AND…. that’s why they’re the Patriots and nobody else is…/OR ever will be. Because Tom Brady and Bill Belichick find a way to win when they shouldn’t be able to win. They find a way to win when their best weapon has a sliced hand and their second-best weapon is in the concussion protocol. They find a way to win when they can’t move the ball. When they spend nearly the entire day, looking like it’s just not their day. When virtually nothing is working; not even their gimmick plays.
Be honest: how many of you Patriot haters were watching that and thinking, good. They’re going to get theirs. They’re getting their asses handed to them. And it’s not by Pittsburgh, it was by Jacksonville and Blake Bortles. Bortles! How many were counting down the hours to 9 am pacific this morning, so you could come in and roast these guys on this show. How many of you? I’m guessing all of you.
Look, nothing will probably ever top coming back from down 25 in the Super Bowl, because it was coming back from down 25 in the Super Bowl, but this was close. Down ten, in the fourth quarter, without Brady’s best weapon on offense and without Julian Edelman who’d been out all year, and doing it against a nasty, physical defense who was flying to the ball.
Instead, Brady went to work with Danny Amendola.
He hit him for 21 yards on 3rd and 18 to keep hope alive with less than 11 minutes left.
And then hit him again for 9 yards to cap off that drive and get within three points with 8:44 left.
Meanwhile, the Patriots defense finally showed up. And it was James Harrison, JAMES HARRISON, who was coming up huge. Because of course he was. Because of course Bill Belichick would bring in someone who another team didn’t want and then find a way to have success with him. And he did.
New England’s defense forces a punt, Danny Amendola sets up the drive with a big return. And then Tom Brady hits Danny Amendola for an absurd catch in the back of the end zone to give New England the 24-20 lead.
Danny Amendola? Is there anything this guy didn’t do yesterday?? Isn’t’ this the same Amendola that everyone wanted to bury after the Hood brought him to replace Wes Welker. Remember, worse case, he couldn’t hold Welker’s jock. Best case, he was a poor man’s Welker, who couldn’t stay healthy and would never be the player Welker was. Who’s saying that now? No one. Because they’re not playing in the Super Bowl without Amendola.
Ask Belichick. He all but called him the best football player he’s ever seen after the game. And I would have too, if he just bailed my ass out. Then again, that what the Patriots do and nobody else does. And that’s why you can use every cliché in the book when you talk about them. You can say that it’s a 60 minute game or that they find ways to win in all three facets of the game, offense, defense, and special teams, or that they never blink. Because all of that is true.
And the truth is, Jacksonville did blink. Jacksonville, and here’s something I never thought I’d ever say in my life, Jacksonville didn’t trust Blake Bortles enough. They got conservative. My man had been playing out of his mind and then they just started to bleed clock.
And even then, he still nearly won the game for them with that incredible throw on 4thand 14 on the run. An absolutely perfect pass that’s a touchdown, if not for Stephon Gilmore finally making the play his teammates, coaches and fans have been waiting on all year long. Fact, this had a been a disappointment. Folks were coming for him. But all was forgiven after that play.
If Gilmore doesn’t break that up and pay for himself all in one play, we’re seeing a replay of that completion for the rest of time. That was the David Tyree or Mario Manningham moment that this game needed. That was the moment that you need to beat the Patriots in a game like this and Bortles came THIS close to doing it. Bortles!? That’s why I tweeted simply after the game: Blake Bortles played his ass off. Because he did.
If you want to complain about the officiating or that the game is rigged for the Pats, you can take that somewhere else. Yes, there were more penalties called on Jacksonville than New England, but the refs didn’t lose the game for Jacksonville, Jacksonville lost the game for Jacksonville. This isn’t bashing the Jags. They played their guts out. The fact that they went from 3 wins last season to a play from the Super Bowl this season is truly remarkable. Even in a league where teams routinely go from good to bad and bad to good in a blink of an eye, this turnaround was nothing short of incredible.
But this is what happens to nearly everyone in this situation. If you don’t choke the Pats when you have your chance, the Pats choke you out. That’s why they’re going to their 8th Super Bowl this century. That’s why they’re looking at winning their 6th ring. That’s not officiating. That’s not rigged. That’s Tom Brady and Bill Belichick. And that’s why they’re the Patriots and you’re not.