By: Derek Havens
First and foremost the most important aspect of Sundays game is that the Patriots have a winning record on the road. This young team has now won two games out of the last three away from Gillette Stadium. Do not underestimate how much confidence this team can gain after a west coast victory against a talented San Diego Chargers team. The Patriots are now 5-1 and are in the mix of elite teams.
The turnover margin was a thing of beauty yesterday. The Chargers turned the ball over 4 times while the Patriots did not. Even though these turnovers were earlier in the game, they lead to an insurmountable lead for the Chargers. Whether they were mental errors, great plays, or luck – The Patriots capitalized and were more prepared. That is a testament to Bill Belichick and the coaching staff.
Even though the Patriots seemed to struggle a little in the second half, they came out of the tunnel fired up and were determined to execute their game plan. It would be easy for a roster compiled of young players to be rattled on the road but that simply was not the case this past weekend. The team showed mental and physical toughness, which is great to see from such an inexperienced squad.
I know I mention Matt Light specifically in the “Ugly” category but the offensive line was so bad in this game that the entire unit deserves to be scrutinized further. Dan Connelly was benched for Ryan Wendell, Matt Light was man handled, and the unit let up 4 sacks – terrible overall performance. I would not want to be in the film room with Dante Scarnecchia later this week.
The Patriots had a terrible day rushing the ball, with a combined 51 total yards between all rushers. They will need to find some consistency from the ground game in order to make their passing game more potent. Granted the Chargers defense is good, but 2.3 yards per carry is not going to cut it.
Long snapper Jake Ingram had another bad game this year, and this one probably tops his other performances. After being a very solid pick up last year, he has struggled mightily recently. He had two out of three snaps to punter Zoltan Mesko bounce off the turf and was also called for a holding penalty.
The Patriots offense was inept on Sunday. The unit totaled only 179 yards, which was fewest in a win since January of 2000. The offense looked out of sync throughout the game, which is frustrating because they are supposed to be the foundation of this team. I also expected more from my hall of Fame quarterback, who did not play as well as I would have liked him to.
The play calling on both sides of the ball was extremely questionable. More so on defense as they went to prevent in the third quarter that started a near comeback by the Chargers. The defense should have stayed aggressive but they took their foot of the gas and almost let the game go. Fortunately, they made enough plays to win.
Veteran left tackle Matt Light was absolutely man handled through the duration of the game. He constantly let up pressure from Tom Brady’s blind side, which is concerning on a number of levels. None of which are more concerning than All-Pro defensive end Jared Allen coming to town next week.
Overall, a great team win. The offense put up enough points to win, the special teams were solid, and the defense once again showed vast improvements. Before this game, I still questioned this ball club solely because of the youth factor, but each week they have continued to prove the doubters wrong.
Make no mistake, this Patriots team is for real, and through six games they’re also one of the best teams in the NFL.