Photo, from a different Snow Bowl, by Beth.
The New England Patriots are 9-0 in the snow at Gillette. They've won 22 of their last 24 games in December, and their last 14 regular-season games against NFC opponents. The Arizona Cardinals, meanwhile, haven't played in the snow in 25 years. Merry Christmas, Pats fans.
I was supposed to have been at that game, but the snow, sleet and rain kept me trapped at home this time around. It's not that I would've minded sitting in the snow for the game (far from it)--it's that trying to drive in the snow last winter taught me my lesson. I was stranded once for 7 hours and had an accident another time. No more machismo on the roads for me, even if it means missing out on Snow Bowl 08.
In the meantime, watching from the boring safety of my house, I kept a running diary a la Bill Simmons on this game.
15:00 Call my dad to moan again about not going. Conversation finally turns to the Patriots playoff chances. Dad: "We have to win out, and hope." Patriots score two touchdowns with lightning speed on the back of LaMont Jordan.
1:49 Cassel takes the snap, play action, pump fakes, and then OH MY GOD he's launching it downfield...where it glances off the fingertips of Randy Moss. It would've taken a circus catch--but Randy Moss's specialty is circus catches. FOX points out it's a wet, heavier ball and he has snow in his face. Still.
0:12 Cardinals pinned back inside their own 10 by nice punt from Chris Hanson. FUMBLE! Junior Seau is so close to recovering it--even brushing his fingers over it, but instead rolls around like a lost walrus in the snow as the speedy Stephen Spach, tight end for Arizona, dives in. It's going to be tough watching Junior try to keep up with the kids.
15: 00 Kurt Warner sacked. Cards punt, Wes Welker returns it to the 48 as pursuers fall on their faces in the snow. I'm still pouting about not being there. I love snow games.
Total Cardinals yards in first quarter: zero.
13:15 Cassel deep to Jabar Gaffney! Again, the Cards are slipping and sliding--Gaffney dances inside the 15.
12:12 Screen to Kevin Faulk with a Cards defender in Cassel's face. Screen to Faulk, left side, inside the 15...piece of cake, I'm thinking, and Faulk scampers in for a touchdown. They're throwing snow at Gillette. I call my Dad to moan--ok, more like holler--about not being there. I've always wanted to throw snow. They even play "Shipping Up to Boston" by the Dropkick Murphys instead of the 1812 Overture after the touchdown, the better to get the unison-snow-throwing effect.
It kills me not to be there. My dad reminds me it might have literally killed me getting there and back. "If we could teleport right into the stands and out again, it would be a lot of fun," he admits.
8:25 Edgerrin James catches a pass. Junior falls at his feet. Poor Junior. Edge gains another couple of yards.
7:40 Arizon's Tim Hightower comes around the right side. This time Junior just barely gets a hand on him, and sends the runningback careening into the Pats sideline, where various deep voices can be heard barking unintelligibly and laughing at the warm-weather player looking bewildered to have slid in the slush for about six feet.
6:06 Cassel again lays up a beauty for Moss. Again Moss fails to catch it. Cassel also tries Ben Watson, to no avail.
5:54 Another deep pass from Cassel through the sleet, another studly catch for Jabar Gaffney. He's having a great day--three catches to Moss and Welker's zero. Randy's about as useful as a sports car in this weather.
3:19 Cassel pats the ball, then speeds downfield, taking an honest sideswipe hit from a defender and tumbling down without a hook slide for a 16-yard gain, sending snow flying again in the stadium. Dammit. I thought we were supposed to have teleportation technology by the year 2000.
2:00 Cassel, looking for Moss again. Pass tipped. This is just not Randy's day. On the next play, Cassel throws a bullet to Welker, who skips, untouched, into the end zone, where he does a snow angel, unsportsmanlike conduct penalty be damned. FOX commentators trying to find technicalities to let Welker off. Me, I thought the snow angel was mandatory.
1:46 Warner to Hightower--but it bounces off his chest before Jerod Mayo adds insult to injury (or is that the other way around?) with a clapping hit. Bill Belichick shown on sideline in puffy blue jacket, but a telltale gray hood is pulled up over his ears. Out on the field, Mike Wright, virtually unblocked, picks Kurt Warner up and flings him back down into the snow.
1:24 The snow turns to frozen rain in Foxboro. Suddenly feeling quite cozy on my couch. Another nice catch by Gaffney for an immediate first down up the left sideline.
1:00 Another nice pitch and catch, again up the left sideline, to Gaffney. Especially impressive to me given the fact that Cassel seemed to have a hard time looking to his left earlier this season--for some reason he'd ignore that whole side of the field in the heat of the moment.
FOX commentator: "It's like it's not even fair out there, Goose." Cards clearly just want to get to the locker room ASAP.
0:20 Gaffney misses a jump ball at the goal line, while the Cardinals defender falls directly onto his head. On the next play, Cassel fires off a Hail Mary to Welker in the back corner of the end zone. Problem: Hail Mary not called for inside the 10 yard line, vastly overthrown.
So a kicker comes out in the driving, punishing weather to score the sure points while Foxboro cheers. This weak schedule at the end of the season has been very good to us here in New England. If you squint, on this snowy Sunday afternoon, you could almost believe...
15:00 The weather has become truly Martian. FOX suggests "get anybody who's important off that field." But there are Cassel and Moss, combining for their first reception. Moss gets a block from Logan Mankins and then races untouched to the end zone on a newly manicured field. Great and all, but what was that we were saying about getting important players off this icy, slippery, freezing field that's reaching out to twist ankles and knees?
14:41 Steve Breaston catches the kickoff, and then drops it as the remaining fans at Gillette groan. Pass incomplete on the first play, intended for Larry Fitzgerald.
The only bad thing about these games on a silver platter is that it has mediocre DBs like Ellis Hobbs feeling good about themselves, and dancing around like they're Champ Bailey and not taking candy from a bewildered, warm-weather baby. Sometimes I wonder if our DBs celebrate in the faces of people they've beaten to parking spots at the mall.
Jeezly crow, it's still inside of 14 minutes.
13:45 A fan is shown sitting next to a snowman with what appears to be a whistle around its neck in the stands. Another fan in a Bruschi jersey is shown, deep in concentration, fashioning a tiny snowman on the wall in front of him. Heath Evans gains 27 yards. God Bless Us, Everyone.
Goose to Cards: "Have some respect." He's berating them for how badly they're playing.
12:40 Randy Moss for 13 yards gives Cassel 300-plus for the third time this season. Next play, Sammy Morris like a hot knife through butter for 14 yards and a first town. Mark LeVoir even makes a nice block!
9:35 It looks wet, drippy and miserable in garbage time in Foxboro. Still sorry to have missed the snow throwing, but currently glad not to be sitting in the parking lot breathing in exhaust fumes while trying to get out, or gritting my teeth on 495.
FOX says Scott Pioli will have a hard time deciding between QBs next season. And to think I had been musing earlier about not hating the FOX football crew nearly as much as the baseball guys.
8:01 FOX now saying something about the Cardinals going to the playoffs. My reaction to that something like Jim Mora's.
7:15 Nick Kaczur holding penalty the subject of heated debate on FOX. To the point of Goose, ranting, demonstrating what Kaczur did wrong on the body of a hapless individual next to him on the sideline.
6:15 Bickering continues on FOX. In the meantime, the Patriots quite notably not "running it up" this time, opting for conservative running plays and field goals when they could easily score a touchdown. Nary a syllable is spoken about this, of course.
3:40 Stephen Gostkowski now has the franchise record 33rd consecutive field goal.
3:26 Matt Leinart steps onto the soaking, chilly field.
3:11 Leinart hits his own head and screams "Come on!" in direction of sideline after abortive play. Rushes to show helmet a la Tonya Harding with broken skate to offensive coordinator, who waves him angrily back onto the field.
2:13 Leinart slips and slides to a first down.
1:32 Leinart takes snap, drops football. Arizona recovers for a loss.
1:04 Arizona timeout. Leinart tosses helmet angrily to lackey. Returns to field, and promptly throws near-interception to, of all people, Deltha O'Neal.
0:59 Brandon Meriweather kisses Leinart hello. Loose football. Jarvis Green recovers. Closeup of Leinart Face on sidelines. Eat your heart out, Mannings.
0:44 Benjamin Watson called for holding. FOX bickering over earlier Kaczur call resumes.
14:51 O'Connell warming up. Belichick shakes Cassel's hand.
14:41 New England fans audible on camera chanting "Leiiiin-aaarrrt..."
14:01 Leinart tipped, picked off by Ellis Hobbs, who celebrates as if he's just won the gold medal for football.
6:20 Larry Fitzgerald catches it running, stiff-arms Hobbs into next week, and scores first Arizona points of the game.
Career-long reception for Fitzgerald. Wan smiles on Arizona bench. Dour, gray-hooded, soggy victoriousness on the New England sideline. The best kind.