Falcons @ Patriots REPORT CARD
posted at 9/27/2009 9:18 PM EDT
In the aftermath of the Patriots domination of the previously undefeated Atlanta Falcons, why am I seeing so much negativity of this forum? The Pats held the ball for 40 minutes, and, but for some redzone difficulties, would have blown the Falcons out. Though theres' still plenty of room for improvement, this was the best Pats' performance of the young season. Frankly, the Pats' caught a break, in that this game was played in wet, rainy conditions...which appeared to bother the home in a dome Falcons. Nonetheless, I see reason for optimism. Here are my grades:
The Pats dominated in time of possession...ran off 81 plays, and put up 445 yards in total offense. Nontheless, failure in the redzone is still a major concern (Pats were 1-5...one TD, 4 FGs). Against the better teams, FGs are not going to be enough to win. 1.) QB:
Tom Terrific missed several wide open receivers, including Randy Moss deep for what should have been an easy TD. There was also a terrible throw in the endzone, that should have been intercepted. In fairness to Tom, there were also several drops, as the wet conditions played a part. He's still a work in progress. I was impressed by the seeming return of his pocket presence...and his fire. Football still appears to be very important to him, Gisele notwithstanding. Though Brady completed 25 of 42 passes for 277 yards, his average gain per completion was just 6.6 yards. GRADE: B-;
Fred Taylor was outstanding, carrying 21 times for 105 yards. All the backs contributed, with some hard runs and several pass receptions...most notably by Sammy Morris. The one complaint, an obvious illegal motion penalty by Kevin Faulk, which likely cost the Pats 4 points...as it led to them settling for another FG, instead of a TD.GRADE: A-;
Without question, the finest game of the season for the big uglies. They opened up running room for the RBs, and did a good job of protecting Brady. Kudos especially to LT Matt Light, for the job he did on Falcon's pass-rush specialist, John Abraham.GRADE: A;
4.) WRs and TEs:
The allegedly "questionable" Randy Moss bounced back nicely from his Gotham doldrums, hauling in 10 passes for 116 yards. Had Tom Brady not misfired, Moss would have had an additional 50 or so yards, and a TD. But, Joey Galloway's difficulties continue. Galloway had a particularly bad dropped pass, and is obviously still not on the same page with Brady.
The TEs' were outstanding, both as blockers and receivers. Chris Baker and Ben Watson had key receptions. Baker's 36 yard 4th quarter TD catch iced the game.GRADE: B+ B.) DEFENSE:
Aided by the rain-soaked conditioned, an offense which held the ball for 40 minutes, and the absence of Brian Westbrook-like RB, Jerious Norwood, the "D" stymied the Falcons' offense...and held their "O" to just 257 total yards for the game. 1.) DL:
Good job overall by the front 3 or 4, depending on situation. Shut down Michael Turner and the Atlanta running game...making the Falcons one-dimensional. Ty Warren made a TD saving tackle on Turner early...holding the Falcons to 3 points instead of 7 on their opening drive. GRADE: B;
Somebody clearly "dropped the ball" on a FB screen pass to Jason Snelling on Atlanta's opening drive...leading to a 21 yard play, and setting up the Falcons' first score. Otherwise, not a bad job of pass coverage, and shutting down the run. ILB Gary Guyton once again led the team in tackles, and may be the Pats' most improved player.GRADE: B+;
Kept WR Roddy White in check, but had some problems with the tall, gangly Michael Jenkins, who had 5 receptions for 78 yards. Nice hits by Leigh Bodden and others. Took star TE Tony Gonzalez out of the game. Save for the lone Falcon TD drive, the backliners played well.GRADE: B+;
C.) SPECIAL TEAMS:
Great game from Stephen Gostkowski, who was 4-4 in FG tries, and boomed several kickoffs deep into the Falcon endzone. Some sloppy coverage on kick returns led to a couple of 40 yard returns by Eric Weems. One of those returns, a 41 yarder, gave the Falcons a short field...which led to their only TD. Nothing special by the Pat kick returners. Overall, a solid, albeit unspectacular, effort by this unit.GRADE: B;
No complaints with the offensive and defensive schemes...except in the redzone. This area of play has plagued the Patriots throughout the season, and cost them the game last Sunday against the hated Jets. With the Ravens coming to town next weekend, its' imperative that the Pats' solve their redzone deficiencies in a hurry.GRADE: A-
E.) PLAY OF THE GAME
: The play that stands out to me was the great 23 yard catch made by Ben Watson in the 3rd quarter, which set up a FG...putting the Pats up 16-10.
F.) GAME BALLS:
Fred Taylor, Randy Moss.
Here are the game stats: http://espn.go.com/nfl/boxscore?gameId=290927017