Bill Belichick Strikes Again
So what else is there to say about yesterday’s ridiculous Patriots victory? (Other than that I stopped breathing and had to be resuscitated about eight times during just the fourth quarter.) Vince Wilfork was positively beastly, Sterling Moore saved the day (twice), and poor Billy Cundiff is no Adam Vinatieri. The Pats triumphed despite it being a day on which Tom Brady declared that he “sucked pretty bad.” (And while Brady might not have totally sucked, he certainly wasn’t his grade-A self.) And anyone whose stomach didn’t bottom out when it looked like Lee Evans caught that ball in the endzone — until he didn’t — must have had their eyes covered. I was sure the Patriots lost.
Nevertheless, it is worth pointing out that yesterday was one of Lord Hoodie Bill Belichick’s finest pieces of work. In general, the defense is clearly miles ahead of where it was earlier in the season. The recent returns of Brandon Spikes and Patrick Chung have been a huge help, but shifting Devin McCourty over to safety has also paid big dividends. The fact that the Patriots were able to win the game with Julian Edelman, a quarterback turned receiver turned corner, playing as many snaps on offense as he did on defense, 27 per Mike Reiss’s count, is sort of astounding.
Analyst (and former Super Bowl winning quarterback of the Baltimore Ravens) Trent Dilfer had a great breakdown last night on ESPN. I couldn’t find the video online, but Dilfer showed how the Patriots offense manipulated its match-ups with the Baltimore D to create situations where Baltimore linebackers ended up in coverage on the Pats’ more fleet receivers and safeties ended up trying to stop the big New England tight-ends. And when the Ravens went heavy on defensive backs, the Pats handed it off to BenJarvus Green-Ellis, to great effect. The Law Firm rumbled for 68 yards on 15 carries. On his second quarter seven-yard touchdown rumble, as Dilfer pointed out, the Patriots’ pass threat had forced the Ravens to go to a back heavy defense, drawing safety Ed Reed into the linebacker’s spot. As it turned out, Reed wasn’t able to get over to Green-Ellis in time to stop him before he reached the endzone. So even on a day where Brady wasn’t his best, Belichick’s clever scheming and offensive coordinator Bill O’Brien’s playcalling helped save the day.
Oh, one unrelated thing: Please, before you say something about how Myra Kraft blew that field goal wide, think to yourself, what would you say if Tim Tebow credited divine intervention for that? I mean, right? Let’s not have a double standard, people. There’s no doubt Myra Kraft’s memory is motivating the Patriots, but let’s not Tebow all over ourselves here.
And finally, enjoy: