By Jonathan Comey
Cold, Hard Football Facts Movie Buff
On a non-football Sunday in March, there’s nothing better than kicking back on the couch with a favorite flick from the greatest generation in Hollywood history: the 1980s.
Like comfort food for the soul, you know how these 80s favorites are going to turn out, but that doesn’t mean they’re not still amusing to watch.
That’s the best way to describe watching New England beat Houston 34-31 Sunday afternoon – there was little doubt that the Patriots would beat the Texans, even when they trailed by 10 at the half, and they didn't disappoint.
Just like you knew Ferris Bueller was going to get away with playing hooky, or that John Cusack would always get the girl, and like you knew Arnold would “be back,” you were more or less certain New England would win the game and improve to 9-3 while Houston dropped to 2-10.
You might say the New England Patriots are The Sure Thing.
When Houston’s Case Keenum got the ball back in the fourth quarter, down three with enough time to tie or win, a four-and-out was as predictable as Joe Pesci in “Home Alone.”
And sure enough, Keenum’s Texans went down meekly, like the elderly Duke brothers did after being swindled out of their fortune in “Trading Places.”
This particular matchup was a classic version of champ team vs. choke team, and those games almost always go one way regardless of how close it is. Sunday, on maybe 70 percent of the snaps, Houston got the better of things, yet the Patriots did enough in their 30 percent to win the game.
The Texans were no villains – they played hard for Coach Gary Kubiak, and deserve better than their record – but at 2-10 they are merely a plot device in someone else’s movie.
For more than a decade now, we’ve watched Bill Belichick and Tom Brady – the Tango and Cash of football -- win games like this where the talent on both sides is comparable but the Patriots get the most of it.
Brady threw for 371 yards on 29-41 passing, his rise in the second half of play like the arc of Long Duk Dong in “Sixteen Candles." Belichick was like Mr. Miyagi, pushing all the right buttons.
And this is why, speaking of decades, the Patriots are now 125-35 (,781) in their last 10 years worth of regular-season games.
Take stock of that for a second: their AVERAGE season over a full decade span is halfway between 12-4 and 13-3. AFC rivals like the Bengals, Bills, Jets, Dolphins, Browns and Raiders haven’t even had a single 12-win season in that span.
Much like “Ghostbusters II,” the Patriots’ win pales in comparison to New England’s Oscar-winning epic vs. Denver a week ago. It will be swiftly swept into history’s dustbin, like “Vision Quest,” and for good reason.
Still, it’s important to note that the Patriots’ story of greatness has largely been built on wins like Sunday’s -- where they didn’t have their best dialogue or many of their A-list actors, but still managed to put on a satisfying show.