It didn’t seem possible, but the New England Patriots were flying under the radar in the AFC. Most people thought that the AFC was dominated by the Denver Broncos, and then the battle for the second-best team in the conference was up for grabs. That all changed after last night.
The Patriots went into the Georgia Dome and made a huge statement by beating the Atlanta Falcons. Even though New England won by just seven points, the game shouldn’t have really been that close. Patriots tight end Zach Sudfeld botched an onside kick recovery, which gave Atlanta a chance to make the game closer. Then quarterback Tom Brady and center Ryan Wendell had a problem with the snap of an ill-advised fourth-and-one attempt. Those type of mistakes usually kill a team, but not the Patriots.
It’s hard to pick what’s more impressive, Tom Brady’s work with his young wide receivers or the awesome play of the defense. Brady had played better in the first three games than his stats suggested, but last night was a clinic for the veteran quarterback. He was pretty much on the money with every throw that he made, which was music to the ears of wide receivers Kenbrell Thompkins and Julian Edelman. And what’s even better is that Brady is doing this without his best weapons. If there was ever any doubt that Brady is one of the greats, a performance like last night put that to rest.
Now we move on to the defense. That was an inspired performance against Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan. Some people may point to the fact that Ryan threw for 421 yards, but it means nothing if he was unable to generate points. Ryan could only muster one true touchdown drive (his other came off of a short field after Sudfeld’s fumble). His main weapon, wide receiver Julio Jones, was shut down aside from one big play. All hats must go off to Aqib Talib, who is playing like a top-five cornerback in the NFL right now.
So when Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski and wide receiver Danny Amendola get back, things will only be better. Brady is still elite, and the New England defense is a top-ten defense right now. If these two things persist, the Patriots will be looking at another AFC East crown and the No. 2 seed in the AFC.
Philip Alexander is a New England Patriots writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @steely0906, “like” him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google.