By: Derek Havens
The Patriots opened up their 2011 season with a 38 – 24 victory in Miami on Monday night. While the whole game wasn’t pretty, the Pats certainly did a lot of things right. Here is my report card for week 1 –
Offense Grade: A
The Patriots offensive performance was incredible on Monday. Tom Brady was the story of the night, throwing for over 500 yards and tossing four touchdown passes. The running game did it’s job, gaining positive yards and moving the chains. The offense would have received an “A+” grade, however, I felt the team left points on the field in the first half.
Defense Grade: B+
I noticed some criticism towards the Pats defense from the very get go, and I am not sure it was warranted. Now even though they let up 389 passing yards, the game was very fast paced. The Patriots longest drive was only 4:06 and the two teams combined for 906 passing yards, the most of any game in NFL history. I was very impressed with how the defense performed in the red zone. The championship defenses earlier in the decade would give up yards, but when it counted, they held opponents to field goals. Also, the Pats were 32nd (last) in the NFL defensively on third-down last season. On Monday, however, Miami was only able to convert 2 of 14 third-down opportunities. I feel fans have many reasons to be optimistic moving forward.
Special Teams Grade: B-
Stephen Gostkowski missed a 48-yard field goal towards the end of the first half. Also, Julian Edelman looked like he will be an important asset to the team this season. The Patriots had strong coverage on kicks as well.
Overall Game Grade: A –
Initially I was going to give this game grade a “B+” but I improved the grade slightly considering the team was on the road against a division rival. Overall, I thought the Patriots played well. Not to mention the team is a little rusty and not yet in mid-season form. I expect all three phases of the game to improve over the next few weeks, especially the defense. A win is always great to have, but it’s even better beating a division opponent. The Patriots have another tough test next week though, as they face the San Diego Chargers at home.
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