by Scott Benson, Patriots Daily Staff
September 14, 2009
Good thing they didn’t cut Ben Watson, huh?
I guess I never thought we’d be talking about that this morning, but after a frustrating night, I didn’t think the Patriots would come back from 11 points down with five and a half minutes left either.
It was Watson – and a double-comebacking Tom Brady – who pulled the rabbit from the hat. And you thought you were surprised by Buffalo’s performance.
Buttressed by an effective four-man pass rush, a disciplined Bills defense had forced Brady to take the under all night, leaving the Pats offense to piece together long, methodical drives that more often than not resulted in continued frustration for New England.
Yet twice in the final three minutes the oft-disappointing former first round pick split the drawn-in Buffalo defense right up the seam for two of Brady’s longest completions of the night, and the win.
The first touchdown was revelation enough; Watson ran up the hash, leaned toward the post and got position behind linebacker Keith Ellison so that he could gather in a pinpoint Brady liner to cut the deficit to five. It was a beautiful route, a play run to perfection after so many had fallen short, and what was most astounding was that Watson didn’t drop the ball. Admit it – you probably expected him to. I did.
Even more unexpected was the winning touchdown. Given another life by the special teams trio of Brandon Meriweather, Pierre Woods and Stephen Gostkowski (all honorable mentions for the first PD game ball of the regular season), the Patriots came right back to the same route. This time, Ellison saw it coming, giving Brady and Watson less room to work. It forced Brady to put the ball slightly behind the sometimes-clumsy tight end, who twisted in mid-air like Baryshnikov to spear the ball without so much as a bobble, sparing the Pats from a divisional loss that would have haunted them all season long.
Brady told Watson it was the best catch he’d ever seen him make. No argument there. Ben Watson, I can’t believe I’m saying this, but you get the PD game ball. Many happy returns, for your sake and ours.
E-mail Scott Benson at firstname.lastname@example.org