Brandin Cooks' speed, excellent route running and catching ability were on full display
Winslow Towson/AP Images
Through two weeks, Brandin Cooks hadn't been used much. Whether he was intentionally not a big part of the game plans against Kansas City and New Orleans or he just wasn't in Tom Brady's circle of trust yet is up for debate.
But today, he came up huge when the Patriots needed him most - five catches for 131 yards and two touchdowns, one of them the game-winning score against the Houston Texans. He was targeted seven times in all, the most of any of the Patriots' wide receivers.
His ability to make tough catches, beautiful route-running and his ridiculous speed were on full display today, and it didn't take long for him to make his mark.
His first catch of the day was a 44-yard bomb on a fly route a defender draped all over him. Cooks somehow was able to cradle the ball in his chest and hang on, which eventually set the Patriots up for their first score of the game.
Cooks' third catch of the game showcased his speed perfectly. Cooks ran a beautiful post route 30 yards down field before making the catch at the 18 yard line and accelerating even faster after securing the ball. As soon as he caught the ball, you basically knew he was gone.
And then he saved his best for last.
His final catch packaged his speed, catching ability as well as his awareness of where he is on the field. Cooks ran another fly route, caught the ball in the left corner of the end zone and smartly tapped both of his feet on the turf before jumping toward the sideline.
It was an incredibly encouraging sign for Cooks and a Patriots offense that is still somewhat thin at the receiver position. As Cooks and Brady become more comfortable with each other, the Patriots' offense will become increasingly dangerous. That's a great sign for them, as they need as much of Cooks as they can get.
But more importantly, it's a bad sign for the rest of the NFL.