I have to admit, I expect the score to be the opposite this week. The Patriots secondary wasn’t doing all that well to begin with, but tack on a string of injuries and going up against the Bengals’ high-power passing attack looked like something not fun to watch.
Not that I’m as pessimistic as the media and some of the more recent fans have been. I just see all the new faces on the team and accept that it’ll take half the season to get everyone on the same page. Which isn’t so bad. Not on a Belichick team where things are more or less programmed to click into place around November. New England always plays strongest down the stretch.
Anyway, the good things today were multitude:
- Brady was back to his old self. Both in performance and behavior. I know everyone made a big deal out of his “body language” the last week – and I wondered WTF was wrong with him too. But I guess it’s just his way of expressing frustration.
- The running game was awesome. Maroney had 125 of the total 236 yards on the ground. No fumbles. Classic Patriots football – get a lead and then control the clock.
- The passing game is coming around. Doug Gabriel has had some real pretty catches the last couple weeks and he and Brady could be a great combination. Once the rest of the new players get in sync the Patriots passing attack could be quite potent. Hats off to Reche Caldwell for suriving a whicked helmet-to-helmet hit … and coming back in to play.
- The defense held. Stopped the run, stopped the pass. 4 sacks – 3 by Jarvis Green and 2 turn-overs off sacks. If we can’t get picks, then forced fumbles are the next best thing. Again – like the Patriots of old (“old” being 2 years ago).
The only negative was the missed field goal. Gostkowski needs to get it together. He’s giving us good field position on kick-offs, but he has to get his accuracy on field goals under control. It’s not that I expect him to be as good as Vinatieri right away, but field goals of 45 yards are part of the NFL game and he needs to step up.
All in all a stellar performace. Meanwhile, the “likely heirs to the AFC East” Dolphins are 1-and-3. The Steelers are 1-and-2 and travel to San Diego this week to face the Chargers who blew a late lead today – so they’ll be looking to take it out on Pittsburgh. Don’t be surprised if next week the Pats are 4-and-1 and the Steelers are 1-and-3.