By: Russ Goldman
The Patriots had a very strong second half to beat the Lions 45-24 in Detroit Thursday. This match-up was certainly a game of two completely different halves. In the first half the Detroit played very well and led 17-10 at the break. However, in the second half, the Patriots took over the game in the fourth quarter and rolled to take the victory from the Lions.
So what did we learn from watching the game on Thursday?
The first thing we learned is the Patriots offense is starting to resemble the 2003 Super Bowl team, in which Brady spreads the ball and finds the open man. Brady was at his best against the Lions, and what is scary is that I think this offensive unit could get even better. They showed Thursday that the offense can make big plays along with having sustained drives.
The second thing we learned is that the defense can continue to make plays and cause turnovers. The defense continues to give up a good amount yardage through the air, but they made the big plays to change the momentum of the game. I would argue that Devin McCourty’s first interception in the second half was the play that helped get things started, and it definitely changed the game. The Lions were still moving the ball against the Pats defense, but all it took was one key defensive play to push the Pats in the right direction.
The Lions showed that they are a team with talent, but still has not figured out to win just yet. As a result, unfortunately, the Lions deserve to be 2-9.
On offense, quarterback Shaun Hill showed why he is better off being a capable back-up. He was 27-46 for 285 yards and one touchdown. Unfortunately for the Lions he threw 2 key interceptions to Devin McCourty which led to 14 points for the Patriots. Calvin Johnson and Brandon Pettigrew were impressive for the Detroit, and showed why the future could be bright for Detroit.
On defense, the Lions came out real strong, putting some serious pressure on Brady early during this one. Ndamukong Suh and Kyle Vanden Bosch got after the Patriots quarterback consistently at the beginning, but unfortunately for the Lions Alphonso Smith and the rest of the Lions secondary let their unit down. In the second half, the Lions defense faded and the Patriots were able to score 35 points.
For the Patriots, on offense Brady showed why he should be considered an MVP candidate. He was 21-of-27 for 341 yards and 4 touchdowns, finishing with a perfect quarterback rating. Both Deion Branch and Wes Welker scored 2 touchdowns each. The Patriots offense continues to improve, and also got help on the ground with Benjarvis Green-Ellis contributing with 59 yards and 2 touchdowns. This unit was dominating in the second half for the Patriots.
The most important thing we learned from Sunday is that the Patriots can be resilient and improve as the game goes on. The Patriots did not come out strong to start the game. However, as the game went along New England continued to play better, and took advantage of Detroit’s mistakes. To me that is an indication of a quality football team.
As I always do, I like to look back at my keys to victory to see what kind of role they played in the game. Below is my analysis of ” My Five Keys To Victory For the Patriots Against The Lions. “
1. The Patriots offense needs to score early and get up against the Lions. The Patriots did score first with a field goal, but they didn’t build on the lead. In fact, the Pats got behind 14-3 in the first half. They are fortunate that their slow start did not do more damage in this game.
2.The Patriots offensive line needs to contain Suh and Vanden Bosch. The first half the Patriots offensive line had a hard time containing Suh and Vanden Bosch. They were hitting and sacking Brady. Thankfully the second half was a completely different story, as the Lions pass rushers never got near Brady. The offensive line redeemed themselves after halftime.
3. The running game needs to be complimentary to the passing game for the Patriots offense. This key was a success for the Patriots. The Pats ran for a total of 109 yards, and was a compliment to the passing game. Green-Ellis had some important runs, and also scored 2 touchdowns.
4. The Patriots defense need to contain Johnson. This wide receiver is on his way to being one of the best in the game, and I thought the Pats did a nice job on him. He did score a touchdownsm, but he only had 4 receptions for 81 yards. McCourty also intercepted a pass while covering him.
5. The Patriots need to be more efficient on third down defense. The Patriots continue to be horrible on third down defense. The Lions were 50% on third down conversions. If the Patriots want to go far in the playoffs they are going to have to improve in this part of the game.
So what did we learn in this game? I think we learned ultimately that unlike last year, the Patriots can rebound in the middle of the game and also play well and put up points in the second half. It was not perfect against the Lions, but they did not beat themselves, and they let the Lions make their own mistakes. To capitalize on an opponents errors I believe is an indication of an elite team. The Patriots showed why they belong to be near the top of many experts power rankings.
What are your reactions to the game? Feel free to leave a comment and let me know what you thought of New England’s 45-24 victory against the Lions.