Patriots vs. Chargers
The Patriots finished the 'Gauntlet' last night in San Diego with another win. Before this six game stretch many people said the Pats would be lucky to go 3-3. Well the only slip up was the Green Bay game last week. Last night's game was far from perfect, but the Pats got the job done and came away with a huge road victory to hold onto home field for now. The defense was outstanding last night even with the absence of Hightower and Jones. The offense was very inept at various points in the game, but in the end did enough to win.
For the second straight week, we saw the offensive line struggle and it really affected Brady and the offense. The O-Line played its worst game since the KC game. Brady took consistent pressure at times. The O-Line also got dominated in the run game as well. The first drive was very promising as Blount was running through the Chargers D, but from there, he averaged like 2 yards a carry. The Chargers were in the backfield all game not allowing anything from the run. The O-Line gave Brady time on some plays, but really will need to be a lot more consistent if they want to go deep into the playoffs.
Tom Brady had a really bad game for his standards. The obvious play that sticks out is the horrible pick at the end of the half. Similar to the Colts play at the end of that half, Brady had Gronk open on the play but just failed to make the throw. He was getting pressured on the play and didn’t step into it and the ball floater way short giving Gronk no chance. If anything, Brady should've taken a sack there and use the timeout and take the 3 points. It was a horrible play but good idea. If Brady puts something on that pass, it's a TD for Gronk. Brady also struggled throughout as he missed some easy ones and short armed others leading to inaccuracy. His TD to Gronk was a beauty though and a couple other passes were nice, but overall his play was lacking and he knows it. The Pats had 4 straight 3 and outs in the third quarter with great field position. The offense hasn't been on its game the last two weeks and has a lot it needs to work on.
The receiving corps got a huge boost from the gritty play of Edelman. He made a couple clutch third down catches and had the play to ice the game on a 69 yard TD where he broke a couple tackles. On a night where LaFell was quiet, and costly (the fumble), Edelman stepping up to make plays saved the team. Gronk had his usual production, but I still think Brady is not getting him the ball enough. He can turn a five yard out into a thirty yard gain. Gronk should be getting 15+ targets a game if you ask me. Teams continue to put single coverage on him and Brady needs to take advantage of that.
The defense was the real MVP of the night. They held the Chargers under 250 yards and only gave up 7 points. There are so many guys to talk about playing well as the entire unit was amazing. Revis is just the best CB in the game hands down. Keenan Allen still has yet to be found in San Diego. Revis gave up one catch for two yards on the night, outstanding. Brandon Browner showed his vulnerability on the Floyd TD, but overall the rest of the night was amazing as well. He also wins the award for getting jobbed the worst on his obliteration of LaDarius Green. The refs completely blew the call saying it was helmet to helmet, when clearly Browner put his shoulder right into Green's life. Thankfully this called back pick six by McCourty didn't affect the outcome. The call was horrendous and could've cost the Patriots a win. Outside of that it's worth mentioning the continued great play of Arrington as he shut down Royal all night (surprising me). The Patriots of course drew up a great game plan to slow down Gates as he was held to 35 yards. This secondary can go toe to tie with any offense in the league.
Without Chandler Jones and Dont'a Hightower, I thought we were in trouble Sunday night. Hightower has been a great piece playing out of his mind and his absence, I thought, would have been noticeable on the field. Jamie Collins made me completely forget about him. What a freaking animal Collins is. He was beyond amazing Sunday. He led the team in tackles and had two sacks o Rivers. He was doing it all. His size, speed and playmaking ability make him such a crazy talent. If he can continue this kind of play the defense will shut down everyone.
The defensive line was very good Sunday as Siliga finally returned to action. The run defense struggled early on and his presence was noticed from there on out as the Chargers didn't have much room running the ball. Rob Ninkovich made a couple nice plays in this game as well. The biggest difference seen from this week's defense as opposed to last week was the aggressiveness in play calling. We saw multiple blitzes and different rushing schemes on defense whereas last week the defense only brought 3-4 rushers every play letting Rodgers sit back. That's been the key to this defense all season. It seems they play at their best when they get after it. This defense is going to be disgusting when Jones and Hightower return. The blitz schemes are going to ruin quarterback's days and our secondary will give teams no room to budge.
Sunday night was another example of how this team can wins in many different ways. The defense pitches a shutout in the second half to save the offense's ass and the offense shows life when needed. The Patriots now have 12 straight 10 win seasons and finish off the season vs. the AFC East opponents. They should win all three of these games and clinch the 1 seed and the ever important home field throughout the playoffs. If the offense can get back to what it was doing before and the defense continues to grow as players return, then this team will be unstoppable.