Patriots-Rams: Notes on a Fourth Quarter Comeback
A win is a win and that's all you need to know about the NFL in 2008.
For years we've heard Bill Belichick preach this mantra, that it's the National Football League and on any given Sunday any team can beat any team. I don't think any of us Patriots fans ever really believed it when we had Brady under center, but that was then and this is 2008.
In this year's demento season anyone can actually beat anyone (unless you're the Bengals or Lions), and though the Pats have beaten up on some of the bottom feeders, the fact remains they are 5-2 and tied for the lead in the AFC East.
Well, yesterday Matt Cassel took a page out of Brady's book and sealed his first ever fourth quarter comeback with a pinpoint pass to Kevin Faulk with just under three minutes left.
Dare I say it was a Brady-esque performance by Cassel (minus the two picks of course, though they weren't really his fault: Wes Welker: fall down, Randy Moss: off his hands).
It was an all around team win, with great special teams play, a defense that tightened up after giving up a couple long passes, and an offense that made plays when it had to. Not to mention the Pats had zero penalties.
It felt like the old school Pats (2000s old school, not 1990s old school) and puts them on track for a big upcoming game against their rivals, the Colts.
My Notes on the Game
Belichick was rocking the polo shirt underneath the cut up hoodless sweatshirt. I don't know where he comes up with these looks, but I love each and every one.
Looks like there could be a suspension coming for Vince Wilfork after another incident against the Broncos (see last year in the season finale vs. the Giants). Don't mess with Big Vince or you'll get a finger through the facemask.
I wonder if Junior Seau would still be available if the Patriots needed him. We're almost in November and he's almost 40. And the Pats aren't exactly Super Bowl favorites at the moment. Hopefully we won't have to find out.
Cancel out the big plays and the defense is playing really well. Richard Seymour has returned to Pro Bowl form. Should be an interesting matchup against the Colts when he's going against their shaky line. When the Pats generate pressure with their front three good things happen.
I know Bruschi catches a lot of flack for being too slow now, but he can still make plays and was flying all over the place early on against the Ram, setting the tone like he needed to without Rodney in there.
Cassel really needs to learn how to slide when he runs, preferably after the first down marker when possible.
After the big plays yesterday I wondered if the team was feeling the loss of Rodney. But to be honest, they were giving up big plays with Rodney as well.
Brandon Meriweather really looks good to me. With Jonathan Wilhite, Terrence Wheatley, and Mike Richardson all getting solid time, it looks like the Patriots have one of the youngest secondaries in the NFL. They need to get healthy, though.
For those wondering how the Pats would alter their scheme without Rodney, it looks like they went more to a base 3-4, with a traditional look. Rodney played in the box a lot, covering tight ends, it looks like that job goes to the linebackers now.
At one time the Patriots had rookies Jerod Mayo, Gary Guyton, Jonathan Wilhite, and Terrence Wheatley and second year men Mike Richardson and Brandon Meriweather on the field. Old defense? I think not.
Gostkowski clutch yet again. Pro Bowl, I tell you. Pro Bowl!
Credit goes to the fans at Gillette for being loud enough to draw a huge false start in the fourth quarter. The stadium isn't exactly conducive to noise but that didn't matter on that play. Nice job, Pats fans.
No Patriot is more often criticized than Ellis Hobbs, but let me state now for the record that the guy is a warrior and count me in as a fan. He plays through countless injuries and continues to be as dangerous a return man as there is in the NFL.
For all the talk of the Chargers getting the Patriots monkey off their back, have you ever seen a team have a hangover after a victory? I find it quite enjoyable listening to Chargers talk radio. No one can figure out what the problem is. (Cough. Norv Turner.)
When Stephen Neal returns full-time the Patriots run game will benefit greatly. The fourth down stop was entirely on Billy Yates who was beat on the play.
BenJarvis Green-Ellis ran hard on the limited carries he had. I found it interesting in Josh McDaniel's press conference last week when he pointed out BenJarvus wasn't "a dancer." Did anyone else immediately think of Laurence Maroney?
Adalius Thomas clearly belongs at Outside Linebacker as he has been the pass rushing terror we thought we were getting last year. Now we see why Rosey Colvin was allowed to walk.
Sam Aiken was the reason why Chad Jackson didn't make this team. Why? He's a better special teams player and a better blocking WR. He's got the size that Chad had, maybe not the speed, but he contributes much more effectively in so many more areas.
I haven't seen a single second of the World Series or coverage of the World Series. I really could care less and not just because the Red Sox or Dodgers aren't in it.
I think Randy Moss would've had that touchdown grab in 2007. Not sure what the deal is, but I hope it's where Cassel's putting it and not Moss.
Nice to see Deltha O'Neal get the game-sealing interception. We need him to step up. Hopefully this is a sign he's doing just that. He certainly looked excited, didn't he?
What happens on MNF tonight should be interesting. I think I am rooting for a Colts win to set up a good chance for the Pats to make a solid statement next weekend. I think...
Mike Dussault is the Patriots Community Leader at Bleacher Report, and also a contributor at BostonSportz.com. His Patriots blog can be viewed here and he can be contacted at PatriotsPropaganda@gmail.com.
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