Written by: Christine Roy
Posted December 18, 2012 at 11:39 am
For the Patriots, beating the San Francisco 49ers just wasn’t in the cards. From offense to special teams to coaching, they came up short in every category. Tom Brady was uncharacteristic, matching his season high throwing two interceptions. The last time he did that was against Seattle where they also lost. He completed just over 55% of his passes which is a season low. It seemed like somebody turned off the lights in New England and now it’s time for them to find the switch and turn it back on.
Bill Belichick knows nothing went right on Sunday night. There were too many mistakes in every area of the game. (FILE:USPresswire)
During his Monday morning conference call with the media Bill Belichick echoed his post game thoughts in regards to the team’s overall performance. “I think there were times when we played competitively in the game. We did enough things to make it a competitive game in the end but we had too many things that weren’t good enough. There were things that were done well and there were things that weren’t done well.” He acknowledged that there were bad plays all around, on offense, defense, and special teams. He knows the heart of his team and that was evident during the second half comeback. “I thought we competed, we fought, we hung in there until the end. But we just didn’t perform well enough in any area.” No matter what question he was asked he always circled back to the fact that overall this team did not perform at its top level. There were too many mistakes and they added up to be insurmountable on a rainy night in Foxboro.
A big problem for the Patriots was their inability to execute when it counted. They were just 2-15 on third downs – just 13%. And Brady threw the ball 65 times which is a season high and far from the balance we’ve seen from the Patriots lately. It’s never a good sign to see a quarterback forced to throw the ball that many times and that opens up the door for mistakes and golden opportunities for the opposing team. The 49ers defense was on point on Sunday night making Brady’s job incredibly difficult. Wes Welker was kept at bay with only five receptions on nine targets for 59 yards. Brandon Lloyd on the other hand was the benefactor of Brady’s big throwing night and had himself his best night of the season with 10 receptions for 190 yards but came up short with no touchdowns.
When it came to the running game, well that was stuffed. The Pats rushed for only 95 yards. Any other time this season where the run game has been held down, they have lost. It’s a coincidence I’m sure Belichick is well aware of. Both Shane Vereen and Stevan Ridley fumbled the ball and that opened up a potentially dangerous situation offensively. As expected, Belichick did not make any direct comment on the situation stating only that the team works to “try to do everything in the best way, [with] the best technique that we can.” And that is in regards to tackling, blocking, coverage, throwing, whatever it is they are doing. They try to coach correctly and reinforce good techniques. I highly doubt we will see either of these running backs make similar mistakes for the rest of the season.
While this game was out of reach for the Patriots, the 49ers showed how tough they are. Frank Gore is a solid back and Jim Harbaugh is at the top of his coaching game. He has one of the best defenses and rushing offenses in the league and he did not lay down under the pressure of a Sunday night game in Foxboro in December. Now all that’s left for the Patriots to do is pick themselves up, correct their many mistakes and playing winning football.
Written by: Christine Roy
Posted December 14, 2012 at 5:48 pm
Heading into their 14th game of the season, the Patriots are a train running right through the AFC. It can be easy to let down as the season rolls to a close but the Patriots have only gotten better as the season has progressed. Not only offensively, but defensively as well. Let’s look at three key components of this team and how they’ve fared from the first half to the second.
Bill Belichick and the Patriots are making the most of every opportunity to move and improve. (FILE:USPresswire)
Tom Brady It’s no surprise that when Brady is at his best, this team is incredibly difficult to stop. This week he was named the AFC player of the week for the third time this season and the 23rd time in his career, which is a new NFL record. Looking at his performance since the Week 9 bye his numbers are only improving. In the first eight games he threw three interceptions but since has only thrown one. He had 16 touchdowns to start the season and in the past five games he’s thrown 13. He is diversifying this team as well. They started the year with a solid run game and seemed content on the short passing game. However his longest past this second half of the season was an 83 yarder to Shane Vereen for a touchdown on Thanksgiving. December is a time where Brady is at his best and with a tough 49er’s defense coming into town, you can bet he’ll be ready for whatever they try to throw his way.
Stevan Ridley The Patriots rushed the ball 276 times in the first half of the season and passed it 323 times. During that time the Pats rushed for 12 touchdowns and averaged 4.3 yards per carry. Step into the second half and they already have eight rushing touchdowns in 158 attempts. For his part Ridley will most likely pass his mark of five rushing touchdowns through the first eight, considering he already has five touchdowns through the previous five games. He has yet to receive a pass this half but that could change as we see the Patriots offense finding new ways to score and adjust each week.
Vince Wilfork The Patriots defense started off the season red hot, hit some speed bumps, but is back to its strong self. The heart and soul of this unit is Wilfork and for the past five games he has been playing out of his mind. He already has two sacks and two stuffs. He has become a force interfering with any opposing quarterback’s rhythm. He’s deflected three passes and forced two fumbles in the second half and has a chance to match his career best of 3.5 sacks if he can manage to get after the quarterback one and a half more times. Without his presence on the field this defense would not be as effective as it is. The cohesiveness and ability for both the front seven and the secondary to work together has picked up as the season has progressed.
Sunday night’s game is once again a big stage for the Patriots to show what they have. The 49ers are in a spot to secure a playoff spot so they’ll be pushing hard. Last week the Texans proved no match and were exposed on every level. This week the Patriots will try to do the same to San Francisco as they continue to improve and reinvent themselves making this train even more difficult to stop.
Written by: Christine Roy
Posted December 11, 2012 at 11:52 am
The stage was set, a Monday Night game in Foxboro, in December. ESPN and every other sports media outlet was analyzing and dissecting what was poised to be a matchup between the top two teams in the AFC. All hands were on deck getting ready for the showdown and the Patriots were fired up. They’ve been in this situation before and it was the Texans job to match their intensity. But I guess somebody should have told them that, because they were lackluster from the start.
Heading into the game these two teams were matched in a way that all you could say was “something’s gotta give”. Turns out that something was the Texans attitude. Their first drive of the game consisted of four plays for fourteen yards and resulted in a punt. Chalk it up to getting the jitters out and settling into the Monday Night Football environment. But that’s pretty much how their offense was all night. They punted seven times and turned the ball over on downs twice. And then on the other side of the field were the Patriots. Their first three drives resulted in three touchdowns and set the tone that they could not be stopped. It was clear they were feeding off an energy unlike anything we’ve seen this season.
Aquib Talib left with a hip injury in the second quarter but the defense adjusted and that made the difference. (FILE:USPresswire)
Both of these teams are dealing with injuries but it’s how you adjust to them that matters. For the Patriots’ part they have some missing pieces on offense with Julian Edelman out for the season with a broken foot and Rob Gronkowski out for who knows how much longer with his forearm. So that puts the pressure on the entire team to adjust and step up to the line ready to work. In the past two weeks Aaron Hernandez has done just that. Last night he had eight receptions (tying his game high for the season) for 58 yards and a season best two touchdowns. On his second touchdown of the game, with the Patriots uptempo offense, he was able to walk into the endzone practically untouched as the Houston defense was lagging behind. Brandon Lloyd also was very surprising on MNF. It seems the Patriots have adjusted to losing a weapon in their short passing game and Josh McDaniels has found a way to get back to the glory days of stretching the field. In his first game back, Donte Stallworth also was a recipient of a deep pass that resulted in a touchdown. It must be the routes or the commitment to the long ball but something changed this week and it was more than effective.
On defense the Patriots also made the necessary adjustments. Aquib Talib was playing great and working hard in man coverage which gave the front seven the confidence to blitz. The defense was kicking on all cylinders last night and there were signs of improvement. When Talib went down with a hip injury in the second quarter it could have signaled disaster but the defense stepped up. Not only did Kyle Arrington step into coverage but the linebackers did as well. It was clear that the entire defense adjusted and made the necessary moves to account for the injury. That is something you definitely wouldn’t have seen earlier this season and it takes a certain kind of unit to be able to make quick changes in game. And how could anybody miss Vince Wilfork who once again was playing out of his mind and showed he’s not just a big, immovable object. He continues to push until the play is over and his second efforts make a big difference for this team.
With about eight minutes left in the game it was clear the Texans had had enough. Matt Schaub was completely off the entire game and J.J. Watt looked obviously frustrated on the sidelines. Last night it was the Patriots deflecting passes and not him. He did hit Tom Brady quite a few times but never before he got the ball out. This was a true test for the Texans and their second loss comes at the hands of an elite team. They were blown out but don’t think they won’t be back with a lesson learned.
For the Patriots this was just what they needed heading down the final stretch. It’s one thing to blow out the Jets and completely another to blow out the Texans on Monday Night Football. The stage was big and the Patriots were ready. This win shows they’re ready and have the depth and coaching to make a deep playoff run.
Written by: Christine Roy
Posted December 7, 2012 at 10:45 pm
It’s no secret Houston’s J.J. Watt is a candidate for defensive player of the year. It’s only his second season in the league and his improvement is already quite obvious. He’s improved his sack total from 5.5 in 2011 to 16.5 through 12 games this season. He has 60 combined tackles so far compared to 56 in all of last year. A year of experience under his belt has clearly done him some good and now it’s the Patriots’ turn to try and keep him away from their quarterback.
Nate Solder and the entire offensive line are going to have to adjust to handle the pressure J.J. Watt brings. (FILE:USPresswire)
The Texans are riding a six game winning streak, two of which came in overtime. In his past three games, Watt has sacked the quarterback six times. Three of those were on Detroit’s Matt Stafford and that’s not because they have a terrible offensive line. The Lions tie for 11th in the league giving up 25 sacks this season. Watt has just found a way in his previous games this season to get off the line quick and beat his counterpart on the offensive line.
And in addition to his sacks, Watt has also been stuffing offenses across the league. He has stuffed opponents 14 times this season for a total of 35 yards lost. Last week versus Tennessee he stuffed the Titans three times. He’s good at the line and also can get his arms up and defend a pass when he is in the position to. This season he has defended 15 passes, five of which came in the past three games. As the season draws closer to playoffs, Watt is not slowing down and the Patriots better be ready.
Watt is the Texan’s left defensive end and that means he will be lined up against Sebastian Vollmer. Last week especially the offensive line struggled to protect Tom Brady and this week will be no easy task. Their biggest key this week will be to adjust to the pressure from Watt and create opportunities to get first downs. The Texans have only given their opponents 205 first downs this season, that is good enough for third best in the league. The Patriots on the other hand have gotten 334 first downs this season, which puts them atop the league. The same matchup appears when it comes to third down as well. The Patriots are top in the league in converting them, the Texans are top in the league in stopping them. Something will have to give come Monday night.
Watt will be the key for the Texans and the Patriots offensive line will once again be center stage. He is on a tear this season and shows no signs of slowing down. It will be interesting to see who the Patriots put out on the line and how they adjust to the pressure. This will be a good test for them as next week when San Francisco comes to town, they’ll be up against Aldon Smith who leads the league in sacks. The playoffs are closing in and sitting as the second seed in the AFC it is crucial for the Patriots to get a win on MNF and secure a bye to buy some time to get healthy.
Written by: Christine Roy
Posted December 3, 2012 at 10:20 pm
On Sunday in Miami a roughed up offensive line had their hands full with a stout Dolphins defense. With Logan Mankins out for third straight game and Dan Connolly battling a back injury, the makeshift line had a difficult time protecting Tom Brady and allowing room for the run. We’ve seen injuries hurt this line before but their inability to protect Brady is cause for concern.
The offensive line is struggling without the presence of Logan Mankins and needs to step up as the season winds down. (FILE:USPresswire)
The o-line gave up four sacks on Sunday and Brady finished the game with a 53.5 QBR which is second worst only to the Patriots loss to the Cardinals in Week 2. He completed just 60% of his passes, only threw one touchdown pass and had an interception on a lofted pass intended for Aaron Hernandez. One has to wonder if he got rattled by the pressure from the defense. It wasn’t until the Patriots last drive of the game that they got into a rhythm. With just about eight and a half minutes left in the game the Pats executed a 77 yard drive down the field that ate up 7:18 and ended in a field goal. The hurry-up offense seemed to have fallen by the wayside as it was slow moving in Miami.
Donald Thomas and Nick Mcdonald weren’t the only ones struggling. Sebastian Vollmer had a difficult time on Sunday with three of Brady’s four sacks coming from the right side of the field. He has been dealing with injuries this season and in the past so his performance on Sunday once again brings up questions about his health. The AFC East is locked up but as Bill Belichick says there’s still a quarter of the season left to play. Dante Scnarecchia will have his hands full this week trying to figure out what went wrong down in South Beach. He is a master at his craft so hopefully by the time Monday night rolls around he will have put a stopgap in the system to give Brady the protection he needs.
As far as the run game is concerned, it was almost nonexistent on Sunday. The Patriots threw for twice as many first downs as they rushed for and in total only rushed for 108 yards. They only averaged 3.4 yards per rush which is abysmal compared to other games this season. It’s as if the run game was at a standstill until the second half. Stevan Ridley carried the ball four times in the first half and 15 times in the second half and got 71 yards rushing the hard way. Shane Vereen meanwhile didn’t get any carries in the first half and finished the game with a modest three carries for 41 yards. It is obvious that the symmetry was off this week and the offense got caught without their run game in full effect.
There is a lot to improve upon moving forward with this offensive line. It is apparent how crucial it is to the offense functioning seamlessly. The Patriots can’t afford to have Brady taking as many hits as he did and the run game’s success is dependent on solid play from the line. This week getting ready for the Houston Texans, the best team in the NFL, it will not only be in Bill that we trust, but it will also be in Dante we trust.
Written by: Christine Roy
Posted November 30, 2012 at 5:20 pm
December is the Patriots month. Not just because of the increased chance of snow and because they thrive in the cold, but because of their uncanny ability to win. Since 2001 they have a NFL best record of 41-5 in the month of December. Last year they went 4-0 with wins over Indianapolis, Washington, Denver and Miami en-route to their AFC Championship and Super Bowl appearance. Bill Belichick, while with the Pats, is top among all NFL coaches with one team, winning 43 of his 50 December games. This year the Patriots start the month off with an opponent that also has history on its side.
Bill Belichick is at his best in the month of December and this year should be no different. (FILE:USPresswire)
All time, the Miami Dolphins are 50-43 against the Patriots with the majority of their wins coming at home. But that may be where their momentum stops. Since Belichick became the coach, the Pats are 15-9 against the Dolphins and Tom Brady is 14-6 as a starter. While he owns a dominant record of 53-12 over AFC East opponents, he has given up the most wins to the Fins. It seems that these two teams always struggle against each other no matter how dominant the Patriots appear to be.
History also favors Wes Welker on Sunday. Welker is at his best when playing against his former team catching 75 passes for 981 yards and four touchdowns in nine career games. He averages 8.3 catches a game and 109 receiving yards which are his best against any opponent he has played more than once. He has made some big plays and had some big games against his former team. We can’t forget last season during the season-opener when he had a 99 yard touchdown run at Miami and there’s a strong chance this year he’ll burn the Dolphins for another 100-plus yard game.
It can be argued that Welker wouldn’t be the player he is without Brady. We saw what is was like earlier this season when Welker was discounted from the offense and how vital his presence is. The two are a duo watched closely by all teams in the NFL. With that said, Brady may be coming off one of the best stretches of games in his career. In the past five games he’s completed 64% of his passes with 14 touchdowns and zero interceptions. His hot hand carries the team and if history can repeat itself, another big game should be in store on Sunday.
Miami has the seventh worst offense in the league averaging just over 19 points per game while the Patriots are sitting comfortable in the top spot with 37 points per game. This could be another game that is sealed with turnovers. Brady has thrown only three interception this season whereas rookie quarterback Ryan Tannehill, has thrown 12. Through 11 games the Dolphins have given the ball away 21 times and the Pats, well they’ve taken it away 32. It’s quite the mismatch and we could end up seeing another “butt fumble” or two on Sunday.
They say history repeats itself, and given the Patriots December dominance, their first matchup of this month could very well propel them to their eighth AFC East title in nine years.
Written by: Christine Roy
Posted November 25, 2012 at 3:17 pm
Since their bye week, the Patriots have been on the fast track offensively and are exactly where they should be given their opponents. And that is the key, the Patriots have not had a challenge in their past three games. Buffalo was tough but the Patriots got their focus back and have since beaten the Indianapolis Colts and the New York Jets handedly. But what exactly can we take away from this? How hard has it really been for the Patriots this second half and what will happen when tougher opponents take the field against them?
Bill Belichick still has work to do even though the Patriots have been unstoppable in back to back games. (FILE:USPresswire)
Offensively there are some big injuries plaguing the Patriots that could come back to haunt them. Logan Mankins has been battling a hip injury and Dan Connolly and Sebastian Vollmer have also missed some time recently. Obviously the Rob Gronkowski injury was a big blow to the offense but the Patriots do have one element on their side, time. There was a quick turnaround from Sunday to Thursday this past week and Bill Belichick made some smart moves with personnel. Against Indianapolis Aaron Hernandez sat out and that gave his ankle more time to heal. After Gronk went down, that move by Belichick proved even more important. Hernandez didn’t rack up the receptions with only two grabs on three targets, but he was back in the game and that is an improvement. With Miami this week the Patriots should be able to afford another week of rest for players like Mankins with lingering injuries before they face the Texans and 49ers in back to back weeks.
Defensively the linebackers have been struggling. It started in the game against Buffalo when Brandon Spikes was too aggressive for his own good and now they’ve shown their inability to catch a running back on the move. The Patriots linebackers are big and when their timing is right, they can blitz an offense with great success, but when they need to make a tackle, a quick route on an angle has proven to be their demise.
Obviously there is a lot of positive to take out of these last three games. The Patriots have been doing exactly what was expected of them and have beaten lesser opponents by huge margins. They took advantage of every Jet mistake on Thanksgiving and made them look like a high school team going up against a bunch of pros. Andrew Luck was able to have a big passing day but ultimately the defense adjusted and picked him off three times. What’s important here is to keep perspective. The Patriots have done nothing they shouldn’t have done. Their real challenge is in two weeks when they face the Houston Texans on Monday Night Football. Their schedule has been favorable, and given their injury situation, the coaching has been spot on. In order to keep their success going they’ll have to take each win in name only and continue to correct mistakes that have hurt them all season long. With the playoffs inching closer this is just the time for the Patriots to come out and get some character building wins under their belts.
Written by: Christine Roy
Posted November 19, 2012 at 3:03 am
On Sunday the Patriots handled the Indianapolis Colts exactly how they should have. Andrew Luck got a taste of the Patriots aggression on defense and saw how efficient Tom Brady can be. It was a nice change considering how the team has struggled against lesser opponents this season.
It was another big day for the linebackers with Jerod Mayo leading the way with 10 tackles as the defense got aggressive. (FILE:USPresswire)
The win was impressive with the Patriots tying their franchise record and putting up 59 points, and it should be noted that the Patriots finally played some cohesive football. Special teams came up huge with Julian Edelman returning a punt for a touchdown, in addition to his five carries for 58 yards. And the defense made adjustments after the first few series made it seem like this game was headed for a shootout. They got aggressive and collapsed the pocket on Luck. That is where they had their success. Vince Wilfork had two tipped passes and was in the face of Luck all game. When Chandler Jones left with an ankle injury, Jermaine Cunningham filled in flawlessly and worked with the linebackers to really turn up the heat. Brandon Spikes was quick off the line in the blitz and he was as aggressive as ever, without being reckless.
The secondary still struggled allowing Luck to pick up 334 passing yards but they did show improvement with only one pass interference penalty and it came in the first quarter. The rest of the game was clean and that was refreshing. There is nothing worse than watching a defense beat itself with penalties. The introduction of Aqib Talib went better than expected. He returned an interception 59 yards for a score and had seven tackles. It seems like he fits the system pretty well. Devin McCourty is solid at safety with Patrick Chung still dealing with a shoulder injury and it seems the addition of Talib can buy him some more time to recover.
The defense really excelled when it blitzed. That rattled Luck and when the pocked collapsed he had a tougher time putting the ball on target. But that is not to take anything away from the rookie. He showed his strength when Rob Ninkovich tried to pull him down by the collar and still managed to complete a pass downfield. He made some great passes and really took control of his team. Granted he threw three interceptions, two of which resulted in touchdowns, there’s no way he walked away from this game without gaining something. This was a great learning experience and it will make him a better quarterback moving forward this season.
Offensively the scheme worked well for the Patriots. Wes Welker and Rob Gronkowski each had seven receptions and Gronk had two touchdowns. It was a nice change to see him healthy enough to make the plays we grew so accustomed to last season. With the substitutions on the offensive line the run game took a bit of a hit but Brady did not and that is okay by me. Hopefully Logan Mankins and Dan Connolly were kept out of Sunday’s game to give them more rest for Thursday but only time will tell.
It’s a quick turn around for the Pats as they head to the Meadowlands to take on the Jets in primetime on Thursday. Hopefully they didn’t use up all their offense and can find their way back to the hurry up. If the defense is as aggressive with Mark Sanchez as it was with Luck, they should have another big three phase victory.
Written by: Christine Roy
Posted November 17, 2012 at 10:09 pm
The time has come for the always anticipated Indianapolis Colts vs. New England Patriots game. Or wait, is it still anticipated? With Peyton Manning now playing for the Denver Broncos and rookie Andrew Luck at the helm, this game has completely changed. Its gone from a battle of future hall of famers to a battle of young versus old. Tom Brady is established while Luck is having a rookie season to remember. He has completely transformed a defeated Colts team that was 2-14 last season to a 6-3 team that we could see in the playoffs.
Tom Brady will take on Andrew Luck and hopefully his experience will win out in the battle of young versus old. (FILE:USPresswire)
On Sunday the Patriots will be up against yet another rookie with nothing to lose. Luck has already proven he is a legitimate player and can lead a team. It is the Patriots’ job to shut him down early and watch out for an always dangerous Reggie Wayne. He leads the team with 931 receiving yards, good enough for second in the league behind Calvin Johnson. The good news is that Luck is more of a traditional NFL quarterback. He isn’t a threat to run but he can work outside of the pocket. We know the Patriots needed a complete overhaul after their poor performance last week and here are three things they’ll need to do in order to succeed on Sunday.
1. Make Adjustments When Necessary What we haven’t seen from the Patriots so far this season is a lot of in game adjustments. Due to the versatility of Wayne, they’re going to need to actually do this on Sunday. They’ll use him for the shorter passes as well as the down the field shots. It will be interesting to see how the Patriots defense chooses to cover him. Indianapolis is no joke when it comes to offense. They are the sixth best in the league averaging just over 20 points per game. Their defense is matched with the Patriots when it comes to points allowed giving up 22 points per game, so this could turn into more of an offensive matchup than we bargained for.
2. Win the Special Teams Battle This team needs to step up on special teams. They about break even with the yards they allow on kickoff returns and the yards they pick up. We haven’t seen a solid special teams unit in years, we’ve only been given the glimmers of great runbacks that are not frequent enough. Should this game become more about the offense, special teams is going to play a big part. Bill Belichick talks every week about the three phases of the game and it’s about time the Patriots make some sort of move here.
3. Convert Third Down Opportunities The Patriots have allowed opponents to convert on just over 44% of their third down attempts this season. Meanwhile the Colts only let teams pick up the third down 37& of the time. Offensively these two teams are ranked first (Patriots) and third (Colts) when it comes to third down conversions. It’s a close matchup with the Colts defense statistically winning out. It will be important for Brady and this offense to convert on every opportunity. The run game needs a rebound and with Wes Welker missing some practice this week with an ankle injury, they have their work cutout for them.
So is this the start of a new era? Sunday is set to be a teacher versus student type of atmosphere and it has become more of a buildup than I think anyone could have anticipated in September. The Patriots still have a lot of improving to do and on Sunday let’s hope they give us a little bit more breathing room and control the game early.
Written by: Christine Roy
Posted November 11, 2012 at 11:55 pm
The Patriots barely got passed the Buffalo Bills in an unimpressive first game off the bye week. Thanks to a near record day of penalties (14 for 148 yards), the Bills practically handed this game over. The way the Patriots played raises questions about what they did and what changed during their week off.
Devin McCourty saved the game with an end zone interception but the Patriots showed no improvement and barely got a win against the Bills. (FILE:USPresswire)
The only thing that seemed to change was the Patriots run defense. And in this case, change was not a good thing. Heading into Sunday’s game the Patriots were allowing opponents just around 88 rushing yards per game. Against the Bills, the once strong front seven allowed 162 yards. That far outpaced the Patriot’s 117 rushing yards. While there were glimpses of a pass rush and Ryan Fitzpatrick was taken down three times, it seemed like the defense was getting fooled. They were biting on delayed passes and the screen pass got the better of them. Not to mention the usual problem, there was still an open gap in the middle of the field that Scott Chandler got very comfortable with. He was the Bill’s answer to Rob Gronkowski and the Patriots got to see how difficult a guy of that size is to cover. And what seemed to be a distant problem, missed tackles, popped back up again on Sunday, a sign of a defense in reverse.
Offensively things didn’t get much better for the Patriots. Stevan Ridley struggled and finished with 22 carries for 98 yards. He did have a touchdown but his day against that Buffalo defensive line was not easy. The amount of times he tried to bounce the ball outside and was denied was uncharacteristic. So for a Patriots offense that is trying to find its stride and make a name for itself, today was not its day. Fitzpatrick walked away from this game having thrown 100 yards more than Tom Brady and completing a higher percentage of passes. Receivers dropping balls wasn’t any help but it takes eleven players to make an offense run smoothly.
It’s easy to say that the Patriots just needed to shake some rust off and this won’t happen again. But this was the perfect opportunity to get off to a strong start. What they should have done was force Buffalo to play at their level instead of lowering themselves down. The only change I saw was the incorporation of Deion Branch. After Wes Welker he was the most targeted with eight balls thrown his way but unfortunately he only came up with four receptions. The history between Brady and Branch is no secret and this could be signs of a wrinkle in which Branch will become more of a focus for this offense.
This game clearly was not the best way to start the second half of the season. The Patriots should have dominated just as they did in London. There were a lot of errors on both sides of the ball that overshadowed any positive improvements. Once again this team allowed a less than average quarterback to take control and make them sweat it out. Next week they will not be so lucky against Andrew Luck. They have to correct these mistakes and get serious about their schedule. The road from here on out isn’t easy and next week we’ll see what kind of team they’re truly going to be.