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Two very evenly matched teams faced each other at Gillette Stadium on Sunday afternoon, and on this given Sunday, the New England Patriots were able to do just enough to edge the very talented Baltimore Ravens squad, 27-21. Something tells me this won’t be the last we hear from the Ravens, as both teams look like they could collide again during the playoff run.
It was a game with no offensive standouts for the Pats. Brady had a solid game, running for the 6th TD of his career, while throwing for another, connecting with Randy Moss for the first time since Super Bowl XLII. On the ground, no runner rushed for more than 25 yards and through the air, no receiver went for more than 51 yards.
The true standouts were on the defensive side of the ball, who outplayed the highly touted Ravens’ D all game long. A job well done for all members of the Pats’ defensive corps, holding the league’s second highest scoring offense to just 14 points, with Baltimore’s other seven points coming on a defensive strip sack of Tom Brady and fumble recovery by Dwan Edwards.
So this week for the first time, my “PATS on the Back” article features no one on offense, as I highlight three members of the defense that made the difference in this Week 4 win.
With his two solo sacks of QB Joe Flacco today, defensive lineman Mike Wright has already eclipsed his career high for a season, with three total. Wright has stepped in and done an admirable job in his new starting role, with the absence of longtime Patriot Richard Seymour. Beyond the questionable call on Wright’s roughing the passer penalty, Wright has done everything “wright” so far this season, helping the defensive line stay strong against the run and put pressure on the opposing quarterback.
He may have made only one tackle in the game but Leigh Bodden’s second quarter interception – ending a Baltimore drive that would have taken the momentum away from the Pats going into the half – was a potential game-changer. Bodden’s concentration, first catching the ball, then keeping his two feet in-bounds, is a testament to how great a player he is turning out to be. Bodden’s interception was the first of the season for New England.
The outstanding play of safeties Brandon Meriweather and Brandon McGowan, in my mind, made the difference in today’s ballgame. They both just seem to be around the ball during every big play in the game. Right from the start, as Baltimore kick returner Chris Carr fumbled on the first play of the game, McGowan, a Chicago Bear castoff in the offseason, is right there to fall on it, setting New England up with a short field to start with. For Meriweather, he led the team with nine tackles on the day and played like the former first-round pick can play with superior coverage all day long. With these two guys anchoring the defense, the secondary is no longer the problem it once was for the Patriots.