Sunday, November 20, 2005
This morning, before the New England Patriots took on the New Orleans Saints, it was made known that Steve Belichick, father to Pats head coach Bill Belichick and former Coach at Navy, died of heart failure last night at the age of 86. Reports say he died while watching a college football game. Fitting way for The Coach to go.
The Patriots were able to win a game for Bill and for his father 24-17 over the Saints.
New Orleans began the game with a nice drive that sputtered around midfield. They punted and were able to pin the Patriots deep within their own territory.
The Pats started with the ball on their 2 yard line. Pass, back form injury, ran up the middle for 3 yards, getting the Patroits outside the shadow of their own goal posts. Pass ran to the right for 4 more yards, setting up a 3rd and 3. Brady hit Branch for 6 yards. McKenzie hit Branch hard, but Branch got up and had enough yardage for the 1st down.
Brady missed Pass on 1st and 10 at the 15, then Pass ran for 5 yards to the right. The Patriots were featuring a good deal of running which would set up a good deal of play action passing later in the game. Brandon Gorin was penalized for a false start. On 3rd and 10, Brady hit Watson on a beautiful seem route for 29 yards and a 1st down.
Pass ran to the left for 5 yards up the the 49. Brady hit Branch for 11 more. After an incomplete to Andre davis, and a Pass run up the gut for a yard, Brady hit Pass in the middle for 7 yards. On 4th and 2, Watson caught a pass for 4 yards and a 1st down at the New Orleans 28.
Brady hit Watson again for 5 more yards. Pass ran for 3 yards off the right guard. On the 2 yard line, Vrabel checked in at tight end, and Klecko at fullback with Heath Evans as tailback. Brady threw a bit too late and missed Fauria in the end zone. However, Brady was able to hit a wide open Deion Branch off a play action that induced the entire Saint secondary into jumping forward, leaving Branch all by himself in the back of the end zone. 7-0 Patriots.
The Pats defense took the field and made a nice stand. The Saints moved the ball 3 yards on the ground on 1st down and that was it. Antawan Smith was stuffed by MCGinist and Colvin at the line of scrimmage. Brooks then threw an incomplete pass intended for Horn. Mitch Berger's punt was shanked and went only 25 yards. The Pats got the ball back on the New Orleans 48.
Brady began the 2nd drive for the Pats with a 6 yard pass over the middle to Heath Evans. Heath is slowly becoming one of my favorite players. Evans ran around the right for 11 yards to the 31. The 1st quarter ended and the teams switched sides. To begin the 2nd quarter, Brady threw a screen to Pass who took it 29 yards to the 2 before being taken down.
The screen was perfectly designed and executed. The offensive lineman delayed but eventually allowed the Saints defensive rushers to get by. Brady dropped back a little over 10 yards. Pass escaped to the left side of the field. Only three men were on that side. Pass, and two offensive linemen. They blocked and Pass cut back towards the middle of the field. He nearly got into the end zone.
Evans got a handoff and run up the gut for a yard. On 2nd and goal from the 1, Brady hit Vrabel off a play action pass in the end zone. He was wide open. It was Vrabel's 6th career TD reception. 14-0 Patriots.
I remarked to my friend Charlie, part of me thinks we're going to pull away and win in a blowout, but I know we're going to get too comfortable, screw up, and it'll be close. I hate being right, but it all worked out.
The Saints were held to a 3 and out. Thanks to a 23 yard punt return by Tim Dwight, the Pats had excellent field position. From the New Orleans 42, Evans ran for 5 yards. Then he ran for 2. On 3rd and 3, Brady hit Ben Watson for 10 yards for a 1st down at the New Orleans 25. Evans was stuffed at the line. Kaczur was completely beaten by Will Smith on the left side of the line, allowing Smith to come around and sack Brady from the blind side. Smith knocked the ball out of brady's hands. The Saints recovered after a scrum on the ground between offensive and defensive linemen.
The Saints weren't able to score, but they moved the ball from their 33 to our 27. They took away a good deal of momentum. The Pats were probably going to get at least 3 and then the Saints stopped that. The Pats would get the ball back after a big 4th down stop. However, we were only able to move the ball 2 yards forward. Miller had a nice 54 yard punt.
The Patriots defense looked very susceptible on the next New Orleans drive. On 3rd and 11 from the 27, Brooks was able to hit Hakim for 32 yards. After a few penalties, the Saints were able to get 23 yards on 3rd and 20. A pass from Brooks to Stecker made it 1st and goal. Brooks hit Stallworth in the end zone. 14-7 Patriots.
The Pats got the ball with 1:12 on the clock. They didn't do much with it. Evans surprised the Saints and ran for 20 on 1st down. Brady then hit Evans for 15 yards. On 1st and 10, Brady overthrew Tim Dwight, who had beaten the coverage. On 2nd and 10, Brady underthrew Andre Davis, who had beaten McKenzie. On 3rd and 10 with 0:31 on the clock, Brady was sacked for a loss of 12. Miller's punt for a touchback ended the first half.
The Patriots didn't look too good in the later part of the 1st half, nor would they look good to begin the 3rd. The Pats were able to get 1 first down on their initial drive of the half, but a sack on 3rd and 8 ended it abruptly.
The Pats made a big play on the Saints first drive of the 2nd half. New Orleans moved the ball to the Patriot 43 yard line. On 3rd and 1, Wilfork and Seymour stacked up Aaron Stecker at the line of scrimmage for no gain. The play stopped the Saints drive and forced them to punt.
The Patriots offense seemed to feed off the big defensive stop. After a 2 yard run by Evans and an incomplete pass, Patrick Pass ran around the left end for 31 yards. On 1st and 10 from the Patriots 40, Brady threw downfield to Andre Davis. This time he was more accurate. Davis caught the ball in stride for a 60 yard touchdown. 21-7 Pats.
The Saints had a long drive that appeared would give them some points. They drove all the way down to the 7 yard line. On 3rd and 6 from the 7, Brooks threw incomplete to Horn. After a delay of game penalty, Carney missed a 30 yard field goal.
With 13:16 on the clock in the 4th quarter and a 2 touchdown lead, the game seemed relatively in hand. The Saints were having trouble finishing their drives, our defense was making the big plays, and we were able to run well and pass well.
On 1st and 10 from our 20, Evans got a handoff and ran to the left for 6. He then ran to the right for 8 and a 1st down. Having a guy like Evans is nice when wanting to run the clock down and run the defense down. On 1st and 10 from the 34, Brady hit Branch for 9 yards. McKenzie forced Branch out of bounds but out of frustration he continued the tackle on the Patriots sideline after the whistle. Tempers were starting to flare up.
On 1st and 10 from the New Orleans 42, Evans was stuffed for no gain. After an encorachment penalty, Evans ran 4 yards. On 3rd and 1, Brady sneaked up the middle for 5 yards. On 1st and 10 at the 28, Evans was stuffed. Will Smith was penalized three times on the play, all three of which were personal fouls. He kneed Christian Fauria after the whistle, threw his helmet, and had an undisclosed unsportsmanlike conduct. For some unkown reason, he wasn't ejected.
Only one of the penalties could be enforced so it was 1st and 10 on the 14 yard line. Evans was stuffed for no gain. Brady misthrew intended for Dwight. Pass was blown up in the middle for a loss of 5. Vinatieri kicked a 37 yard field goal. 24-7 Pats.
The Patriots defense seemed to get worse and worse as the game wore on. I think that the Saints were learning how to exploit our defensive backs better and better. Our DBs have a good number of weaknesses that can't be hidden for long.
The Saints were able to score their first TD of the game thanks to a series of mid-range passing. The score was set up by Stecker who had a 46 yard kick return that gave the Saints the ball on the New england 48. The Saints took advantage of the short field. Brooks hit Stallworth for a TD. 24-14 Pats.
For some reason, the Pats went away from the run and went to the deep pass. I know that Evans was getting stopped at the line of scrimmage a few times, but running the ball takes patience. It pays off in the end. There was 5:00 left in the 4th quarter when the Pats got the ball back.
First play: deep pass incomplete to Davis. (:06 taken off the clock)
Second play: Evans runs 11 yards. (:42 taken off)
Third play: deep pass incomplete to Davis. (:07 taken off)
Fourth play: Pass runs 5 yards. (:06 taken off clock, Saints use timeout)
Pass fumbled the ball after this, but it was reversed. The Pats punted. New Orleans got the ball back with 3:38 left on the clock and 2 timeouts. Had we run on the 1st and 2nd plays, we could have taken off about 1:30 of clock while at the same time protecting the ball, wearing out the defense, resting our defense, and maybe pick up a few first downs.
The Saints moved the ball with ease against our defense. Then they got stopped at our 28 yard line. The Patriots were getting to Aaron Brooks, especially Willi McGinist. By the end of the day, Brooks had a 55 tattooed on his jersey. Carney hit a 46 yard field goal. 24-17 Pats.
The Pats got the ball back with 2:14 on the clock. Evans ran to the right for 2 yards. A Gorin holding penalty brought it back. On 1st and 20 from the 18, Evans ran up the middle for a yard. Just after the 2 minute warning, Brady once again missed Davis on a long pass. Patrick Pass ran on 3rd and 19 forcing New Orleans to burn a timeout.
The Saints got the ball back with 1 timeout and 1:36 on the clock. On 1st and 10 from the 22, Brooks hit Horn for 23 yards to the 45. Brooks then hit Hilton for 9 yards into New England territory. On 2nd and 1 from the NE 46, Brooks hit stecker for 4 and a 1st down. They called their last timeout with 0:34 on the clock. On 1st and 10 from the 42, Brooks was pressured but found a lane and ran for 20 yards. From the 22, Brooks stopped the clock with a spike. With 0:15 on the clock, Brooks threw to Stallworth in the corner of the end zone. "The Presence" Eugene Wilson intercepted it as time expired for a "walk off interception."
The score was closer than the game really was. Had the play calling been better, or the execution better at the end of the game, this contest would have been decided by at least 3 TDs.
Tom Brady had a good beginning but didn't really have it near the end. Overrall his numbers weren't bad. His completion percentage (15/29) was skewed by the number of deep passes the Pats were attempting. His execution on those plays was not as good as it could have been. Then again, how many times has he thrown to Andre Davis in his career? It makes sense that there would be an apparent level of uncomfortness.
Heath Evans had another solid day. He rushed for 74 yards on 16 carries. That's an average of 4.6 YPC which is dam good for a 260 pound fullback. He also caught 2 passes for 21 yards.
Patrick Pass had a decent day. He rushed for53 yards and had 36 yards receiving on 2 catches. Overrall the Patriots rushed for 132 yards which was huge as it established play action, screwed with the linebackers, and ate up a good amount of clock.
Ben Watson had a nice day receiving. He caught 4 passes for 66 yards. Andre davis only caught one pass but it was for 60 yards and a touchdown. Branch had 5 receptions for 38 yards and a touchdown. All of his catches seemed to come at key times. Mike Vrabel only had one catch for one yard, but it was a big yard. Vrabel also had 11 tackles on defense.
Wilfork and Seymour did a good job in the trenches. Warren wasn't heard from but didn't seem to hve a bad game. Bruschi looked good, as did Vrabel in the unfamiliar ILB spot. Colvin had a good day stopping the run from the outside and got in on alot of pressure of Brooks. Willie McGinist seemed to be involved in every defensive play. Apart from Wilson the defensive secondary was terrible and easily exploited by the Saints.
The Dolphins, Jets, and Bills all suffered losses. The 6-4 Patriots now have a 2 game lead in the division with 6 games left on the schedule, 4 left within the division. The AFC East is ours to lose.