Monday, September 28, 2009
The one where Patriots discover a running game
The New England Patriots came into yesterday's game with the Falcons facing as much adversity as they've had since they started winning Super Bowls. The roster is in flux, the offense can't score in the red zone and who will make plays on defense?
Those are just a few of the questions facing the 2009 Patriots but yesterday they proved that they're still pretty good and the Falcons (2-1) were a tad overrated.
On a rainy, miserable day at Gillette Stadium, the Pats (2-1) had the ball for 39 minutes, en route to a 26-10 win. The red zone deficiency is still their biggest issue as they went 1-for-5 but at least they discovered a running game.
Fred Taylor had 105 yards on 21 carries and a touchdown. Playing without Wes Welker again, Tom Brady still didn't look like himself but he finished 25-of-42 for 277 yards and a touchdown.
Without Welker in the lineup, Randy Moss has become more of a short, possession receiver, as opposed to his normal deep threat. Straight Cash Homey had 10 catches for 116 yards.
Through the first three games, New England's defense has been the most pleasant surprise. They completely shut down a very good Atlanta offense. Matt Ryan was 17-of-28 for 199 yards but no touchdowns. Michael Turner was held to 56 yards rushing while Roddy White (24 yards) and Tony Gonzalez (16 yards) were neutralized by our no-name secondary.
Jason Elam (26 yards) and Stephen Gostowski (21 yards) traded field goals in the first quarter.
Taylor gave New England a 10-3 lead in the second quarter with an 8-yard run up the gut. Belichick's plan to control Atlanta's offense was simply to not let them have the ball. The Pats failed for the most part in the red zone but the fact that they were there so many times showed how long they possessed the ball.
Turner tied it later in the second quarter with a two-yard run. Gostkowski's 33-yard kick with 20 seconds left in the first half gave the Pats a 13-10 lead.
Another Gostkowski kick (22 yards) was the only scoring in the third quarter and he opened the fourth with another boot (33 yards).
After they showed him on the bench pissed off earlier, Brady was much happy in the fourth quarter when he connected with tight end Chris Baker on a 36-yard catch and run for a touchdown.
Ryan and the Falcons offense could never get anything going and the Pats had a nice win. New England was a perfect 3-for-3 on fourth downs, including a conversion on fourth and inches at their own 24 in the third quarter.
Vince Wilfork left in the second quarter with an ankle injury but New England's D didn't seem to skip a beat. They forced a fumble by Michael Turner which James Sanders recovered.
It's still hard to tell how good this team is but facing the Baltimore Ravens-arguably the top team in the NFL-next Sunday at Gillette should bring some immediate feedback.
The Ravens are 3-0 and finally have some offense to go with that ridiculous defense. Joe Flacco is throwing it all over the field, they have a bunch of good running backs and Ray Lewis is still murdering people/dancing up a storm. Should be a good one.