Monday, October 26, 2009
94-7. That's how much the Patriots have outscored their last two opponents. The 87 point combined margin of victory is just 1 shy of the NFL post-merger record, set by Kansas City. And once again, it could have been a much wider deficit.
Inside the pocket, Tom Brady looked like 2007's Tom Brady. He stepped up at the right time, was patient with the ball, and made excellent decisions with his feet. He threw two interceptions, and both were his fault. His pick in the end zone was particularly painful, and was his first red zone INT since 2005.
The defense was solid once again. Meriweather picked off two passes, and both INTs came as a result of a consistent pass rush. The Pats stopped the run enough in the first few drives, and once the offense was up 21-0, the rushing game was off the table, and it was teeing off time. Chung, Burgess, and Wright each had sacks. Banta-Cain had 2 tackles for a loss. Adalius Thomas didn't play much, but seemed to play decently when he was on the field.
Wes Welker is back. He caught 10 passes for 107 yards and a TD. He also had 53 punt return yards (13.3 average). In the last 3 games, he has 343 receiving yards, 4 TDs, and 28 catches.
The running game was disappointing, especially since Tampa Bay is very vulnerable to a ground game. Maroney looked like his normal frustrating and frustrated self. Green-Ellis had 6 yards on 7 carries.
The Pats need to work on several things for the next 2 weeks. The left side of the O-line was heavily penalized, and frequently beaten by the outside pass rush. The afore mentioned running game could have been a lot more efficient and punishing. When Tampa Bay was able to absorb the pass rush, they exploited monumental inadequacies in the Pats' secondary. Those inadequacies need to be hidden better, and the pass rush needs to be more consistent.
But 35-7 is 35-7. 5-3 is 5-3.
It's bye week time for the Pats. And then starts an unholy stretch of games. From November 8 to December 6, they play 5 games. 3 of those are on the road. It goes Miami, @ Indy, Jets, @ Saints, @ Miami. That's make or break material.
AP Photo/Tom Hevezi
AP Photo/Stephan Savoia
AP Photo/Matt Dunham
Mixed emotions about this game. On the one hand, the Bruins scored 2 goals in the last 88 seconds to force an overtime, and eventually triumph in the shootout. On the other hand, they NEEDED 2 goals to force an overtime.
If this were just an isolated game, it would be a thrilling victory to be celebrated and enjoyed. But the Bruins have developed an awful habit of inconsistency. They played a solid 1st period, a fantastic 2nd period, and for 18 minutes in the 3rd they let the Senators dominate them. It's got to stop.
Tim Thomas was Jedi-like in this game. His stat line isn't impressive (27 saves on 30 shots), but without him this game would've been 5-1 or worse. And that's not an exaggeration. He made some inhuman saves, staying in plays that no other goalie could stay in.
Derek Morris has another good game. But not many Bruins did. Blake Wheeler scored a goal, but also had some dreadful giveaways. Bergeron, Ference, Stuart, and Wideman all made nervous looking passes.
This team's problem isn't a lack of fire, it's a lack of focus. They don't have that workmanlike attitude that characterized their regular season play last season. They'll be too casual for 15 minutes at a time, trying to make cross-ice passes that are broken up by a defender literally 2 feet from them. They'll lose battles along the boards, and make moronic decisions with the puck. Then after 15 minutes of this, and an opponent's goal or two, they'll have fire and play with a fury for 10 minutes.
They don't need a fire lit under them. They don't need players traded to "send a message." They need veteran guys like Chara, Sturm, Savard (when he returns), and Rechhi to play with a collected passion and an even keel. When Aaron Ward and PJ Axelsson left, this team lost some of its calm and confident character. That needs to be replaced from within. And I think eventually it will be.
The Bruins have 6 power play goals. They've allowed 3 shorthanded goals. They'd better find that character.
Almost a week off until the B's host the Devils on Thursday.
AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Fred Chartrand
The Eagles were looking for their 7th straight win over the Fighting Irish, bowl eligibility, and their first road win of the season. But they turned the ball over 5 times in a closely fought contest in South Bend.
The BC defense was excellent, holding Notre Dame to 5 for 15 on 3rd downs, and coming up with some big stops. Combined with punter Ryan Quigley, the Eagles dominated the field possession battle, but didn't do much with that advantage.
BC wasn't supposed to win this game, but the 5 turnovers cost them what would have been a season-making win. Not only would they have secured bowl eligibility, they could have cracked the Top 25, or at least gotten themselves to the precipice of doing so.
BC comes home and plays Central Michigan on Halloween. But CMU is no pushover. The Chippewas are 7-1 (4-0 on the road, including @ Michigan State), so BC will have their work cut out for them.
AP Photo/Michael Conroy