The only thing wrong with this commerical is that more realistically, the neighbor would be a Jets fan, not a Dolphins fan.
It's no secret the Jets and Pats hate each other, from fans to players to coaches. This game was a pretty good illustration of just why that is, at least, from a Patriots' fan's perspective. Especially given the Jets' propensity for trash talk, what we have here is not just a failure to communicate, but what amounts to an organizational personality conflict.
As with last week's game against Cincinnati, this was the tale of two halves for the Patriots.
First half: what goes around comes around
On their second drive of the first quarter, Tom Brady dodged a blitz and found Wes Welker over the middle on a third and 9, but his pass was too high. As the throw came in, Eric Smith jumped up from behind Welker, clubbing Welker in the back of the head with his right forearm.
Welker, the tough sonofabitch back on the field six months after knee surgery, who we’ve seen absolutely crushed to the turf by defenders three times his size and jump up again, fell to the ground clutching his head. It had been a deliberate and dirty play.
Jets fans cheered, then booed the immediate personal foul penalty for Smith as Welker was tended to on the sideline. Welker did not return until the next quarter.
When they got back down to business again, it was Welker that caught a quick out from Brady for a touchdown, thrusting the ball out over the goal line with his hands as he dove out of bounds. It capped a 15-play march down the field and felt like comeuppance for Smith and the fans who'd cheered his personal foul.
But, of course, the enmity continued. When the Jets rolled down the field and scored after that, picking on Darius Butler as they would throughout the game, Braylon Edwards was called for a personal foul on a taunting penalty – also soundly booed – after the touchdown.
As with Smith’s hit, Edwards’ taunt -- a dance in Butler's face as he spun the ball at his feet -- was a deliberate, conscious, and most of all, totally unnecessary choice. In the case of the Smith hit, the pass was already falling incomplete. In Edwards’ case, his team had just scored a touchdown.
And what REALLY rubbed me the wrong way about this was that it was the first. Goddam. Touchdown. For that offense this season. That’s right, not this game…this season.
I realize I'm biased. But the atmosphere of bravado that's been cultivated around this team is really not cute or inspiring. Combined with their penalty-laden, undisciplined play and constant obnoxious trash-talking to that point of the season so far, it was downright pathetic.
The chippiness only grew more pronounced, on the field as well as in my living room. Chests were bumping after plays. Words were clearly being exchanged.
The Patriots capped the half with another scoring drive, in which most of the field was eaten up in two giant bounds. First, Brady hummed a bullet into a huddle of Jets defenders surrounding Aaron Hernandez, who then carried it down to the New York 34. Brady hurried everyone into formation again, snapped the ball, stood back in the pocket, and then finally let fly a soaring pass for the end zone.
Randy Moss, whom replays showed so far ahead of Darrelle Revis on a busted coverage that he was waving his hand over his head for Brady’s attention, reached out with one hand just as he won the footrace with Revis over the goal line. He maintained control of the ball, caught and then held out in that one hand, as momentum carried both him and Revis past the goalposts and out of bounds.
My jaw actually dropped. I have been watching Brady throw deep bombs to Moss for years now. And that one still left me agape.
And after the continued asinine behavior by the Jets in those early quarters, that wasn’t just a brilliant catch, or my team going ahead by six points. That, right there, was justice.
And so, I'm sure you can imagine my chagrin at what happened next.
Brady and Moss tried to set up another pitch-and-catch like that one to start off the third quarter, but this time, with Revis in the locker room with an injured hamstring, Antonio Cromartie was running ahead of Moss, and he caught Brady’s bomb as if it had been meant for him.
The Jets intensified their picking at the hapless Darius Butler for a 39-yard completion following the interception, their longest play of the season at that point. Butler, by the way, was being picked on rather than a rookie on the other side, Devin McCourty (though the Bengals had demonstrated the folly of this the week before).
Butler would also be the culprit later on, during the Jets’ next foray into Patriots territory, when he was called for pass interference. Twice. Essentially handing the Jets their second touchdown of the half.
This was something akin to the second-half defense we saw from the Pats last week. They held the Jets to a field goal on that first drive, maintaining the lead by a point, Gerard Warren got in two thumping sacks on Mark Sanchez, and Patrick Chung is beginning to be identifiable just by the sound of his hits on runningbacks. And they were not as bad as the offense. But here they were again, weakening in the third and fourth quarters, and now without a 30-point cushion left over from the first half.
Meanwhile, after that pick to start off the second half, all the offensive players looked as angry as I was, and determined. When they took the field again, I was ready for another drive, another bomb to Moss, and order being restored.
And that’s when Brady threw another pick, as Cromartie and Moss got tangled up again along the sideline.
By the time it got to third and seven for New England again, with 11:23 left to go in the game, it was like Brady had suddenly developed the yips. He threw and missed, over and over again, at least five times in a row.
The defense certainly hadn't been stellar in that second half, but this time, it was decidedly the offense winning the battle of who could suck more.
And it’s times like this that I sincerely consider whether being a sports fan is really the healthiest or sanest activity. The amount of anger I felt in that moment – over what was, after all, pretty much just men running around in tight pants on TV – was almost embarrassing. But I guess that's what happens when it becomes the principle of the thing.
Rex Ryan was pumping his fist and hollering in sweaty, loud-mouthed triumph on the sideline. They were celebrating at the Meadowlands. 28-14 Jets. And that would be all she wrote.
* A pre-emptive disclaimer, just in case anyone is still thinking of rekindling the Spygate stuff at this late date: I served several tours of duty in the Great Spygate Internet Flame Wars, and I am now retired. Instead of engaging in these 'debates' any longer, I simply refer people to this, with the caveat that I don't buy into league-wide conspiracies on either side of this story. But that post does a commanding job of laying out the facts and fallacies of the whole wretchedly overblown issue.