More Than Just Another Patriots Recap

Patriots destroy Colts
Smug Bill wonders ‘Is it still smug if it’s true?’

It’s been a few weeks since I’ve recapped the Patriots. There is good reason. Last week was a bye so there was nothing to recap. Two weeks ago the Pats broke the bucking Broncos and there was plenty to recap. However, being the superstitious nut that I am, I didn’t want to jinx the Indianapolis matchup by gushing like a tween girl at a Miley Cyrus concert about how great the Pats were in that game. Besides, I was already attending the Colts game in person, which is jinx enough for Brady and the boys.

If you’re only reading this for my thoughts on Indianapolis, food and culture please skip ahead.

Quick Thought on Denver

I will say this about the Denver game: I was shocked, not only with the victory, but also by the absolute smack down that it was.

Remember, Manning still had Julius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders back then (unlike for the entirety of the Rams game) so it was still a very multi-dimensional offense in the passing game. Yes, Manning threw for 400+ yards, but only two touchdowns. Guess I’d rather have Brady’s four TDs on a scant 333 yards. Even though the game is always billed as the Brady-Manning bowl, for me it’s still the Belichick-Manning bowl and Belichick proved he can still get the best of the Papa John’s pitchman.

So, now, with Denver losing again, the importance of winning that game cannot be understated in the race for the AFC’s top seed.

And like Belichick was two weeks ago, we’re onto the Colts.

Christmas Comes Early in Indy

Despite the fact that I got tickets for the Pats-Colts game for my birthday (in July), it felt more like Christmas came early for me. With the first real snowfall of the winter, plunging temps and holiday decorations popping up throughout downtown Indianapolis, I was as gleeful as Jonas Gray blasting through a hole for a touchdown. And then the Pats went out and destroyed the Colts with another 40+ point performance.

Not only did my personal attendance not jinx the Pats, I may have seen my “Curse of the Jersey” lifted.

A little backstory: I have a #54 Tedy Bruschi jersey that I used to wear for big games (Superbowls, playoff games and key regular season matchups). I started noticing that every time I wore it, the Pats lost. I hosted a Superbowl party for Pats-Giants II and decided not to wear it. This of course hurt my wife’s feelings since she bought it for me. Trading a future fight for temporary peace, I succumbed and wore the Cursed Jersey. Needless to say, the Pats lost, I ripped off the jersey (in front of stunned guests), threw it across the room and blamed my wife for the loss. RGIII would be proud of my maturity.

Anyway, the jersey made an appearance at Lucas Oil Stadium this past Sunday, and the Patriots won. I still considerate it a tentative victory as it was my wife wearing it and not me.

The Game Itself

Lucas Oil Stadium for Patriots versus Colts
Just before the start of the Patriots vs. Colts on Sunday Night Football

This game was a beat down of epic proportions. From the Pats O line steamrolling the Colts D line allowing former Notre Dame running back Jonas Gray 201 rushing yards to Rob Gronkowski tossing aside DB Sergio Brown like a rag doll, the Patriots physically imposed their will on the Colts.

On the defensive side of the ball, Ahmad Bradshaw (who has been running in Junior Beast Mode all year) was held to four whole yards. With 15 yards, Andrew Luck was the Colts leading rusher. Ouch. And while the Patriots let Luck throw for 300 yards, they were 300 very meaningless yards unless you play fantasy football. The only thing the Patriots gave the Colts was Coby Fleener who did end up with 144 yards but no touchdowns.

Heading into halftime, the game looked like it could turn into a nail biter with TB12 tossing a no-look pick right before half allowing the Colts an easy score. But the Colts just never could get any real momentum and Jonas Gray put the game away.

Personal Takeaways

Last week, ESPN Boston columnist Mike Reiss mentioned Shapiro’s Deli in one of his pieces, going so far as to guarantee the best corned beef sandwich in Indianapolis. As a Reuben aficionado, I had to make up my own mind. Reiss was holding court with some very inquisitive Pats fans, so my wife and I took a table on the outskirts and listened in while we enjoyed our delicious stacked sandwiches. We chatted briefly with Reiss outside as we were all leaving and looking back, I’m worried I didn’t say enough positive things about Shapiro’s Reuben. (If you happen to read this Mike, I really did enjoy my sandwich and my experience at Shapiro’s. If I lived in Indy, I’d be there at least twice a month.)

Twitter screenshot of conversation with Mike Reiss
Excerpt of Twitterings between Mike Reiss and me.

As you can see from above, later I saw his corned beef and raised him a heaping plate of chicken and waffles from Maxine’s Chicken & Waffles. Highly recommend Maxine’s – try the homemade peach butter.

BTW – I was very impressed with Reiss’s graciousness and patience in answering so many questions. The media needs more guys like him. If you get a chance, read his stuff for ESPN Boston.

Kaden's first game
Me (L) with Craig (C) and Kaden (R)

Our seats were up in the nosebleeds (still a great view) in the corner of an end zone. We were surrounded by Patriot diehards, but the best part about sitting up there was getting to be a part of a boy’s first Patriots game. Craig H. from Columbus, OH brought his son Kaden to his first ever game. It was a great father and son moment and I’m so glad to have met them and share the experience with them. What a polite (and obviously smart) young fella Kaden is. Kudos to Craig as well for leaving Lucas Oil Stadium in better shape than he found it. Good deeds do get noticed. Maybe I can get them down here to the ‘Nati if/when the Pats and Bengals square off again – Lord knows Paul Brown Stadium could stand to be a little cleaner!

I’ll close with a bit of humor. I watched the early games on Sunday at Kilroy’s (a place that would make my top five of places to watch football if it was in Cincinnati). As the games wore on, a pack of Pats fans crammed in near the bar. We’re talking at least 50 lil’ Gronks. Suddenly, I don’t think we were in Colts Country any more…

Pats fans take over Colts Country
Pats fans take over Colts Country.

—Ryan Varney