Patriots have a date with history
No, I’m not talking about the pursuit of “perfection” or that of a fifth Lombardi trophy. History will be made this Sunday at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey when the Patriots take on the New York Giants.
I know I may be over dramatizing this singular regular season football game, but the Patriots are currently on a three-game losing streak versus the Eli Manning led Giants. The last Patriots win? The 2007 perfect “regular season” clincher, the game that Brady broke the passing touchdown mark, Randy Moss broke the receiving touchdown mark, and five weeks later, the Giants broke our hearts and the Patriots winning streak with a 17-14 upset in Super Bowl XLII.
Four years later, the Patriots got a chance at revenge in Super Bowl XLVI. A healthy Gronk would have made a difference in a 21-17 Giants win which had a similar refrain from their previous championship meeting. The Patriots led needing to make a defensive stop, and Eli Manning completing an otherworldly pass to a wide receiver.
A loss on Sunday would drop the duo of Belichick and Brady to 1-4 versus the duo of Coughlin and Manning. The Giants are fighting to stay in first in a poor NFC East division, but the 8-0 Patriots are the team most in need of a win this week. This isn’t about records or winning streaks, this is about psychologically putting past failures behind them. Odds are the Giants won’t be across the sideline at Levi Stadium in Super Bowl 50, but what if they are? We’ve seen it before from the Giants, you just can’t rule them out. They are the Rocky Balboa to the Patriots Apollo Creed. They never back down and somehow seem to get the better of you in the end.
This Sunday, the Patriots will face a vastly different Giants team that through eight games doesn’t feature a superb defense. The 2015 Giants will go as far as Manning and wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. take them. Leading up to this game, a common school of thought is that coach Belichick’s defensive gameplan will be to take away Beckham. On the face of it, that makes a ton of sense. However, a more threatening facet of the New York passing game may be former ally Shane Vereen. Vereen was a big reason the Patriots vanquished the Seahawks last February and will test New England linebackers with his shifty abilities. Jamie Collins should be the individual asked to stay with Vereen, who at mid-season has 34 receptions for 309-yards and three touchdowns. This pairing will likely have an effect on Patriots line stunts and the pass rush. Because of this, defensive coordinator Matt Patricia may be asking much more of Chandler Jones and the rest of his linemates. Jabaal Sheard may be in play for Sunday, which will greatly benefit the Patriots pass rush.
“It’s an exciting week. These are sports meccas, two big franchises colliding.” said Vereen on Sunday’s matchup. “Both teams are in first place and playing pretty well. It’s going to be a fun game. The cities are so close and both organizations are so storied that it’s a good, old-fashioned football game.”
BC streak reaches six in loss to NC State
It’s quickly becoming a familiar refrain. Another Saturday afternoon, another Boston College loss. Last Saturday at Alumni Stadium, North Carolina State helped the Eagles bring the streak to 6 straight in a 26-8 win that never seemed that close.
The Wolfpack were without leading rusher Matt Dayes, lost to a season-ending foot injury versus Clemson, and while his replacement, freshman Reggie Gallaspy II managed only 35-yards on 5 carries, as a team NC State plowed through BC’s top ranked run defense for 139-yards. Quarterback Jacoby Brissett adequately steered the pack to victory, completing 14-of-27 passes for 212-Yards and a touchdown.
The Eagles went with walk-on freshman quarterback John Fadule after the Flutie/Smith experiment simply blew up in Coach Addazio’s face.
Getting his first start for an Eagles team which is grasping at straws in regards to that position, Fadule was 23-of-37, 257-yards, with one touchdown and three interceptions. As bad as that last set of numbers is, Fadule was clearly an upgrade to what BC opponents had been accustomed to seeing the previous 5 weeks. “I’m glad to see he responded and made some plays” said Addazio. “our receivers had some catches. It was a window into the future and it was probably a bright spot.”
Next up for Fadule and the Eagles is historic rival Notre Dame on November 21st. The “Holy War” will kickoff at 7:30 at Fenway Park, but is considered a home game for the Irish.
Christian A. Guarino, a Boston North End resident, writes about football and soccer for the Boston Post Gazette.