NEPD Staff Writer: Mike Loyko
After re-watching the game tape this morning, I wrap up the Cowboys game and give my perspective on the positives and negatives from the game.
This game was the most important and quite possibly the biggest win of the season for this team. In a game in which the offense and special teams turned the ball over four times, two of which were in spots were points were going to be scored, the defense was able to keep them in the game. A lot has been made about the defense needing to win a game when the offense didn’t score 30 points; they were able to answer that question and did so against one of the better offenses in the NFL.
Overall, I am very encouraged by what I see by the defense, which seems to be getting better each week. I expect the defense to be fully healthy after the bye week for the first time this season.
Looking at the big picture, getting to the bye week at 5-1 and in sole possession of 1st place in the AFC East is great news. This team is one last second FG away from being 6-0, despite all the negativity surrounding their defense. Going 80 yards with 2 minutes remaining to win the game is a great way to go into the bye week, and should do a lot for the overall confidence of this team.
Game Tape Review
– The defense came into this game as a much maligned unit. They took the field with great intensity and energy yesterday. That was evident by the “everyone to the ball” mentality. The defense was swarming to the ball more so than any game this year. As a whole they missed a lot of tackles however, someone was usually there to clean it up.
– The Patriots defensive line owned the Cowboys offensive line and especially the interior of the line all day. Wilfork, Love and Haynesworth all routinely blew, Kyle Kosier, Bill Nagy and Phil Costa into the backfield disrupting running plays or forcing a quick throw from Romo.
– This was Haynesworth’s best game in a Patriot uniform.
– While he hasn’t been perfect I really like what James Ihedigbo has brought to the Patriots defense. Sergio Brown and Josh Barrett just weren’t cutting it. Ihedigbo has provided some stability where it was desperately needed. He plays with great energy, can really put a hit on the ball carrier, and did a real nice job covering the Cowboys TE’s. He has been an under the radar move but I think he stays the starter for a while.
– Brandon Spikes is back! Spikes flew around the field all game long. He looks fully healthy, blitzing on a number of plays and shooting gaps to get into the Cowboys backfield. He made a number of key plays including blowing up the Cowboys shovel pass on 3rd and goal late in the 4th quarter.
– We were able to go 2-0 without Jerod Mayo, but we need him back. I haven’t been impressed with Gary Guyton at all this year. He really struggled in pass coverage again and missed a number of tackles.
– Dan Connolly has been one of the unsung heroes of the first 6 games. Jay Ratliff is one of the best nose tackles in the game. Connolly was able to neutralize him all game, to a point where Ratliff was essentially invisible on the field.
– I thought the Patriots offensive line did a pretty good job all game against one of the best pass rushing teams in the NFL. While DeMarcus Ware had two sacks, one was more of a coverage sack when Gronkowski was covered in the red zone. Light, Solder, Gronk all held their own.
– This team needs to stop shooting itself in the foot. It seems the only way this offense can be stopped is when it stops itself. Penalties and untimely turnover have really stopped this team from taking it to the next level. The good news is all of those mistakes are very correctable.
– Andre Carter was dominating all game long. Not only did he pick up two sacks, one of which may be the play of the game, stopping the Cowboys momentum by settling for a FG. Carter has been remarkable against the run. He sets the edge perfectly and often forces the RB to turn it back into the teeth of the defense. That is something this defense lacked last year.
– Ochocinco was a complete non-factor, but I am not quite ready to give up on him yet. I will give him a full season to prove his worth. I still think he makes a big play at some point.
– What more can be said about Tom Brady, that two minute drive was a thing of beauty. The play of the drive came on the second play of the drive, Brady stood in the pocket and took a hit from Anthony Spencer, however he was able to get the ball to Rob Gronkowski who stepped out of bounds with 2:02 remaining, essentially giving the Patriots an extra timeout by allowing them to run one more play before the two minute warning. His poise, confidence and accuracy under pressure is the best ever. We are truly lucky to have him as our Quarterback.