NFL Playoffs Live-Blog: Pats-Jags, Pregame/First Half

The best thing about the Patriots-Jaguars game that will be starting shortly? It saves me from watching “Titanic”, the movie best known for holding the world record for most times one character has said another’s name in a three hour movie. (“Hold on, Rose. I’ll save you, Rose. Rose, you don’t have to worry, Rose, because I love you, Rose, and we’ll be okay, Rose.”) Also, it was the first time I saw Kate Winslet naked, which was nice because I have always found her to be quite attractive.

I have mixed feelings about live-blogging this game. As a Patriots fan, I’ve endured some major heart attack moments this season – the Colts, Eagles, and Ravens were especially scary. The thing is, those games weren’t for all the marbles. If Baltimore hadn’t imploded and given away that game, it would have sucked, but the Pats still would have been playing the next week. Same with the Colts, or the Eagles, or the Cowboys. This week, however, it’s a one and done in maybe the most pressure-filled divisional playoff game in league history. New England loses, and suddenly they’ve pulled off one of the biggest chokes we’ve ever seen (and those Patriots:Yankees comparisons become brutally real). I’m scared.

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Add to this the fact that, in my opinion, most Pats fans and some of the media fail to appreciate history, instead choosing to tempt karma and the Football Gods at every turn by proclaiming that there is no way the Patriots can lose this game. Right…and there was no way the Rams could lose Super Bowl XXXVI. Who was their opponent in that game again? My favorite caller to the local radio station was the one who discounted Indianapolis because “they don’t win games by a lot of points”. You know what? Before the Patriots were accused of running up the score, they were often marked down for failing to blow teams out.

Aw, hell. It’ll all be over in about four hours. I’ll be back in fifteen or so to get this thing crack-a-lackin. In the meantime, feel free to drop a comment below. (I say we try for an Awul Announcing comments record tonight – something in the 600 range. WHO’S COMING WITH ME!?!?!?!?!?)

Open question while we’re waiting for Go-Time: why do people hate the Patriots?

The doctor wanted to take a foot of David Garrard’s intestines, and his response was, “It isn’t really something I want to do, but I want to get back on the field.” That’s a man’s man, folks.

His kid is cute, too.

I want to have stubble like Tom Brady. My stubble is patchy and poorly trimmed – beards are not my friend. His stubble, on the other hand, could have its own magazine cover.

Brian, I’d have to guess that the Pats hate is part jealousy, part Coach Hobo jackassery, and part despising of Massholes. You’ve got a World Series winner and a potential NBA finalist in the Celtics. Throw us a bone and suck at something. – Signal to Noise

You think Cleveland fans hate themselves for running Belichick out of town? Jackass or not, the man is a great coach.

If I was starting a drinking game for tonight, “The Patriots defense misses a tackle” would have been “Drink Once”, and we all would have been hammered by halftime. Unfortunately, I lack forethought.

And immediately, James Sanders takes offense to my comments and knocks MJD out of bounds to force 4th and 1.

Guess I should’ve expected that 34-yard fourth down completion, huh?

The Patriots have never allowed a playoff to score on an opening playoff drive….pardon my French, but are you $&#&&@E=MC2 kidding me? The pocket collapses on Garrard, he scrambles, somebody has him in the grasp, and on the way down he heaves it into the end zone to a wide open Matt Jones. Kill me in the face, right now.

For the record: that was an incredible play by Garrard. But the Patriots secondary has to be better than it was on that drive. The fourth-and-one play and the touchdown were way too easy.

I like how Simms jumped all over the possibility of his knee being down. If that was Brady it would have been “Just a TERRIFIC throw by Tom Brady!” – Hardwood Paroxysm

Tom Brady has never made a bad throw. Ever.

Oh, great, a sack on the first play…and a screen to Maroney on the second play. Great call, he had a ton of room to run. First down. Brady back to pass, pulls it down and scrambles for a couple. It’s early, but it doesn’t look like there are a lot of deep options for him early. Third down, Faulk gets stuck in the whole, loss of one, New England goes for it..Brady across the middle, first down to Randy Moss, and they’re playing with a hurry up offense. Sprint to the line, get lined up, then take your time getting the play off is now considered a hurry up.

Kevin Faulk and Laurence Maroney came to play tonight. After they combine to get another first down, Brady completes a short pass to Gaffney, who breaks a tackle and has a first down at the three. And Brady waits, waits, waits, great protection…and he goes up top to Ben Watson for six. And with the kick from Gostkowski, we’re all tied up.

New England 7, Jacksonville 7

Kickoff to MJD, short return. There’s a hold on Jacksonville, says fourth year referee Jerome Boger. Commercial.

While we have a second, I thought I’d give all you Jacksonville rooters a nice inspirational video to get pumped.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fGpzP7FJwS4&rel=1

Taylor gets dropped on the first play after the kick. Fortunately, Jacksonville completes the next play for nineteen. Garrard under pressure, moving in the pocket, and the ball is out! Replay shows Ty Warren with the initial hit and Mike Vrabel is there to fall on it! Patriots ball.

Kevin Faulk is like an underappreciated version of Troy Brown, if you can imagine that. He’s getting a fair number of touches in this game.

Oh, just in case anyone hasn’t noticed: there will be little to no impartiality here. That’s the danger of live-blogging a game involving one’s favorite team.

As a Cleveland fan, I always wonder where he became good. Because Bill sucked in Cleveland. I hated him when he was Browns coach. – Anonymous

Check out Halberstam’s book, “The Education of a Coach”. Very interesting look into Belichick’s background.

Laurence Maroney needs a nickname.

Earlier, I mentioned the guy who talked ill of the Colts because they don’t win by large enough margins. Another caller to the same show declared that the Patriots have the advantage over anybody because Laurence Maroney is the “freshest running back in the league.” I’ll bet that was Belichick’s plan when he sat him down in mid-season.

Maroney, one-yard out, touchdown. Gostkowski do what he do, and I can breathe for awhile.

New England 14, Jacksonville 7

Why am I watching this? I lose either way. Mercury Morris and Tom Brady will both be on ESPN next week no matter the outcome. – Anonymous

It kills me to say this, but I think Tom Brady is fast becoming Derek Jeter, and while I’ve always respected Jeter as a player, I never really expected him to be on my favorite team, you know?

MJD got some Ryan Grant Syndrome right there, bumbling and fumbling the kickoff before securing it at the five-yard-line. If I could ask him anything right now, I’d ask what it’s like to be on the ground, trying to get a handle on the ball, only to look up and see five guys bearing down on you at an incredible rate of speed.

Patriots cornerbacks do not believe in using their arms to make tackles. Every time, it’s “duck and hope he hits my shoulder pads.” Probably not the best technique.

Jones-Drew recovered the fumble on the kickoff, recovered a fumble for a first down, plowed ahead for a first down, and got wide open to the right for another first down. And again, Asante Samuel declined to actually attempt a reasonable facsimile of a tackle. I accidentally typed “tacklet” the first time I wrote that, and that seems like a fitting name for what they do.

I hate to agree with Nantz and Simms, but it’s impossible: this is a solid drive by the Jaguars. They needed to bounce back after the fumble and Patriots touchdown, and they’re doing exactly that. Until…a Mr. Pashos moves a wee bit early and pushes the proceedings back five yards.

I’m calling it – touchdown here.

Yeah, I’m good. Nice pass to Ernest Wilford for six. Josh Scobee isn’t messing around, and we’re tied again.

New England 14, Jacksonville 14

Garrard has thrown touchdowns to Matt Jones (#18) and Wilford (#19). Charles Sharon, Scott Starks, get ready – one of you has an upcoming date with destiny.

Sadly, I just discovered, Charles Sharon is inactive for this game. It’s up to you, Starks. I know you’re a cornerback, and I don’t care. Just make it happen.

Phil Simms just said: “the love to double team big guys” (re: Pats). – Alewife

I just came in to say the same thing “alewife” said. Any time you get Phil Simms enthusiastically talking about how guys love to double team big guys, well, that’s the sort of thing this blog exists for. – Oops Pow Surprise

Yes. Yes it is.

I’m a Pats fan and Seymour is overrated. – wumpa

I agree. He’s only a five-time Pro Bowler and five-time All-Pro.

Yeah but the Pats D looks REALLY ordinary right now… – wumpa

Unfortunately, I really agree with that comment. They haven’t looked right for a few weeks now, maybe since Colvin went down to injury.

Welker in the middle of the field for his first catch tonight. Until now, the plan has called for a healhy dose of Faulk and Maroney, with a hint of Watson. I feel like Belichick is the Russian coach during the Apollo Creed fight in Rocky IV – pretty soon, he’s gonna scream something incomprehensible from the sideline and Brady’s gonna start completing 50-yard bombs to Randy Moss.

Looks like Maroney is actually running hard tonight. Too often, he dances around and waits for a hole that never really develops. Tonight, he’s announcing his presence with authority.

End around to Welker and he cuts it up for a first down. Will someone please get me a line to the Patriots sideline, so I can call Tom Brady and tell him to never, ever throw a block again? Ever?

Ouch. Chop blocks are never cool. What’s ironic is that I just read in the aforementioned book by David Halberstam that Belichick always hated chop blocks because he had a college coach who taught the technique. Belichick, a center, ended up getting his leg broken in practice. Interesting.

Oh, Stephen.

“Didn’t even sound solid, Jim.” – Simms

Thank you for that stunning analysis.

“That’s only the second incompletion today for either quarterback.” – Nantz

Amazingly, they both belong to Garrard. Brady is 12-for-12 for 120 yards, which gives him a 100% completion percentage and ten yards per attempt. Lots of twos and zeroes, which is interesting for reasons I can’t fully explain.

Brady will take a knee and go into the half tied, 14-14. I’m off to order a pizza. Meet you back in the second half thread.

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