NEPD Staff Writer: Joon Lee
After a somewhat sluggish first half offensively and defensively against the Bills on Sunday, the Patriots rallied back in the second half against the Bills, blowing them out 52-28. In the process, the Patriots became the second team in NFL history to have a pair of 100 yard rushers (Bolden, Ridley) and 100 yard receivers (Gronkowski, Welker).
Coach Bill Belichick also moved passed Chuck Knox for sole possession for 8th place on the all time win list. There were a lot of positives to take from Sunday’s thrashing of the Bills.
The Running Game is Legit
Every single team in the NFL passed on Brandon Bolden in the NFL Draft. An undrafted rookie out of Ole Miss, the alma mater of fellow UDFA BenJarvus GreenEllis, the back signed with the Patriots and was one of the most pleasant surprises in training, consistently showing balance and poise at the running back position. Bolden was able to show enough potential to convince Belichick to keep him on the 53 man roster rather than risk losing him by waiving him onto the practice squad.
Yesterday, Bolden solidified his spot on the depth chart above Shane Vereen by turning in 137 yards on the ground on 16 attempts and one touchdown. The combination of Bolden, Ridley and Woodhead have been very good thus far and have changed the way the offense has run. Due to the fact that defenses now need to guard against the run, quarterback Tom Brady now has the option to run play action with confidence and throw the defense off-guard. Having a legitimate running game for the first time since the Corey Dillon era will open up the Patriots offense.
Wes Welker is Still Good
Remember two weeks ago when there were trade rumors of Welker being shipped out of town? Yeah, me neither. Welker has become the most consistent part of the offense since tight end Aaron Hernandez went down with an ankle injury week 2. Welker has been the backbone of the offense and has been a drive starter for the Patriots, getting a lot of looks on first down to set the tone for the offense.
Wes Welker is still the best slot receiver in the league and there is no doubt about it. While injuries to Hernandez and Edelman may have forced it, Welker has, once again, become a crucial part to the Patriots offensive gameplan.
Devin McCourty is Quietly Having an Excellent Year
I was talking on Twitter with Nick Underhill of CBS about McCourty and I completely agreed with him. McCourty is having an absolutely excellent year. While McCourty had some ill-timed pass interferences and dropped interceptions against the Ravens last week, it should not completely cancel out the fact that McCourty has been stellar in man defense this year.
McCourty finally looks like the guy building off the promise seen in his rookie year. McCourty made a couple of big plays and interceptions yesterday, leading the team in tackles with 5. Admittedly, McCourty has not been perfect, but I don’t think he’s been getting enough credit.
The Defense Showed Their Potential
This was the Buffalo Bills, an offense with two injured backs, a lackluster quarterback and two receiving threats in wide receiver Stevie Johnson and tight end Scott Chandler, so there is no need to overreact and call this a championship defense just yet. Despite this, they showed a whole lot of potential yesterday.
The line was very quick off the ball, with Chandler Jones and Vince Wilfork anchoring a line that dominated the Bills all day. Rob Ninkovich also turned in his best game of the season after struggling through the first three games. Brandon Spikes was an absolute beast and showed why he and Jerod Mayo are becoming an top-tier linebacking tandem. Let’s not forget about second round draft Tavon Wilson. Wilson was called a major reach by many (*cough* Mel Kiper *cough*) and has lived up to the potential of a second round pick so far this season. Wilson grabbed his second interception of the season and has been a solid force at free safety alongside Patrick Chung.
Tom Brady was excellent yesterday in the second half, throwing passes like a surgeon. He was absolutely on top of his game in the second half and spread the ball around to keep the Bills offense off balance. He showed why he is one of the best quarterbacks to ever play the game.
Let me know what you thought what were keys to the game in the comments below and keep the conversation flowing by following me on Twitter @iamjoonlee.