Tuesday, October 31, 2006
The Minnesota Vikings have one of the best run defenses in the NFL. Their gameplan on Monday night was simple: stop the run and force Brady to throw the ball. Incorrect decision.
The Patriots knew that running wouldn't work, seemingly before kickoff. On the first drive, the Pats attempted 6 passes and rushed only once. All 6 passes were caught, including the final one in the end zone. The game was over.
Offensively, the Vikings didn't seem to have any gameplan whatsoever. They tried running, didn't work too well. Then they fell behind. The short passes they threw worked, but for some reason they strayed from that plan as the Patriots lead grew and grew. Brad Johnson is not a deep ball QB, and this was made quite evident. The Pats picked Johnson off 3 times on 3 balls that were poorly thrown. The only points Minnesota scored were through special teams.
The Patriots dominated this game from the opening drive to the final whistle. The first drive was a complete dismantling of the Vikings' zone coverage and a stifling of their pass rush. Neither would come back together enough to make a difference throughout the remainder of the game.
The first drive was artistry in coaching and quarterbacking. Brady hit Watson for 8. Dillon was hit in the backfield for a loss of 8. The Vikings celebrated this tackle for a loss, perhaps rightfully so. It may have been the last moment that they were in the game. On 3rd and 10, Brady nailed Gabriel in the seam of the zone for 45 yards. Brady hit Gabriel again for 16 more. Brown caught a 5 yarder, then Watson got it to the 4 with a 16 yard reception. Brady hit Caldwell in the end zone to put the Pats up for good. The Pats would lead for the next 56:07.
The Pats did dominate this game, but they didn't play their best football. Don't get me wrong, they played very well, but they also turned the ball over twice. They also had some missed tackles that turned into huge plays for the Vikings, including the punt return for Minnesota's only TD.
Brady had a career game. He threw 29 of his 43 attempts for completions. He amassed 372 yards, and threw 4 TDs, each to a different player. He hit 10 different receivers. More importantly, he hit 5 different WIDE receivers. About half of Brady's completions were to wide receivers. He's starting to feel more comfortable with them and vice versa.
The Patriots did in this game what they've done many times before. They adjusted the way they played based on the way their opponents play. They didn't even really try to run the ball. As a team, they had 15 total rushing attempts. One was a QB sneak, one was a QB kneel down, and 4 were in the 4th quarter with the game secured. Heath Evans led the team in rushing with his 35 yard carry.
It was a nice road win against a solid team, but we shouldn't get too carried away. Next week is a massive clash in Foxborough with a QB much better than Brad Johnson. However, the Colts don't have much of a run defense. I honestly think we'll rack up a massive amount of rushing yardage against Indy next week. Perhaps in the 300 yard neighborhood. We just have to keep Manning from getting the ball into the end zone, which isn't too easy. But we've done it before.