Lets all toast to the fact that we never have play another POS Thursday night game until the season opener next year...
Thank god we won this game, which got disgustingly too close at the end, because being below .500 going into a week 6 game with the Jets was not a world I was willing to live in. Tom did what he had to do to get us the win, but that pick man. What the hell was that? It felt like I was a fan of the 31 other teams in the league who have QBs that just turn the ball over. And I imagine all the Bucs fans out there are just now coming off their high of watching one of their players catch a pass from Tom, like they were Pats fans. Listen Tom, I said you could throw two picks all year. Interesting decision to use up the first one in week 5, doesn't give you a lot of wiggle room, but I trust you will behave accordingly the rest of the way.
One more tidbit from the "I greedily demand another MVP award" file folder. I was soooo pissed when there was about 4 minutes left in this game and we threw a WR screen to Cookie that lost 4 yards and then we punted. At that point the win was not locked up, there was a chance we weren't getting the ball back, and even if we did it felt like a run it three times to kill clock then punt possession. The problem? The 4 yard loss brought Tom back under 300 yards for the game. I'm so pathetic. And the cheer I let out when he got those yards back on the last completion to Hoags had me feeling like the dude in that crappy Dish commercial they keep airing. I didnt even know my voice could do that. I'll try to be better in the future.
DIDI played great on Thursday. He's not back back, nor will he ever be, I already declared that man dead. But that was the first time in two years I saw flashes of his former self. He was dodging ducking dipping diving and dodging. He played a season high 18 snaps and had a team high 53 yards. If he can stay healthy he could be a real weapon the rest of the way.
The oline continues to be a problem. Tom got drilled multiple times again, as I mentioned in a post on Friday. It makes no sense. It's all the same guys. It's like they are five best friends from high school and they hung out every day last year and it was awesome. Then they went to college and now they are all back together but something isn't the same. I'm not sure who the culprit is, honestly I think the quality is down across the board, but seeing David Andrew walking around helmet-less like a guy who just got flash banged and has no idea he's in the middle of a war was a perfect snapshot of how something is off.
With no Gronk, we went heavy with the four WR sets. Dola continues to be a hero. I'm already looking forward to Bill taking Dola's Patriot career highs in catches, yards, and tuddies, balling them up, tossing them in the trash, and then asking him to take another pay cut this summer. And Dola will do it that crazy SOB! A lot of people were going to have to step up when Jules went down and Dola is certainly pulling his weight. Hoags continues to prove me wrong about him every single Sunday with another monster game. And credit where its due, the Chef put up a stat line that is basically exactly what I want from him as a baseline. He had 5 catches for 85 yards, including a beautiful 34 yarder on a long crossing route up the right sideline. He tends to be a bit streaky, don't you think? He will go missing for drives at a time, then all of a sudden he gets 2 or 3 grabs on one series and you remember he's on the team. His game tape is a lot like me at family gatherings. I make sure to get involved, say hi to everyone, do something funny, and take a few pictures, but it's all in a 5 minute window. Then I vanish to the man cave for the next 55. People forget I was even there til they look at the tape at the end of the night.
In other good news, Stevie G might be back! He went 4-4 on his kicks, including a pretty clutch one to put us up 5 at the end. That thing looked like it was going to stray wide, and then it came back around. Bill said there was crazy cross wind on that kick, so even though it was under 50 it shouldn't be taken for granted. And neither should Stevie for that matter. I've never seen someone's career end on live TV before, but I can cross that off my bucket list because Nick Folk's soul was ripped out his body after that third miss. I was rooting for him to miss it, I thought it was gonna be funny, but in fact it was pretty hard to watch. You know you think it's gonna be awesome, but it's not as cool as it sounds like it's gonna be. It's kinda gross. You think, 'a woman fucking a horse' and you get there and..it's a woman fucking a horse.
I guess I've gone far enough that I have to give some credit to the defense. After the shit show that was the Carolina game they really stepped up. To a degree. It helps when Famous Jameis is out there air mailing his wide outs on sure tuddies, but still. 14 points ain't too shabby anytime you lace em up. The secondary basically said Gilmore take Evans, Malcolm take Desean. And on a short week that worked well enough. I'm not saying they only played man, they didn't. There was plenty of zone mixed in. But with no time to get that unit fixed, I thought Fat Matt and the boys handled it well. Chung played 72 of 72 snaps, a huge up tick since his bad week 2, and he earned every one of them. I thought he had his best game of the year. His Fawkes the phoenix rebirth with the Pats is still fully functional.
The front 7 was really interesting to watch. With Alan Branch being left home I wondered if we'd see a new body in that three man rotation up front. Nope. Just Brown and Guy. Neither played great, as the Bucs ran wild a few times, but I can chalk that up to fatigue on a short week with no subs. Only my BOY Trey Flowers played the whole game at the end. Everyone else was plugged in sporadically. Cassius Marsh did play a season high 50 snaps, which could be big. I still don't like him, but if he can be serviceable it allows the one true king Dont'a Hightower to play more off the line. High was fully back on Thursday and it showed. He is the single most important crooked chunk of cardboard in the 999 piece jigsaw puzzle that is the Pats D.
I really hope this benching of Alan Branch is the Jabaal Sheard kick in the ass I assume Bill intends it to be. His vanishing act is infuriating. But if he's played his last snap in Patriots uniform I wouldn't be shocked.
Another week of football down, and another week I'm talking about the penalties. I thought a few of them were very suspect. The offensive PI on Dola on his filthy one handed catch stands out in my mind. Dola gets flagged for OPI more than anyone not named Gronk. It's insane. If that was too much contact that I should be arrested for assault every time I give someone a high five. However, the rest of our penalties are one hundo p on us and one hundo p unacceptable. Hey Brandon Bolden. Get off my team. Going offside on a 4th and 2 punt is mind blowing. And how about Marsh and Wise taking back to back roughing the passer penalties at the end of the half?? If Tampa Bay wasn't employing the ghost of Nick Folk that's three points right there. I'm sure Bill chewed all three of these guys out in the locker room after the game but it shouldn't come to that. Your boss shouldn't have to tell you that you can't watch porn in the bathroom at work. My mom shouldn't have to tell me that getting high and leaving the oven on all night after making pizza bagels is dangerous. Getting screamed at is all well and good but eventually these guys gotta learn to not do it in the first place.
Tom had a pass knocked down at the line that was headed for Jacob Hollister. Who played 8 snaps. That would be the only time a tight end was targeted all night. Hey Dwayne Allen, nice 50 snaps. Go fuck yourself.
And for that matter, David Harris, you can go fuck yourself too.