|Patriots Offensive Line Problems Beginning to Resurface||Bartkowski Won’t Face Suspension for hit on Gionta||TJ Oshie and Bruins Weekly Roundup||Notes and Observations Week 16: Patriots Escape from New York with 17-16 Win; Clinch First Round Bye.|
The New England Patriots avoided losing back-to-back games for the first time since 2006 courtesy of a 26-10 victory over the Atlanta Falcons Sunday. Although the red-zone offense struggled, the Patriots did some positive things offensively. Fred Taylor gained 105 yards on the ground, leading the way for the Patriots, while Brady passed for a 277 yards. Defensively, the Patriots held Falcons running back Michael Turner to a pedestrian 3.7 yard per carry average as the Falcons only recorded 10 points.
For the third straight week of the 2009 season, Brady hasn’t looked like his old self. But, Brady shouldn’t get all the blame for the mediocre passing attack that transpired Sunday. Brady fell victim to an array of drops, as Joey Galloway continued to play poorly. Still, Brady managed to throw for 277 yards and a touchdown pass when he hit tight end Chris Baker down the seam for a 36-yard completion. However, Brady only completed 60 percent of his passes.
Brady threw a lot of questionable passes. One that jumps out took place in the second half when Brady launched a deep pass down the right sideline that was intended for Sam Aiken. Brady overthrew Aiken by eight yards as Falcons safety Thomas DeCoud dropped what appeared to be an easy interception. Throughout the contest, Brady was in search of the big play down the field and aside from the touchdown pass, he struggled with his deep accuracy. Patience is the key, however, and with playing time, Brady should improve. In the near weeks, Brady’s receivers must help him out and catch the ball, but we’ll get to that topic very shortly. Overall, Brady wasn’t bad…and he wasn’t great either.
Grade: B +
For the first time this season, the Patriots had a running back rush for over 100 yards. Fred Taylor rushed for 105 yards on 21 carries and a touchdown in his first legitimate full-game action with the Patriots. Taylor ran hard all game long and had great success, especially early on running the ball.
Meanwhile, Kevin Faulk had his usual, consistent solid game rushing for 25 yards, but more impressively, a five-yard per carry average. Faulk also had three receptions. Although he only had five carries, Faulk provided to be a good change of pace back for Taylor, a spot the team would like to see Laurence Maroney fill. Speaking of the oft-injured running back, Maroney left the game with a thigh injury in the first half. Before his absence Maroney carried the ball only four times, rushing for 17 yards.
The last of this “four headed” running back duo in New England, Sammy Morris continued to see his biggest role at full back. However, Morris contributed nicely in the passing game with three receptions for 46 yards including a 19 yard reception to start the game.
Overall as a unit the running back position played well. Taylor shouldn’t be asked to carry the ball 20 plus times any more this season and if he does it will be interesting to see how his body holds up. He like Maroney hasn’t exactly had a clean bill of health thus far in his career. Anyhow, 163 yards with a 4.7 yard per carry average will get the job done.
Take a deep breath. Yes, breathe. OK. First of all, from this point in time, Joey Galloway will now be referenced to Joey “Throw”away. Throwaway has been terrible. Terrible. Terrible. Week 3 would be no better for Throwaway. Not only did he have a perfect Brady pass bounce off his chest, but he also caused Brady to go ballistic at the end of the first half…which was for good reason. Here’s the problem. Throwaway played in the West Coast Offense for most of his career where he was asked to run by defenders and make basket type receptions. In New England, Bill O’Brien has decided to use Throwaway as a possession receiver, which he is not. Throwaway’s hand are bad and his route running in traffic is horrid. In short, Throwaway is not working out in New England and something needs to be done.
Randy Moss had 10 receptions for 116 yards but still failed to find the end-zone for the first time this season. For some reason though, Moss doesn’t look like himself. On a deep pass where he was one-on-one against Brian Williams he failed to attack the ball at its highest point, therefore Williams made an easy play on the ball. Julian Edelman, coming off an eight catch performance in New Jersey, only had three receptions but most notably failed to haul in a Brady pass that would have given the Patriots a first down in the fourth quarter. The production would end there for Patriots receivers as Sam Aiken saw a couple of passes, one of which he abruptly stopped running in the end-zone and the second, which was noted above, was overthrown by Brady.
At the tight end position, production was limited. Baker did have a touchdown reception, but outside of that 36-yard catch he was non-existent. His counterpart, Ben Watson, had a nice 23-yard reception on a beautiful pass by Brady. However, like in most cases, he dropped a sure touchdown as the Patriots red-zone problems continued.
The Patriots need another weapon for Brady. Throwaway is liability for this team. If not another player, someone better pray that Wes Welker gets back as soon as possible.
Grade: C +
134. That’s the number of pass attempts it has been since the Patriots offensive line has allowed a sack, which is the longest current streak in the NFL. Left tackle Matt Light, who struggled in Week 1, handled John Abraham for the duration of the game. The Falcons did generate a consistent, moderate pass rush on Brady but the offensive line did a great job in containing it. In the rushing game, the line opened up holes for Taylor as the Patriots had more rushing yards Sunday than they recorded in the first two weeks combined. With the Falcons without 2009 first round pick Peria Jerry, it did make the job easier for the offensive line, but still major props to this unit on keeping Brady off his back .. for the most part.
Games are won in the trenches. The Patriots offensive line outplayed the Falcons and it showed on the scoreboard.
Grade: A -