Since many of you couldn’t see this game live (neither could I, I had to work late tonight and am watching in on DVR) I decided to recap the events of the game play-by-play as they happened and comment to hopefully give you a little insight and some observations. This is a first for me, so hopefully I’ll get better in the coming weeks. We’ll see how it goes.
As had been reported, no Wes Welker tonight – although another surprise was the fact that there was also no Torry Holt. Indications are he’s being pushed by the younger guys, and with no game action one would have to believe it’s going to be a bit harder for him after missing one. They’ve got a lot of depth at that position, and Holt quite honestly would be a luxury to have on this team. Unfortunately should more players emerge at different positions to force a cut, my feeling is he could still be in trouble. Leigh Bodden is also out – although no surprise there. They’re not going to rush him back, and if you follow him on Twitter you’ll find he’s been in good spirits lately.
Also a surprise tonight is the fact there’s no Jermaine Cunningham. I was really hoping to get a chance to see this rookie outside linebacker play in this game. Mike Reiss of ESPNBoston.com pointed out that he got shaken up in practice yesterday morning so that could be why he’s out. Oh, well…I guess maybe next week.
The handshake between head coach Belichick and Tom Brady on the sideline must mean it’s time for kickoff, here we go.
Patriots vs. Saints – 1st Quarter
15:00 Great kickoff by kicker Stephen Gostkowski with a booming kick to start the game. Most reports have said he looks to be in “midseason form”. So far so good.
14:59 Saints run the ball and it’s Gerard Warren and Brandon Spikes who make the stop. Spikes did a good job coming up on the play and easily pushed off his guy. Looked strong and quick on that play.
Starting line-up for the defense for New England:
DE 68 Gerard Warren
NT 75 Vince Wilfork
DE 99 Mike Wright
OLB 95 Tully Banta-Cain
ILB 51 Jerod Mayo
ILB 55 Brandon Spikes
OLB 93 Marques Murrell
CB 28 Darius Butler
S 31 Brandon Meriweather
S 25 Patrick Chung
CB 32 Devin McCourty
14:30 Gerard Warren did a great job getting pressure on Brees with Marques Murell there as well.
14:15 Murrell came around the edge and blew past the right tackle, and immediately was in Brees’ face. Aside from the incident on Tuesday that saw him be carted off the field (reportedly due to cramps) I really hadn’t heard of this kid. So far through this first series he’s looking pretty good. Thanks to him the Saints have to punt.
13:50 Julian Edelman with a big punt return. It’s amazing, this kid is so quick and quite a find in the 7th round. An interesting note on the return, one of the Saints actually had him by the ankle where other guys would have gotten caught and brought down, but Edelman pulled his leg out and didn’t miss a beat.
Patriots Starting Offense:
T 72 Matt Light
G 63 Dan Connolly
C 67 Dan Koppen
G 61 Stephen Neal
T 76 Sebastian Vollmer
TE 82 Alge Crumpler
WR 81 Randy Moss
WR 11 Julian Edelman
RB 39 Laurence Maroney
RB 42 BenJarvus Green-Ellis
13:44: Interesting that Ben Jarvis Green-Ellis gets the start along with Laurence Maroney. Both may be listed in the starting line-up, but it’s Green-Ellis who gets the first carry. Straight up the middle for a short gain. Noticed that Connolly missed his guy on this play.
13: 13: Brady gets the ball tipped while trying to hit Alge Crumpler on a crossing pattern. He drops an F-bomb after missing it.
13:08: Brady backpedals on a blitz and tries to throw a quick fade pattern to Kevin Faulk, but underthrew him. It’s 4th down.
13:04: Gostkowski knocks it through from 35-yards and puts the Patriots up 3-0. Zoltan Mesko snatched the wide snap and quickly brought it down, and the kick went off without a hitch.
Brady looks upset on the sideline, and you can’t blame him. Not exactly the best execution on that opening drive.
12:59: Short return by New Orleans and good coverage by New England. Eric Alexander was in on the tackle. My son is watching the game with me and I kept pausing it to look at the play and asked me why I was doing that. I said I was looking to see who tackled him. My son said, “it looked like everyone”. Gotta love it.
12:54: Saints run the ball and everyone missed him, with the exception of Vince Wilfork, who grabbed him and brought him down.
12:23: On second and 6 Saints try and rush left, but he’s met by Brandon Spikes and Darius Butler. Spikes is quick so far – pretty impressive.
11: 40: Quick pass from Brees, but Patrick Chung makes a perfect open field tackle short of the first down. Great play, and you can see how much quicker this defense looks so far after two series.
11:05: Another punt return by Edelman, although he’s hemmed in on the sideline this time so they stop him. Patriots then called for holding after James Sanders was hit with the penalty.
10:52: Straight ahead power run by Green-Ellis. Rob Gronkowski went in motion on this play and completely flattened his guy. Great play by the rookie.
10:18: Out pattern to Randy Moss – who Don Cricki called “Randy Cross” on the play.
10:04: Great outside run by Green-Ellis who broke a couple of tackles. Cricki continues to say “Randy Moss” repeatedly in multiple sentences, clearly because he knows he made an error. He’s not quite in “midseason form” yet.
9: 26: Deep comeback pass to Randy Moss on a perfect throw from Brady. Conolloy did a good job as they had pressure coming from the left, as did Matt Light. Randy Cross just called Light “Todd Light”. I don’t understand it. I thought it was just a John Gruden thing, but clearly that’s not the case.
9:03: Deep pass from Brady as he slides away from pressure and tried to hit Moss – but it appears that they weren’t on the same page. Moss ran a post and Brady threw it to the outside, so it looks like they got their signals crossed.
8:56: Quick throw to Edelman, but Sam Aiken missed his block on the defensive back so Edelman didn’t gain anything.
8:22: Deep out thrown to Brandon Tate for a first down after picking up about 20. He looked quick on that pattern, and great job by the offense line as Brady had all day to throw on that play.
8:16: Patriots run Green-Ellis to the left for a short gain. Interesting that Maroney still has yet to get a carry in this game.
7: 24: Quick throw to Edelman, who eluded the defensive back for a pickup of about 20 yards. First reference of “Welker Jr.” of the night.
7:03: Green-Ellis this time goes in between Neal and Vollmer, who both opened up a hole for him for a 4-yard gain.
6:30: They try to run him again to that side, but the Saints saw it coming and brought up a safety to take him down.
5:49: When all else fails, run the draw to Kevin Faulk – who got behind big Vollmer and gained the first down. Discussion now on the offensive line, with only Scott Zolak knowing that Matt Light’s name isn’t “Todd”.
5:07: Looks like they had the wrong personnel in the game, so Brady calls a timeout. Just noticed 6-minutes have passed since Edelman returned a punt to start this drive.
5:07: They try and run Green-Ellis left, but after one guy gets through past the left guard spot (Connolly was blocking someone else) Gronkowski can’t hold off his defender, and his man also gets in on the tackle. Not all his fault, they read it perfectly.
4:37: Green-Ellis takes it in for the touchdown on a decent gain. He ran it up the right side, with Connolly pulling and making the block with Green-Ellis getting in thanks to his block. Gronkowski also did a good job come inside to seal it off as well. Great physical play by the line.
4:33: Kickoff from the Patriots, Saints get hit with the holding call. I’m a little confused because the clock didn’t run despite the return. The ball landed at about the four, and he returned it to about the 25-yard line. Apparently no time was needed to return it 21 yards – he’s that fast. “1st and inches” briefly flashes at the top of the screen and then disappears. Apparently the TV crew is also shaking off the rust.
4:33 (Still): Brees hits Jeremy Shockey on a screen. Spikes gets blocked out on the play, and Mike Wright ends up coming all the way back and making the tackle. Good play by Wright, and unfortunately too many guys were pushed out on that play. Again – no time ticked away. It’s amazing.
4:33: (Still): Brees hands off to Reggie Bush who doesn’t gain much. Couldn’t see on that play who got him, but he tried to run inside, and then bounced out but was brought down.
(Unknown – it appears the TV clock is broken so they’ve pulled it)
1st & 10: Quick timing throw that’s complete for about 7 yards, but Wheatley and Spikes are there to bring him down. Wheatley wrapped him up, and Spikes put on the hit.
2nd & 3: Underneath throw that’s complete, with Mayo and Chung making the first hit, and then Gerard Warren coming over to finish the tackle. Can’t be fun to be a receiver and have a guy as big as Warren hit you.
1st & 10: Saints try and run the ball, but Murrell and Warren make the stop. This defensive line looks pretty good so far.
2nd & 9: Saints run it again, and break through the center of the line with Mayo being the one needing to make the tackle, and holding him to about
(Game Clock is back, but it appears it’s a camera shot of the stadium clock. There still must be ‘technical difficulties’.)
3rd & 3 (:42 left) Brees hits Jeremy Shockey on an 11-yard strike to give them a first down. Chung was there but wasn’t quite quick enough.
END OF THE FIRST QUARTER: Pats 10, Saints 0