The Patriots had their hands full this week against a tough Ravens team yet were able to battle all game and find a way to win in overtime. The biggest story of the game was the return of Deion Branch, the long time Patriot who was traded to the Seahawks in 2006 for a 1st round pick. He was just traded back this week to the Patriots for a 4th round pick in the 2011 draft. Aside from being back with the team, Branch made his presence be known on the field as well catching 9 passes for 98 yards and a touchdown. He had a few big catches that help set up scores not to mention a 20+ yards reception in overtime that led to a game-winning field goal. Aside from Deion Branch, the Patriot team had some things to talk about and others to forget.
The defense for the second week in a row looked very good. They held Ray Rice to only 88 yards rushing on 28 carries. I did mention in my past blog that if they held him to under 100 yards, it would help them greatly which it did. Jerod Mayo led the defense with 11 tackles helping plug the running holes to stop Rice. The defense also put a lot of pressure on Flacco sacking him 3 times. They kept the Ravens’ playmakers in check. Boldin only caught 4 balls (granted one was a TD); Rice was held to 88 rushing yards; and Flacco threw for less than 300 yards and only had 2 TD passes. For being a strong offensive ball club, the Ravens did have a tough time scoring on this Patriots defense.
As for the Patriot offense, things looked good at times, but for others they were a little shaky. Brady threw for 292 yards with only 1 TD and he did make two poor throws for interceptions. Green-Ellis carried the ball 10 times for only 20 yards and a TD. Danny Woodhead had another big game rushing the ball a career high 11 times for 63 yards. He also caught 5 passes for another 52 yards and with Faulk out for the season, it looks like Woodhead will be a good replacement for him. Aaron Hernandez was also involved catching 4 passes for 61 yards and rushing once for a big 18 yard gain.
Most of the plays the Patriots ran were short plays, which I mentioned would be a problem without Moss. They did have one play of 30 yards, but that was the longest of the game. Down the line, I definitely think that will be a problem for the Patriots, however they were able to overcome it this game and with Brady at QB can certainly find a way to do it in the future. Things don’t get any easier for the Patriots this week as they face a struggling, but still tough Chargers team. The Patriots brought it this week to keep pace in the AFC East with both the Dolphins and Jets winning. The Patriots are now 4-1 and hope to improve to 5-1 next week.
On a side note, look for safety Brandon Meriweather to be fined this week by the NFL for a brutal helmet to helmet hit against TE Todd Heap. With the NFL trying to protect their players, there is a chance Meriweather could be suspended, but we will have to wait and see. The hit was not necessary at all and was made on the defenseless TE after a ball was overthrown. The hit didn’t look remotely close to being a legit tackle, but looked as though Meriweather wanted to knock Heap’s head right off. Absolutely uncalled for and the NFL should have a punishment for the safety soon.
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Written by David Reid