A quick breakdown of the Patriots 30-23 win over the Ravens last night, which featured a lot of good (Tom Brady) and a lot of bad. All in all, an impressive win over the best defense in the NFL.
- Tom Brady: Brady was at his finest last night. Hyped up, pissed off and shredding the defense. 3 Touchdowns and 400+ passing yards against the No. 1 defense in the NFL. Pretty, pretty, pretty good. That touchdown to Malcolm Mitchell in the Red Zone was an absolute missile in a window the size of a coast and is a throw most QB’s probably don’t even try. Also, getting on Edelman and Chris hogan to get their shit together after a less than ideal start seemed to really give those guys a much needed kick in the ass.
- Chris Hogan: Hogan earned his excellent nickname 7-11 last night as he really was open all day. Seemed like Brady had to give him a little shit to get back on the field after hurting his hand early in the game, but its hard to argue with 5 catches for 129 yards and a TD. That 79 yard TD was money as Hogan seems to have another gear in the open field I didn’t even know about.
- Martellus Bennett’s Health: This was huge last night after there were reports circulating that Marty was less than 100%, which is a scary thing to hear with Gronk done for the year. If Bennett goes down or can’t get the job done then the Pats are probably screwed with zero tight end presence. But Bennett looked great last night especially one his nearly 1 handed TD catch when the defender was draped all over him and Bennett ripped the ball off the guy and held on for the score. Plus the 3 TE set on play action where Bennett lined up in the middle of the other two “tight ends” and slipped into an opening for an easy first down. Great sign.
- Special Teams: That blocked field goal by Shane McClellin was an absolute thing of beauty. Perfectly timed, incredibly athletic play by a prototypical Bill Belichick guy; a former top pick he peeled off the scrap heap of another team for peanuts. Great play against the best kicker in the league who was the only kicker in the NFL to not miss a kick yet. Jamie Collins who? And the punt coverage unit was on fire as well. Downing a punt at the 1 yard line leading to the safety, which put the Pats on the board and set the tone for the whole game.
- Special Teams: Holy shit talk about a Jekyll and Hyde performance from the special teams last night. They were absolutely carrying the Pats in the beginning of the game. All of Twitter was gleefully ripping off tweets about how special teams is 1/3 of the game and just as important. Then a couple fumbled punts later and suddenly the Pats are only up a field goal. I’ve never seen a BB special teams unit that hot and cold in the *same game* Thankfully TB12 saved the day, but relying too much on Brady is what has usually killed the Pats in the past. Brady has a slightly off day and the rest of the team can’t pick up the slack. Something to keep an eye on.
- Cyrus Jones: Jesus christ, this kid is shook. Last night he could not get out of his own way and now has FOUR fumbled punts on the year. It’s clearly a mental thing, but its at the point now he just cannot be trusted back there. I also don’t get why the insist on putting him as a PR, apparently he only has 12 career punt returns in college. Maybe it was just me being dumb, but I was lead to believe he was some kind of PR specialist? Either way, hopefully he can make an impact as a depth safety because right now he is looking like a real bungle of a 2nd round pick.
- Linebackers Covering RBs Out of the Backfield: Said it last night and I’ll say it again; the Patriots are the only team that can give up a 40 yard screen play to a freakin full back and it doesn’t shock me. They just cannot cover running backs out of the backfield and that is a huge issue heading into the playoffs. This is where a guy like Collins would have been valuable, they just don’t really have the speed to cover guys coming out of the backfield on screens. Giving up 40 to a fullback is an embarrassment though and is probably a bigger reflection of poor tackling than anything else. This could be their potential undoing in the playoffs. Woof.