Monday, October 01, 2012

Patriots Win in the Air and on the Ground

The last time the Patriots had a pair of 100 yard rushers in a game was 1982. And only one other time in NFL history did a team have two 100 yard rushers and two 100 yard receivers. But it wasn't all gaudy stats and pretty plays yesterday. At times the Patriots looked very shaky.

Let's celebrate the positive before dissecting the negative.

Wes Welker, filling in for injured starting slot receiver Julian Edelman, caught 9 passes for 129 yards. I think this Welker fellow might be able to contribute to this offense, even when Edelman returns. Call it a hunch. He seems to have knack for this.

The Patriots offense started the game with a touchdown drive. The first time they've done so this season. That should be more commonplace. Starting games 7-0 has been a Patriots trademark for half a decade.

Rob Gronkowski also had a big day, he caught 5 passes for 104 yards and a touchdown.

On the ground, the Patriots combined for 247 yards and 4 TDs. Stevan Ridley rushed for 106, and undrafted rookie free agent Brandon Bolden ran for 137.

The Patriots scored 45 points in the second half, although the flip-side of that is that they only scored 7 in the first half. Their early drives were incoherent and sputtering. They couldn't string multiple positive plays together, and the Bills did a very good job of covering Brady's targets. Brandon Lloyd was covered so thoroughly that he seemed to be draped in a Buffalo Bills snuggie.

Ryan Fitzpatrick threw two interceptions in the first half, but the Pats were unable to capitalize on them.

The defense made some big plays, and allowed a few of them too. The pass-rush was inconsistent, and in this aerial era of the passer, any QB will find an open receiver given enough time. The Patriots secondary wasn't up to the challenge. The safeties found themselves out of position. And Devin McCourty was able to intercept two passes only because the receiver beat him but Fitzpatrick underthrew the ball.

This team has flaws. We all see them, we all know them. What irks me is when the best players on this team don't play their best. When Brady and the offense fail to take advantage of turnovers. When the kicker misses kicks under 50 yards. When receivers drop passes or fumble the ball.

For several years, the Pats haven't excelled at taking full advantage of the opportunities they have to win games. There have been crucial moments when making one simple play can dramatically increase the chances of winning the game, and the Patriots have fallen short. That worries me more than the secondary or the kicker.

The Pats host the Broncos Sunday evening.

Photo Credit:
AP Photo

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