Last week: 4 (+1)
The Patriots suffered a serious injury last week, losing Rob Gronkowski for at least 4 weeks with a broken arm. Gronkowski is an incredible football player and one of the top offensive players in the NFL and his absence obviously hurts. However, no one does the “next man up” thing offensively better than the Patriots. Remember when Aaron Hernandez went down and people thought it was a big deal?
Tom Brady’s favorite receiver has always been the open one. They’ll be fine without Gronkowski for a few weeks. They still have Wes Welker, Aaron Hernandez (returning from injury this week), Brandon Lloyd, and Julian Edelman. That’s probably a better receiving corps than they had when they won their 3 Super Bowls. Tom Brady has never needed great receivers and no team makes week to week adjustments for injuries better than the Patriots. In 2007, when they scored all those points, their tight end was Ben Watson.
They’re averaging 35.8 points per game this season, the 2nd most in NFL history (16 games seasons), right behind…yep, the 2007 Patriots. They’ve lost 3 games by a combined 4 points and won 7 games by a combined 137, leading the league with a +133 points differential. In a way, they’re playing as well as they did in 2007, without having the pressure of being undefeated thanks to some close losses. Defensively, Aqib Talib has stabilized things in the secondary, even if only a little. Coming off a 59 point performance against the Colts, I would not want to bet against them, especially since some people are doubting them in the wake of Gronkowski’s recent injury. They thrive off that kind of thing.
As for whether or not I agree with the Patriots leaving Gronkowski in there on the final PAT, where he got hurt, initially I didn’t agree. I don’t have an issue with “running up the score.” I’ve always said, if you don’t want to get the score run up on you, don’t suck. It’s not unsportsmanlike. In fact, it’s more unsportsmanlike to cry because you can’t stop the other team. I’m not offended by it. In fact, I’m much more offended by people saying he “had it coming to him” because the Patriots were running up the score. This is a serious injury we’re talking about here.
However, leaving him in on a PAT seemed pointless. They could have sent any Joe Schmo out there to do that job with a 34 point lead. But Belichick’s explanation of the matter made perfect sense. “I think you’ve got to be careful when you’re trying to run a team, to go up to one guy and say, ‘Michael, we’re going to leave you in the game because we care about you, but Glenn, we’re going to take you out because you’re really important. You other guys go in there because if something happens to you, we don’t really care.” That’s perfectly reasonable. That’s exactly how Belichick coaches: no one is worth more than the team. Who am I to question that? He’s won 3 Super Bowls.
Speaking of 3 Super Bowls, fuck the fans who booed Adam Vinateri. The guy is a local icon and a hero. You shouldn’t hold anything him for taking more money in Indianapolis after the Patriots low balled him (yes, the Patriots even low ball kickers). Kickers don’t make much to begin with, but the money he took in Indianapolis was record money. I wish he was still on the team, but booing him baffles me.
QB Tom Brady: 24 of 35 for 331 yards and 3 touchdowns, 1 hit as thrown, 1 batted pass, 2 drops, 99.5 adjusted QB rating, pressured on 6 of 35 drop backs (0 sacks, 2 of 6, 1 hit as thrown, 1 drop)
TE Rob Gronkowski: Caught 7 passes for 137 yards and 2 touchdowns on 7 attempts on 24 pass snaps, 7.8 YAC per catch
FS Devin McCourty: Did not allow a catch on 3 attempts, 3 solo tackles, 3 stops
MLB Brandon Spikes: 1 solo tackle, 5 assist, 1 quarterback hit and 4 quarterback hurries on 14 pass rush snaps, did not allow a catch on 1 attempt
DT Vince Wilfork: 3 quarterback hurries on 42 pass rush snaps, 2 batted passes, 2 solo tackles, 2 stops, 2 missed tackles
LE Jermaine Cunningham: 2 quarterback hits and 4 quarterback hurries on 47 pass rush snaps, 1 solo tackle, 1 stop
WR Julian Edelman: 2 punt returns for 117 yards and a touchdown, rushed for 47 yards (17 after contact) on 1 attempt, 1 broken tackle, caught 5 passes for 58 yards and a touchdown on 6 attempts on 32 pass snaps, 11.2 YAC per catch, 1 drop
RB Stevan Ridley: Rushed for 28 yards (22 after contact) and a touchdown on 13 attempts, 2 broken tackles
CB Aqib Talib: Allowed 8 catches for 141 yards and 2 touchdowns on 11 attempts, 1 interception, 7 solo tackles, 1 missed tackle