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It was a game that fans around New England needed a win in. They had just finished watching their Red Sox blow a two-run, ninth inning lead, finishing their season with a sweep by the Angels. And so sports fans turned to the Patriots, facing an undefeated Denver Broncos team, led by ex-Patriot offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels. Similar to the Sox game, it started out well for New England. They enjoyed an early 10-0 lead, and held on to a 17-7 halftime margin. Then, the Pats’ version of the ninth inning came. Held scoreless in the second half, the Pats watched Kyle Orton march his Denver offense 98 yards in the fourth quarter for the game-tying touchdown drive, taking the game to overtime. In OT, Matt Prater booted through a 41-yard game winner, while Tom Brady and the Patriot offense was left silent on the sidelines, without a chance to touch the ball.
And so, the twin billing of big sports matchups turns into a twin killing. Hey, at least the Celtics won their preseason game this afternoon, right? I know… like that matters.
So here I am, left with the unenviable task of finding someone… anyone… to give props to, for the performance in this game. The bright spots were surely few and far between, but here it is… my best shot at some “PATS on the Back,” for Week 5.
The second-year middle linebacker returned to action for the first time since Week 1′s first quarter. Mayo, whose MCL injury was thought to sideline him for upwards of two months, was back in the lineup in less than one month, and contributed right from the start. His forced fumble off Denver rookie Knowshon Moreno stopped an early Bronco drive, giving the Pats the ball back to inevitably extend their early lead. Mayo’s six tackles was good for fourth most on the team on the day. His return is nothing but good news for the Pats’ D.
Tom Brady’s security blanket in the passing game finally made his first trip to the end zone this season, scoring the first points of the day for New England. Welker, who led the team with 8 grabs for 86 yards, highlighted by that early 8-yard touchdown catch, was the only offensive player with more than 3 catches. Brady was surely looking Welker’s way more often than not, targeting him a whopping 15 times on the day. A healthy Wes Welker is absolutely going to be a key as the season wears on, and the AFC playoff race heats up.
I know, it’s a stretch…but you watched the game, what other player deserved a pat on the back? Now granted, one could argue that Sunday’s Denver Bronco uniforms were nothing less than hideous, and I can’t totally disagree with that opinion. But in my mind, they were not nearly as awful as everyone is saying they were. Yes, they mixed the ugly colors of bodily functions “#1″ and #2.” But, you had to love the vertically-striped socks, no?
A little closer to home, I’ll take those classic Patriot uniforms over their present-day gameday gear any day of the week. Pat the Patriot, in his fierce three-point stance, should have never left. I look forward to seeing Pat back out there this season, as the Pats are scheduled to wear the classic threads twice more this year.