ARLINGTON, Texas — Here’s what the Patriot Revenge Tour is all about:
Leading the Cowboys, 30-6, on Sunday, setting up the defense as Dallas prepared for a fourth-and-goal from the 6, Bill Belichick could be seen sprinting down the sideline to call timeout. He got the timeout. The Patriots realigned, forced an incomplete pass, and took over on downs. They kept the Cowboys out of the end zone.
Perfect. Only the Patriots can run up the score while playing defense.
It’s called playing the full 60 minutes. And it is not a bad thing.
“We wanted to hold their offense to no touchdowns,’’ said Patriots defensive lineman Jabaal Sheard.
The Patriots are settling all family business in this Deflategate vendetta. New England opponents are on notice: You might get it in a revolving door, on the courthouse steps, or right through the eyeglasses on a massage table, but the Patriots are coming after you and they are going to get you.
They did it to the Steelers (complaining about headsets and trickeration), they did it to the muscle-flexing Bills (“we hate the Patriots”), and Sunday they punished Jerry Jones for sticking up for Roger Goodell and Greg Hardy for trash-talking about “guns blazing” and Patriot family members.
Oh, and did I mention . . . we’re on to Indianapolis?
Game 4 on Week 5 was a formulaic beatdown of the depleted Cowboys in front of 93,054 in Jones’s spectacular football palace. The score was 3-3 with four minutes remaining in the first half, but there was not a single moment in which the Patriots felt the least bit threatened. It was wire-to-wire mental domination as players on both teams operated secure in the knowledge that the Patriots would easily prevail.
“I’m really proud of our team,’’ Belichick said. “We didn’t give up any big plays. I give them all the credit in the world.’’
So look where we are headed in the preposterous AFC of 2015 (the Ravens slipped to 1-4 Sunday). It’s somehow apppropriate that a guy named Campbell is now coaching in Miami because the Tomato Cans never have been aligned better than what we’re looking at in the fall/winter of 2015-16. The Patriots appear to be on a collision course to meet bumbling Marvin Lewis and Andy Dalton in an AFC Championship game at Gillette in January. Seriously.
The House That Jerry Built was a mere speed bump in New England’s vengeance-fueled surge to Santa Clara for Super Bowl 50 and that golden moment when the Ginger Hammer has to give the Lombardi Trophy to Bob Kraft.
Let’s start with the coin flip, as we so often do. Sixteen years of studying Bill Belichick’s Patriot operation would teach you that it is never a good idea to receive the ball at the start of any game against New England. If you do this, the Patriots are almost certain to punish you by breaking your will with their patented “double-score” at the end of the first half and the beginning of the second half. This age-old maneuver, accomplished almost every week, generally breaks the back of the Patriot opponent, virtually certifying the Patriots will win.
It was Bill Russell, the greatest winner and best defender in the history of American sports, who was first to observe that the key to playing good defense was to make your opponent do something he does not want to do. This is why when you play Belichick, you should make him take the ball at the start of the game. Even if the Patriots should run it down your throat and take a 7-0 lead, you eliminate the possibility of the Patriots scoring on the first possession of the third quarter.
So what did Princeton man Jason Garrett do when he won the coin toss Sunday? He opted for the ball.
And the game was over.
Just like that.
Dallas received the kick, went three-and-out, and then watched the Patriots maneuver the clock to score on a 57-yard field goal by Stephen Gostkowski with three seconds left in the half to give the Patriots a 13-3 lead. At the start of the third, Brady methodically took the Pats 80 yards in nine plays, capping the drive with a 10-yard catch-and-run TD pass to the elusive Dion Lewis.
That made it 20-3. The rest was football formality.
It’s amazing. The Patriots never, ever beat themselves. They wait for you to beat yourself. And it works almost every time. New England has two turnovers in four games.
Belichick said little after the game. Brady said less. It’s not about talking now. It’s about kicking butt and taking names.
“All we can do is make the adjustments and hope we do better next week,’’ Brady said.
Watch out, you Indianapolis Colts. From this point forward, think of yourselves as Fredo.