By: Derek Havens
It was a tough night for the New England Patriots, who suffered a 36 – 35 loss to the St. Louis Rams in their first exhibition loss of 2010 Thursday night at Gillette Stadium.
After a very exciting start in which Brandon Tate had an explosive 97-yard touchdown on the opening kickoff, it went downhill quickly for the team. The number one overall pick Sam Bradford showed why he got paid the highest rookie contract in NFL history, with the Rams’ quarterback carving the Patriots’ defense for 189 yards, and 2 TDs.
On the opening drive for the Rams, Bradford drove down the field in 10 plays, 74-yards in 5:34, which isn’t exactly the way you want your defense to start against a team that won a mere one game last season. That seemed to be the theme for the night as the Patriots defense had a difficult time stopping the Rams offense. Not to mention the time-of-possession was completely lopsided in the defeat, only having control of the ball for a little over 16 minutes for the game.
The Rams looked very good for a large majority of the game but that is simply no excuse for the Patriots. Belichick kept the “first team” through the second half into the third quarter after the defensive unit had a near horrendous night. In the post-game press conference Belichick said, “In a game of no defense, we didn’t play any”, “We just didn’t do a good job. We didn’t have a good night.”
Obviously there is work to do across the board if the team wants to be successful in the coming weeks.
Some other notes – As spectacular as Bradford was, Tom Brady’s performance was superior as he once again looked sharp finishing 18-of-22 for 273 yards, and 3TDs. I expect more of the same greatness in the coming weeks and his pre-season has been very clean…Laurence Maroney sat on the sidelines and did not start, as Sammy Morris got the nod at running back. Patriot’s fans should start to question his position on the depth chart…On defense, James Sanders started for the team, perhaps to showcase his abilities in hopes for a trade. After all, safety is one of the Patriots deepest positions on the roster. Also, after a solid start for Devin McCourty he struggled greatly on almost every play. Hopefully this is a game he can put behind him…Tight ends were once again relevant in the Patriots offense and Rob Gronkowski continues to show why he was one of the top TE prospects coming in the NFL. At 6’6 265, he is a big target and very hard to bring down (Ask James Laurinaitis about that). He played fantastic and I very much enjoy watching him develop….The Patriots showed a serious lack of discipline with 3 helmet-to-helmet penalties throughout the game and also the serious time of possession differential. Not holding and sustaining drives combined with silly penalties is a formula for disaster…Brandon Tate showed why he could be a playmaker for this team. His return and receiving ability will surely make him relevant this year.
I could spend more time talking about the few positives of tonight’s game but they were simply overshadowed by the negatives. I am disappointed by the overall performance of the team but, this was just practice. With the regular season just a little over two weeks away, the Patriots need to utilize the rest of the time cleaning up their act. Simply put, tonight’s performance was simply unacceptable.