|Rob Gronkowski Cleared to Play for Patriots||Dustin Pedroia grants wish of 12-year old boy||2014 Patriots Offensive Line Preview: Solder, Mankins, Stork, Cannon, Vollmer||Bill Belichick Coaching Elsewhere? Albert Breer Stirs the Speculation Pot|
NFL PLAYOFFS BABY! Ballmer vs. Bahston: The Wire vs. Cheers; Diner vs. Good Will Hunting, Crab Cakes vs. Clam Chowder; Murdertown vs. Egghead Liberals; various other stereotypes, etc. etc. It’s NFL playoff time! Are you drunk yet?
As of now we’re still in Hour Two of the Interminable Pregame Show. The beefy talking heads are expounding and pontificating and spewing cliches and talking about how you need to establish the running game, and defense wins championships, and this is a Big Game, and gee that Tom Brady is considered a handsome fellow, and Flacco is not actually the least popular Marx Brother other than Zeppo, but is actually one of the Keys to the Game.
On today’s pregame show, Bill Cowher’s mustache is yelling at Shannon Sharpe’s donkey teeth, and now Boomer Esiason’s haircut is weighing in with a few cliches. Inspiring stuff. Are you pumped and jacked yet? Are you wearing your lucky Tedy Bruschi jersey, with a 12-pack and nachos located close by? Then you’re ready for some televised playoff football action!
In major pre-game news, BenJarvus Green-Ellis is Inactive for today’s game, leaving the Patriots dangerously short of Extra Names, with only Tully Banta-Cain to help out in that area.
Also, the NFL needs to come up with a better term than Inactive for players who won’t be playing due to the coach’s decision. Inactive makes them sound lazy, as if they could play, but they just don’t feel like it and are instead just choosing to sit there on the bench not doing anything.
Wes Welker update: Welker has suddenly appeared on the field, thrown off his crutches, and is in uniform! The crowd is going wild! No, just kidding, America’s most beloved little scrappy white slot receiver is not going to play, and everyone needs to accept that. This leaves the Patriots hoping for a big game from Wes Welker Impersonator Julian Edelman, who looks like Wes and appears to have some of the Welker Smallness-Yet-Scrappiness (TM) but caught 86 fewer passes this year. Also, Julian Edelman is a better name for an Eminent Analyst/Therapist than an NFL receiver.
The players are on the field, having finished warmups, and CBS just showed Acquitted Murderer and Team Captain Ray Lewis leading the Ravens in a huddle/pumping-up exercise/call-and-response shoutfest. Here’s what he yelled: “THERE IS NO TOMORROW! TODAY IS ALL WE GOT! Repeat after me! One heart! One family! One mind! One peace! Our struggle! Our pain!” Jeez, settle down Ray. You are after all famous multimillionaire athletes, you know.
The Ravens sure are a macho, physical, tough-talking group, considering they are the only NFL team named after a poem. I suppose the Ravens are a better name than the Baltimore Purloined Letters, or the Baltimore Telltale Hearts. But why not the Baltimore Ushers? Also, Edgar Allen Poe was born in Boston! In your face, Baltimore Poe fans! Nevermore!
Wind chill in Foxborough: 12 degrees. The game is about to begin. The Patriots have won the coin toss, but have cleverly chosen to defer to the Ravens. They’ll kick off after a few more commercials.
Patriots to kick off. Wes Welker actually WAS out on the field for the coin toss, and scrappily won it of course. So he is helping the team.
The kickoff is taken in the endzone by Connelly, and he’s tripped up at the 18 by Slater of the Patriots, nice coverage. First and 10 for the Ravens.
First play, Ray Rice takes the handoff, finds a big hole, and he’s into the secondary! He cuts down the line, and oh my god, he’s going to score. TOUCHDOWN RAVENS! One play, 82 yards. Disaster. Seriously. I wish I was making this up, folks, but no, the Ravens scored a TD on their first play, 17 seconds into the game.
Extra point: good. 7-0 Baltimore, ALREADY. WELKER WOULD’VE MADE THE TACKLE!
Billy Cundiff kicks off, Darius Butler returns it out to the 27. First and 10. Save us Tom Brady!
First play, Leading Rusher Laurence Maroney runs for two yards. Second and 8. Brady throws short to Edelman, (no pun intended) it’s complete, but he’s hit in the backfield for a 3-yard loss. Yikes.
Third and 11. Brady back to pass, he’s stripped of the ball! Terrell Suggs knocks it loose and recovers on the Patriots 17-yard line! The horror continues.
First and ten for Baltimore. Willis McGahee runs for three, then for three more. Third and four, huge play coming up already. Ray Rice carries it, breaks two tackles, and gets the first down!
First and goal for Baltimore, on the New England 6. Rice runs up the middle, cuts outside and is barely dragged down at the one-foot-line.
Second and inches. Handoff inside to fullback Leron McClain, TOUCHDOWN RAVENS! Wow, this is awful. Extra point is good, 14-0 Baltimore after 4 minutes. No passes yet, they’ve just run it past them every time.
Cundiff kicks off, and the Pats fumble the kickoff! There’s a pile-up around the 18 yard line. Patriots recover! This is pretty stunning.
First and ten for New England on the 21, as they try to calm themselves down. Brady back to pass, Ray Lewis blitzes, and SACKS Brady! 7 yard loss. Second and 17. Brady hands off the Kevin Faulk on a draw, and he gains 9 yards. Third down and 8 from the 23. Brady throws over the middle, and it’s broken up by Ed Reed– almost picked off. Incomplete. Fourth down, here comes the punt.
Left-footed punter Hanson booms a long one, 53 yards to Baltimore’s 24. Chris Carr fields it, cuts past two tacklers, gets to the outside and takes it all the way back to the Patriots 42 yard line! 35-yard punt return. Umm, Patriots, the game started at 1 PM, it’s not a night game, you might want to start playing.
First and 10 Ravens. Ray Rice takes the handoff and is tripped up for no gain! The Patriots best play of the game! Wilfork on the tackle.
Second and 10. Joe Flacco tries his first pass, and it’s almost picked off by Shawn Springs. Incomplete. Flag down, though. And it’s on Baltimore, illegal man downfield. It’s called on Michael Oher, blind-siding everyone. Sorry.
Declined. third and 10. Flacco throws again, and it’s off the hands of the receiver, incomplete. The Patriots have finally done something right.
Sam Koch to punt for the Ravens. Not Sam Cooke, alas. It’s short, fair-caught by Faulk on the 14, but there’s a flag. Patriots offside! Not enough for a first down, so they decline. Patriots ball on their own 14.
First and 10 Patriots from their 14 yard line, down 14-0 already. 8:10 left in the first. Brady completes to Faulk for 6 yards.
Handoff to Faulk, he runs out to the 25. FIRST DOWN! HUZZAH!
First and ten, Brady to pass. Here comes Acquitted Murderer Ray Lewis, Brady has to throw it away. Almost picked off AGAIN. Yuck again.
Second down. Brady with a play action fake, he throws and it’s PICKED OFF by Jarrett Johnson! Interception Ravens. Awful. As Charles Barkley would say, this is just TURRIBLE.
First and ten Ravens, from the New England 25. Handoff to McGahee, for no gain, maybe lost a yard.
Second and ten from the 25. McGahee again, he breaks a tackle and gets into the secondary, is hauled down after 9 yards by James Sanders. Third and one.
Flacco tries a quarterback sneak, the crafty weasel. Looks like he’s got it. No measurement necessary.
Patriots crowd starting to boo. What else can they do at this point? Flacco rolls out, dumps off the McGahee, complete for 13 yards! First and goal at the 2.
Ray Rice carries for one yard. This game could very be over in a second. Rice goes off tackle, TOUCHDOWN RAVENS. Rice sways his arms and hips and skips around in a ridiculous touchdown celebration. At least they’re doing something poorly. Extra point is good, 21-0.
The kickoff is taken back to the 30 yard line. First play for New England, Faulk runs for 4 yards. Second and six. Brady throws down the sideline, it’s tipped and INTERCEPTED by Ed Reed! He returns it for a while, then goofs around and laterals to some other guy, who takes it all the way to the New England 9 yard line. Season over.
First and goal, Ravens. They hand off for no gain. Second and goal from the 9. McGahee runs left, and there’s nothing there, so he cuts back deep in his own backfield and ends up thrown down at the 9. Lots of running to no effect. Third down, Flacco looks in the end zone, but no one’s open, so he throws it away. Billy Cundiff is out to try the FG. And it’s good, 24-0, Baltimore.
Cundiff kicks off yet AGAIN. Butler returns from the 5, and he’s crushed at the 18. Ravens are defenestrating the Patriots. On first down, Brady is back to throw again, and his pass is dropped by Ben Watson. Sure, why not? Welker would’ve caught it.
Brady throws to Faulk, complete for 18 yards! First down! The comeback is on baby!
First and ten from the 38. 30 seconds left in the nightmarish first quarter. Brady throws, almost picked AGAIN. Incomplete. Aiken cut one way, Brady threw the other way. Bill Belichick is wearing a stupid pom-pom on his winter hat, obviously the pom-pom is the reason for this horrid performance.
Penalty on New England, for a false start. Second and 15. Brady throws a swing pass to Faulk, and the Ravens are all standing there waiting for him. He’s tackled for a loss, mercifully ending the worst quarter in Patriots history. Stupid pom-pom.
Third and a million. Down 24-0. Playing like garbage. That’s where the Patriots are right now. This might be four- down territory. Or possibly 12-down territory. Nope, after a draw play to Faulk nets three yards, they’ll punt again.
Hanson in for the punt. He actually hasn’t punted much yet, with all the turnovers. This one sails to the 15 of Baltimore, and the returner loses it in the sun! It hits him, and the PATRIOTS recover on the 15 yard line!
On the replay, the ball might’ve come loose on the recovery. No challenge from the Ravens, luckily. Brady hands to Faulk, and he bashes down to the 7, breaking tackles. Second and one. Faulk again, up the middle, gets the first down. Or does he? The ref starts to signal for first down, then his pal stretches the chain one more link, and suddenly they’re short of the first down! Seriously?
Now third down, hand off to Fred Taylor, he’s hit but pushes through and gets the first down! 12:25 to play in the first half, first and goal from the five. Taylor runs again, and the entire Ravens defense is waiting for him, brandishing brass knuckles and billy clubs. He’s tackled for a one-yard loss.
Second and goal.
Brady under pressure, no one’s open. He might’ve run, but instead throws it away. Third and goal from the 6. Brady with all day to throw, no one open again. Finally Edelman breaks free and Brady hits him in the end zone for a TOUCHDOWN PATRIOTS! In the owner’s box, Welker high-fives Bob Kraft. Then Welker’s trophy girlfriend high-fives Kraft. Extra point is good, 24-7, 11:23 left in the half.
On the TD, Ray Lewis speared Edelman– hitting him in the back with his helmet, not stabbing him with an actual spear– but wasn’t called for it. We’ll see if the Wes Welker Impersonator stays in the game.
Gostkowski kicks off, and it’s returned to the 24, but there’s a 15 yard penalty on New England for a facemask. Way to kill the momentum, Brandon McGowan.
First and ten Baltimore on their 39. Rice carries for four yards. Rice no longer averaging 82 yards per carry, only about 14 now. Second and 6. Draw play to Rice, he gains 5. Third and one, time for a stop? Nope. Rice carries again, first down.
9:35 to play in the second quarter, first and ten for the Ravens from their 49. Least funny Marx Brother Flacco drops aback and throws– it’s tipped, and PICKED OFF! Tully Banta Cain with the pick. Alive?
Patriots ball on their 36. Pass to Aiken, complete for a short gain to the 41. Second and 5. Draw to Kevin Faulk, gets about 2. Big third down here. Brady throws for Faulk, but it’s short and incomplete. Moss was open deep, but Brady didn’t see him. He’ll probably have something to say about that.
Fourth down and 3, and the Pats will punt. Hanson’s punt goes for only 30 or so yards, out of bounds on Baltimore’s 25. Big opportunity missed there for New England.
First play for Baltimore: Rice runs again, for only one yard. About 7:20 to go in the half. Second and nine for Ballmer from the 26.
Second down, Ravens try a screen pass, but Junior Seau is waiting for it and smashes Rice down for a four-yard loss! Say-Ow! Pats crowd getting fired up now. Third down, it’s a draw to Rice, goes for about 4 yards.
Sam Koch in to punt again, his kick is fielded by Edelman on the 28. He breaks a tackle, then breaks another, runs underneath a guy, fakes out another, spins around, crawls over another guy and is finally tripped up after a 28-yard return! The crowd is now officially Charged Up (TM).
First and ten Patriots, from the Baltimore 44. Brady throws short (no pun) to Edelman, complete for 5 yards. Tackle by Domonique “You Might Be a Redneck” Foxworth.
Second and 5. Brady drops back, under pressure, he has to throw it away. It’ll be third and 5 from the 39. Patriots have to make a play here if they want to get back in it.
Or maybe they don’t. Brady’s pass for Moss is way short and incomplete, but Foxworth lined up offside, and the penalty gives the Patriots a gift first down! If you’re called for offsides on third and 5, you might be a dumbass.
First down from the 29, 4:20 to go in the half. Pats pick up four on a run, but then Faulk is hit for a loss in the backfield by Acquitted Murderer Ray Lewis. Third and 8 from the 33. Brady throws to Faulk, complete, he dashes down the sideline for 16 yards! The crowd’s going crazy– until they see the yellow flag on the field. Pass interference on Randy Moss. Yikes. He might be a dumbass too. Horrible penalty.
Third and 18 now, out of field goal range. Brady dumps off short to Faulk, gets a few, setting up a 4th and 12 from the 36. And the punter’s out, drawing boos from the crowd, understandably. Go for it in Indy, but punt here? Hanson mm-bops the ball down to the Baltimore 4 yard line, so there’s that.
Ravens hand off to McClain the fullback, he bulls forward for about 4 yards. Two-minute warning.
Second and 6 for Baltimore from their own 8. Willis McGahee runs up the middle for four more, setting up third and about two. Patriots call time out, because they just can’t let this wonderful half of football end. No, wait it’s because they’re trying to get the ball back this half, I see.
But they might not, because McGahee carries for three yards and a clock-killing first down to the 15. He carries again for about a yard or maybe two, and New England calls another timeout.
Second and eight from the 17. McGahee carries it left tward the sideline and picks up about 5 more, but the Patriots drive him out of bounds and stop the clock. Third and two. Yet another big play coming up.
They hand to McGahee again, and he bulls up the middle, right to the first down marker, 54 seconds left. The crew comes out to measure, and it is indeed a first down. TV shows Belichick with his stupid pom-pom hat again.
Baltimore “takes a knee” a couple more times to end the half. Halftime: 24-7 Ravens. And the game has not been as close as the score indicates.
Cundiff kicks off. Slater fields it and cuts outside, and gets all the way out to the 40 yard line!
On first down, Faulk carries for about a yard. Second and nine, Brady from the shotgun. He throws short and complete to Baker for only two yards.
Big third and 7 now. Brady throws, but it’s too far for Edelman, incomplete, three and out. Time for another punt, as the Pats offense has looked amazingly inept today. As the life slowly drains out of Penn Gillette Stadium, Hanson’s short punt goes out of bounds on the Baltimore 32 yard line.
First and 10 Baltimore. They’ve basically been running out the clock since the 6 minute mark of the first quarter. Rice carries for 6 yards, then McClain for 2.
Third down. Will the Ravens run it up the middle yet again, as they have all game? NO! Flacco throws deep down the middle, it’s on target to Demetrius Williams, about 50 yards downfield, but he drops it! Shawn Springs on the coverage. Fourth down.
Koch’s punt is fair-caught by Edelman at the 13. One more chance for New England to get back in the game.
Brady is 9 for 19 so far. 11:30 remains in the third quarter. On first down, Brady completes one to Edleman, who sneaks out to the 25, first down.
Brady throws again, to Moss, complete! He’s gang-tackled at the 39, but won’t go down! He also can’t go forward, as it’s kind of a wrestling match standoff, but it’s a first down again!
Next, Faulk catches a short pass for about 5 yards to the 43. Brady throws down the sideline for Watson, and the ball is tipped high and PICKED OFF by Landry! He races all the way to the Patriots 21 yard line, ending their season even more than it already was.
Rice runs again, for 6 more yards. Flacco Marx has only thrown 7 times so far. Mixing things up, the Ravens go with a handoff to Rice yet again, and he works his way for 5 more. First down from the 11, 8:30 to go in the third.
Another inside handoff, and 3 more yards for Rice. On second down, Flacco rolls outside on a bootleg keeper. He’s knocked down after a gain of about a yard. Another inside handoff gets a yard, and Cundiff will come out to make this a 20-point whipping. His kick is good, and it’s 27-7 Ravens.
It’s not so much that the Ravens have played well, though they have. But the Patriots have played like they have never seen a football game before. Did Tom Brady just give his uniform to his cousin Greg and go on vacation? Because that’s what it looks like. Most of his ComPatriots look similar.
Cundiff kicks off again– surely his leg is getting tired from all of these kickoffs– and Darius Butler slips a few tackles and carries it all the way to the 47 yard line! Great field position for the Pats, before Brady’s next interception.
Okay, there’s just over 6 minutes in the third, still time to get back into this. If they can make a play here– no, Faulk drops a pass that hits him right in the hands, incomplete. He gets the ball on a draw on second down though and runs for about 7. On third down, Brady finds Moss for a first down to the Ravens 40 yard line.
On first down, Brady hits Sammy Morris for a 7-yard gain, then Morris runs to the 24, breaking tackles and picking up a first down. Patriots in the no-huddle now. Brady completes a short one to Moss for about 5. On second down, Brady drops back but is sacked by Dwan Edwards. But there’s a flag on the play! Illegal use of the hands on Baltimore gives New England a first down!
First and ten from the 15. Brady completes another short one to Moss for 4 yards. About 3 minutes to go in the third. Faulk carries on a draw, and breaks a tackle, reaching the 3 before he’s brought down. First and goal Patriots!
Faulk carries again, down to the one.Next, Brady throws and finds Edelman, TOUCHDOWN PATRIOTS! Two TD catches for Edelman! The extra point is good, and it’s 27-14.
The kickoff is short, and Tom Zbikowski catches it and weaves his way through at least 15 Patriots defenders, returning it all the way to the 48 yard line!
First down, Rice carries for five more yards. Only about a minuteleft in the third quarter now. Rice carries yet again, for about three more. Yet another big play, 3rd and 2. Stunningly, Flacco throws the ball, and he finds Derrick Mason for a first down to the Patriots 36, beating Darius Butler, who just came in for the injured Springs. And that ends the quarter.
McGahee picks up three on yet another inside run. They’ve run the ball 38 times and passed 8 so far. This time they try a pass, but it’s way over the head of Mark Clayton, incomplete and stopping the clock. Third down and 7 now from the 33. Flacco throws again, and it’s complete for a dagger of a first down to Clayton down at the 16 yard line.
Rice carries again, for 2 more, then again for one. Third and 7 with just over 12 minutes to go. And the Patriots burn a time out here, for some reason.
After the TO, Flacco rolls out on a keeper, and cuts to the sideline. He runs out of bounds near the first down marker– did he get it? No, he’s marked short, somehow. Ravens coach John-Not-Jim Harbaugh will challenge the spot. Oh yeah? Well I challenge the whole game, on the grounds that the Patriots clearly thought they had a bye week and weren’t ready to play.
The refs look at the video, which considering how ugly this game is, they should probably get combat pay for. This is taking quite a while, probably because the refs have switched over to an infomercial on another channel, because it’s more interesting. Do they make Referee Snuggies? Because if they don’t, I’m leaving to copyright that right now.
The refs announce that they will place the ball on the 6 yard line, and then measure to see where they’ve placed it. Yeah, makes sense, about as much sense as anything Phil Simms says. And so they arbitrarily put the ball on the ground, then carry it across the field, then bring out the chains to precisely measure where they put it. And the result is… FIRST DOWN, BALTIMORE. Season over even more than it was before.
First and goal. Willis McGahee carries to the five, then again to the two. Ravens going to third down every time on this drive, to eat up more clock. And Willis McGahee carries it behind America’s Sweetheart Michael Oher, into the end zone, TOUCHDOWN RAVENS! He does a silly dance in his silly black tights. He looks silly.
Ravens going for two here, because, as Phil Simms points out, they want two points rather than one.
Adalius Thomas jumps offside, apparently on purpose. Some sort of protest? Did Belichick find an obscure rule that gives the Patriots 20 bonus points for going offside down 19 in the 4th quarter? Apparently, the Patriots were not ready, half of them off the field, so Thomas just jumped offside and hit someone because his teammates weren’t ready. Well why start now dude?
Ravens hand off, and McGahee is stopped short. Harbaugh might be challenging this one too, to be as annoying as possible. After even more delay, it’s still unclear if the two-point conversion is good or not. Better show about 15 more commercials.
No football fan had ever say that other sports don’t have enough action, after this 15-minute marathon to watch the Ravens run the ball 6 yards on three plays.
Finally the ref comes out and announces that the try was no good, as everyone knew 10 minutes ago. Sometime soon, the Ravens will kick off.
Finally they do, and Butler returns to the 44. On first down, Brady completes to Sammy Morris, who carries it to the Ravens 42, first down.
Brady throws short again, 3 yards to Watson. These short routes aren’t going to cut it, only about 9 minutes left. Brady misses Morris, incomplete. Third and long now. For some reason, Brady throws a 2-yard pass, complete to Aiken, but way short of the first down. You guys realize that this is just as slow as running it up the middle, right?
Aiken was shaken on the play, and is still down, after his head bouncing off the ground. He finally gets up and woozily walks off the field. 4th and 7 now, Brady throws another 3 yard pass, complete to Edelman– but he backs up, zigs and zags, ducks under two guys, holds the ball out and gets the first down amazingly! Of course there’s a flag on the play. Borderline call, but illegal block on New England. Fourth and a million now.
Brady drops back, has time and throws downfield, finally– complete to Edelman! First down at the 25. Edelman is really looking like Welker today.
Brady throws toward the end zone, it’s a wobbler, like Billy Kilmer threw it, and Billy Kilmer’s like 70 now. It’s incomplete.
Belichick still wearing his stupid pom-pom touque, holding his arms under his pits like Mary Katherine Gallagher . He outsmarts himself this time, calling a shotgun draw, and Faulk is tackled for a two-yard loss.
Third and 11 from the 26. Brady throws down to the goal line for Watson, incomplete. Looked like a lot of pass interference, but the refs are tired of this game and don’t feel like calling it.
The Patriots kick a field goal for some reason– and Gostkowski misses it. He had made 32 straight 4th quarter kicks, but whiffed on this one. 7:19 to play. Season over yet again, even more.
Yet another handoff to McGahee, he bulls out to the 47, first down. This is now officially garbage time, but then again it’s kinda been that way since five minutes into the first quarter.
Another handoff, this one is stuffed. Another handoff, two more. Everyone slowly files out of the stadium, New Englanders contemplating another season without a championship. It’s been over a year since the Celtics won the title. There are children almost two years old who have never seen a Boston sports championship! Won’t someone please think of the children?
Anyway, the Ravens get a first down, then run up the middle some more. Under 3 minutes to go now. Pats to lose their first home playoff game since the 1970s, after 11 straight wins. Dan Pastorini was the QB of the team that won that one, for the Houston Oilers, who don’t exist anymore.
Rice runs some more. gets tackled somewhere.
Time is quickly ticking off in the worst playoff butt-kicking of Belichick’s career. Is this the worst thing that has ever happened to anyone ever in earth of all times?
Koch is on to punt, he boots it out of bounds at the 20. Brady throws another of his patented two-yard passes, and now it’s the Two Minute Warning. ALERT! ALERT! TWO MINUTES REMAIN IN THE SEASON!
Personally, I enjoyed the previous version of Tom Brady, the one who threw 30-yard passes instead of 2-yarders, and who threw zero interceptions, instead of three. And suddenly, Brady throws one for 19 yards to Moss, then another 15 yards to Edelman, but Julian drops his. Then we’re back to two-yarders, and Morris can’t hang on to it. Third and long now. Under heavy pressure, Brady just chucks the ball way out of bounds.
4th and ten, about a minute left. if anyone is still paying attention. Brady goes back and is sacked by Dwan Edwards, and now he can finally leave. Ravens take the knee, and win.
Black-tighted Ravens 33, Pathetic and Old-Looking Patriots 14 is the final of this depressing butt-whipping.
Oh well, this was a pretty good game for about 11 seconds, then there was the last 59 minutes and 49 seconds that sucked. Patriots got Blind-Sided by the Ravens. They didn’t play and got played. That simple.