What an eventful day in the AFC East. The mighty Bills fell to the mighty Bengals, the Partiots handled their business against the Raiders and the Jets embarrassed themselves on national TV. Oh, and the Dolphins played, too.
Add it all up, and the Pats and Bills are tied atop the division standings, which is where you’d want the Patriots to be after four weeks. A win over the Jets in Week 5 would go a long way toward winning another AFC East title, but before we get there, let’s look back at everything that happened in Week 4.
–When the game started with a failed kick followed by an even worse failed kick, you can be forgiven if you felt like it was going to be one of those kind of games.
–Hey, Richard Seymour.
You mad, bro?
–I know the Raiders want to intimidate their opponents and make it a tough place to play, but Seymour probably might want to avoid committing two personal fouls on the opposition’s opening drive. Just a suggestion.
–The direct snap to Stevan Ridley, in my eyes, sealed Kevin Faulk‘s fate this season. That fate has Ridley playing the role of Kevin Faulk all year. Sorry, Kev, but the kid looks good.
—Rob Gronkowski, after dragging a helpless Tyvon Branch for 5 yards on the last play of the first quarter, shall henceforth be known as Rob Mankowski. What a monster.
—Tom Brady threw an incompletion to Wes Welker early in the second quarter on play where Welker burned the entire Oakland defense on a go route. I don’t know what deal he made with the devil that allows him to be exceptional at everything, but let’s just say if I saw “Satan” pop up on the caller ID, I’m not letting it go to voicemail.
–The Patriots’ defense had a real show-me moment with a chance at a goal-line stand, but, well, not quite.
–Tough break for Jerod “Gerard” Mayo on that touchdown by Michael Bush. Mayo essentially got stuck on his heels and was forced to eat the running back on his way in. He looked like the poor sap who got in the way of William Perry back in Super Bowl XX, but it was just an unfortunate spot for Mayo. Oh, and wouldn’t you know it? They got a photo of it.
–The big gain to Welker in the second quarter was the work of intricate brilliance. Two receivers were stacked to Brady’s left before Welker motioned that way. Brady took the shotgun snap as the stacked receivers took their men deep. Both Welker and BenJarvus Green-Ellis were wide open in some soft space, and Brady threw to the guy who is a little more slippery in open space. Green-Ellis and Deion Branch immediately got excited to make some blocks (you can tell when guys are excited to make blocks) and the Pats gained 24 yards.
It was just one of 60 offensive plays, but it was a beauty that you shouldn’t take for granted.
–Regarding Welker’s spin-o-rama catch on the 1, I’ll just refer you back to that deal with Satan that I mentioned earlier.
—Chimdi Chekwa. You poor guy.
–One thing you shouldn’t underestimate on this team is the tackling ability of cornerbacks Devin McCourty and Kyle Arrington. When corners can’t tackle, a 1-yard loss can usually end up as a 12-yard gain.
–On the play when Sergio Brown missed both the football and the man trying to catch the football, CBS’ Solomon Wilcots said, “Just horrendous coverage.” That is some fine three-word analysis right there.
–My favorite tweet of the week came from Scott Zolak, who tweeted a picture of the stadium before the game and said, simply, “Black Hole, this place sucks.” Don’t ever change, Scott Zolak.
–I have watched a whole lot of football in my life. If I tried to estimate how many thousands of hours of football it’s been, it would be embarrassing. With that established, that interception by Jason Campbell is an instant contender for Worst Play I’ve Ever Seen in My Life.
You could see it unfolding before it happened, with the happy feet, then the scramble to nowhere, then the jump throw. He tried to squeeze it into a tight window of three white jerseys and zero black jerseys. There are brain farts, and there is throwing the ball to three guys on the other team. Bravo, Mr. Campbell!
You know how actors claim they “didn’t prepare a speech” when they win an award because they didn’t expect to win? I’d suggest Campbell prepare a little something for the football awards ceremony, because that play was downright Brett Favre-ian.
–That pick was, very clearly, the most important play of the game. The Patriots weren’t dominating by any stretch of the imagination, but they scored 17 unanswered points. The game might as well have been over after the pick.
–I said it last week, but Patrick Chung is the MVP of this New England defense. You just can’t trust the defensive backfield if No. 25 isn’t lined up back there.
–Speaking of Chung, he really earned that unnecessary roughness penalty. For a split-second, I would’ve sworn that was Rodney Harrison inflicting a little bit of pain on a guy going down to the ground. Problem is, that’s illegal now.
–Your leading receiver? That would be Welker, of course. Your second leading receiver? Why hello there, Mr. Chad Ochocinco. Good to see you.
–Ochocino has seven catches this year. Not all that impressive until you consider that he has six first downs. That says a lot about when and where he’s making these catches. He may not be filling up the stat sheet, but he’s making contributions.
–As nice as that is for Ochocinco, it’s worth noting that Welker leads the NFL with 29 first downs. Yes, that includes running backs. LeSean McCoy is second with 23, and three receivers are tied for third with 20. Welker really could be in the early stages of putting together an MVP season.
–What a thrill it must have been for the Pats to play on the set of Moneyball, where the Oakland A’s, led by mastermind Billy Beane, won all those world titles earlier this decade. I haven’t seen the movie, but I assume they win at the end, right? They wouldn’t make a motion picture about a team that never won one game in the ALCS, would they?
—Kevin Harlan referred to Deion Branch as “the Super Bowl MVP of a few years ago.” Um, try eight years ago. In football years, that might as well have been the Middle Ages.
–That said, only Deion Branch could be targeted once and be almost invisible all day, then step right up and catch a red-zone touchdown from Brady.
–Speaking of invisible, did you see Seymour at all, other than his mauling of Brady and Green-Ellis in the first quarter? He really shoved it in Bill’s face, didn’t he?!
–You know who nobody has complained about much or at all this year? Matt Light. I don’t think I was the only one who didn’t expect to be writing that after four weeks.
–Patriots fans went to bed happy, but they also might have had a tough time shaking the image of Thomas Welch essentially throwing Kamerion Wimbley into TB12 for a free shot on the quarterback. You don’t want to do that, Thomas Welch.
–Your eyes weren’t deceiving you. That really was the New England Patriots with 30 rushing attempts and 30 passing attemps as part of a very well-balanced game plan. A pessimist might say “Well where was that last week in Buffalo?” but an optimist may say “It looks like they learned their lesson.”
–With those new microphones that CBS has, you can really hear the quarterback’s snap counts, and Campbell really sounds a lot like Brady. That’s one of the rare instances when you can say “Campbell (verb) a lot like Brady” without people saying, “Ha ha, you are such a funny person!”
–The pass interference penalty that turned into not a pass interference penalty was bizarre. I’ve never seen the ref make the call then just say, “You know what? Never mind.” Especially when there was clearly interference.
–That 7:46 Raiders drive that only resulted in a field goal was killer for Oakland. It was reminiscent of New England’s famous Drive to Nowhere against the Jets last January.
–Is Sebastian Janikowski my favorite athlete ever? Yes. Yes he is.
–Wilcots deserves a ton of credit for slamming Michael Vick‘s crybaby complaints after Brady took a hit. You know he had that in the back pocket all day and was just waiting for the right time to play it. Well played.
—Sterling Sharpe had the audacity to call Aaron Rodgers the best quarterback in football in the middle of a Patriots game. Oh the humanity! It’s almost like the Patriots pumped that sound into Brady’s helmet, somehow, because I think he connected on his next 50 passes, or something like that.
–The Patriots play the Jets next week, so I’ll offer the Jets some free scouting advice:
Cover. Wesley. Welker.
–Welker is averaging 154 yards per game this year. Over a full season, that’s 2,464 yards. That’s also hilarious.
–The touchdown to Branch was another intricate play. Welker lined up in the slot and faked like he was catching a quick screen pass. Brady ran play-action with Green-Ellis and Branch faked like he was going to run block before taking off. It all allowed Branch to gain a half-step on his man, and that’s all Brady needs from the 4-yard line.
–Thank goodness that when CBS showed Al Davis, there was some tinted glass between lens and Al. That man is NIFHDTV (not intended for high-definition television).
–I can’t believe Harlan pronounced Zoltan Mesko as “Mes-quew.” It’s spelled M-E-S-K-O.
–Why do the Raiders punt when trailing 31-13 with 6:45 left in the game? Why do they later attempt an onside kick when trailing 31-19 with less than a minute left? Try to win the game when you still have time to win the game. I don’t get it. Did they think that by punting the ball away when trailing by 18 they’d somehow have a chance to win the game? Go for it.
–Note to CBS, FOX, NBC and ESPN: Every single broadcast needs more Brady high school footage. I’ll take that over the 28th ad for $5 footlongs all day long.
–That last joke was disingenuous. I’m as fired up for ANYtober as any other sub-loving man on this planet.
–Is 60 Minutes the least-friendly DVR program on television? Yes, probably, but if you tune to CBS every Sunday at 7 p.m. and you’re “expecting to see 60 Minutes,” then you, my friend, are a fool, and we could never be friends . Won’t you ever learn to manage your expectations?
–You can get upset that the Patriots gave up that 99-yard drive, but Vince Wilfork was tackled in the end zone on the first play of the drive, a 58-yard bomb to Darrius Heyward-Bey. The ref probably felt too embarrassed to call a safety on the Raiders. Understandable.
–I gave credit to Wilcots earlier, but he gets a demerit for saying, “There is no garbage time.” No, dude. When the score is 31-13 with a minute left on the clock, that’s the definition of garbage time. Act accordingly.
–The Unaware Celebration of the Week Award goes to Denarius Moore. Congrats, pal! Way to throw those hands up when your team is still losing by double digits. You’re a winner!
–Stats can be useful in evaluating teams, but points are the only statistics that matter. I’ve always felt this way, but Sunday’s game was the latest example why. That goes for team stats and individual stats. If you just saw those and not the score, you would probably think the Raiders won, but, as you know, stats are for losers.
–Two weeks ago, I closed this very column with the photographic beauty of a certain 300-plus pound defensive tackle making an interception, presented without any additional commentary. Now, that very same man leads the team in interception return yards and is tied for fifth in the league in picks, so I can’t break tradition now!