Patriots

Week 1: The Aftermath

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Week 1: The Aftermath

By Rich Levine
CSNNE.com

I woke up Sunday morning at about 9:30 am. Got up, brushed my teeth, looked out the window and saw two dudes carrying a pair of 30 racks and mini-keg down my street.

Football season!

The significance of the games may increase every week, but in terms of pure fun, Week 1 of the NFL season ranks right up there with the first round of the NCAA tournament and the WNBA All-Star game as one of the greatest daylong spectacles in sports.

NFL Sundays are like a drug, and Week 1 is like a binge after eight months of sobriety. It hits you all at once, and you suddenly remember how you got hooked in the first place. Before Sunday, itd been eight long months since we had the pleasure to get blown away by Chris Johnson or stupefied by a Randy Moss press conference or gamble with the passion of Antoine Walker or become dangerously bipolar while following StatTracker.

It was all as glorious as I remember it. I loved every second. And over the course of the day I got at least 10 random texts messages from friends who were spending this Sunday doing the same thing as me: Just sitting on their couch, beaming over the fact that football's back.

Not those two guys from the morning, though. I'm pretty sure they were passed out by noon.

Anyway, here are a some quick thoughts on a few of Sundays biggest stories:

"Mr. Moss, the podium is yours."
I have no beef with what Randy Moss said after Sundays game. Could he have timed it a little better? Yeah, sure. But the question is, for whom? More than anyone, maybe himself, as Im sure that the front office wasnt thrilled, but who else really suffers from Moss postgame sideshow? One argument I heard was that the outburst took away from Wes Welkers heroic return. That Moss should have taken more time to praise his fellow receiver. OK, maybe that would have been nice, but in reality, do you think Welker cared even a little bit that he wasnt the focal point of that press conference? He was far more likely to be sitting at his locker, and feeling lucky to have a receiver like Moss out there with him every Sunday. And most of the other guys feel the same way.

Randy's been like this since he got here. You know what you're going to get. He's going to be crazy. He's going to dog it every once in a while. It won't always be smooth sailing. But at the end of the day, he always makes you a better team. He's still one of the best in the game. And that's why, despite all the baggage Moss brings, Tom Brady has still been so vocal about how badly he wants Moss back. It's because he understands his teammate. It's because he wants to win more than anything, and knows that Randy does, too. The Pats just need to accept that already. They have to, at the very least, open up a dialogue with the guy. Because as far as this team goes, it's not a matter of wanting Randy Moss. They need him.

Obviously, next weekend at the Meadowlands is huge. If Moss can escape Revis Island and help lead the Pats to a enormous statement win, then the cries to sign Randy will ring louder than the Rex Ryan when he's all hopped up on peanut M&Ms. All the onus will be on the Pats, and theyll be pushed to react. Youd like to think that they would, but who knows?

They'll probably try and make him publicly apologize for Sunday's tirade before letting him sign.

Speaking of apologies . . .
Lets say you're out at a bar one night with your girlfriend and her friends. It's a good time, everyone's having fun, the drinks are flying and then all of a sudden, through some random conversation, you find out she lied to you about something. Something pretty significant. You get upset. Now you're in a fight, it gets a little heated, you say one or two things that you shouldn't and she walks out. You guys break up.

I swear this will have a point in a second.

Two weeks pass, and you're still upset about what she did, but you know you can get over it. She feels the same way, and you guys decide to work it out. She apologizes for lying, and you explain how sorry you are for what you said. At this point, you realize that even though you're genuinely hurt, your comments were a little bit over the line. So you get back together; you're both ready to move forward.

Until an hour passes and she calls to say: "Hey, um, so, I've decided that the only way I'll take you back is if you also e-mail all the girls we were out with that night and apologize for what you said to me.

"I want them to all know how sorry you are. But it's not enough that they hear it from me. Gotta come from you."

Ehhh, I dont know. In some cases, maybe you write the e-mail. Maybe you say, "OK, this sucks, she's who I want to be with, so I'll suck it up to make her happy."

But if this relationship was already rocky to begin with, or, if you're still secretly harboring some very strong negative feelings from the night in question, then I doubt you'd do it. You'd take it as a slap in the face. You'd feel like she was trying to demean you in front of her friends, when in reality you were both at fault.

You'd probably walk. I know Logan Mankins would.

The Megatron Bomb
Did anyone else notice that Calvin Johnson's left hand was out of bounds in the back of the end zone before he dropped the ball? Actually, I'm not sure if it was, because we never got the perfect angle, but gun to my head, the left hand was down on the white before the ball came out. Think about that for a second. How does it make sense that a guy could have possession of the ball, go out of bounds, and then be penalized for something done after the fact?

In any other situation, if you go out of bounds when you have possession then that's it. Like, imagine a receiver makes a catch on the sidelines, gets two feet down, then steps out, stumbles and drops the ball on impact. That's a reception. But in this case that didn't matter. Or maybe it was just never brought up.

Either way, this rule does have to be tweaked. If for no other reason than because players today are absolute freaks. They can do things like catch the ball with one hand, be in complete control, and then go out of bounds with the other.

I understand the rule, but there's no doubt he caught the ball. The touchdown should have been good. But on Sunday, it was only good if you were a Bears fan (or if you were playing against Johnson in fantasy).

Fail Mary
If you missed the last play of the first half of last nights CowboysRedskins game, heres a quick recap:

Washington's up 3-0, and Dallas has the ball on its own 36. Obviously the Cowboys want to take a shot at the end zone, so Romo takes the snap, and fades back for a Hail Mary attempt. Nothing's there, so he steps up in the pocket and decides to throw a one-yard dump off to Tashard Choice, who promptly gets hit, fumbles and lies on the ground as DAngelo Hall returns it for six.

It was a crushing play. Which for some reason prompted Cris Collinsworth to take a collective shot at NFL fans. I'm paraphrasing, but this is essentially what Collinsworth said after the Washington TD:

"You know, Al, you've got all these fans around the league who like to yell and boo when their team takes a knee and runs out the clock at the half, and, well, this is what you get . . . By the way, how do you like the sound of my voice? I love it!"

He painted the Hail Mary as some intricate play with a high risk of disaster, which the fans so savagely ignore in their quest for entertainment. When in reality, the whole things pretty basic. There's no precision timing, laterals or fumblerooskis involved; it's basically, "OK, everyone run down there, I'm gonna yell '500' and toss it up. Or if I get in trouble, I'll just throw it away." Can something go wrong? Of course, but something can always go wrong. Shouldn't fans be able to trust that their team can pull a Hail Mary? Or that their quarterback knows not to throw a last-second shovel pass to a back-up running back who's surrounded by three defenders and the sideline?

Despite what Collinsworth was suggesting, Wade Phillips' mistake wasnt calling for an oh-so-risky Hail Mary. It was that, as usual, his team lacks discipline and doesn't know how to react in pressure situations.

Yet somehow, he continues to work.

Rich Levine's column runs each Monday, Wednesday and Friday on CSNNE.com. Rich can be reached at rlevine@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Rich on Twitter at http:twitter.comrlevine33

Vikings hold off Lions 30-23 to extend win streak to 7

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Vikings hold off Lions 30-23 to extend win streak to 7

DETROIT = Case Keenum threw for two touchdowns and ran for a score in the first half to give the Minnesota Vikings a double-digit lead and they went on to win a seventh straight game, 30-23 over the Lions in the traditional Thanksgiving Day game in Detroit. Click here to read more. 

Pats can find reasons for thanks everywhere

Pats can find reasons for thanks everywhere

The Patriots hit Thanksgiving with an 8-2 record, a stranglehold on first place in the AFC East, and a rest-of-the-season schedule -- save for the much-anticipated meeting with the Steelers on Dec. 17 -- almost bereft of quality opponents. So they have a lot to be thankful for.

But here are some things you may not be aware of . . . 

SURGICAL-GRADE DIPPED LATEX TUBING

Whoever came up with the stuff Tom Brady's resistance bands are made out of -- it's actually "surgical-grade dipped latex tubing sheathed in ballistic nylon," according to the TB12 website -- probably deserves a tip of the cap from the entire region. The 40-year-old uses the bands extensively as part of his training regimen, and he currently leads the league in passing yards, yards per attempt, quarterback rating, rating under pressure and touchdown-to-interception ratio. 

SUSAN SCARNECCHIA

Offensive line coach Dante Scarnecchia was retired just a couple of years ago. He traveled. He spent time with his grandchildren. Then the Patriots called. After some time to think about it -- and after talking it over with his wife Susan -- Scarnecchia opted to come back after two years away from the game. At 69 years old, he's helped this year's unit overcome some early-season struggles, and he still seems to be on top of his game. Think the Patriots are happy he had his wife's blessing to jump back in? 

ELECTRONIC TABLETS

You weren't expecting this, were you? Bill Belichick has said he's not a fan . . . but that's on game days. "I’m done with the tablets," he said last year. "I’ve given them as much time as I can give them. They’re just too undependable for me." But when it comes to players using tablets on their own time? They're incredibly useful. Whereas years ago players would have to come into the facility early or stay late in order to watch extra film, now they can study from the comfort of their own homes, on a team flight, or while riding in a car (as long as they aren't driving). For teams that have players who want to be over-prepared, having access to all-22 video at any time can be an advantage. 

DR. ROBERT WATKINS

Who's this, you ask? He's the Los Angeles-based back specialist who operated on Rob Gronkowski's back last year. He operated on the big tight end in 2009 and 2013, and his latest procedure seems to be holding up as well as possible. Gronkowski quickly regained his strength and athleticism, and he continues to be his team's most dynamic offensive weapon. He has 41 catches for 619 yards and five scores this season, and he's been used extensively as a blocker in the running game and in pass protection. Gronkowski deserves credit -- as does the Patriots medical, training and nutrition staffs -- for being so effective in his return to the field, but the Patriots are probably thankful that last year's back surgery went as well as it did.  

FLOWERS CONSTRUCTION COMPANY

Trey Flowers has been arguably his team's most dependable defender this season. According to Pro Football Focus, he's been on the field for 606 snaps, which is fourth among edge defenders. His 338 pass-rush snaps are second among 4-3 defensive ends, per PFF. He's played through injury at times, and he's remained productive. Against the Raiders he had three quarterback hits and three hurries. So why would the Patriots be thankful for Flowers Construction Co.? That's the Huntsville, Alabama company run by Flowers' father, Robert, who put Trey to work when he was growing up. The work ethic he learned on-site has helped him go from a fourth-round pick who lost most of his rookie season to injury into a playing-time iron man and one of the team's most reliable defenders.

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