It wasn’t the emasculation that many might have thought it would be, but there was no doubt which team was in control when the Rams visited Foxboro on Sunday. The Patriots worked them up and down the field, and began to look like an elite team again. Here are my quick thoughts on what went down:
– The Patriots committee of running backs had a good game, totaling 133 rushing yards. LeGarrette Blount did not have his best game overall, but he did snag the game’s first score on a 43 yard touchdown run, his 13th of the season. Dion Lewis’ continues to look more like his old self, averaging over 5 yards per carry, and getting a number of targets out of the backfield. With Gronk out, this unit will need to keep playing at a high level to help the offense succeed
– Malcolm Mitchell’s targets continue to increase, as he hauled in another eight catches for 82 yards. He did have a bad drop on a screen pass, but that can be expected from a rookie
– Chris Hogan didn’t have a huge statistical game, but his touchdown catch was an absolute beauty. His body control and strength catching the ball made for a nice acrobatic play
– Martellus Bennett was surprisingly quiet in the offense again. The Patriots will need to increase his workload, especially with routes over the middle, if they want to get back to an explosive, high scoring offense
– Van who? After an obscure first few games with the Patriots, Kyle Van Noy enjoyed himself a nice breakout against the Rams. He finished the game with five tackles and an interception. The most noticeable thing however was his speed and intensity, as he laid a couple of hard hits on Rams receivers
– The Patriots defense as a whole had one of their best games of the season. They sacked Jared Goff four times, and had heavy pressure all game long. They only gave up 161 passing yards, and just 38 (!) rushing yards. They also came up with two interceptions. Detractors will say that this was only against the lowly Rams offense, and that is true. However, the most important thing that I noticed was not their numbers; it was their energy. They were playing with a lot of intensity, and were flying around the field, laying out some big hits. They also seemed to be having fun again, which is something that hadn’t been seen in a while. It was a sign of good things to come.
– Stephen Gostkowski. The second you begin to doubt him, he goes 4-4 on field goals and 2-2 on extra points. Let’s hope the old SG3 is coming back.
– Final shout out to Thomas Patrick Edward Brady, who now has the most wins by a starting quarterback in NFL history with 201. Brady has had some great teammates over the years, and has had the benefit of the greatest coach of all time. But Brady has been playing for over 15 years now. He has played with good and bad defenses, good and bad receivers, and good and dead awful offensive lines. He’s made adjustments, he’s changed his game, and he has gotten better as he’s gotten older. And to top is all off, the scariest thing about 201 is that he’s still not slowing down. Congrats Tom.
Until next time- B$