Patriots re-write history with second half


Patriots re-write history with second half

A few thousand years from now, Internet archaeologists will stumble upon a moment in virtual time that defies explanation and logic.

September 30, 2012, 1:30 2:30 pm: A string of panicked tweets surrounding the New England Patriots Week 4 loss to the Buffalo Bills. Long, ugly message board threads burying Tom Brady, calling for Bill Belichicks head and mourning the Pats 1-3 start. E-mail chains, Facebook posts and more than enough sufficient evidence to support the idea of a Bills victory.

They'll be dumb-founded. What the hell is this?" they'll ask. "Our records show that the Pats started 2-2. They beat the Bills by more than three touchdowns!. But this . . . this is so real.

At this point, theyll hop in their time machine and head straight for Buffalo, wondering if they just uncovered a new channel on the space-time continuum.

Instead, theyll get there just in time to witness one of the most dominant halves in NFL history.

For those of us who were actually there, it's almost impossible to recreate the reality of New England's 1-3 start. But we all know it happened. Whether it was on the heels of Rob Gronkowski's fumble, Wes Welker's fumble, either of Stephen Gostkowski's missed field goals, Donald Jones' touchdown or any number of plays over the first two and a half quarters of yesterday's game, at one point, we all felt 1-3. We all saw the season slipping away.

But like I said, this morning those feelings are more foreign than Darko Milicic.

The Pats are done?

Hell no. They're just getting started.

Tom Brady's re-focused on Gronk, finding a rhythm with Brandon Lloyd and hasn't thrown an interception since his first attempt against Arizona. Wes Welker's back among the NFL leaders in receptions and receiving yards. The offensive line, even without Logan Mankins, shut down Super Mario and the most prolific pass rush in the division. And the running game? Forget Stevan Ridley, Brandon Bolden suddenly looks like the guy Laurence Maroney was supposed to be. (In terms of scoring points, the only real concern is Gostkowski, who's threatening to dethrone Daniel Bard as Boston's resident mental patient, but there's too much history to give up on him yet.)

On defense, things still aren't perfect, but there's more reason to believe that the Pats can compensate for those imperfections.

Devin McCourty answered the call after last week's disaster with two interceptions against Ryan Fitzpatrick. Say what you will about the quality of the passes, but the bottom line is that McCourty found himself in a position to make a play, and made it. Twice.

There's no doubt that McCourty and friends were helped by the existence of a Patriots pass rush. Last Sunday night, Joe Flacco had all day to pick apart the secondary. Yesterday, Fitzpatrick was constantly under pressure. By the end of the day, Crimson was not only his alma mater but also the color of his underwear.

In the middle, Brandon Spikes continues to prove himself as the perfect complement to Jerod Mayo and the number one impact player on this Patriots defense. Of course, Spikes is still a wild card, based on the fact that he's out of his mind. He might pick up a sack and force two more fumbles next week against the Broncos. He might throw his helmet at a ref. Who knows? But as long as he's on the field, the Patriots 'D' is on another level.

Speaking of which, Vince Wilfork turns 31 next month. He's played in more than 125 NFL games. Yet he continuous to play with the energy and passion of a rookie. He's in his ninth NFL season, and still impacts games in a way that guys his size just aren't supposed to: Tipping passes, recovering fumbles, fading back into coverage to deliver the most entertaining hit of the season.

By the way, did you notice that the Pats were only called for one penalty against the Bills?


And it came on a punt.

So, to quickly summarize: Yesterday, the Pats went on the road. Within the division. Scored 52 points. Forced six turnovers. Surrendered only one sack. And were called for only one penalty.

Think about that for a second.

What a performance.

Now think back to about two o'clock yesterday afternoon.

How was that even real?

It's a question they'll be asking for at least another few thousand years.

Rich can be reached at Follow Rich on Twitter at http:twitter.comrich_levine

Julio Jones presents Johnson Bademosi opportunity to prove he's not niche player

Julio Jones presents Johnson Bademosi opportunity to prove he's not niche player

None of us thought Johnson Bademosi would be starting this past Sunday at MetLife Stadium against the Jets because -- well -- that’s not what we perceive the 27-year-old to be. He’s a special teamer. It’s how he’s made his mark in the NFL dating back to 2012 with Cleveland. So why would that change in mid-October for a team he’s only been with for six weeks? Because Bademosi is -- and has always been -- intent on proving he’s more than a niche player.

“I see myself as a football player,” he said, “and whatever position they put me in, I’m going to try to be the best because that’s how I operate and who I am as a person. Whether that’s as a cornerback, on special teams, if they ask me to play wildcat quarterback. Whatever…”


Bill Belichick and his staff asked for Bademosi to go on the field and not come off. He played 73 defensive snaps in addition to his usual core four special teams duties. 

“I felt like I played a whole game,” Bademosi joked, before saying, “I love playing football so I’m going to go out there and empty myself.”

He did just that, getting targeted only two times in the 24-17 win over the Jets. It was hoped that Bademosi would return to his normal specialist role, but with Stephon Gilmore still out with a concussion, it now seems more and more likely that the sixth year pro will have to be an ironman again Sunday night in primetime against the Falcons. Historically, the Pats have defended bigger receivers. That means Bademosi may be responsible for one of the most dangerous players in the league, Julio Jones.

“He’s an amazing player," he said. “We all know what he’s capable of. As a defense, we have to be prepared for him.”

The Pats were on Super Bowl Sunday and Jones still made a couple of ridiculous plays with either Logan Ryan or Eric Rowe in coverage with safety help over the top.

“He’s fast. He’s physical. He can jump. He can run. He’s smart. He’s everything you want in a wide receiver,” said Bademosi without blinking an eye. That’s the kind of confidence you want from a player at that position and facing this type of challenge. 

“You gotta believe in yourself,” he said “ I’m confident in my abilities. I work hard and trust my preparation.”

Being an elite athlete certainly helps. Bademosi was a scholarship football player at Stanford -- “some guy named Jim Harbaugh called” -- before ending up in the NFL. But it’s Bademosi’s willingness to go all in in the film room that impressed safety Devin McCourty. 

“…I think, honestly, the most work he did was probably with just himself jumping into the film, watching more stuff to exactly see,” said McCourty Thursday. “You know, when you’re a backup more, you’re kind of trying to see everything because you don’t know what role you might be thrust upon once you’re in the game. But, I think once he knew he was starting, it was kind of like, ‘Alright, let me focus in on this.’ I thought he did an awesome job of just being ready and competing.”

Bademosi will have to compete his ass off Sunday night, even against what has been to this point a physically compromised Jones. Based on what he did several days ago, there’s no reason to believe the Pats cornerback won’t bring everything he has, trying to prove again that he’s more than just a special teams whiz.