Curran: Five thoughts from first half

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Curran: Five thoughts from first half

By Tom E. Curran
CSNNE.com

FOXBORO - The Patriots find themselves staring up at the Jets and into the face of a loss possibly as ignominious as Super Bowl 42. It's 14-3 and the mood in the stands is morose.

WAAAY OUT OF CHARACTERIn the final three minutes of the first half, the Patriots attempted a direct snap to punt protector Patrick Chung. It ricocheted off Chung's thigh and he scuttled around for no gain. The Jets turned that into a touchdown making it 14-3. On the ensuing drive before the half, left guard Logan Mankins heaved Jets corner Marques Cole, drawing a 15-yard unsportsmanlike penalty. Add to that the questionable challenge on a throw to Santonio Holmes near midfield (the ruling was upheld) and you have a recipe the Patriots haven't cooked up in a while. Almost forgot . . . Tom Brady's pick thrown to David Harris on a screen pass and an end zone drop by Alge Crumpler. SANCHEZ ON MARKJets quarterback Mark Sanchez has started 10-for-16 for 101 yards and two touchdowns. Some of his misses have been wild but the restart he made in the second quarter when he directed Braylon Edwards to the deep left sideline and the ensuing throw set upthe Jets first touchdown. Brady, meanwhile, is 10 for 17 for 99 yards and a pick. WELKER GETS WRIST SLAPPEDCBS' Jim Nantz reported before the game began that Wes Welker would be benched at the start because of his press conference Thursday which was suspiciously laden with references to feet. Welker was on the field to field the first plus-50 punt of the day from Steve Weatherford but did sit down for the first series. Given the ceaseless chatter from Jets' camp all week, Bill Belichick was no doubt making a point not only to Welker but the Jets as well. Or football in general. Either way, it was interesting. PRESSURE COOKERSo far, Brady's been sacked three times and has been thoroughly addled in the pocket. He's got one completion to a wide receiver so far, a 10-yard completion to Wes Welker. Terrific mix of blitzes so far by the Jets defensive coordinator. The Patriots managed just one first down in the second quarter. JETS PICKING UP STEAMAfter being outgained 104-36 in the first quarter, the Jets went into halftime outgaining New England 157-127. This will be a true challenge to the coaching staffs on both sides - can the Jets keep flowing and send Rex Ryan to his second straight AFC Championship?

Tom E. Curran can be reached at tcurran@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Tom on Twitter at http:twitter.comtomecurran

Rob Gronkowski appears to thoroughly enjoy himself at Daytona 500

Rob Gronkowski appears to thoroughly enjoy himself at Daytona 500

New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski attended the Dayton 500 in true Gronkowski form.

He appeared to be there promoting Monster Energy drink, and was therefore hanging with the Monster Girls, who were also promoting the drink. Gronkowski's herniated disc injury, which required surgery in December 2016, does not seem to be slowing him down as he gets warmed up for the Summer of Gronk.

During the race coverage on FOX Sports, Gronk delivered a speed limit joke, which is sure to make the 13-year-old in you chuckle. (You can watch it here.)

[H/T NESN.com]

Curran: It's time to let the air out of Deflategate

Curran: It's time to let the air out of Deflategate

I think it’s time. Time to let the Deflategate wound scab over. Time to exit the active, raging, teeth-gnashing, petition-signing, lawsuit-filing portion of the program and let the hate follow its natural course into a slow-boil loathing.

If you are of Irish descent, you know how it works. Clear a big-ass space on the grudge shelf. Put Roger Goodell, Jeff Pash, Mike Kensil, Troy Vincent, Ryan Grigson, Jim Irsay, every shiv-wielding owner, all the cluck-clucking media and the legion of retired players and exiled GMs from Marshall Faulk to Joey Porter through Marty Hurney and into Bill Polian up there. Turn off light. Leave room.

When you need to piss yourself off -- in traffic, mowing the lawn, waiting for your coffee -- fetch ‘em down, blow the dust off and when you’re in a sufficiently foul mood, return grudge to shelf.

You rode the roller coaster. You’ve been there, done that and have all the T-shirts.

I came to this conclusion a few days ago, when ESPN’s Cari Champion interviewed Rob Gronkowski and asked about Goodell visiting Gillette. It was like playing “Get the Stick!” with a big goofy Lab. Champion threw the leading question, Gronk fetched -- tail-wagging --  and returned with a slobbery response that was completely implausible but still designed to dominate a four-hour news cycle.

"The fans are nuts, they’re wild, and they have the Patriots’ back no matter what,” said Gronkowski. “They have [Tom Brady’s] back. I’m telling you, he won’t get through the highway if the fans saw him. I don’t even think he can even land in the airport in Boston because Patriot fans are the best fans, they’re the most loyal fans. I’m telling you, they might just carry out Roger themselves. They couldn’t even get to the stadium in Foxboro if he landed in Boston."

Gronk’s just doing what he thinks he’s supposed to do. And Champion is, too. It’s like shooting fish in a barrel.

Watch these mooks up in New England get all pissed off: “Hey, hey, Chowderhead . . . Roger Goodell . . . . ”

“F*** that guy, he better never show his face in Foxboro! But I want him to come to Foxboro so I can boo the ever-living s*** out of him and maybe barricade Route 1 like Gronk said we would!”

See? Works every time.

The irony is that the person mainly responsible for turning up the burner on this is Robert Kraft.

In May 2015, Kraft said at the owners meetings in San Francisco, “I don’t want to continue the rhetoric that’s gone on for the last four months. I’m going to accept, reluctantly, what he has given to us, and not continue this dialogue and rhetoric, and we won’t appeal.

“Now, I know that a lot of Patriots fans are going to be disappointed in that decision, but I hope they trust my judgment and know that I really feel at this point in time that taking this off the agenda, this is the best thing for the New England Patriots, our fans, and the NFL, and I hope you all can respect that.”

Well, that blew up like an ACME bomb. And -- from that moment on -- Kraft has tried to recoup the fanbase that believed he sold them out by issuing a succession of calls-to-arms that the region has dutifully responded to.

The most recent was throwing down the gauntlet to Goodell by expressly inviting him to the 2017 season opener.  I mean, it would have been a conversation point anyway, but now it’s metastasized into something that will be discussed throughout the offseason, ratcheting up in early September and hitting a crescendo on opening night.

There is appeal to seeing Goodell squirm while knowing the Maras, Rooneys and Irsays will be sipping highballs and lamenting the caddish treatment of Poor Roger. But I still like the football better.

Conversation about the historic import of SB51, the legacy of Brady and Belichick, prospects for the league in 2017? I’ll take those rather than an ESPN “personality” who spent a weekend in Newburyport at a friend’s wedding telling everyone what the mindset of the New England sports fan is.  

But that’s not what we’re going to get. There will instead be ever-escalating predictions of the terrors Goodell will be subjected to fueled by interviews with tatted-up kids from the mean streets of Marshfield who wanted “Hoodie” fired when he let Revis sign with the Jets.

Unless . . . unless the region en masse decides to let its loathing mature. Mature to the point that when the carrot gets dangled in its collective face it doesn’t leap at it with teeth bared but instead says, “No thanks. Already full.”

Yeah. I don’t think it’s gonna happen either.