This game seems to symbolize what these New England Patriots will be this year. The offense is fast paced, balanced, and deadly. The defense is run stuffing, turnover heavy, but still the achilles heel of the team. Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos, just like last season, just couldn't keep up with Tom Brady's offense.
And this is my problem. The game was dead with 5 minutes left of the 3rd quarter, with the Pats up 31-7. Yet Peyton nearly got it. The Broncos had a shot before Willis McGahee's fumble. The call on fourth down which gave up 20 yards and let them back in just confused me. In similar fashion to the Baltimore Ravens game, the game could have been over a lot sooner. But errors and bad calls let the other team back in. You just can't do that against the best teams in the league. The Broncos didn't punish us, the Ravens did.
Some positives. The Talented Mr. Ridley had 151 yards and a TD. He did make a crucial fumble. But I still love the kid. He got both tough yards between the tackles, and explosive runs to the outside. Brady was once again Brady. Though he seemed troubled at the end, ducking and diving when he didn't need to, but he was still prolific. Wes Welker was once again Wes Welker, catching everything and making guys miss after the tackle. Danny Woodhead certainly improved in the backfield, picking up big first downs. Brandon Bolden not quite as impressive as last week, but made some nice tough runs. This is a nice backfield committee: Ridley is your all rounder. Bolden/Shane Vereen pick up the tough yards, and Danny gets the catches from the backfield.
Defensively... It's annoying that our front seven has improved so much, but our secondary is lagging behind and still giving up lots of yards. Chandler Jones, defensive rookie of the month, impressed again. And the front seven held the Broncos to 70 yards rushing. Rob Ninkovich made more big plays as well. The absence of Dont'a Hightower seemed to be made up for.
But this secondary. So frustrating. Patrick Chung and Devin McCourty still don't seem to make the grade. Sterling Moore got burned a lot, though he did make up for one of them by making Demaryius Thomas fumble when he had a clear run to the end zone on the first drive. Two rookies did impress - Tavon Wilson started his first game at Safety, and was pretty solid and didn't make noticeable, game changing errors. And seventh round pick Alfonzo Dennard looked better than McCourty and Moore when he came on towards the end when Peyton was driving. He's going to be pushing for a lot of game time after being unhealthy for the majority of this year.
We got the win. Up until the fourth, it was very convincing. But the way we finished leaves a bad taste. We stuttered over the line, and if we want to go back to the Super Bowl, we need to be able to play for 60 minutes, which we haven't done all year.
What were your views on the game? Am I over-reacting? Let me know on twitter, @Brendan_Annely.
- If someone wants to let me know the last time we had more rushing yards (251) than pass yards (223), that would be cool.
- My best wishes go to Chuck Pagano, the Indianapolis Colt's head coach diagnosed with leukemia. Well done Indy for pulling out the win for him.
- Can Drew Brees please stop breaking NFL records? This man is the Dan Marino of this era. (Though Brees has a.. somewhat tainted now.. Super Bowl ring.)