Friday, September 13, 2013

New York Jets 10 at New England Patriots 13 - September 12, 2013

After seeing three games in the first weekend of the NFL season, I had a day to relax on Tuesday, which I did by spending it at the Museum of American History in Washington. The next day was spent driving from Washington to Foxboro, a jaunt that took nearly nine hours, as I decided to avoid tolls and traffic as much as possible. Rather than just zooming straight up I-95, we (my friend Sharpy is still accompanying me on the trip) first headed over to I-97, the shortest 2-digit interstate in the continental US. One of my goals on the trip is to drive on every major interstate (those with 1 or 2 digits) and getting I-97 out of the way early in the trip was essential to completing this goal.

We then ventured north along I-83 and then east along I-78, including a trip over the Tappan Zee Bridge, where the $5 toll is the only one we paid. We soon hit the rush hour traffic in Connecticut, which slowed me down some, but eventually I made it to the hotel which is about a half-mile from Gillette Stadium (above).

The hotel manager was kind enough to let us keep our car in the lot for free when we checked out (saving us $40), so we threw our luggage in the trunk walked north along Route 1 to the stadium, getting there around 11:30, a full nine hours before time (above). Not to worry though, Gillette Stadium is next to a large shopping and entertainment complex known as Patriot Place. With a movie theatre, the Patriots Hall of Fame (below), and several restaurants, it is not a problem to pass a few hours there.  The Hall costs $10 and will take about an hour and includes the 3 Super Bowl trophies as well as several interactive games and exhibits, including one where you can dress like a Patriot.

When the gates opened, I experienced the oddest security protocol. The lady asked me to take out my binoculars so she could look through them. She pronounced them acceptable and I entered without further ado. The fan in front me, an older woman, was not so lucky as she was forced to ditch her clutch because it was about an inch too long. I am glad to have my plastic tote with me so I can avoid these complications, but I feel for those who have to throw out perfectly fine accessories to attend a football game.

Once inside, I did my customary tour, taking pictures of the stadium from various angles.

The Patriots won three Super Bowls, but it is hard to believe the last one came nine seasons ago.

The Patriots were announced and came running out of the minuteman tunnel to much applause. Still, there were several dozen empty seats in the upper reaches of the stadium, despite the game being declared a sellout. I guess some fans knew what was to come.

We had seats in the first row of the 3rd deck, which provided unobstructed views of the action below. The first half was entirely forgettable though, with the Patriots scoring the only TD on the first drive of the game before each team embarked on several short drives that resulted mostly in punts. The Pats added 2 field goals and the Jets one to make it 13-3 at halftime. Below is the only picture I took of the action, Brady throwing near the end zone, where it fell incomplete, a common occurrence on the evening.

At halftime, Tedy Bruschi was honoured as a member of the Patriots Hall of Fame. He gave a good speech, ending with the following:

"When you play for the Patriots, there are three things you enjoy: 1) Playing in front of the best fans in the NFL (cheers); 2) Hanging banners (he pointed to the three Super Bowl banners at this time); and 3) Beating the New York Jets!"

Willie McGinest also spoke and as he finished up, it began to rain and within seconds, it was a torrential downpour. Many fans scrambled to covered areas, but we stayed in our seats as we were drenched after just a minute or two, so there was no point moving. The plastic tote did well, keeping my camera and phone dry as the rain poured throughout the second half. The game suffered, with many dropped passes and generally bad play, as the Jets scored the only points with a 3rd quarter rushing touchdown. I expected them to be riled up by Bruschi's comments, but Geno Smith is still too raw to lead his team on more than 1 or 2 long drives per game.

The rain finally let up as the game ended, but it was still too wet to risk taking a picture of the scoreboard, as the Patriots held on to win ugly, 13-10. I hope this was the worst game of the trip as I am not sure I can sit through one that is even duller (or wetter).

A couple of notes. The Patriots have a group of minutemen mascots (above) who fire their rifles after a Pats TD. They did so just three minutes into the contest and spent the rest of the evening watching bad football and getting soaked.

Finally, props to the cheerleaders, who remained on the field during the entire storm, continuing to perform despite their matted hair and ruined makeup. True professionals and I am sure their actions contributed to the Patriots' victory.


These Thursday night games are tough on the road tripper. With an 8:30 start time, they finish around midnight, which means it is around 2 am when you get back to your hotel, what with the walk to the car and getting through the traffic. It essentially means the next day is a write off as getting up before 11 is tough. I still have 8 more of these games to attend and I figure every Friday afterwards will be spent catching up on sleep.

I'm heading back down the I-95 to Baltimore for Sunday's home opener against the Browns. Check back Monday for an update on that one, which promises to be a blowout. So far, the expected blowouts have been close games and the expected close games have been blowouts though, so who knows what will happen. That's one of the great things about sports, the outcome is always a mystery when the game starts.



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