Yes, I know, the title is a little misleading. "Ugly" isn't exactly the best descriptor, but NE certainly played poorly at times yesterday and were mediocre overall. What must be noted, however, is that these guys are human. They were winning 20-0 against a decent team at halftime after a short week with a big matchup on the horizon. A letdown, whle certainly not encouraged, is understandable. On to the thoughts: * Who invited the 2003 offensive line? Despite Morris' game ending stats, I wasn't all that impressed with the run blocking. Brady had all sorts of time, however. I am not intelligent enough to say exactly why, but the absence of Koppen was definitely noticable. * This was the second straight game that NE's offense was a little rough around the edges. What is a little disconcerting is the fact that the approach of both teams was entirely predictible; double Moss and Welker and let everyone else beat you. Yes, I know that NE scored 34 and 27 offensive points in those games which is about the same as their average the first couple weeks, but the offense just looked unstoppable the first two weeks. The past two weeks they look like one of the better offenses in the league, rather than one of the best offenses ever. Yes, I know that expecting historical greatness every week is a tad absurd, but I these guys are that good. They should be held to that standard. * Further along those lines, here are some stats from Cleveland's defense that I looked up. Opponent / 3 & Outs / Punts Pitt / 5 / 6 Cincy / 2 / 3 Oak / 1 / 3 Balt / 0 / 0 NE / 3 / 6 This is what I am saying. NE faced a defense that had forced one 3 & Out per game and 2 punts per game over the past three weeks. They trippled that output against a NE offense that should be considered significantly better than any of those prior ones. Some of that has to be considered good defense - the coverage on Moss was exceptional - but a lot of it is NE mistakes. What came over Brady in that 3rd quarter is beyond me because he must have missed 3 open guys by at least 5 yards. * The defense played well for the most part. Cleveland's offense is actually respectable and I view them as an up-and-comer like Cincy of a couple years back. The one issue that I harp on regularly and I will say again - I want to see a more consistent pass rush. Oddly enough, most of the pressure that I have seen has been due to great secondary coverage, which is the opposite of the prevailing thought. I will conceed that it could be a function of NE's defense because they seem to generate ridiculous pressure with a late lead. * I was very disappointed in Stallworth's drop. Partly this was due to the fact that he proabably had another TD but mostly because Donte isn't known for having the best hands. * No surprise, but Rodney was kind of a non-factor. That said, I almost shat my pants when Rodney landed after that int attempt. He will be an important part of this team, he just needs to get back into rhythm. * Alright, enough with the negativity. They won, didn't they? Watson was unbelievable. Frankly, if anything, I'm surprised that they didn't go to him more. That part of the offense worked to perfection. You just can't double everyone. * Moss' first catch didn't get the attention that it deserved. You really can't cover a guy much better than that, but Moss used his amazing ability to delay going for the ball until the last second. Most WRs - even the good ones - would have tried to slow down their route and shielded the DB with their body. Moss realize the best chance was to just keep running and at the last second hop back and catch in on his back shoulder. Great play. * I finally got around to reading the Sunday Sports section this morning and saw that Denver was favored by a point. Favored? Sure SD has looked medicore, but Denver has looked terrible. I swear on my life that I would have said the same thing prior to the game. Denver had no chance in that game. * Listening to WEEI this morning, they were talking about the Trent Green play, chiding the use of the QB as a blocker. They even said how dumb they thought Brady blocking yesterday was. Don't these guys watch the game? QB's almost always are a sealing blocker on end arounds and reverses. It is what it is. Frankly, Brady has actually said in the past how much he enjoys giving someone else a shot. On to Dallas. Despite NE's worst performance of the year so far, I am extremely confident going into this game. NE has a penchant for having a surprisingly dominant performance after a down week. I won't list them all, but NE's top three win margins last year all happened after losses. They also had two other blowouts (the Jet game I count because they were getting killed before having 2 fluke plays go their way) after close wins. In 2004 NE killed the Jets and StL the week after their two losses. In 2003 NE dominated two playoff teams after their early losses and after barely beating Houston rolled up a quick 31-10 lead against a 7-2 Indy team. Of the games I just mentioned, all but 2 (of 10) were on the road. Needless to say, NE's past history gives me confidence to say that they will play much better this week. As always, I welcome your thoughts.