(This piece was read on The Drive the day after the Patriots Thursday Night Football win over Houston, over the song Hearts on Fire from Rocky IV. For the full experience you may want, no, you definitely want to listen to that song while you read this piece.)
You can’t win, Rock. You cannot win. That’s what Adrian Balboa yelled at Rocky after the fight with Drago was announced for Christmas day in Moscow. But she might as well have been Roger Goodell yelling at Bill Belichick the first 3 weeks of this season.
In week one:
You can’t win because you have a back up quarterback, who’s never started a game.
You can’t win because Gronk isn’t on the plane.
You can’t win because Rob Ninkovich is suspended.
You can’t win because you’re taking on a Super Bowl contender on the road, on national television.
Jimmy the G looks like Roger Staubach for a quarter and a half. Just when Pats fans had a moment of “We’re gonna be all right” bliss, he was taken away from us. The bread was taken out of jimmy’s mouth.But guess what, the Patriots didn’t fold.
The odds were stacked against Belichick like he was Hulk Hogan in the 80’s. In this case, Andre the Giant and King Kong Bundy were played by JJ Watt and former best friend Vince Wilfork. There was no way the Patriots should win this game. A 3rd string quarterback, on a short week, on national television, WITHOUT A BACK UP! That’s like walking a high wire across the Kenduskeag stream in February. Falter at all, and you’re done, there is no margin for error. Again, Adrian was at the top of the steps yelling that all efforts are futile.
But it wasn’t, even with a third-string quarterback, a Gronk decoy, no Ninkovich, Hightower or Lewis. No Prancer, No Dancer, no Donner or Blitz, wait, there was plenty of Blitzen last night. As well as Jacoby Brissett played, (and that run to the end zone coaxed me out of my chair) the star of this one was the defense and never has a unit embodied the next man up philosophy or Do Your Job ethic more than the Patriots defense. The names change, but the results remain. From Brian Cox to Chris Long. From Ted Washington to Malcom Brown. And Jamie Collins reminds me of, wait, we’ve never seen a player like Jamie Collins before. I’m pretty sure he’s a cyborg. The boogeyman has night mares about Jamie Collins. Put it this way, he terrified Houston, wearing the goofiest uniforms in Patriot History.
As I savor a .87 cent coffee today, with the unwashed bliss of last night’s domination headlining all thoughts, we find out that our latest play caller needs thumb surgery and is out of action. At any other time, with any other team this would send the fan base into a panicked frenzy. But not with the Patriots and not now. Because of regardless of who is in the uniform, (goofy or otherwise) these Patriots are sound in all 3 facets of the game and extremely well coached. And that last part is why they’ll beat Buffalo in week 4, regardless of who their quarterback is.
Sterling Pingree (@SterlingPingree on Twitter) is a co-host on The Drive, weekdays 4pm to 6pm on 92.9fm The Ticket and streaming live on DriveShowMaine.com. Follow us on Twitter, @DriveShowMaine and “Like Us” on Facebook, Drive Show Maine.