Sunday, March 9, 2014
There is so much to discuss, so very much to discuss, about the Patriots stunning 34-31 overtime win over the Denver Broncos - the largest comeback in New England history.
So let's start by hitting on some key moments/notes:
1. The decision by Bill Belichick to take the wind in overtime and give Peyton Manning and the Broncos the ball first.
"The wind, it was a strong wind,'' said Belichick. "We just had to keep them out of the end zone, obviously. I jsut felt like the wind would be an advantage if we could keep them out of the end zone on that first drive. We were able to do that. The wind was significant in the game, it was definitely significant.''
Asked about that decision by Belichick, safety Devin McCourty said, "Genius. He's a genius.''
2. Stephen Gostkowski kicked the winning field goal, a 31-yarder, with 1:56 left in overtime. And Nate Ebner had the huge special teams play when he recovered the ball after it hit Denver's Tony Carter as he came back to block.
But, as Belichick said, "We had a lot of guys who were heroes tonight.''
He then mentioned Veteran's Day, the NFL's month-long tribute to the military and the 50th anniversary of President Kennedy's assassination. "It was good to be part of all that,'' he said.
3. When it gets cold, the Patriots get better. It was 22 with a wind chill of 6 degrees when the game started,
Tom Brady is now 25-5 as a starter when the temperature is 32 or lower. He's thrown 51 touchdowns, including three on Sunday, and just 21 interceptions.
In their history, the Patriots are 35-8 in games when the temperature is 34 or colder.
This was the coldest regular season game in Gillette Stadium history and the coldest home game since Dec. 26, 1993 when it was 19 with a wind chill of minus-2 in a 38-0 win over Indianapolis.
But the coldest game in Patriots history remains the AFC Divisional Round 17-14 win over Tennessee on Jan. 10, 2004. It was 4 degrees with a wind chill of minus-10, causing beer to freeze.
4. The Patriots don't panic. Afterward, everyone said that nothing needed to be said at the half.
"Some things don't need to be said,'' said linebacker Rob Ninkovich. "Sometiems hot air doesn't get anything motivated. Sometimes you just have to look at yourself and say that wasn't good enough.''
5. Tom Brady is now 10-4 against Peyton Manning, who was held to 150 passing yards. 150!
Of course, Knowshon Moreno rushed for 224 yards so . . .
"The game plan was to move the ball and score points and, so, obviously the running game was hot,'' said Manning. "Knowshon was hot so we were riding him.''
6. Wes Welker, in his return to Foxborough: 4 catches, 31 yards, He returned two punts for 13 yards.
"It was a little different for sure,'' he said. "It was great seeing Mr. Kraft and I have a lot of respect for him as a man and as an owner of a team. He's a good one.''
Kraft hugged Welker at midfield during warm-ups and the team had a video montage of Welker's greatest moments in his six seasons as a Patriot.
Mike Lowe has covered the New England Patriots since 1999 for the Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram and has had a nice view of their emergence as one of the NFL’s premier franchises.
He’s been at the paper since 1982 and has covered everything from a Little League World Series to the Summer Olympics. He is married to Tracie and they have three children and two grandchildren.
Follow Mike on Twitter @MikeLowePPH.