Monday, September 28, 2009
PATRIOTS GROUND THE FALCONS
It wasn't the prettiest of victories on the scoreboard, but relative to the Monday night win over Buffalo, and last week's suicide inducing loss to the Jets, the Pats' 26-10 triumph over a good Atlanta side was beautiful.
If you get 445 yards of offense, you'd like to get more than 26 points. Especially when you don't turn the ball over once. And while fantasy owners of Stephen Gostkowski might be pleased with his abundance of field goals (his 9 lead the League), the Patriots offense is designed to score touchdowns, and score them with ferocious regularity.
Leading the NFL in field goals is not a good stat. Not for the Patriots. The defense is not strong enough to clamp down and win a field goal game. The 2009 Patriots are built to score touchdowns early, take a 14 point lead, then allow the defense to tee off on the opposing QB, who is forced to pass. Meanwhile, the opposing sideline knows that every drive of theirs that doesn't end in a touchdown means the Pats will likely add 7 more points to the deficit.
But we haven't seen that this season. Brady is still rusty, although he looked sharp in the 2nd half. Galloway's been much better as a deep route diversion than a receiver, and he dropped some big ones on Sunday. Chris Baker was a nice surprise yesterday, and Randy Moss has been great.
The good thing to come out of this win was the running game. Finally unhampered by penalties making it 2nd & 20, the ground attack led by Fred Taylor could finally do work. Taylor had his first 100 yard game since Week 3 of the '08 campaign.
Laurence Maroney is not a feature back. But he can be a great secondary back, especially late in games when the defense is worn out, and can't keep up with his cuts. Taylor falls forward when he's hit. He makes holes. He gets 2 where Maroney would get stuffed at the line. The only question is how much can he do it? How often can he run in a game, and how long can he last this season?
The Patriots have another game against a good team next Sunday. They host the 3-0 Ravens. Baltimore's put up 30+ in each of their games, but they also allowed 20+ against both Kansas City and San Diego. They held Mangini's Browns to 3 points. So the Pats can score on this team if they get their act together. Whether Welker plays in this game or not will go a long way to determining the victor.
AP Photo/Stephan Savoia
AP Photo/Winslow Townson
AP Photo/Charles Krupa