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Week 13 Thoughts: Phew!

Discussion in 'PatsFans.com - Patriots Fan Forum' started by Oswlek, Dec 4, 2007.

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  1. Oswlek

    Oswlek In the Starting Line-Up

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    Not since the SD playoff game last year have I been so wiped out after just watching a freaking game. Add in an offensive player getting a strip, a defense that looked like is was a play away from breaking down stepping up late and a late comeback and there are some similarities there.

    Here are my weekly semi-lucid thoughts:

    * I am surprised by the amount of controversy that there appears to be with the officiating. I don't quite understand why the refs correctly calling the final few minutes is considered biased against Baltimore. Shouldn't all the holding that they got away with mean that the refs favored them? :confused: I am confused.

    * Most saw the near tackle of Samuel by Mason, but it seems that not too many noticed that Mason grabbed Gay when he was setting his position (like a rebounder) and literally threw him from the two yard line to 3 yards deep into the EZ. Then he went and grabbed Samuel. Without those plays, there is no way that the pass isn't batted down.

    * I am also surprised by the negative tone surrounding Maroney's game - running in particular. Maroney had one play where I felt that he ran poorly; the stuff on 3rd and 1. And on that play it looked to me like he ran up into Mankins expecting the big guy to get a push that never came. I do think that he could have done more with that play, but his running was MUCH better than people give him credit for. He just ran against a very good run defense. Of course couple that with clearly his best blocking and receiving and I walked away from that game thinking that he played extremely well.

    * If you want to point to someone who had a bad game, look at Hobbs. He just waited for McGahee on the long TD run and gave a marginal effort to stop him. He was beaten on the subsequent TD as well, although in fairness to him he did slip. But I did see several other times where he could have been more of a factor in run support, but he seemed to decide not to.

    * I thought that Watson almost single-handedly kept Baltimore tied in the first half. His dropped TD was an easy catch and he had another play where he absolutely should have gotten a first down but he let himself get stopped by one guy with a 1/2 yard to go. Add another drop and you have a recipe for a very bad half. He did have a big catch late, though.

    * Can someone explain to me why NE took so long to adjust from a passive, vanilla type defense to an agressive, attacking style with tons of penetration? Why didn't they do anything possible to force Boller to throw the ball? I was very surprised by this. Obviously some of this is great blocking and intense running by McGahee, but it was no surprise that they couldn't do much once NE got guys in the backfield.

    * I found it humorous just how much they kept pointing out Boller's great numbers without pointing out that most of his yardage (at that time) came on a complete fluke play.

    * Faulk had a terrific game. He ran very well up the middle (he just seems to squirt through any little hole like a damn mouse) and he had some key catches. The only two negatives were a drop and I thought he could have gotten the first down just prior to the notorious 4th and 1. It seemed that he ran OOB when there was room to push forward.

    * I am starting to get worried about the dropped balls. Watson had a couple, Moss should have caught the TD. Faulk dropped a sure 10 yard gain. Stallworth allowed a ball to get into his chest that he subsequently dropped when hit. You can't have that when passing is your identity. Hell, you can't have that period.

    * Same criticism, different week. While NE gets a decent push on the pass rush, they seem to get there just a half-second too late all the time. This week, that was joined by a secondary that was just a half second late trying to tip passes.

    * I wonder how much this game was affect by Sean Taylor's death. It just seemed to me that the Ravens - with their three most prominant players very close to him - played inspired because of it. Obviously NE has Wilfork and Meriweather who were there as well, but I don't think that the Taylor thing was just an ESPN storyline.

    * Was it me or was Welker held on Brady's int? Or, said differently: Was it me, or was Wes Welker held on nearly every route he ran all night? I hate to sound like a Colt fan circa 2003, but whatever. Just don't shove this bias crap down my throat when the calls finally came. You played with fire and ultimately you got burned.

    * On the second of the two consecutive sacks of Brady in the second half, it seemed to me that Light had trouble getting out of his stance. Either that or he expect a bull rush, because he was still set when the defender was passing him despite it not being Freeney-esque. It found it humorous that the guy got the sack despite Light getting away with a blatant uncalled hold.

    * On Gafney's TD, I have heard many try to make it sound much more controversial than it really was. Lest we forget, the ref said, "The review confirmed the call on the field". He did not say, "there is not indisputable evidence" or something like that. It was a catch. The movement of the ball was Gafney just slipping it under his arm like every WR is taught to do from birth.

    Clearly NE is in the middle of a downswing. Time will tell if these two teams have keyed in on something that NE legitmately has issues with, or whether it is just a standard lull that every team has. As always, I welcome your thoughts.
     
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  2. kas

    kas Practice Squad Player

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    Nice post.

    -About the drops, I think the wind had a lot to do with it. It was swirling pretty badly and probably was playing tricks with the ball in mid-flight. I hope that's the case at least.

    -I thought Samuel had a worse game than Hobbs. He seemed a bit slow to react all game and gave up a few too many receptions. I do agree that Hobbs was a bit tentative though. We need these two guys at the top of their games as the other top teams have excellent passing games.

    -As for McGahee, he's done very well against us recently. His style (speed and quick feet, but powerful when he gets going) seems to routinely give us fits. Hopefully this is just a one time thing, or else get ready for some shootouts.
     
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  3. SVN

    SVN Hall of Fame Poster

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    they showed the INT on espn primetime with welker being clearly held. they were demonstrating how ravens made a concentrated effort to hit and double welker and in that clip they they clearly showed welker was held in the back during that INT
     
  4. ClevTrev

    ClevTrev Rotational Player and Threatening Starter's Job

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    Good post and points. Agree with you about the vanilla defense. It appeared they were on their back foot with calls through 3 quarters of the game. If they didn't become aggressive in the 4th quarter, the Pats would be 11-1 this morning.

    Samuel and Hobbs looked out of place all night.

    Welker got mugged all night. On Brady's interception, Welker had position, and the defender had Welker's left arm, preventing him from making the play.

    Gafney's TD was not overturned due to lack of indisputable evidence to the contrary. It definitely was a play that required a review.

    This is a downswing by the team with assistance from the opposition treating these games like it's life and death. The Ravens played great, but couldn't maintain their collective cool when it mattered most. Steve Young, in one of his more cogent post-game comments, mentioned that great teams go through downswings at some point in the second half of their seasons. The question is whether they can emerge with renewed energy and purpose. There's no better time than Sunday, as this is the time of year where Super Bowl foundations are set.
     
    Last edited: Dec 4, 2007
  5. Oswlek

    Oswlek In the Starting Line-Up

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    No, the ref stated specifically, "The review confirmed the call on the field" meaning there was indisputable evidence of a.........

    catch.
     
  6. MoLewisrocks

    MoLewisrocks PatsFans.com Supporter PatsFans.com Supporter

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    I think conditions probably played a small role last night. What I really think is happening is the team is pressing on offense in the face of some nothing to lose pressure and uneven officiating. And like the D the O is probably a little tired given the schedule and the level of intensity the last couple of opponents have mustered.

    Samuel is the golden child and Hobbs is the whipping boy... Last night was an Asante flashback to 2005. But people who watch with predetermined opinions allow those to color their view of each game.

    McGahee wasn't really a factor except in the third quarter. He had 53 yards in the first half and they didn't really impact the Ravens scoring the way people make it out they did. Failure to get consistent pressure on Boller in time and failure of the secondary to cover well enough to counter that were bigger issues in their first half scoring drives which yielded all but 7 of their total points. We did shut them down in the last 14:30 too.

    And considering how the offense was still sputtering and how many times they went 3 and out, that was a ballsy defense down the stretch who held Baltimore off until Tommy could get a play or two made against a defense that was not only playing intensely but getting away with holds and PI's bordering on mugging for most of the evening. I thought at the time that even Vrabel was contacted in the EZ a second before that ball arrived and they just let it go.
     
  7. Metaphors

    Metaphors In the Starting Line-Up

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    * I thought Asante had a poor game. The Ravens only have one credible receiver (Mason). He is 33, not big and not overly fast. If Asante wants Clements-type money, this is the game where he shuts out Mason. Asante is a skilled/smart player, but not an elite corner. To be fair, Champ hasn't looked elite this year and he was getting lonely in the "elite" club. I don't think you grade "elite" on a curve. This is why I see Asante on another team next year.

    * A lot of people are looking at this as a bad game. It really was a bad quarter. The Pats came out of halftime flat for some reason. The linebackers and safeties were not filling gaps effectively and the corners were passive in run support. That was not a big issue in the 1st half and got cleaned up in the 4th quarter. We all talk about playing 60 minutes...the Pats got away with playing 45 last night.

    * Give some props to Eric Alexander. After Gay and Asante got assaulted on the final play, there was a reasonable chance that Clayton could have backpedaled, twisted and reached for the end zone. You generally think about defending the pass, not tackling. Alexander was alert and took down Clayton quickly and cleanly which prevented any backward momentum or chance for a lateral.

    * I am more convinced than ever that the Pats are holding back offensive plays, saving them for the playoffs (meaning not putting them on film). Teams haven't covered Maroney all year and it took until game 12 to take advantage? Also the stretch run play looked great in preseason and seemed to take advantage of the OL and Maroney's strong points. Haven't seen it at all this season. TE or middle screens? Nada. Betcha we seem all of that in the playoffs.

    * Any question that Maroney is a beautiful runner when in space? He hasn't been able to get out in space enough (blame him, OL, playcalling), but he is dynamite when there are gaps for him to attack.

    * Homefield advantage is critical this year. The Steelers won't be able to grab and hold the receivers this week the way the Ravens did. That is just part of playing at home.

    * The Pats OL is getting too much heat for the sacks on Brady last night. The Ivey sack was on Brady (he came free in Brady's face and the ball needed to go to the hot receiver) and the Ngata sack came after Brady had plenty of time to step up and throw. Light did get beat on the other sack, but all things considered that ain't bad against the Ravens.

    * Boller had 105 passing yards (half his total) on the Darling pass and the Clayton hail mary. The Ravens had 96 rushing yards in the 2 3rd quarter drives...67 otherwise. No excuses (poor execution, lack of focus/intensity), but the defensive situation hardly sounds dire at this point. Wakeup call? Yep. Needs cleanup? Definitely. Concern? Not really. Panic? Nah.
     
  8. Mike the Brit

    Mike the Brit Minuteman Target PatsFans.com Supporter

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    Thanks for the posts -- and just to reinforce Metaphors' opinions about Maroney. He is a great runner in a broken field; not (as yet) someone who can make great plays between the tackles. I only hope that they are going to find ways of exploiting that in the play-offs. (Last year he was a terrific kick returner. His injury and the lack of depth at running back are good reasons not to do it again, but it is an option.)
     
  9. BoTown

    BoTown In the Starting Line-Up

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    That was major. I saw on the replay Alexander was initially back in the middle of the field to defend the pass, but when he saw it heading for Clayton, he speeded right over to that side of the field, went behind Clayton just in time, and kept his leverage up to prevent Clayton from falling back into the end zone. Just a clutch play at the end of the game that prevented an atrocity, given as you said the offensive pass interference that wasn't called on that play.
     
  10. All_Around_Brown

    All_Around_Brown In the Starting Line-Up

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    More on Maroneys points made above...

    I kept wondering out loud last night why on earth we haven't used a pitch out to LoMo.

    Anyone know when the last time was that we actually saw a play like this to either Faulk or Moroney..both who do well in open space??

    Its like its not even in the playbook. Its all up the middle stuff which is a poor use of their skills IMO. Thats where Morris did well, but these are different backs.
     
  11. ClevTrev

    ClevTrev Rotational Player and Threatening Starter's Job

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    Think we're saying the same thing. Lack of indisputable evidence to the contrary means it was a.............

    catch. The only way a call on the field can be overturned is by presence of indisputable evidence to the contrary.

    Anyway, good post.
     
    Last edited: Dec 4, 2007
  12. Oswlek

    Oswlek In the Starting Line-Up

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    Maybe so. I see "lack of indisputable evidence" to mean that if it was called incomplete that it would have stood as that. But "confirmed" sounds like it would have been considered a catch regardless of the live call.

    Whatever. It doesn't matter now.
     
  13. Metaphors

    Metaphors In the Starting Line-Up

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    I'm not sure how many pitch plays you will see, but I'll bet you will see stretch runs and screens in the playoffs. If something is obvious to us, I would think Belichick and co. have a good grip on the situation.

    "Maroney is really good in space...let's try running him in the A gap."

    There has to be a method to the madness. The Pats haven't emptied the arsenal yet. The war is won in January/February.
     
  14. unoriginal

    unoriginal In the Starting Line-Up

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    You don't see pitch plays often on the Pro level because it is a real strong read for the linebackers and 1-gap linemen. You're basically saying "there's the ball, go and get it!" Usually at least one defender does.

    If we had a steamroller O-line it might work. Pats favor misdirection plays a bit more.
     
  15. Buchanty

    Buchanty On the Game Day Roster

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    Good points all round.

    They do miss Rosey. Edges were not being set against the run, no pass rush and poor tackling in the box. I am not saying it is all down to Colvin's absence by any means, but for long stretches the linebackers were MIA. I suspect that the Ravens applied physicality (aka holding) to the backers as well as the front line. But AD and Vrabel were not noticed much in the game at all.

    I also suspect that the game plan had much to do with yards lost. This was a vanilla 4-3 defense, prepared to give up short yardage up the middle (just like last week), trying to contain the RB until he runs out of steam or wait just as we did with the Eagles until the QB makes a mistake (we are talking about Feeley and Boller after all). Slightly off topic - I wish to retract my appreciation of Feeley from last week, he was awful against the 'hawks, bad decisions, staring down his target, forcing throws - he probable fell victim to the praise he got from the media last week.

    While the corners were bad last night (Hobbs, Samuels and Gay in that order), the safeties were pretty good. I expected Sanders to get a few more plaudits this morning than he did, as he and Rodney always seemed to be the one coming in to clean up on the play. And yes he is now as good as Wilson was in his first 2 years.

    Tackling in general was downright pitiful. I thought there was an emphasis on tackling in practice a few weeks back, and prior to that an emphasis on red zone defense. Well it seemed that all that practice and focus evaporated over the last 2 weeks. The D has got to get back to the fundamentals of tackling - one handed grabs around the top part of the body have less than a 40% success rate. Shoulder charges (yes that's you Assante and to a degree Hobbs) is even less. Legs, legs or lower body are high percentage but no-one seemed willing to make the hit. To be fair the guys might just be exhausted from 3 late night games (Brady said he hates going to bed that late because it disrupts his schedule).

    Maroney had some nice plays - and I definitely like him in open space. Then he looks better than Addai. Unfortunately he cant break through a crowd like his Colts counterpart, at least not yet. I wish that the Patriots would throw more screen passes his way as that would appear to put LM in a position of strength, I can only guess that TB doesnt quite have the confidence in his hands yet. Having said that I havent seen any screens lately to Faulk either. Perhaps that is one of the many plays that BB is saving up for the playoffs.

    I agree that the OL wasnt too bad. I think that we and they might have got caught up in the hype of the best O/L ever (or at least the best offense). They are good, very good. They are not elite however, just good enough to give Tom the time he needed to make the plays in the fourth quarter. Three sacks is not too bad, considering the ferocity of Ryan's blitzes.

    The wind may have had something to do with the passing game, and the number of drops, but unfortunately they were regular enough to disrupt the offense's rhythm, and several of them were caused by momentary loss of concentation rather than any external influence. Here is another area that requires sharpening, especially as we enter the winter months when receptions become harder to find.

    Finally I end on a familiar note - inconsistent refereering. This one really bugs me because a point of emphasis for referees should be consistent application of the rules. I can understand the Ravens getting mad at the calls, not because the refs got them wrong, but because for 3/4 of the match the referees endorsed the Raven's physical contact by not throwing a flag. After the game entered the final 10 minutes the tolerance was lifted and the flags began to fly. Great for the Patriots, but confusing as hell for the recipient. Calls have to be consistent, so that players know where the line has been drawn.
     
  16. chris_in_sunnyvale

    chris_in_sunnyvale In the Starting Line-Up

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    Oswlek with good observations as usual.

    - Faulk running OOB short of the 1st down was a bonehead move. What do the Pats do on 4th down? I bet it's a QB sneak. Hmmm, let's see...Pats spread the field wide with no RBs in the backfield, yet Brady is under center instead of in shotgun where he normally is when they spread the field. Yup, it's gonna be a sneak. Everybody on the Ravens D knew what was coming. Yet Rex Ryan feels a strong need to call a TO and let the D know a sneak is coming. What a clown.

    - Rodney Harrison and the ILBs run-blitzed like crazy, selling out to stop McGahee in the 4th quarter. It's what they needed to do and should have done it sooner. I have no idea why Peens was so gun shy to wait so late. As it turned out, better late than never.

    - The Pats last played the Ravens in poor weather and the passing game was out of sync. That day, the Pats turned to Corey Dillon who ran for something like 125 yards. I think this Pats team might be in trouble if they need the running game to step up and carry them for a half or 3 quarters like Dillon did in 2004 in that game (and in the 20-3 victory over Indy). Earlier this year I was less worried as the Morris/Maroney rotation appeared quite effective at doing this, but I'm not sure Maroney can shoulder the load himself as Dillon could.

    - Related to the last note, opponents aren't respecting the running game and thus are starting to figure out ways to slow down this Pats passing offense. While not shutting the Pats offense down, three of the last four opponents have done an admirable job of at least slowing the points onslaught. They've done it by disguising where the rush comes from, playing aggressive with the WRs and refusing to get beat deep (aside from Moss' one long catch vs. Indy). Obviously these teams had the talent to execute such a gameplan, but it does look like one others can try to emulate going forward. I'm sure they've found weaknesses in gamefilm which have contributed to this relative success.

    - Disguising where the rush comes from (i.e. zone blitz), playing aggressive with the WRs and keeping safeties back is right in Pittsburgh's wheelhouse. I'm not saying Pittsburgh shuts them out, but it's not a stretch to expect Pittsburgh to keep NE's offense under 28 like Indy, Philly (Asante's TD put the score at 31) and Baltimore have.

    - Pittsburgh is catching the Pats at the perfect time. Three primetime games in a row, the last two being exhausting dogfights. Short rest. Conventional wisdom has the Pats winning another close game or Pittsburgh taking advantage of a tired team and stealing a win.

    - Since my prognostication skills should never follow conventional wisdom, the Pats will win by 20 next Sunday. You watch. I'm the George Costanza of football picks (as proven in Alamo's weekly score contest).

    Regards,
    Chris
     
  17. Buchanty

    Buchanty On the Game Day Roster

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    Couldn't agree more Chris - our opponents no longer fear the run, which gives them better numbers to cover our receivers while still sending 3s and 4s. That's where I would like to see the screen pass more as the LBs and Secondary are caught up in man coverage. I am still not convinced that Maroney can hit the hole and shed a couple, I just wish we had Morris back. Sometimes I feel our rushing attack is tiptoeing into the playoffs so as not to get hurt.
     
  18. chris_in_sunnyvale

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    Strangely enough, I was amazingly calm during the entire 4th quarter last night. I expect the Pats to come through and if they don't, an undefeated season was too much to expect anyway. But here's how I felt after some key moments in the 4th quarter:

    - Boller throws a horrendous pick deep in Pats territory, where a FG would have put them up by 10. Pats are gonna pull this one out.

    - Pats kick a FG instead of scoring a game-tying FG. Good. Now they'll win it on their next TD.

    - Koppen called for holding, negating a Maroney 1st down, eventually leading to a punt. Oh well, they'll just have to stop Baltimore on 3-and-out and score on their final drive, Denver 2003-style.

    - McGahee stuffed on 1st and 2nd downs, then cut down by Rodney short of the 1st down on a 3rd down pass. Pats are gonna win!

    - Faulk drops 1st down pass. No worries. We have 3 more downs.

    - Watson's big gainer over the middle. Who needs 3 more downs?

    - Faulk's bonehead running OOB before the 1st down marker on 3rd down. Please tell me that's not going to cost them.

    - Brady stuffed on 4th down on empty-backfield/obvious QB sneak. It cost them.

    - But wait! Baltimore called a timeout before the play. Or maybe not.

    - Eckel stuffed on 4th down. Nice run at perfection, guys.

    - But wait! False start. Keep the run alive, guys.

    - Brady scrambles for the first down on 4th and 6. Pats are gonna win!

    - Brady has pass deflected in air, but linebacker in middle of field doesn't see it and thus an easy pick ends up hitting the ground. This team is blessed.

    - Brady throws incomplete to double-covered Watson on 4th down. Flag?

    - Flag. Pats are gonna win!

    - Touchdown, Jabar Gaffney. He held onto that?

    - Replay confirms the call. Why yes. Yes he did.

    It's just crazy how nothing this team does surprises me anymore.

    Regards,
    Chris
     
  19. All_Around_Brown

    All_Around_Brown In the Starting Line-Up

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    I seem to recall them used more under BB in the past though. I would think it works better with an agile, fleet OL like the one we have.
     
  20. unoriginal

    unoriginal In the Starting Line-Up

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    I think the one we have allows too much backfield penetration at the point of attack. One d-lineman in the backfield can ruin a pitch play because that running back starts deep and runs east-west.

    I mean to say, it can work, you're not wrong. With a fast line, maybe you could run a pitch with a pulling guard to set an off-tackle lane at the scrimmage line or something.

    But classically the pitch is a power play, and with the line we have and all the one-back we run I don't see the pitch being that useful.

    As Metaphors said, stretch plays and screens are more up our alley.
     
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