Well, I predicted Pats by 20. Almost had that one! Got to be better than that. Instead, the Patriots rode a second half surge to a 35-17 win over the Cincinnati Bengals. For those counting at home, Pats won by only 18.
Tom Brady was, well, Tom Brady with 376 yards, another 3 touchdowns, and was 29-for-35(83%) in passing attempts. It just continues to blow my mind how a man that old can look so young out there and still be the best quarterback in football. Everything from his reads at the line of scrimmage, alterations to plays pre-snap, pocket awareness, pocket presence, to throwing accuracy is phenomenal. Perhaps the most impressive piece is that he pretty much has 5 traffic cones in front of him to “block.”
Seriously though, this offensive line is a problem. Even “Scar,” (Dante Scarnecchia, commonly regarded as the best offensive line coach ever) can’t solve this mess. The Bengals, as a team, had 3 sacks, hit Brady an additional 3 times, and had 3 more tackles for a loss. Now, the Bengals do have an above average defensive line, but the Pats can not afford to let their opponent make 9 hits in the backfield in one game. I keep saying I’m afraid of that Denver defense, and showings like I saw on Sunday afternoon are exactly why. I’m sure our Game Time Decision crew might even be able get some heat on Brady against those bums (Sorry Joe Thuney, friend of the program by the way). Then again, we do have T Webb, 6’3, 240 pounds, keep your head on a swivel Marcus Cannon.
Someone woke up the Gronk on Sunday, huh? 7 catches, 162 yards, a TD, almost knocked a couple heads around, danced on some graves after a Blount-Horse score. Pretty good day. When Gronk is Gronk, good luck NFL.
What would you say if I told you a Patriots running back had 8 catches for 47 yards and 2 touchdowns? Probably that there is no chance that running back was D.J. Foster. Having a pass-catching back is such a valuable piece of the Pats offense, and James White hasn’t really impressed yet in his career, but he is serviceable. The return of Dion Lewis is going to do wonders for this team. Just a reference, they averaged nearly 2 more yards per play with Lewis healthy and on the field last year.
New day, same story for the defense. Back to the good old bend, but don’t break style of play, which isn’t too bad to have, but definitely isn’t something I would happily go into a Sunday with. In this one, Jamie Collins was inactive due to injury so that right there is understandably a big loss to the group, but still isn’t any excuse. But, man, Dont’a Hightower really stepped up. 1.5 sacks and a safety that swung the momentum into New England’s favor. Part of me originally advocated for Collins to be priority #1 this offseason, but I’m beginning to reverse course. Pay Dont’a Hightower! He’s the type of linebacker that can truly anchor a defense for years to come and he showed that in bounds against Cincinnati.
Another week, another win, Pats 5-1, still atop the AFC East. Heading to Pittsburgh next week to face the scary bunch led by Landry Jones; oh man, should be a battle!
Wake me up for the AFC championship
By Mark Panzini