Shaun alluded to the fact that I might be writing some New England Patriots related articles, and that's exactly what is happening. If I'm able to watch the games, I'm going to try and write about my thoughts on them. I was able to watch last night's remarkable game between the Patriots and the Cardinals, so here I am writing about it!
Jimmy! Jimmy! Jimmy!
Now, I know that I should be cheering more about the missed field goal at the end of that game, than about Jimmy. But let's be honest; nobody knew what to expect from Jimmy Garoppolo.
Coming into last night's game, Bill Belichick and the Patriots squad had an idea of what they had in Garoppolo, but he's never played in an NFL game. Regardless of how good he might have looked in practice, the game situation is completely different.
The whole sports world was curious as to how Jimmy would perform. And you know what? He was pretty serviceable. Now; I'm not getting ready for him to pull a 2001 Tom Brady or anything, but I can breathe a bit of a sigh of relief.
Many people, myself included, were expecting the Cardinals to beat the Patriots this weekend. With Tom, Gronk and Ninkovich all out for this game and the Cardinals being an early favourite to represent the NFC in the Super Bowl (in our NFL preview podcast, I called a Pats-Cards Super Bowl,) it was going to be a pretty tough task for the Patriots to walk into a visiting team's stadium and win.
So we all knew what we were up against.
That first drive. Man. What a start.
I'm not going to lie; I had a bit of hedge belly during that first drive. There's something about not seeing your regular starting QB under centre. Garoppolo did a pretty effective job in that first drive. And then that ~30 yard throw for his first career touchdown was a thing of beauty. He had the perfect touch on it, and had really good field vision. All of a sudden I was slightly less nervous.
That said; it's still a Patriots game, so I'm always nervous.
As the game went on, there were things I saw from the team that I didn't love...
We took a lot of holding penalties. In the fourth quarter, with about 5:30 left on the clock, there was a play that would have been called pass interference right at the Cardinals' goal line that could have been massive. At that point, we were trying to run down the clock, but also were down. We needed a score, and a touchdown would have forced Arizona to march the field and score a major in order to take the lead again. A field goal would only put us up 2.
So the flag went up for pass interference. Great! Except we got a holding call, negating the PI penalty. So we had to replay the down. Then we got another holding penalty. Come on you guys! Discipline!!
So we got the field goal. We all know what happened at the end, so I'm not going to dwell on that. But the holding penalties could have proved costly in the long run.
Something else I didn't love was seeing Blount fumble that ball so easily. It didn't look like anything too out of the ordinary when Blount lost that ball. I mean that in the sense that it didn't look like the Arizona defence did anything to really get the ball knocked loose. It just looked like Blount wasn't really holding on too tight to the ball. In the Bill Belichick regime, that's enough to get traded. The next offensive series after the fumble (which resulted in an Arizona touchdown) I spent a lot of time yelling at LeGarrette as he carried the ball. I love Blount, but I didn't love seeing him lose that ball like that.
Beyond that, there's always things to be improved upon, but I was really happy with this game.
I predicted the Pats would go 2-2 in the Tom-less games, with this being one of the losses. With a Dolphins team up next (who seemed to have some offensive troubles against Seattle yesterday,) and now knowing that Jimmy can manage a game, I'm feeling better about the forthcoming games.
I mean; it's football. Who the hell knows what will come about in the next 3 weeks? Anything can happen. But Gronk might be back, that's a big target for Jimmy to hit so that could help us out. But, I've been a sports fan far too long to know that anything is a gimme. I'm feeling good as I write this, but I'm also preparing myself for the "anything can happen" world that is the NFL.
All I know is football is back, and I'm happy.
P.S. Fun fact: Apparently yesterday's TD(s) was/were the first time the Patriots have scored an offensive touchdown without Brady or Gronk on the field since Week 6 of 2009. Neat.