New York Times crossword puzzle Aug. 18 / Constructed by Elizabeth C. Gorski

You don’t want to think outside the box with this puzzle. But you might want to read between the lines – otherwise, this crossword might put you on edge.

Oh, the puns are just endless.

By pure coincidence, I began working this creative puzzle from the outside in – exactly as it was designed by Elizabeth C. Gorski. The first clue to the theme came after I used crossing words to solve 50 Down, “Quarterback protectors”: OFFENSIVE. It was clear the word “line” was missing from that phrase, and it was equally clear that the omission was on purpose, according to the clue for 69 Across: “Gray areas, maybe … or a hint to 12 incomplete answers in this puzzle.”

This puzzle might put some solvers on edge.
This puzzle might put some solvers on edge.

Armed with that information, it was pretty easy to mentally add the word “line” to any answer that didn’t fit in the grid, like EXPRESS (“Supermarket time-save,” 123 Across) and PIPE (“Locale for finished works that haven’t yet appeared,” 107 Down).

Theme answers are usually the longest entries in the crossword. But not so here – and it soon became evident that they were all AROUND THE PERIMETER (“With 56-Down, where to find this puzzle’s 12 theme answers,” 38 Down).

The other nine “lines,” starting clockwise from the top left corner, are TELEPHONE (“It may come down in a storm,” 1 Across), BAR (“Divider in a musical score,” 10 Across), CLOTHES (“Hang-out locale?” 13 Across), SIDE (“Hobby activity,” 19 Down), FREE THROW (“Court stripe,” 42 Down), DOTTED (“Bottom of a contract,” 100 Down), DEDICATED (“Means of one-to-one communication,” 125 Across), RED (“Draw a mark through for cancellation,” 124 Across) and TICKET (“Movie theater sight,” 1 Down).

Their positioning, of course, literally makes them BORDER LINES – the central answer to the aforementioned “Gray areas” clue. Nicely done, Ms. Gorski. (And am I the only one relieved to find no reference to BLURRED LINES, the controversial Robin Thicke hit song?)

Cheap Shots Dept.: “Cheap” might be too strong a word, but there were a few entries that pushed the envelope of normal vocabulary – namely RESEE (“Visit again,” 30 Across), ENHALO (“Represent as a saint, say,” 2 Down) and IFFIER (“Less certain,” 39 Across). And the biblical-ese “sayest” or “sayeth” would be bad enough, but SAYST (“‘What ___ thou?’,” 73 Across) without an “E” is just terrible.

For Fun Dept.: The quibbles above were offset by some pretty good entries, including AUTO-PILOT (“Just going through the motions, after ‘on’,” 11 Down), SADDLE SORE (“Real pain in the butt?” 73 Down), TERI GARR (“‘Tootsie’ Oscar nominee,” 48 Across), FOUR-COLOR (“Like some printing,” 51 Down), CARRIES ON (“Rants and raves,” 40 Down) and FINAL EDIT (“Last chance to strike out?” 117 Across).

People Of Faith Dept.: “Pope Francis’ birthplace” is ARGENTINA (41 Down). “Amish relative” is a MENNONITE (52 Down). “Part of a nativity scene” is a MANGER (71 Down). And a “Feature of St. Basil’s Cathedral” is an ONION DOME (79 Down).

Tread Lightly Dept.: “Kind of lab” is METH (71 Down). Can’t wait to watch the next episode of “Breaking Bad” tonight!

Need some solving tips and tricks? I’ve posted some here. Feel free to ask questions or leave comments below. You can also visit my Facebook page, or tweet me @crosswordkathy.