Tonight, the New England Patriots made an indelible mark on NFL history by defeating the New York Giants in a nail-biting, down-to-the-wire game to improve their record to 16 wins, 0 losses.
It was an historic occasion for individuals this night as well, although those things aren't as important to them as the road that lies ahead. For starters, Tom Brady has surpassed Peyton Manning as the all-time touchdown pass leader, throwing his 49th and 50th touchdown passes tonight. Both of them went to his primary long-pass target, Randy Moss. These touchdowns were also the 22nd and 23rd of the season for Moss, which gave him sole possession of the single-season touchdown reception record. Brady's and Moss' record-breaking score came on a 65-yard touchdown pass from Brady in the fourth quarter.
An amazing achievement, although Jerry Rice, who held the record of 22 touchdown receptions for 20 seasons, was able to accomplish his mark in only 12 games in a strike-shortened 1987 season.
In addition, the Patriots scored 589 points this year, surpassing the 1998 Minnesota Vikings mark of 556. They also scored 75 touchdowns this year, breaking the previous mark of 70 held by the 1984 Miami Dolphins. 23 years to break the mark? Not bad, Dan and Company, not bad. But the Pats didn't just break it ... they shattered it. Heh.
My beloved (yes, beloved) Patriots are the NFL's finest for the regular season. But, we all know, Massholes -- it's on now. The tournament begins next week, and there are some very, very scary teams in it. We have a long way to go before we lift high that Lombardi Trophy for the fourth time.
And we all know, if they don't get to the big dance and win it, 16-0 will mean absolutely nothing.
On the night, Brady went 32 of 42 for 356 yards and 2 touchdowns. Laurence Maroney added two more on 19 carries totally 46 yards. Wes Welker was again stellar in his performance, with 11 catches for 122 yards, most of them clutch. And, he threw a key block that sprang Maroney for a touchdown that was probably as critical as anything he did all night. Way to go, Wes! You're a stud and how you're not going to the Pro Bowl is absolutely beyond me.
Kevin Faulk added his own special flair to the game, too. He didn't run so great, but he caught 8 balls for 64 yards, and picked up a couple of tough first downs when we really needed them. Ben Watson, after dropping a couple (or more) that he probably shouldn't have, ended up with 4 catches and 38 yards, 21 of them on a single toss. Donte` Stallworth added 3 more for 32 yards, his longest 17 yards.
And, Stephen Gostkowski was perfect, going 3 for 3 with a long of 45 yards. In total, Stephen added 12 points to the score tonight. Another unsung hero ... except Bill Belichick did crow about him in the post-game press conference. So I guess he's not unsung after all.
The defense could've played better. I mean, they did get ripped for 35 points. But they held up well, got a very timely interception by Ellis Hobbs, and were able to capitalize on that turnover for a touchdown. They held the Giants and forced punts to rally for 22 unanswered points before the Giants made a game of it again from 10 points back in the fourth quarter. Brady ended up taking a knee in the last minute of the game to secure the win ... meaning he played the whole game. You probably couldn't have gotten him out of the game with a Vaudeville hook.
But it's not over yet, Massholes. In fact, it's just getting started.
Still, let's bask in the glory that is the New England Patriots tonight, Massholes. Tonight, let's celebrate perfection achieved. Something no one else in the last 35 years has been able to do, something that most teams don't even consider a possibility (ours didn't either ... they simply set out to play the best game they could, one game at a time). Let's bathe in the revelry of the moment, seize the joy that is right now, and sit back and watch the rest of the NFL jockey for position to earn the right to face the perfect New England Patriots.
My congratulations go to the team, its players, coaches and its owner. What you have achieved here is fantastic, is wonderful and is unbelievable. I'm still letting it settle. It wasn't easy. It wasn't always pretty. But they did it. Like great teams always do, they found ways to win when they had to. And this is a grand, grand moment indeed.
Massholes, unite. WE ARE UNDEFEATED.