Yesterday was a rough day in the AFC East for anyone not named the New England Patriots (which, let’s be honest, I’m kind of thrilled about). The Jets were embarrassed at home by the San Fransisco 49ers in a 34-0 shutout. The Dolphins got their second overtime loss in 2 weeks yesterday against the now 4-0 Arizona Cardinals, and although an OT interception by Ryan Tannehill ultimately cost them the game, the Dolphins rookie showed glimpses of Dan Marino, completing 26 of 41 passes for 431 yards and a touchdown. And the Bills, well, they lost in dramatic fashion.
After missing 2 field goals and scoring just 7 points in the first half, things looked pretty grim for the Patriots. However, they must have eaten their Gronk Flakes in the locker room at halftime, because their 45 second half points were the most scored by a team since the 1972 Bengals.
With all that being said, let’s get to the grades.
Passing- Tom Brady had his best game of the season so far, throwing for 340 yards, 3 touchdowns and 0 interceptions (he also rushed for a touchdown). With the slow start, and incredible second half performance, Tom Brady finished the day with an A (I mean he is the teacher’s pet, would you expect anything less?) Tom has been a bit inconsistent so far, but his second half performance on Sunday reminded us why he’s one of the greatest QBs in the game. His hurry up command and control of the entire offense and the fact that he remained calm under pressure leads me to believe he’s feeling more confident with his O-Line.
Offensive Line- Showed major improvement this week against Buffalo’s front 7. Tom Brady was sacked only once. Nate Solder and Sebatian Vollmer had their best games of the season, and hopefully they will only get better. Final grade for Sunday: B (Can’t let them get too cocky).
Receiving- Brandon Lloyd had his first touchdown as a Patriot, catching a beautiful 25-yard pass from Tom Brady. Welker and Gronkowski both caught for more than 100 yards and Gronk, who had been listed as questionable with a hip injury, had a huge TD catch early in the fourth to give the Pats a 28-21 lead. Although Welker did not have a touchdown, he was the team’s leading receiver with 129 yards. With Hernandez and Edelman both out with injuries, Welker was back to being Tom Brady’s number one target. There were a few drops, but the receivers finished the day with an A.
Rushing- The Pats run game saw more action on Sunday than it has in a long time. Rookie Brandon Bolden had a monster game, rushing for 137 yards on 16 carries and a touchdown. Stevan Ridley also had an incredible game, gaining 106 yards on the ground and scoring 2 touchdowns. The running backs get an A+ on the day.
Special Teams- Stephen Gostkowski’s 2 missed field goals in the first half earned him a C (He finally nailed a 30-yarder in the fourth). Zoltan Mesko is probably the most consistent player on the team, his punting yesterday gets an A.
Pats Defense- Started out strong and played well for the most part. Devin McCourty came up big with 2 interceptions on the day. Vince Wilfork and Tavon Wilson both recovered fumbles. Ryan Fitzpatrick was sacked 3 times and picked off four times and still managed to score 28 points. This baffles me, but I am definitely not complaining. I give the defense a B+.
Bill Belichick’s squad gets an A overall. They started to look like the Patriots we all know and love (actually the Patriots that we know, and that most people hate). The Patriots will face off against Peyton Manning and the Broncos next Sunday at Gillette Stadium.