It’s amazing how aliens kidnapped the real Tom Brady and left us with this copycat. The stats say one thing and the eye-test says another. Two touchdowns, 259 yards thrown and a 95.2 passer rating yells “GOOD GAME!” if you’re someone else, but for Brady it almost wasn’t enough.
He overthrew a few deep passes and missed a few open players on key situations. When up three with five minutes left a year ago, I’d have bet my last dollar Brady seals the game away.
He didn’t do that.
He hasn’t done that in all games sans the opening game this season. I’m starting to wonder if his play has more to do with Josh McDaniels and the playcalling, but you can’t really tell. With this defense, Brady simply has to be a little better. To think, they were better when this team was running the score up. They need to get back to that immediately.
The Patriots are 4-0 when they rush for 100+ yards this season. 0-3 when they rush for less than 100 yards. (via @mattpompom)
— NFL (@nfl) October 22, 2012
That’s an interesting factoid. By committee, the Pats combined for 131 yards on 31 attempts. The rushing game didn’t get going until later in the game as the defense look winded, but the effort was there. Shane Vereen had a solid output in his first NFL start. Though he only got 49 yards, he had an average of 6.1 yards per attempt. The running game was one of the best parts from the game today, but could have and should have been better.
Grade = C+
Brandon Lloyd was voted “Best Hands in the NFL” last season. Today he showed that even he can’t be perfect every time. This was his worst game as a Patriot. With eight targets from Brady, he only finished with one catch for 6 yards. With Lloyd having a mediocre game, Brady went back to what worked best: his tight-ends and Wes Welker. Welker, Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez combined for 17 receptions for 198 yards and 2 touchdowns (both Gronk). The offense runs best when he’s targeting these three in rhythm.
Once again, this offensive line has been great. They only allowed one sack for nine yards. Brady had lots of time in the pocket and they helped the running game eclipse 100 yards again. They were the best part of the offense today and that’s surprising considering they have a top-five player at three offensive positions.
Grade = A-
Grade = Four sacks on Mark Sanchez seems like a misleading stat. The pass-rush, once again, has been anemic. Vince Wilfork came up big-time in the run defense when he caused forced a fumble on Sanchez that led to a safety. Only 1.5 of the four sacks came from a defensive lineman as Rob Ninkovich was mostly used as a linebacker.
Wilfork is the best player on this defense and his unit, while not amazing in the pass, could have been better. Shonn Grenne was carving this line up and while he’s been relatively hot lately, we’ve all seen better and know they can do better.
Grade = C+
The linebacker core has been pretty even all year and brought it again. When they’ve needed a stop, they’ve gotten the stop. Once again Ninkovich was in on a big defensive play that helped change the outcome of the game; this time with a sack and fumble recovery to end the game in overtime. The linebacker core has been the team’s best group all season and when it comes down to it, they come up big.
With Pat Chung out, Devin McCourty was moved to the safety position as rookie Alfonzo Dennard got his first start. That didn’t stop the bleeding. Sanchez picked this team apart deep. He ended the game with 90.3 passer rating and 328 yards. They allowed 6 20+ yards pass plays. Dennard got the first interception of his career on an underthrown pass. That may have been the only bright spot for an individual player, but they looked better as a group. Maybe McCourty sees more time at safety after this week.
Grade = D+
Call it the tale of two halves for this bunch. In the first half, McCourty ran a 104-yard kick return touchdown to help the Pats establish a lead. In the second half, McCourty almost cost the team the game by fumbling on a kick off with less than two minutes on the clock.
There was a big time Stephen Gostkowski sighting. After shanking the potential game-winner against the Arizona Cardinals, he was put in the situation for overtime again, but came through with a 43-yarder for overtime and a 48-yarder that was the go ahead FG.
Grade = B