombardi Trophy are dancing in their heads.
But, in true fashion, Coach Bill Belichick and the Patriots are focused on the next game.
Tom Brady. Rob Gronkowski. Even Matt Slater. These are players that have represented the Patriots in the Pro Bowl before – and will again. They’re names people recognize. But this year, a new name and face is representing the Patriots in the Pro Bowl – Fullback James Develin.
A fullback just isn’t heralded much anymore in the National Football League, but the Patriots have made James Develin an important part of the offense. He also happens to be one of my favorite players, and I’m not alone in that.
Once again, the Patriots walked into Miami the odds-on favorite and came out losers. Although the score doesn’t adequately reflect it, it was an ugly Monday Night Football game. One the Patriots lost to the division rival Miami Dolphins 20-27.
It was a game where quarterback Tom Brady didn’t look like Tom Brady. It took 2 1/2 quarters of football before a Patriots wide receiver (Danny Amendola) caught a pass. And New England went 0 for 11 on 3rd down conversions.
Let that sink in, folks…the Patriots could not convert a single third down. The last time the Patriots were that inept at converting on third downs was in 1991. I remember those days – back when the Patriots were really bad – they hadn’t won more than 10 games since 1986 and this particular season, they went 6-10. Does anyone remember head coach Dick MacPherson? Nah…me either.
Division rival Miami Dolphins came to Foxborough Sunday to take on the Patriots. The Patriots, who had won six in a row, were returning from their win over the Raiders in Mexico City. Division games are always difficult. They’re heated and emotional. Even though the Dolphins were without their starting quarterback Jay Cutler, Matt Moore is one of the better back up QBs in the league. All week I heard about Moore’s great connection with wide receiver Kenny Stills. It still wasn’t enough to beat the Patriots.
Thanksgiving is a day for family, food and football – and though I’m thankful for all three, they go hand in hand. I’m a New England Patriots fan, born and raised. And every football season, I’m thankful for my team. But it wasn’t always this way.
The New England Patriots brought three generations of Sarkisians together: my grandfather, my father and me. My grandfather had season tickets for several years before he died in 1994 when the Patriots played at the old Schaefer and then Sullivan Stadium. Although we never got to go to a game together, the 3 of us, we all shared the same love of football and our team. He sold them shortly before he died, but we had suffered 5 losing seasons in a row, and I think he thought it was time. If he’d only had an inkling of the seasons to come, the Kraft Era – the Brady Era.
Denver has always been a daunting place to play a football game unless, of course, you’re the home team. But the Broncos don’t look like the championship caliber team they normally are. There have been lots of changes since Peyton Manning retired and although the defense is pretty much intact, the offense is lacking, especially at the quarterback position.
Still, coming into this game the Broncos were 3-1 at home. Tom Brady’s Patriots have been 3-4 in Denver in the regular season, and an abysmal 0-3 in the playoffs, so this game wasn’t a sure thing for the 6-2 Patriots coming off of their bye week. But the Patriots played well in all three phases of the game and completely dominated the Broncos. At the end of the 4th quarter, Tom Brady was taken out and recently acquired Brian Hoyer subbed in. As the Broncos’ fans filed out of Sports Authority Field, chants of “Brady! Brady! Brady!” could be heard in the celebratory voices of the remaining Patriots’ fans.
The Patriots went into the Meadowlands Sunday with a record identical to their opponents’, something no one could have predicted at the start of the season. The media had been talking about an 0-16 season for the Jets, but coach Todd Bowles, quarterback Josh McCown and the rest of the team have proved the media wrong. Whoever came out on top in this game would lead the AFC East, but this didn’t look like 2 good teams fighting it out for the division.
Let’s get the bad out of the way first – the defense, especially in passing, looked awful. I would have never predicted that the Super Bowl Champions would return and deliver the 32nd ranked defense in the National Football League, but here we are. They have given up an average, an AVERAGE of 440 yards of offense per game. Most of that, of course, through the air.