Patriots Report Card: Week 4
Published: Tuesday, October 2, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, October 2, 2012 10:10
It was a tale of two halves for the New England Patriots in Buffalo on Sunday. The Pats looked like they were in trouble at halftime, but really began to click offensively once the ball was kicked off in the second, putting up 45 points in the half alone. Tom Brady was Tom Brady, but it was the running attack that highlighted the 52-28 win over the Bills.
Tom Brady (A): Brady finished with 340 yards and three touchdowns, picking apart the secondary in the second half. Brady showed that he has more poise in the pocket than any QB in the league. Brady stepped up in the pocket and extended plays throughout the game. He even scored on a 4-yard scramble that prompted him to smile.
Running Backs (A+): Stevan Ridley has finally given a follow up performance to his breakout in week one. Ridley tagged the Bills for 106 yards on 22 carries with two touchdowns. But the real storyline is the Brandon Bolden. The undrafted rookie, Bolden was given some goal line and third down carries last week but was used heavily in this game, carrying the ball 16 times for a whopping 137 yards with a score. This is the first time the Patriots have had two running backs cross the century mark in a game since 1980. Danny Woodhead also caught a touchdown pass in the second half.
Wide Receivers (B+): Wes Welker continues to put up huge numbers with the absence of Aaron Hernandez. Despite his fumble, he beat the Bills for 129 yards on nine catches. Brandon Lloyd saw his lowest reception total with only three, but he did have a beautiful touchdown catch, his first of the year.
Tight Ends (B+): Gronkowski struggled at times on Sunday, losing a fumble, but he was a dominant figure in the Pats’ second half outburst ending the day with five receptions for 104 yards and a touchdown, his third of the year. Gronkowski has had at least five receptions in three out of the four games this year.
Offensive Line (A+): lWithout all-pro Logan Mankins, the offensive line had a big game. The Bills aren’t exactly a slouch in the front seven, but the Patriot’s linemen did a beautiful job of protecting Brady, and also opened up tremendous holes for the running game. For a line that has been inconsistent, this was a huge performance.
Defensive Line (B+): Vince Wilfork’s hit on Donald Jones is possibly the best clean hit this season and was an exclamation point to a solid day up front. The line held the Bills run-game to 98 yards. While Spiller and Jackson may have been banged up, they are both still very dangerous. Chandler Jones had a nice game with two tackles-for-loss and a sack.
Linebackers (B): Coverage on Tight End Scott Chandler was quite ineffective, who caught two touchdowns. Tight ends are primarily a linebackers or safeties responsibility. Other than that the linebackers had a decent outing. Brandon Spikes forced two fumbles including one on the two-yard line, which saved a touchdown.
Secondary (B): Ryan Fitzpatrick threw fro 350 yards which may be overblown because of the deficit, but the secondary was burned in the first half numerous times. Coverage over the middle on Buffalo’s tight end, Scott Chandler was bad and receiver Donald Jones was able to break free for a 68-yard score. The safety play has definitely been the weak spot on the defense. Devin McCourty had two interceptions and was very consistent in coverage, something this secondary needs.
Special Teams (A-): Giving credit to the punter here. Zoltan Mesko, who put all three of his punts inside the 20-yard line, two of which were inside the 6-yard line. Gostkowski, however, missed two field goals.