The first half stats alone were staggering--they looked, on the Patriots side, like more than enough for a complete game. Heck, the first quarter's stats might've stacked up for a complete game, at least score-wise--it was 21-7 Patriots with 45 minutes of football left.
It was enjoyable to see the JaMarcus Russell version of the Peyton Manning face as the Patriots defense confused him. It was gratifying to watch Matt Cassel throw four touchdown passes and be awarded a hug and the game ball by Belichick on the sidelines, after he lost his father earlier this week. But unfortunately, this was kind of a no-win game for the Patriots; given the state of the team in Oakland, beating them should've been as close to a foregone conclusion as you can ever have in the NFL.
But I'm trying to calm my OCD for one week, because like I said, it was a feel-good game. A chance for the Patriots to regroup and remember what they're good at after some of the tooth-and-nail ordeals of the last few weeks.
The one thing we really didn't need, though, was more injuries. Attrition seems to still be the order of the day any time the Pats suit up for Sunday. This time it was Matt Light, which put everyone's favorite, Mark LeVoir, in at left tackle. I'm trying to think of any comment to make here that would not be a vast understatement.
Still, no matter how bad the injury issue gets, there's no other team I'd rather be watching. Not just because things could be worse and they could be the Lions, or the Raiders. Because two things happened yesterday that brought out the unique things the Patriots do right.
The enduring image of this game for me will be Randy Moss pointing to the name on his jersey after scoring his touchdowns, letting what few black-clad stragglers had shown up for this game boo him like a professional wrestling heel. It will be my image not only because it was funny as hell, but also because of the way Moss himself embodies the difference between the two franchises. Just look at what he's accomplished, or not, depending on the organization he played for. Ditto for another former Raider, LaMont Jordan, who had 97 yards rushing on the day yesterday, averaging 8.1 yards per carry, with one touchdown.
Hearing about the Jets-Bills game yesterday brought out another of the ways I'm still spoiled as a New England fan--what in the world was JP Losman doing passing on that play with two minutes left and the Bills ahead? Yes, he was strip-sacked, and the other guys are playing too, but what was he even doing dropping back to pass there? Why was a passing play even attempted?
The Patriots are going to lose some games. Some years, they'll be less competitive than others. There will probably often be better teams than them. But at least I can be assured that we will almost never have to deal with losses like the one Buffalo had to deal with yesterday. And we'll keep taking players other teams have underestimated, mismanaged, undervalued, or written off, and making the most of their abilities.
I know my homerism is showing, but show me the team that could incur this many injuries to this many key players in one year and still even be thinking about a playoff spot. That's what there is to appreciate about the Patriots, regardless of the way things turn out this year.