The young Patriots defense appeared to grow up right before our eyes yesterday, looking shaky early on, but playing their best in the fourth quarter and overtime, beating the Baltimore Ravens 23-20 at Gillette Stadium yesterday afternoon.
Deion Branch starred in his return to Foxborough, with 98 yards and touchdown. The Patriots offense looked different yesterday, without the deep throws to Moss, and the short and mid-range routes.
I will give Michael Felgercredit for his persistence on the Moss/Branch dynamic. When Branch and the Patriots were having the contract issues, Felger insisted that Branch was a guy because of his skills, and his chemistry with Brady that you pay even if you need to give him a little more than you want to. His stance on Moss may have been influenced by the receiver’s spurning of his beloved Packers, but I think he was on to something about what having a guy like Moss on your team means – you have to try and use his incredible skills, which at timesmay have taken away from the effectiveness of the offense as a whole. I loved seeing Moss here, and watching him play, I’m not goign to knock him at all, I didn’t want to see him leave, but I’ll be interested to see how the offense evolves the rest of the season.
(By the way, check out this interview with Felger on Patsfans.com – Sunday Morning Conversation With Michael Felger)
A Patriots home game always generates dozens of links, so I’ll try and weed through the chaff for you here this morning:
Ten Things We Learned Sunday: Against Ravens, Patriots were tough enough - Christopher Price notes that this win had all the earmarks of one from a vintage era.
Patriots’ play calling gets creative in Moss’ absence - Brian MacPherson examines how the Patriots offense looked different yesterday.
Nice old-time feel to this one - Bob Ryan says that it wasn’t so much the What as the How in this win.
Patriots’ defense grows into job - I like Mike Reiss’ line about how the Patriots defense has been carved up this season by “an aggressive media corps,” but that they delivered yesterday. Ron Borges has a similar piece about the young defense.
Belichick apparently still has his fastball - Bill Burt says that perhaps the game hasn’t passed the Patriots coach by just yet after all.
Wilfork inspires youthful defense – Rich Garven has the defensive captain leading his squad on and off the field.
Patriots prove they’re not last year’s team - Tom E Curran has the Patriots turning the page on 2009.
Memo to league-Pats can contend - Dave D’Onofrio says that this was a statement from the Patriots.
Patriots find answer in Danny Woodhead - Dan Ventura has Woodhead again coming up big.
Not merely footnote in win - Monique Walker’s notebook has Gostkowski and Mesko both playing big roles yesterday.
I caught some of NESN Daily last night, to check out some more Patriots highlights/analysis and caught their segment with David Givens and Max Lane. Givens is pretty good, and it was interesting to hear him talk about both Branch and Brady, as he was close with both. Lane isn’t quite ready for prime-time, he’s pretty soft-spoken, and didn’t add a ton to the discussion.