Patriots Report Card: Week 3
Published: Tuesday, September 25, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, September 25, 2012 13:09
The replacement refs ended up taking center stage in Baltimore on Sunday night between the Pats and the Ravens, but there was still some football that took place in between all the penalty flags and organized obscenity chants from Ravens fans. The Pats defense struggled to control the balanced attack of the Ravens, ruining a solid Brady air assault, and now their season record is below .500 for the first time in almost 150 games. With that, here are the week three grades for the 1-2 Patriots.
Tom Brady (A-): The good news is that Brady has not missed a beat since losing Aaron Hernandez in the passing game. He has built a good rapport with Brandon Lloyd and also showed us that the connection between him and Wes Welker is still one of the best in the league. Brady put up 335 yards on a rowdy Ravens defense and he did not turn the ball over.
Running Backs (C): Danny Woodhead and Stevan Ridley split the carries and neither were effective. Ridley gathered 37 yards on 13 carries and Woodhead salvaged only 34 on his 15 carries but did cross the goal line. Rookie Brandon Bolden also punched one in for six. There just does not seem to be a whole lot of trust in the running game in close games. Even with the lead in the 4th, Brady was throwing from the gun. Ridley has yet to back-up that 125-yard performance in Week 1.
Wide Receivers (A-): Brandon Lloyd and Wes Welker have stepped up in the absence of Aaron Hernandez. Welker, whose place in the offense was in question, has put up stout numbers two weeks in a row against two good defenses in Arizona and Baltimore. Lloyd got his first 100-yard game in a Pat’s uniform and Welker collected 142 yards on eight catches. To have two receivers in triple digits against the Ravens is no small feat. Julian Edelman also added a touchdown from the slot.
Tight Ends (C): Gronkowski was kept in check all night by the Ravens linebackers, especially Ray Lewis. Gronk was only targeted three times. For all the penalties that were called in this game, at least five more could have been called on Lewis with his coverage on Gronk. Kellen Winslow made his Pats debut and caught one of two balls he was thrown.
Offensive Line (B-): The offensive line was better on Sunday than it was in week two. Considering they were facing a very tenacious, amped-up Ravens front seven, the protection for Brady was decent. Brady was hit six times for two sacks. The line couldn’t create holes to generate a consistent running game.
Defensive Line (D+): After such a promising performance in week two, the front seven as a whole was very disappointing against the Ravens. There was no pressure on Flacco, and Ray Rice averaged five yards a carry. Not one lineman had a tackle- for-loss in the game. On a night where the defense needed to get to Joe Flacco, the Patriots defensive line came up short.
Linebacker: (D+): Pretty much the same story as the defensive. Jerod Mayo recorded eleven tackles but that is the only highlight from this group. Zero hits on Joe Flacco means the secondary was left out to dry.
Secondary (D+): I will spare them the F because the refs were calling pass interference on just about anything. You could tell that the defensive backs were a little timid. A lot of credit goes to Torrey Smith for a gutty performance, but for a secondary that shut down Larry Fitzgerald last week, I expected more. Flacco and company had a field day on the secondary.
Special Teams (A-): A much cleaner and less hectic week for the special teams. Gostkowski is one of the most reliable kickers in the game. Zoltan Mesko got back to form averaged 43 yards per punt.