Here’s the answers to some of the questions heading into the Monday Night Massacre at Gillette:
- How does the team respond from last Sunday night’s beat down? Quite simply, with a beat down of their own. The Patriots came with in with intensity, took care of the ball and most of all were OPPORTUNISTIC. The final score does not indicate how much of this game was terrible play from the Broncos. Jay Cutler was hurt on the first play of the game and never fully recovered and the Broncos fumbled the ball numerous times. To their credit, the front seven on the defense played the best game of the season and the offensive line gave plenty of running room for the backs, as we’ll talk about below. Unfortunately with Rodney Harrison’s injury the veteran intensity that was brought will be missing for the season, so it will be up to guys like Tedy Bruschi and Richard Seymour to bring the heat.
- Running game anyone? Of course before the game we learned about Laurence Maroney’s injury so it looked a little bleak in this department but then Sammy Morris had himself a game. Not only did the offensive line do a great job blocking, but Morris ran downhill and with fire as he totaled an incredible 138 yards on 18 carries and a touchdown. If he’s going to bring this every week, then the Patriots will be in pretty good shape. We all knew he had some talent coming from Miami, but he just ran all over the hapless Broncos defense on Monday.
- Which Jekyll and Hyde front seven will we see? As I said before, we saw great penetration and pressure from the front seven today, even Richard Seymour got in the act with 1.5 sacks on the night. Vince Wilfork was a man possessed and the linebackers kept Denver from sustaining long drives. It was an inadvertent helmet which injured Cutler on the Broncos’ first offensive play, but the fact that the D-line was close enough for him to get hit is a good sign.
This win proves one thing above all – what a crazy NFL season this is. The Broncos came in at 4-2, the Patriots were coming off a blowout loss and look at the result. Again, if Cutler doesn’t get hurt, and the Broncos running backs hold on to the ball, it’s a totally different game. It was very encouraging to see Sammy Morris run the play well, though it’s too bad to see him not play in the second half because of injury (though BenJarvis Green-Ellis did run well too). The secondary made some plays as Brandon Meriweather had a nice pick, we’ll need to see a lot more of that now with Harrison out. Randy Moss was back to his old self with two TD catches, the screen pass TD was sick.
With Matt Cassel, he played well but taking six sacks is unacceptable. In my unscientific count, I saw four sacks where the offensive line was atrocious and almost no QB could have avoided the hit (at least three of them came from the right side of the line). The other two – which are much more frustrating – saw Cassel hold onto the ball wayyyyyy too long and take the big sack. Yes, Tom Brady would have made a play on those even though not every QB could, but most QBs know when to throw the ball away. Cassel doesn’t seem to have any sort of internal clock and is slow on his read progressions. That’s one huge improvement he needs to work on in order to move forward.
Good win for the Pats and hopefully they’ll follow it up this Sunday against the Rams. I’ll be there to make sure of it.
Tags: Brandon Meriweather, Laurence Maroney, Matt Cassel, Mike Vrabel, Patriots, Randy Moss, Richard Seymour, Sammy Morris, Tedy Bruschi, Vince Wilfork