Yesterday I attended the record-breaking game the Patriots played against the Miami Dolphins at Gillette Stadium, and it was an odd one. On the one hand, it was incredible to be there for an historic win, and even more incredible that the Patriots broke the '72 Dolphins' consecutive regular-season win streak against the 2007 Dolphins, who themselves have almost the exact mirror of the Patriots' record at 1-14.
On the other hand, the Patriots, especially the offense, seemed to shut things down after halftime, and the third and fourth quarters were boring where they weren't infuriating. Even weirder, Gillette Stadium on this historic night emptied out by the end of the fourth quarter like nothing was even going on. I couldn't believe how many people thought beating traffic was more important than football history, especially since it was about 50 degrees, hardly any of the predicted rain was falling before the end of the game, everybody had already paid at least $200 to be there, and oh yeah, this is the first time this has ever, ever happened, in the history of the National Football League.
But ya know. Gotta get up Route 1 about 15 minutes quicker. Whatever.
Anyway, before all that happened, we were sitting around pre-game when I noticed a commotion over on the home sideline.
Then my Dad, who was looking through his field glasses, said the magical words: "It's Big Papi!" I caught a glint of metal under the stadium lights and peered closer--it was the World Series trophy. Being carried by someone who was obviously not Big Papi, on a similar scale but fair-haired...Curt! Finally, my husband, armed with the second pair of field glasses, identified a third jerseyed Red Sox on the field--Kevin Youkilis. We watched them all gladhand with John Henry, Theo Epstein, Robert Kraft, Bill Belichick, and Tom Brady. There is really nothing like when my teams get together.
As soon as Papi entered the stadium, the early crowd was cheering. The Patriots were still out on the field warming up, and the place was at best half full, but the Sox players got so much attention that they put them up on the Jumbo-Tron for the fans to see before they even made their "official" appearance. Not knowing there was an official appearance coming, however, I fretted that that had been it as they retreated into the giant inflatable football helmet before team introductions.
Of course not. Like any New England team--any professional sports team, for that matter--would refrain from a chance to make a big deal out of something and let the fans go crazy.
And go crazy they did, especially when Big Papi came out on the field, wearing a Laurence Maroney jersey, flanked by cameramen and a cheerleader.
Papi and his teammates went to midfield, where they stood with the trophies for a photo and to bask in the roar of the crowd for a while.
Then it was over. They did another short victory lap around the north end zone and left before "Carmina Burana" began and everyone focused once again on the Patriots, and the task at hand. It was noted that Big Papi had apparently taken quite a shine to his cheerleader.