FOXBOROUGH — The Patriots scored a big win over the Baltimore Ravens today at Gillette Stadium. It was the most complete effort of the season by the Patriots and puts them at 3-1 at the quarter pole.
Let’s take a look at the players who deserve big ups in the win and those whose performances — or in this case non-performances — deserve a down nod. As always the caveat is that first impressions are not always the most accurate impressions. That’s why Bill Belichick always says he has to look at the film.
1. Tom Brady — This was the most comfortable that Brady (21 of 32 for 258 and a TD) has looked so far this season. He hit nine different receivers, connected with Randy Moss on a touchdown for the first time, and directed an offense that scored three touchdowns in five red zone opportunities after going 1 for 8 the last two weeks. Brady took matters into his own hands in the second quarter on first and goal from the Baltimore 6, running for 5 yards and then punching it in on a QB sneak on the next play.
2. Sammy Morris — Morris’s numbers aren’t big — six rushes for 21 yards and five receptions for 34 yards — but his effort was. Morris converted a fourth and 1 on the Patriots’ first scoring drive and scored on a 12-yard touchdown run against the league’s top-rated run defense. Flanked out as a wide receiver, Morris also dragged Baltimore defenders on a 14-yard screen pass, showing impressive determination and position flexibility.
3. Leigh Bodden — Bodden came up with a spectacular interception in the second quarter to snuff out a Baltimore scoring drive. Bodden intercepted Joe Flacco at the New England 9, toe-tapping his feet inbounds like a wide receiver. “I used to be a receiver back in the day,” said Bodden. “So, that had to come out a little bit. I just caught the ball and held on to it.” Bodden also recovered a Kevin Faulk fumble on a punt return.
4. Mike Wright — Wright recorded both of the Patriots sacks and had three quarterback hits. He provided steady pressure up the middle, flushing Flacco out of the pocket.
1. Joey Galloway – Make it a perfect four for four for Galloway. It’s hard to give a down to a player that didn’t play, but the performance of the Patriots offense without Galloway didn’t bode well for his future in Foxborough. Rookie Julian Edelman is clearly ahead of Galloway and has earned Brady’s trust, something Galloway doesn’t have, which likely led to him being inactive.
2. Laurence Maroney — Maroney had seven rushes for six yards against Baltimore’s defense. While he has shown more patience as a runner, the fans’ patience with him is clearly running out, as he drew boos in the second half. Even Maroney’s one good play, a 17-yard reception on which he shook the first tackler, was marred by a curious decision to run back towards tacklers in the middle of the field instead of heading for the sideline.
3. Ron Brace – The second-round pick was an inactive in favor of Terdell Sands, who was only signed by the Patriots on Monday. That is not a good sign for Brace, who was already behind fellow rookie Myron Pryor on the depth chart. Brace might have to brace for more bench time, if he doesn’t improve his performance in practice.
4. James Sanders — This is a tough down and, honestly, might be unwarranted, but it’s based on the fact that Brandon McGowan started over Sanders for the third straight game. Sanders seems to have been supplanted by McGowan as a starter. Plus, Sanders whiffed on a tackle of Ray Rice on a screen pass in the second quarter and not only didn’t make the play, but landed on his right arm hard and suffered an injury. That was adding injury to insult. One thing about Sanders is that he will never shortchange you on effort.