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Monday, January 3, 2011
Pats wrap up regular season with preseason type blowout full of scrubs making plays
Everywhere you looked yesterday at Gillette Stadium, it seemed like August. The temperatures were mild, the sun was out, the crowd was full of schmoes that never go to Patriots games and most interestingly, backups, reserves, never-weres and never will bes were making highlight reel plays.
The New England Patriots wrapped up their 2010 regular season with one more beating, 38-7 over the quarterback-less Miami Dolphins.
The Pats (14-2) let Tom Brady (10 of 16, 199 yards, 2 touchdowns, 0 interceptions) play enough to boost his MVP candidacy to the point where if you don't vote for him, you're a joke. Once again, he didn't throw an interception, extending his NFL record and he also clinched or extended a million other streaks that I'm too lazy to look up again.
Perhaps the most satisfying development out of yesterday's glorified exhibition game was the fact that BenJarvus Green-Ellis carried the ball 20 times for 80 yards and a touchdown. That got him over 1000 yards for the season (1008) and made him the first New England running back to get over the century mark since Corey Dillon in 2004 (it's crazy it's been that long but then you remember how long we tried to squeeze Chicken Salad out of Chicken Shit - Laurence Maroney).
The other unsung guy that you had to feel good for was Julian Edelman. The king of preseason, who was a high fantasy draft pick for know it all Patriots fanboys, finally came through with a nice game in the 2010 regular season. He had three catches for 72 yards, including a sweet 40-yard gain. He also took a reverse 13 yards and most impressively, broke a team record with a 94-yard punt return for a score.
Wes Welker, Deion Branch and Aaron Hernandez all sat out which makes you wonder how badly New England would have beat the already-on-vacation Dolphins (7-9) if those studs suited up.
Everyone else on the Patriots added to their great individual seasons: rookies Devin McCourty (seventh INT) and Rob Gronkowski (6 catches, 102 yards, 1 touchdown) continued to show why they are two of New England's best draft picks possibly ever.
Finally, Brian Hoyer (the most anonymous pro athlete in New England) got his first NFL touchdown pass and actually looked pretty decent: 7 of 13 for 122 yards. A beautiful 42-yard toss to Brandon Tate. The always tricky Bill Belichick changed it up by having Hoyer go in for Brady in the middle of a drive, simulating what would happen if Brady gets hurt in a game.
From here we have almost two weeks without a playoff game. As the No. 1 seed in the AFC, the Patriots will play either the Jets, Chiefs or Ravens on Sunday, January 16, 4:30 p.m. at Gillette Stadium.
New England earned everything that comes with this extended break, they had an unbelievable regular season which is all well and good but as Coach Hoodie remarked today: "yesterday we were 14-2, today we're 0-0."
It's Super Bowl 45 (in Dallas) or bust for this outstanding team and coach.