FOXBOROUGH – The Patriots moved to 2-0 with a 35-21 victory over the San Diego Chargers.
How did it happen? Let's take a quick look.
WHY DID THE PATRIOTS WIN?
Stop me if you heard this one before: Tom Brady threw for over 400 yards and three touchdowns. The defense gave up a bunch of yards, couldn’t get off the field on third down but came up with four turnovers (plus a stopped a fourth down conversion on the 1 foot line). As an added bonus this time around, we had the old standby: the Chargers kept shooting themselves in the foot.
P Zoltan Mesko (left knee) did return but only to hold.
DT Albert Haynesworth (undisclosed) did return.
CB Ras-I Dowling (thigh) did not return.
TE Aaron Hernandez (knee) did not return.
S Patrick Chung (right hand) did return.
S James Ihedigbo (undisclosed) did return.
THREE THINGS TO FEEL GOOD ABOUT
1. Tom Brady: Yeah, he’s pretty good.
2. Tight ends: No sophomore slump for Gronkandez. As long as those two are on the field – and Hernandez being beat up again is not good – they are a nightmare matchup-wise for defenses. And it’s not just in the red zone. All over the field.
3. Opportunistic defense: The fourth down stop was huge. Devin McCourty made the heads up play by taking out the fullback, which caused Mike Tolbert to lose his footing a little bit. And then Jerod Mayo made a great play to stop Tolbert. Four turnovers will also cover up a lot of yards given up.
THREE THINGS TO WORRY ABOUT
1. Injuries: The Patriots will probably be in the market for a new punter this week. A lot of hidden yardage could be there. The Patriots need to have Hernandez, especially against the Jets. And the defense needs Dowling now that Bodden appears to be in the doghouse with his two holding penalties.
2. Pass rush: There didn’t seem to be much. We’ll have to watch the tape back to be sure. The Patriots will tell you there was a lot of game plan-specific stuff – more surging at end instead of going up the field because of Rivers’ short drops, the ends and LBs were used to help against TE Antonio Gates, and some double teams against him didn’t allow for blitzes – but this is why all these veterans were brought in for the four-man line. Specifically, this was a game for the interior pass rush to really do some things. But the Chargers seemed to handle everything pretty easily.
3. Secondary: If there isn’t much of a pass rush, then the coverage is going to need to be really good in the back end. Overall, it wasn’t, and the Patriots allowed the Chargers to convert 83 percent of their third downs. Devin McCourty, at times, has trouble locating the ball against bigger receivers. Kyle Arrington couldn’t delay Vincent Jackson in the slot. Josh Barrett seemed to be a little slow in his recognition. Losing Dowling hurt. Bodden hasn’t contributed much. That doesn’t appear to be injury related.
1. Tom Brady: Duh again.
2. Deion Branch: Scouts don’t think much of him, and maybe he isn’t in other schemes or with different personnel around him. But he’s pretty darn good for the Patriots. Had 129 yards on eight catches against the Chargers.
3. Vince Wilfork: That was some interception and return for the Big Fella. He also recorded two official knockdowns.
At Buffalo Bills (2-0), Sunday at 1 p.m., Ralph Wilson Stadium
Result: Beat Raiders, 38-35.
What happened: Breakup the Bills. Buffalo came back from being down 21-3 in the first half to win on Ryan Fitzpatrick’s 6-yard touchdown pass to TE David Nelson with 14 seconds left. The former Harvard QB finished 28-of-46 passing for 264 yards and three touchdowns.