As I spent Saturday hiking up Camel’s Hump (for P.E. credit), Saturday night freezing in my tent on top of Camel’s Hump and Sunday morning hopping down Camel’s Hump eager to get home, I had one thing on my mind.
Alright, I’ll admit, I had several –– among them: hot food, a hot shower, my bed –– but first and most pressing on my mind was the looming Patriots-Colts matchup.
Sitting on the couch, glued to the game Sunday afternoon, I was beginning to think my motivation had been for naught.
Phantom pass interference calls … Joseph Addai … yet more penalties … more Joseph Addai … and Tom Brady throwing interceptions?
There were brief interludes of Patriotic beauty, primarily the Randy Moss one-handed grab across the middle of the field –– question: can anyone else in the NFL make that catch, that gracefully? –– but they were far too brief and sparse.
As the game moved into the final quarter, I was not losing faith –– no, no –– but I would be lying if I didn’t admit that it was reminiscent of the headache I fought off at 10 degrees the night before while trying to fall asleep in my cold, miserable sleeping bag.
The Patriots were losing 20-10 with less than 10 minutes to play, a new sight this season and a far cry from last week’s 52-7 rampage against the Redskins.
It was unnerving, to say the least.
It was only unnerving, though, until the most perfect NFL team in several years returned to form: the take-no-prisoners, leave-no-survivors mentality they had displayed for, oh, the seven games since Spy-gate in week one.
Set up by a couple of great kick returns by Wes Welker and a couple of solid defensive stops, the offense finally got on track and just in the knick of time.
A deep ball to Randy Moss, the Pats’ first significant shot at a big play (over double coverage, no less), led to a Brady-to-Welker touchdown and put the Pats within three, 20-17.
They pulled ahead four minutes later on a Kevin Faulk touchdown catch.
After the requisite spring from the couch, shouting and fist pumping came the swift realization that Peyton Manning could do a lot of damage in four minutes.
Well, as we all know now, that threat didn’t materialize: in beating the Colts 24-20, the Patriots moved to 9-0 on the season.
If the first eight games were played by a newer, meaner, more talented Patriots team, this game was won old school, a team effort marked by timely big plays.
I bet that chip on their collective shoulder is now about as hard and cold as my boots were Sunday morning.