Adam and leave again. Three point margin against a Vick-less Atlanta team.
The fourth quarter was excruciating. Especially the series that began with the Patriots at their own 21 with 14:16 left in the game. The Pats moved the chains once, and got up to to the 40.
Tom Brady, out of the shotgun, completed a 15-yard pass to Ben Watson at the Atlanta 45. First down.
Then the CBS graphic flashed, below the score: "FLAG".
Pass interference, offense, number 84. Ten yard penalty, repeat third down.
Here we go again.
This is the kind of moment where it doesn't matter how many Super Bowls we've won or how many injuries we're dealing with or what the rest of the outlook looks like for the season or what anyone else thinks about Tom Brady. He lines up under center--surrounded on his offensive line by an alarming amount of rookies, but no matter--and you flat out expect him to come through. Just do it, enough of this shit. Just get the first down. Just get it done.
Defensive off-side on the next snap. Five yards. For some reason, 3rd and 13 looks a lot more manageable than 3rd and 18.
They line up again on the 35. Brady completes another pass to Deion Branch, this time at the Atlanta 47, for the first down.
When the "FLAG" comes up again, I lose my shit.
Funny how I can be on such an even keel with the Red Sox' loss to the White Sox, and so broken up about this. Transference? Maybe. But I'm less accustomed to disappointment with the Patriots. I'm less forgiving about a single game in a week, as opposed to the long grind of 162 games and multiple series, which not only expose but hammer away at multiple flaws. I'm used to the Patriots stepping up and getting things done despite injuries and inexperience. Unlike the Red Sox, who lost their two most essential players this season in Schilling and Foulke, for the Patriots, Bill Belichik is still on the sideline. Tom Brady is still under center. Unlike the White Sox, the Falcons suck, especially without Vick.
It's always easier to lose to a flat-out better team than to get caught in a nailbiter, losing, whether it's on plays, drives, or games, on stupid, careless mistakes.
And if we reach the end of the season and this Pats team has continued to struggle, but makes the playoffs anyway, only to lose to, say, the Steelers in the divisional game and the game is never close...well, we'll talk then about whether my reaction is different. Just like my reaction would probably have been different if Foulke / Schilling had gotten their shit together, or if a hero had risen out of the bullpen halfway through the season, and the Sox had won the division handily and then lost to a White Sox team without their best pitcher, 3 games to none.
Look, it might not make sense to you, but it does to me.
For now, Patriots-wise, there's still a chance to turn this ship around. There's still the possibility that the Patriots can still pull themselves up by their bootstraps. Therefore, in this situation, I simply expect results. Does that make me entitled? I guess. If it's gauche to be dismayed over that flag coming up after the SECOND time they got the first down, only to have it pulled back AGAIN, then I'm guilty as charged. I'm classless. I'm greedy. I want to kill Logan Mankins.
His holding penalty, enforced at the New England 35, puts the Pats all the way back to just 4 yards above where they started after the last punt. Patrick Pass has to break off a 13-yard run just to get New England's own punting unit back to the 38, where the entire third-down debacle began.
In the end, both an Atlanta scoring drive and two-point conversion work, and the Patriots end up with eleven penalties for 83 yards. Just a couple more, and they could've given up an entire field length to penalties! That is a hateful stat, and fair or not, it makes me mad at the Patriots.
Like Bill Belichik said in the postgame, "don't tell us about injuries." Either we're the better team, or we're not, this season. We head into Denver just one game above .500 after making a game that should've been a gift win into a nailbiter. A win is a win is a win, but today has not given me much cause for future optimism.