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My apologies to R.E.M., and the Mayans for that matter, but it feels like the world of professional football as we had become used to in these parts, took a decided and unconfortable fall from it’s prescribed orbit this past weekend. It was just about a week ago, when the Patriots, Giants, and Jets all seemed destined for post season play. Not only had the Patriots punched their ticket for the playoffs, but most of the media had begun lining up to buy their tickets for New Orleans. The Giants appeared to be masters of their fate; in that manner that we have grown to expect, saving their best for last. There was a growing expectation that because of a less than impressive lineup of opponets and a rediscoverd defensive touch, that the Jets, by winning out, could back their way into the playoffs. Obviously, a loss is a loss, and there is no such thing as a moral victory, but some losses can be more damaging then others, so for right now, the Pats still have the best chance of saving their world. At least in theory….

I’m not going to try to convince you that I am unconcerned by a great deal of what happened Sunday night against the 49ers. Much of the confidence that had sprung up of late around the Patriots post season chances, was a result of the preceived maturing of its defensive secondary. Apparently that confidence was a bit premature, as they were torched for touchdown passes of 24, 34, 27, and 38 yards. The play of Aqib Taleb left something to be desired, as did the suddenly confused Alfonzo Dennard. Safety Steve Gregory’s performance was questionable enough that they replaced him with Patrick Chung. The Patriots also seemed to have abandoned three of the founding principles that has made them so tough in December, namely ball security (4 turnovers), preparation and special teams play. Granted, they’re more accustomed to playing in the cold and snow during this time of the year rather than rain, and could have been hindered by a short week after an emotional victory, but for much of the game they just did not look like the Patriots.

It’s not the “Patriots Way”, to just show up for one quarter of football, but this time it was almost enough. They scored twenty-four, fourth quarter points, with something like 360 or so of Tom Brady’s 443 passing yards coming in the second half. The Pats racked up 520 total yards of offense, against one of the best defenses in the NFL. If their special teams unit had not let them down so badly late in the game, they may well have pulled off what would have been one of the greatest comebacks in league history. The Patriots have not had to show that kind of come from behind fight in a long time. It’s reassuring to know they still have it.

At least the Pats know they'll be in the playoffs this year... (Wade Payne/AP)
At least the Pats know they’ll be in the playoffs this year… (Wade Payne/AP)

As for the Giants and Jets, we already know which one is definitely going home come January. The Jets have looked a little like Denzel Washington landing that airliner in the movie trailer from “Flight”, for a while. (You know the one where the airplane is upside down, clipping buildings as it descends.) It seems to me that the Jets never really recovered from the circus they created when they brought in Tim Tebow in March, and completely embarrassed themselves on Monday night. I’m beginning to feel bad for Rex Ryan… well, almost. The worst part is that they have probably put themselves in a financial situation that’s going to make improving, very difficult. So unless they swallow a boat load of money, they could very well be back in the same situation next season.

I’m beginning to think that the Giants have finally run out of good karma. I know that they have suffered injuries to their secondary, and that played a significant roll in their 34-0 loss to the Falcons. I have to believe that they have had much to deal with off the field as well, and that is taking its toll. Although I have learned not to count the Giants out, it’s likely going to come down to the last week of the season, and the game between the Cowboys and Redskins. The Cowboys will likely claim the divisional crown, but will not likely get that deep in the playoffs. Of course, I predicted that the Pats were going to beat the 49ers, 27-14, so what do I know…

Featured image courtesy of: Steven Senne/AP 

 

Jerry Ballgame

About Jerry Ballgame

The personification of "old school", Jerry Ballgame was born in the shadow of Dr. Naismith's peach basket, and baptized in that "Dirty Water." Designated by his "Uncle" Ted, to keep an eye on things, he's here to tell everyone what his view is like from the Hub of the Universe.

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