It wasn’t pretty and the 2009 Patriots clearly have a lot of work left to do, but it was a win in classic Patriots fashion none the less.
For the better part of three quarters they played as if half-asleep. The Bills offense was able to push down the field, the Patriots offensive line had trouble giving Brady time to throw and even when they brought in an extra lineman, the Bills were still blowing up run plays. Brady looked uncomfortable, Welker was dropping passes – things looked bad.
Until the fourth quarter. All of a sudden Brady, Moss, Welker, and Faulk are connecting and driving down the field as expected. The defense started to play with some intensity. And then there was: The Fumble. The Bills kick returner brought the ball out of the end zone and Merriweather and Woods stripped the ball, allowing the kicker, Gostkowski, to pounce on it. Brady connected to Watson twice in the span of a few minutes to give the Pats a 1-point win.
It was kind of like the way they used to win games before they were a “dynasty.” They’ll need more of these as this game showed a lot of areas needing improvement. But there were bright spots as well.
- The o-line needs to get their acts together. Protection was suspect most of the game and run-blocking was even worse at times.
- Playcalling left something to be desired. When I can tell what play they’re going to run while watching the game in Los Angeles, imagine how easy it is to figure out for the opposing DC.
- The need to activate Edelman – Faulk and Welker are good punt returners, but risking them on special teams is bad for business.
- The defense hardly got pressure on the QB most of the game. This was supposed to have improved but so far: not so much.
- Mayo went out with a knee injury – hopefully only 6-8 weeks.
- Maroney had a great kick return to start the game and showed he still had some of the moves he showcased his rookie year. He got stuffed on a few plays, but that was mostly because the o-line allowed half a dozen defenders into the Pats backfield.
- Brady is back – it took him 3 quarters to get his touch back, but look out for him next week.
- Got to love Gosti’ … how often do you see a kicker dive into the pile to recover a fumble?
- Tully Banta-Cain seems to be thriving. As bad as he was for the 9’ers and as average as he was before he went West … well … he seems revitalized now.
- There are new players coming up with the big plays. With the loss of Bruschi, Vrabel, and Harrison this was a concern. But this week it was Meriweather and Woods who stepped up and turned the game around.
- Even with all the new players, even with Brady gone a year, even with so many veterans and leaders gone this is still the last team you want to meet in an ally. When it comes down to nut-cutting time, they just find a way to win.
- Ben Watson is catching passes and not having them stripped away. Yeah, he dropped a couple because he started looking up-field – but in recent years defenders could just rip the ball out of his hands with ease. Not on Monday night – two big-time catches for TD’s and he hung on.
Next week it’s the new New York Jets … should be interesting. The Pats rarely play two clunkers in a row, so the Jets could be in for trouble. Brady and Welker looked seriously ticked off Sunday because they didn’t play all that well most of the game. I wonder who they’ll take that out on?