Tom Brady responded to critics Sunday night, delivering his best performance of the season. (USA TODAY Images)
The New England Patriots defeated the Cincinnati Bengals 43-17 on Sunday night. A week removed from an embarrassing loss on Monday night against the Kansas City Chiefs, Tom Brady and the Pats responded with their best performance on the year.
New England started the game fast, taking their first offensive possession down the field for a touchdown. The Patriots were committed to the run, racking up over 200 yards on the ground and worked in some passes down the field.
While the offense was putting up points, the Patriots defense kept the Bengals in check for the majority of the contest.¬†Here are a few thoughts on the game. –
Vintage Brady: What a difference a week makes. For the last six days Brady and the Patriots were under fire, some questioning if the franchise QB was still able to play at an elite level. Brady took the first drive down the field for 80 yards on 10 plays in under five minutes of play.
Brady played with a lot of emotion, stood tall in the pocket and spread the ball around. He finished the game 23-of-35, for 292 yards and two touchdowns. His 110.7 QB rating was the highest of the season.
“Brady! Brady! Brady!”: One of the game’s best moments was the crowd chanting Brady’s name. The atmosphere at Gillette Stadium was rocking Sunday night. The fans were fired up and the players were feeding off the intense energy from the stands, it was great to see.
You could see it was an emotional moment for Brady and some of the Patriots players that undoubtably heard the negative commentary on their play prior to tonight’s victory.¬†While fans may have been frustrated at times through four games, there’s no doubt they love their quarterback.
Green Lost on Revis Island: The premier match-up between A.J. Green and Darrelle Revis did not disappoint. Green had some success on a few plays, one with the team in zone coverage and he scored a touchdown with Revis off the field, but Green was blanketed by Revis for the majority of the contest.
This is¬†why the Patriots signed Revis, to lock him up one-on-one with an opposing team’s top receiver and limit him. Obviously Green is one of the NFL’s best, but Revis’ play was a big part of the Patriots dominating win on Sunday.
Offensive Line Stands Tall:¬†The Patriots offensive line has been under a microscope throughout the first quarter of season. New England struggled to control the line of scrimmage and allowed Brady to be sacked nine times during that span.
On Sunday, however, the offensive line stood tall against a physical Bengals front seven. From left to right: Nate Solder, Dan Connolly, Bryan Stork, Ryan Wendell and Sebastian Vollmer started for New England Sunday night. The unit surrendered one sack, but kept a clean pocket for Brady to operate and opened up rushing lanes on the ground.
It was imperative the Patriots settled on a starting five up front and it looks like they found the best combination moving forward.
Credit to McDaniels, Coaching Staff: A lot of people, including myself, criticized the Patriots coaching staff last week. After a strong performance Sunday, though, it’s time to give credit when credit is due. Offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels had a great mix of run and pass, getting a lot of players involved along the way. Tight end Tim Wright’s presence in the passing game was key and he should be involved the rest of the season.
Defensively, Bill Belichick and Matt Patricia had a sound game plan, containing¬†the high-powered Bengals offense. New England’s defense was flying around and the unit did a great job taking away Cincinnati’s top playmakers. The first few weeks the team was too tentative and their aggressiveness on both sides of the football was a sight for sore eyes.
Dynamic Duo: While the Patriots struggled to find their identity on offense through the first four weeks, it seemed like relying on the ground attack would be the best remedy. Stevan Ridley has run the ball well this season, but had his best game Sunday night. He carried the ball 27 times for 113 yards and a touchdown.
Shane Vereen was worked in as a change-of-pace tailback for the Pats. He added 90 yards on the ground off nine carries. Ridley’s tough running and Vereen’s elusiveness made for a tremendous one-two combo. The Bengals couldn’t stop it.
Pats Respond like Champions:¬†After losing like they did last week, how the Patriots would respond was critical for the rest of this season. New England rose to the occasion and silenced critics in their 26-point victory. The team showed a lot of emotion and heart throughout the evening, perhaps turning the narrative around.
The frustrating part of the first four games, we knew this team was capable of performing much like they did Sunday. It was about putting together a complete game, which they certainly did on both sides of the ball. Whether or not they can build off this win and carry the momentum to Buffalo next week will be the story line over the next few days.
Do¬†you have a Twitter account?¬†Be sure to follow me:¬†@PatriotsHaven!