They ran the ball, the offensive line protected quarterback Tom Brady and led the running game, the defense was improved, and the top draft picks made an immediate impact. The things we were more sure of held form: Brady did his thing, tight ends Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez picked up where they left off last season as key parts of the offense, and kicker Stephen Gostkowski was as accurate as ever.
But we're traditionalists, and don't believe in the "everyone gets a trophy" philosophy. So our postgame surveys this season will force a decision. Pick one player below for the "game ball" honor.