(This is the first time I've started a personal observation thread. Hopefully it'll be up to par on this board.) That was a good game. Both teams had an equal claim on the outcome, but like so many times before, the Pats walk away with all the marbles. So many plays today went the Pats way, from Vincent Jackson's almost-TD to the Brady fumble. Brady It's always hard to tell in this offense whether Brady is off because he's throwing to a spot his receiver didn't get to, or whether his mechanics are out of whack. Its probably a little of both. On his interception toss to Drayton Florence, Brady had crooked mechanics, his leading toe pointing askance at the near sideline, putting torque on his shoulder, and a flutterball resulted that fell 10 yards short of Troy Brown. When throwing to Ben Watson, however, it appeared Watson couldn't get to where he was supposed to. On his 15 yard out route in the red zone, Watson rounded his cut and took it to 18 yards, and the ball fell short at 15. On a quick out late in the fourth, Watson was running out of bounds and kept his hands back on his body instead of "coming back" for it, resulting in a low drop. Running Backs The gameplan went completely away from Dillon, Maroney ran like a person unsure as to what running play had just been called, but Faulk was great, picking up blitzers, knifing through holes, and always, always being the guy that Tom Brady can gun a pass at his ankles to avoid the intentional grounding call. And I mentioned this earlier, but don't know how many saw it: Kevin Faulk has the most touches on this team without a fumble. He has had an awesome year. Wide Receivers They are slow, usually covered well on go routes. They aren't very strong, apart from Troy Brown, who outmuscled two linebackers for a catch in the first and stripped Marlon McCree in the fourth, in addition to fantastic run-blocking on the "Kevin Faulk dive" drive. Gaffney got a PI call on a marginal incident when a SD corner rubbed off on him on an out and up, completely spinning him around. Gaffney also got thrown out of bounds on a 3rd and 2 hitch by Cromartie that Cromartie nearly picked for six. Caldwell is much better at getting off press coverage, and got better as the game went along, including that nice inside-outside move on Jammer on the fade. However, Caldwell always seems to be much more closely covered than Gaffney when they make catches, so Gaffney must be doing something right, even if the TV viewing angles don't let us see it. Tight Ends Daneil Graham was not impressive today on that damn wham play. In the third quarter in particular he singled-handedly screwed up a Kevin Faulk running play by standing around in the 3 hole looking for the DE instead of driving upfield to the second level. That killed a drive. Other times he got stood up completely by a linebacker, disrupting the running back's reads. Apart from that and a few tough catches he dropped he had a fantastic day, and the work he did on the vertical routes over the middle set up the key Reche Caldwell fade route that won the game for us - on that play the free safety stayed smack in the middle of the field at 20 yards, shadowing the downfield TE routes, leaving the corners outside in single coverage. Ben Watson runs sloppy routes and isn't called on to block much. David Thomas recovered a fumble. Offensive Line Matt Light had a good day. Nick Kaczur did not. Light stayed head up on his man and usually kept him either wide or stuck on the line of scrimmage. Nick Kaczur made several nearly-flaggable blocks reaching for his man wide, and on several plays he was completely turned around by his pass rusher. As the game went along New England adjusted its pass protection, looping Neal outside of Kaczur to deal with the more mobile edge rushers San Diego was sending off that corner, while Kaczur took the DE crunching inside into the cluster with the nose. San Diego's adjustment was to run stunts with the outside linebacker and the DE, sending the DE outside into Neal, while a linebacker knifed inside of Kaczur and brought pressure up the middle. New England went back to standard protection only to see Polk late in the game consistently collapse that side of the pocket. Mankins was penalized a lot but on the whole had a good day, and when the Pats ran the ball early the line in general was sledding a very good San Diego front 2 to 3 yards off the line. However Donnie Edwards came unblocked pretty consistently, but I'm not sure whose responsibility he was. As the game went on Koppen was left as the primary blocker on Williams and he did a pretty good job. Neal as already discussed pretty much maintained the integrity of the right side of the line. The Pats went 4 out of 5 up front on the day and consequently San Diego did not overwhelm Brady with pressure, despite the fact the Pats were practically inviting it with their pass-first offensive scheme. Daniel Graham also was running downfield a lot, which tells you a lot about the job Matt Light in particular was doing. Run Defense The quick and dirty of it is that the right side of our defese got paved. Seymour wasn't bad, but it looked like McNeill often pushed him out a little wider than called for, because on several plays he and Tully were standing next to each other 3 yards in the backfield and three yards outside where the gaping hole was. As for Tully, he rode too far outside to be a factor on inside plays, and on the rare occasions when the run came outside they often got around him, such as a Michael Turner run to the near side of the field in the third quarter that Tully dived at five yards in the backfield. Bruschi meanwhile had a hard time getting over top of Dielman on most plays, and missed several diving tackles on Tomlinson. All I can say is thank god for James Sanders. Wilfork was a beast. Mike Wright came in for one play and was slid backwards about 2 yards by Hardwick. Warren was quiet, since San Diego ran like 5 plays at him and Colvin for as many yards on the day. Bruschi also was very ineffective both blitzing and run-blitzing, and New England ended up sending Vrabel up the middle more often from the 2nd quarter on. Vrabel had a monster day blitzing, repeatedly helping Wilfork collapse interor, and he had a big strip-sack of Rivers when he came from the outside out of Colvin's normal slot. A special dishonorable mentioned to Larry Izzo, who LT soundly beat to the corner on his 2nd half end zone run. A small linebacker like Izzo has no business being that slow. Pass Defense Bruschi, when he dropped into coverage, was much better than Bruschi the run plugger, breaking up several cross and option passes over the middle, with help from Sanders and, earlier in the day, Scott. Eventually San Diego went away from these routes in favor of deeper crosses and sideline outs. Samuel had a terrific day, and Hobbs was also very good, breaking up many passes and always being in position to make the tackle. If he had two good hands its clear he'd make teams pay for picking on him so much. Hawkins looked like a 32 year old Bengal castoff at times, and those times were when he was covering Antonio Gates, Vincent Jackson, and on the LT screen that went for 58 yards. James Sanders was the better safety all day today, though I must say both Hawkins and Sanders had pretty sweet sacks. Special Teams I'm going to talk about Heath Evans here because this is where he made his biggest contribution, with the first three special teams tackles of the day, including the punt return where he clotheslined Parker. Sauerbrun boomed some big ones today, including the above punt starring Heath Evans, which he hit standing on the goal line and which traveled in an off-the-screen arc to the San Diego 30. Sauerbrun also had a nice punt from approximately the same part of the field that was fair caught 1 yard from out-of-bounds at the 50, for a net and gross of 39. Two very good punts. What was not good was his attempt at a coffin corner kick after the false-started Gostkowshi pooch punt, which Parker fair caught at the 17 yard line. Gostkowski's kickoffs, even with the wind at his back, never made the end zone today, and he nearly kicked TWO kickoffs out of bounds, but he sure made up for that kicking field goals, didn't he? Willie Andrews started this season out being praised by BB as our best special teams player, but these days he hides behind blocks as the outside guy on kickoff coverage, and is never in front of the punt returner anymore as a gunner. Kevin Faulk made the correct decision to let the punt bounce into the end zone, its just unfortunate for us that Kassim Osgood is the next Steve Tasker. Antwan Spann did the exact right thing on Eric Parker's fumbled punt return, tackling the returner instead of going for the ball. That's what they tell you to do and he did it, when undisciplined players would try and be the hero.