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Patriots 26, Falcons 10 – What We Learned

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After a week of doom and gloom reporting from sports media, the Patriots came out and made a statement to the NFL that they aren’t done just yet. After a back and forth first half, Tom Brady and company took over in the final two quarters and cruised to victory. Each win comes with a price, however. Here’s five things we learned on Sunday.

1. Tom Brady is struggling with the long ball

By 1:22pm, the number of Brady overthrows (two) had already been eclipsed by the number of my remote control tosses in disgust (three). Twice in the first quarter Brady had wide receivers open downfield but failed to put the touch on the pass which would have resulted in big plays. As we saw in the first two weeks and was continued yesterday, he still hasn’t been able to work out the problems with his long passing (even though he got great protection yesterday). Once Brady can figure it back out, the Patriots offense – along with a new found running game – will be scoring a lot of points again.

2. Fred Taylor is the No. 1 running back. Period.

Anyone else have zero sympathy watching Laurence Maroney wallow on the sidelines with an ‘injury’ while Fred Taylor racked up carry after successful carry? The veteran running back ran for 105 yards on just 21 carries and scored the Patriots first rushing touchdown since early in week 1. The second quarter drive which led to the TD was classic smash mouth football by the Patriots and Taylor was able to gain big chunks of yards without all the dancing we’ve seen from the dreadlocked former first round pick. There is no doubt a trio of Taylor/Sammy Morris/Kevin Faulk is more than enough to get the job done for the Patriots.

3. Joey Galloway is no Fred Taylor

While one veteran pickup is certainly working, another obviously isn’t. Joey Galloway was acquired to give the Patriots a deep threat opposite Randy Moss and play the role Donte Stallworth did in 2007. He looks lost out there and had a horrific drop in the second quarter where the ball bounced off his chest inside the 10 yard line, no doubt because he heard the footsteps of the oncoming safety. He still has time to work things out and the absence of Wes Welker may have an impact on his numbers, but he needs to improve.

4. The defense is proving us wrong

We all know the list of players who are gone from last year’s defense, yet the Patriots pulled off another bend-don’t-break performance and allowed less than 20 points for the second consecutive week. Safety Brandan McGowan did a phenomenal job covering tight end Tony Gonzalez, and even though Vince Wilfork missed most of the game, the line held firm. This comes with a disclaimer however, we’ve yet to see the defense play against a truly powerful offense, and if Wilfork is out for long term along with Jerod Mayo, we could see some deficiencies start to show. Two disturbing stats so far, zero interceptions all year, and zero sacks yesterday. That needs to change.

5. Bill Belichick has got some cajones

Fourth and 1 deep in your own territory in a one possession game. Fans often question why teams don’t go for it on fourth and 1 more often, yet this situation even makes the most ardent Patriots fan wonder just how crazy BB is. Yes, they converted and it led to a big field goal and yes, you would like to think a Super Bowl contending team can gain a yard when they need to, but still. There would be quite an uproar today if the Patriots don’t convert and Atlanta takes the game over.

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