The Patriots and Red Sox both need a closer - it might be time to call Blake. (Caution: Lone bad-word alert similar to language you heard at home about 7:15 p.m. EDT Sunday.)
Luckily for the first-place Patriots - they're still in the running for the Cadillac in the AFC East - along with the Jets, Dolphins and Bills. Sunday's game in Foxborough against the Jets is for all the steak knives.
3-3 never looked this depressing.
The man who invented "the magic bullet" theory following the assassination of President Kennedy died on Sunday. The same day the Patriots ran out of magic bullets. While Arlen Specter switched political parties near the end of his career, there are no allegiances to swap in Patriot Nation this week. It's not like we can watch the Red Sox in the ALCS or the Bruins vs. Canadiens. And last year proved the NBA can go away until Christmas without anyone noticing. Patriots fans have nowhere to go for cover after Sunday's 24-23 loss during already-maddening (three losses by a combined total of four points) season. Not even the Warren Commission could find a single "magic bullet" to fix what is wrong with this team, unless there is some method of NFL draft time travel that we have not heard of yet.
Tom Brady - who has fired more "Magic Bullets" than any QB to ever play east of the Berkshires - didn't have any left in his well-worn right arm Sunday. He blasted away against the Seahawks, launching the ball 58 times. He completed 36 passes for 395 yards and two TDs - great fantasy numbers for sure. He also threw two costly interceptions - including one in the end zone - and ended the first half with an intentional-grounding penalty that took three sure points off the board. The Seahawks dropped two other INTs, just for good measure.
We're not about to blame Gisele - who happens to be at the center of any and all conspiracy theories when it comes to reasons why the Patriots have not won a Super Bowl in 92 months. But there is something to the thought that Brady is showing his age and maturity. That young, fearless QB who ignored the "run out the clock" pleas of John Madden in the final minutes of Super Bowl XXXVI was no where to be found Sunday. (Some might argue he's been missing since the team left Jacksonville the night of Super Bowl XXXIX.) Brady flinched several times in the pocket - as he has done several times this season. He even took a sack when he felt the rumblings of Nate Solder. He would end up taking two intentional grounding penalties, which either means "you blinked" or someone didn't run the right route. After getting hit a few million times over the years, we'd probably do the same. Even with all that, the real missing cojones here lie with the play-calling and attitude not the QB. The Patriots rarely thought long all day, and threw deep beyond 10 yards just once their final four drives. (An incomplete catch by a diving, out-of-bounds Brandon Lloyd. Danny Woodhead did gain 12 yards on a swing pass.) There is no big-play mentality here.
Brady was a first-ballot Hall of Famer the moment he became eligible. This isn't about legacy or greatness. This is just about where he and the Patriots are now, this week. Something isn't right. Something isn't there. Ryan Mallett is not the answer, either. Please. That's not even worth a drunken Brandon Spikes tweet. Brady is adjusting to his NFL middle age. Perhaps it's time we do the same. Forget 16-0, or even 13-3, and just focus hopes on an AFC East title and first-round playoff game at home. Your defending Super Bowl champions were 6-6 at one point in 2011 before winning six out of seven. Brady is almost as good as Eli Manning, right?
Heading into this season, the aura surrounding this stage of the Belichick-Brady Era was one of inevitable success - except when it came to Super Bowls or regular-season games against the Giants. This season, even that mythical status has been shattered. A last-second field goal at home against the Cardinals sailed wide left. A last-second field goal in Baltimore may or may not have been good, but it counted just enough for another loss.
Then there was Sunday, when all that magic that Brady and Belichick seemingly worked at will (again, except against the Giants) fell apart, along with this pre-game analysis. The Force shifted to the Dark Green side. Belichick was the hapless buffoon, watching without belief as Josh McDaniels and Brady engineered a cataclysmic three-and-out with 3:02 to play that chewed up a microscopic 24 seconds and lost eight yards before the punt. New England's previous drive was equally maddening and fruitless - seven plays, 26 yards, another intentional grounding penalty - all before a punt.
Pete Carroll - resident genius - crafted the master plan. He hasn't been this happy since Reggie Bush cashed his first paycheck at USC. Take away the run. Make Brady beat us. Let the rookie QB throw deep and often into New England's woeful secondary. Russell Wilson vs. the Patriots' secondary proved to be a lethal matchup for the Patriots while Brady vs. the Seahawks' secondary also proved to be a lethal matchup for the Patriots.
Twice in the fourth quarter the Seahawks went for and found the end zone when the Patriots were thinking short-play defense - on a 4th-and-3 from the 10 when the Patriots were looking for a four-yard play, and again on a 3rd-and-1 from the Patriots' 48 with 1:28 to play when Wilson connected with a wide-open Sidney Rice, as who left rookies Tavon Wilson and Nate Ebner trailing somewhere near Tacoma.
The end result, humiliation on the field, in the locker room (the Patriots have a "gimmick offense") and via Twitter thanks to Richard "U MAD BRO" Sherman, who grabbed one of Brady's two interceptions and gave us this infamous post-game Twitter meme below (not to be confused with the Associated Press photo seen at the top of this page - both originally photographed by Elaine Thompson):
Of course, the good tweets are always taken down. Sherman posted these comments with the above photo in a now obliterated tweet that read: "he told me and Earl [Thomas] to see him after the game when they win... . I found him afterâ€¦.".
That was preceded by this:
Brady sure looks like a man who turned the 12thMan against us twitter.com/RSherman_25/stâ€¦— Richard Sherman (@RSherman_25) October 15, 2012
Richard Sherman, folks. We offer solace in the infamous words of Henry Hill: "Every once in a while I'd have to take a beating...The way I saw it, everybody takes a beating sometime."
This loss wasn't so much about post-game social-media trash talk as it was about poor play-calling, a horrid defensive secondary and inability of the offense and defense to close out a game that the Patriots led by 13 points with less than eight minutes to play.
Been there, done that.
There's an entire generation of Red Sox and Patriots fans under the age of 18 now watching the teams that their parents and grandparents always knew and loved. Nothing wrong with that. Even in the worst of times, we never gave up hope even while detached from reality.
For the Patriots, the end is not near nor even on the schedule. Ten weeks remain in the season and they play in the second-weakest division in football. 9-7 might be enough to win it this season. Avoid full-blown panic, but not complete frustration.
They still have Brady and Belichick, and that's definitely worth something.
Unless they lose to the Jets.
Don't forget to join us Sunday at 4 p.m. for our in-game Patriots-Jets fan chat. We'll be lining up on the Tobin Bridge about 7:30 just in case. As always, let us know what you think. Post your thoughts here, on our Obnoxious Boston Fan Facebook page or e-mail me email@example.com. And don't forget to follow us on Twitter @realOBF.
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