Well, first things first, the Patriots are now 2-0 after beating the Miami Dolphins at home 31-24. Now, for the second thing;
The victory ended up coming at a potentially steep price as the Patriots backup-become-starter Jimmy Garopollo ended up leaving the game in the second quarter after a stellar first half which had most of New England getting ready to call a doctor after four hours. In an emotional roller coaster that would’ve had the most stalwart of thrill seekers turning green, Garopollo was taken down by Dolphins LB Kiko Alonso and landed hard on his throwing shoulder. Clearly shaken up, Garopollo struggled to get off the field but ended up going down onto one knee as trainers examined him on the field and Patriots fans everywhere opted out of their next beer for something a bit stronger.
The time is almost upon us. That long, dark period from the first Sunday of February until September 8th is almost over and the sport America loves most is due to make its triumphant return. Obviously, the NFL has not been far from the minds of sports fans across the country but probably hasn’t haunted any one fan base as much as the Foxboro faithful. With Tom Brady’s suspension appeal denied and the GOAT forced to sit out the first four weeks of the season the Patriots are basically giving the AFC a 4 game handicap. Whatever. I’m not expecting any sympathy from the rest of the league towards a team that has been on an unprecedented run of success in the modern era. It’s going to make it that much sweeter when the Patriots hoist their 5th(!!!!!) Lombardi trophy right in that autocratic, soulless, NFLPA crushing robot named Roger Goodell’s face. The real question is how will they get there?
In a matchup between 1 and 2 seeds the Patriots will be traveling to Denver this weekend to take on the Broncos in what could very well be the finishing touches on one, if not two, legacies. Brady vs Manning (17th edition) is a bit diminished this time around though despite the stakes above and beyond simply the AFC Championship title.
This is a game about reputations. About legacies. Really all of the Brady v. Manning matchups in the past have culminated in this final contest. Will this be a continuation of the overall trend we have seen since Brady’s ascendancy in 2001? Of the unheralded 6th round pick reaping the rewards of what seemed like Manning’s 1st overall pick birthright? Or will this be a final grand stand of an aging great? A man who can thwart the advancement of age to win in a big game where he has so often failed? A crowning achievement to cap off a tremendous career? None know now but by 7 PM on the east coast all will.