Monday, January 08, 2007

"DRIVE"-ing Home Their Point

Your New England Patriot's first playoff win of 2007 was defined by three extended, precise drives: the one to start the game, one to end the second quarter, and one in the middle of a very dominant fourth quarter.

The frenzied pace put on by both teams also played to the Pat's advantage, as Coach B schemed a way around the punishing Jets blitz that embarrassed the silver and blue in November. Spreading the field, beefing up the backfield and making offensive lineman pause and and gauge before blocking all contributed to a much healthier Tom Brady.

And, predictably, Brady delivered. Going 22 of 34 for 212 yards and two touchdowns, Brady chose an unlikely target most of the game: Jabar Gaffney. The receiver, who didn't join the team until October, connected 8 times with the two-time Super Bowl MVP.

Oh, and did we mention the pictured hulk whose hustle and guile created the momentum shifter that truly sealed the deal? The suddenly swift Vince Wilfork scooped a tipped lateral and rumbled to the Jets' 15—setting up another field goal that made it a two-score game.

Assante Samuel added to this 2008 price tag with a game-sealing interception/TD run and, of course, Troy Brown made two clutch third down catches at critical junctures (does anyone even notice this anymore?). The score, a closer than it appears 37-16 dubbing.

Bottom line: the swagger is back, the offense is in synch, and the only team to win playoff games in each of the last four years is on its way.

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