|Connelly’s Top Ten: Patriots Win By Less Than a FOOT||Panic Mode in Full Effect, Minutemen are Struggling||Patriots Survive Gritty Challenge From Jets||Smart Era Gets Off to a Good Start with Win over T’wolves|
And just like that, all hope is restored in Patriot Nation. Right?
OK maybe not all hope, but Sunday’s convincing 38-24 win over the Cincinnati Bengals at Gillette Stadium did a lot to calm the concerns of Pats fans, heading into a 2010 season that could go in a number of different directions. Call the Bengals what you will, but in my mind, that Week 1 win is a quality one for the Pats, over a talented team loaded with offensive talent.
There were plenty of highlights in the game, and as always, some lowlights mixed in as well. But in our weekly “PATS on the Back” recap, we like to accentuate the positive. So with several worthy nominees for praise and acknowledgment, I decided to go with three Pats players that directly led to putting points on the board.
Any questions that remained about the health of Wes Welker were answered resoundingly with his performance in Sunday’s win. His 8-catch, 64-yard, 2-touchdown day helped New England get out to their fast start, and helped put the whole stadium at ease. I don’t know that there’s a better story on the roster than that of Welker’s return, and it was really great to see that the first chapter was a total success.
As if the early 17-0 lead that the Pats built wasn’t demoralizing enough to the Cincinnati Bengals, linebacker Gary Guyton’s second quarter interception of a Carson Palmer pass that was subsequently returned 59 yards to put even more points on the board, was the nail in the coffin of Cincy’s slim hopes of a road win. For Guyton, who was passed over for one of the starting inside linebacker spots by rookie Brandon Spikes, it was his first career interception and first career touchdown. Not a bad day at the office for Mr. Guyton.
The second-year speedster out of North Carolina didn’t make “POTB” for his four catches for a mere 36 yards, but instead for his 97-yard romp to the end zone to open the second half, and all but seal the deal for the Pats. The return extended the New England lead to 31-3. Tate, who missed all but two games last season with an assortment of injuries, will be leaned on heavily in special teams to return both punts and kickoffs. Taking it to the house on Sunday surely solidified his special teams role even further.