The Patriots sure like to make things interesting in 2008. Down 14-3 early on and 21-13 in the second half, Matt Cassel led New England on two scoring drives in the fourth quarter to pull out the victory and move the Pats into a tie atop the AFC East. It sure wasn’t pretty and more injuries may take their toll in the coming days but Cassel – aided by 13 total catches by Wes Welker – got the job done yet again. He’s gonna be a rich man this off season. Here are the answers to my pregame questions:
- What effect will Junior Seau and Roosevelt Colvin have on the game? Coming into the game it’s unclear how much Bill Belichick wanted to use the two veterans, considering Seau wasn’t in the fold until Thursday night. However when Tedy Bruschi went down in the first half Seau had to step up immediately. Seau and Colvin combined for just one tackle and Seau was beaten badly twice: once near the goal line by Seattle tight end John Carlson which led to a touchdown and once to Deion Branch on a 60+ yard run. It’s unfair to pass blame upon them because of the late nature of their signings but at this point the Patriots would take any warm body they can find at the linebacker position.
- Will Matt Cassel take advantage of a terrible pass defense? Cassel was able to throw the ball effectively underneath and finished with some impressive stats (26-44, 268 yards, TD). He finally found the long ball with Moss as they pair hooked up for a huge throw and catch in the fourth quarter. Cassel was sacked a few times but overall did well under pressure. Cassel did not turn the ball over once and led an offense which was 10-18 on third down. He made the important throws when they were necessary and can thank Wes Welker for many of the catches on the other end.
- Is it a must win? With the Jets losing and the Dolphins winning it’s most definitely a three horse race in the AFC East. Had the Patriots lost, they would be looking at two teams ahead of them in the AFC East and at least two teams ahead of them in the wild card. The win combined with the Jets loss makes it a whole new ball game. If the Ravens lose tonight to the Redskins, there will be four teams at 8-5 in the AFC vying for two playoffs spots; that makes for quite a final three weeks of the season. With the Raiders on the schedule next, the Patriots should find themselves at 9-5 heading into a Week 16 showdown against the Cardinals at Gillette.
You can get a blow-by-blow account of the game from my live blog. The bottom line is this was a gutsy win by a team absolutely decimated by injury. Looking forward it will be important to see how serious the injuries are to Vince Wilfork and Tedy Bruschi are as the loss of those two would spell disaster for an already depleted defense. It’s not the kind of win I envisioned but at this point of the season a W is a W is a W.
Tags: Junior Seau, Matt Cassel, Randy Moss, Roosevelt Colvin, Tedy Bruschi, Vince Wilfork, Wes Welker