FOXBOROUGH — Can we just fast-forward to Feb. 7 in Santa Clara for Super Bowl 50? The Revenge Tour looks like it’s going to roar into Levi’s Stadium where the Patriots will dare Roger Goodell to show up and present another Lombardi Trophy to Bob Kraft.
The Patriots clinched another AFC East title Sunday with a 51-17 blowout of the Jacksonville Jaguars. The non-contest featured another glut of Patriot riches while The Curse of Deflategate raged on in the rest of the AFC. The Deflategate-ratting Ravens lost yet again (now 0-3), the Jets were beaten by the winless Eagles, the Steelers’ Ben Roethlisberger suffered what could be a season-ending injury, and Philip Rivers got hurt and was pulled from a Chargers loss. Looks like Cincinnati’s overmatched Bengals and clueless Marvin Lewis might be the best bet to get crushed at Gillette in the AFC Championship game come January. The Waltz of the Tomato Cans is a marathon dance number that never stops playing on the flagship station of the New England Patriots.
Sunday’s embarrassingly easy win over the Jags (to think that these guys beat the Dolphins!) was a pathetic demonstration of the Patriots’ cheesy competition. Truly. This isn’t the Patriots’ fault, but how can we know how good they are when they are matched against these bums? The Patriots never punted and led, 30-3, in the sixth minute of the second half. It’s unfortunate that the Patriots and Jaguars couldn’t agree to play 10-minute quarters in the second half — like BC and Howard a couple of weeks ago. Instead we have Tom Brady gunning for more points, firing seven final passes in a fourth-quarter drive while the Patriots were leading by 34 points.
Make no mistake, people. This is the Wyatt Earp Vendetta Ride, circa 2015. It’s the Foxborough Fatwa. The Eye of Sauron. Leave the gun, take the cannolis.
Here are Brady’s aggregate numbers since all the air was restored to the footballs at halftime of January’s AFC Championship game: 18 quarters, 145 for 197 (74 percent), 15 touchdowns, two interceptions. In New England’s scalding 3-0 start he has completed 72 percent (96 for 133) of his passes, throwing nine touchdowns with zero interceptions and averaging 371 yards per game.
When gaunt Tom was asked if this represents the best play of his career, he answered, “I’m happy we’re 3-0.’’
That’s going to be all you get from these guys. There will be no threats, no promises, no wild speculation about retribution and restoration. Angry Jon Kraft, who thankfully can’t help himself, tweaked the woebegone Ravens during his weekly in-house pregame interview (“It’s too bad about Baltimore, isn’t it? . . . John Harbaugh, he’s a sweetheart.’’), but Messrs. Belichick and Brady are going to leave it to Patriot Nation and the vast New England media cartel to spread the Gospel of the Revenge Tour.
That said, it’s impossible for Football America to ignore the bad luck epidemic that plagues all those who’ve wronged the Patriots. The Steelers, who cried foul on faulty headsets and Patriot trickeration when they lost in Foxborough earlier this month, are the latest to feel the wrath of the Deflategate god. Just when it was beginning to look like the Steelers might come back to challenge New England in January, Roethlisberger was carted off the field in St Louis, victim of a left knee hit that looked eerily like the one Bernard Pollard laid on Brady in the season-opener in 2008.
With the division a virtual lock, and a conference of flawed teams, it’s going to be tempting to talk about the prospect of a 16-0 season, which is exactly what the Patriots produced last time they were reeling from a cheating scandal. New England is off next weekend, then resumes the march to Santa Clara with a game against the 2-1 Cowboys Oct. 11 in The House That Jerry Built. The Cowboys, naturally, will be without their two best players, Tony Romo and Dez Bryant. But they certainly will pose a greater threat than the aptly named Jags (a roster of Just Another Guys).
The Jacksonville game amounted to a fifth preseason game for New England. Belichick substituted freely, sometimes rotating offensive linemen in the middle of a drive. New England registered a franchise-record-tying 35 first downs and never turned the ball over. Brady had nine scores on nine drives. This game was so easy, the Krafts ditched the high chairs and watched from their box at eye level.
UMass did better at Notre Dame than the Jags did at Gillette.
“That was hard,’’ acknowledged Jacksonville coach Gus Bradley.
“That’s a pretty good football team that was playing shorthanded,’’ said a generous Belichick.
The Hoodie could not possibly want a bye this week. The Patriots are simply too healthy and too hot. On the heels of Sunday’s layup, the Patriots could play “Monday Night Football” and “Thursday Night Football” and win two more games this week. The Pats are on fire.
Meanwhile, football houses are burning down in Baltimore, Pittsburgh, Indy, Miami, and all the other Patriot-hating hamlets of America.