Syd Davy, apparently Moss' biggest fan, was ready and waiting in full uniform when Moss jumped into the stands after one of his TD catches. Now, you will notice Davy's outfit sports nothing warmer than a weight lifter's tank top. I have lived in New England all my life. I have been rained on, frozen near solid, and snowed on in the space of five minutes. I know what crazy weather is like and I think I'm your typical New Englander - no biggie. Apparently, they make 'em different in Winnipeg, Davy's homeland. It was 39F at Gillette Stadium last night...not accounting for windchill. I bow before those with greater power than I.
More after the jump...
I, quite honestly, was not expecting last night's outcome. I thought we had a chance, given Denver's defense is rated one of the worst in the league (28th against the pass and 29th against the run), but there was that 1 and 5 thing we had going against the Broncos. Seemingly having our number, Belichick and the boys just couldn't pull off consistent W's. The last one was 2003. And then came Sammy Morris with 100+ yards in 20 minutes. You read that right...20 friggin minutes. It was a thing of beauty. Sammy simply sliced and diced through the defensive line, finding or making holes where he needed them. It was glorious, as a Klingon commander would say.
Cutler, banging his right index finger early in the game, simply could not throw a good spiral. I think this contributed to their aerial troubles, but it didn't account for everything. Coming off of an embarrassing loss to San Diego where they picked our DBs apart, the Patriots' secondary shifted into overdrive and shutdown Cutler's targets. Now, before you tell me turnovers killed the Broncos, the first two only resulted in 2 field goals. However, a Meriweather interception in the 2nd quarter resulted in 7 for NE. Was Cutler's underthrown ball the result of his index finger? Maybe, but I don't think it made that much of a difference.
Penalties: Denver - 8 for 87, Patriots - 5 for 65. That's not a huge difference, but scanning through the play-by play, a number of them were drive ending, momentum killers. I'm sure the ride home with Shanahan wasn't pleasant.
So, what won this game? Net yards passing and average gain per pass were not that much different, in fact Denver led in both these categories. The difference maker was yards rushing: 257 yards for NE vs 106 for Denver. This kind of yardage also contributed to 5 trips to the redzone with 4 TDs and only 1 for 1 from Denver. We literally pounded the rock down their throat.
Now, before we get too happy, the O line looked horrible, allowing 6 sacks. Cassel, at times, had trouble finding his open man. His pocket sense was simply not what it should've been. On the flip side, our yardstick is Brady who seems to have ESP in the pocket, a skill developed over years of reps.
And then there's the injuries. IR'd hours before the game, Laurence Maroney is out for the season. After a 138 yard career high performance, Sammy Morris hurt his knee and his status is, as of yet, unknown. Rookie BenJarvus Green-Ellis came in and had a good game topped off with his first NFL touchdown. Now we move on to Rodney Harrison. A season ending torn quadricep may turn into a career ender. Aside from concern for Rodney, this leaves a gap at safety. Is this a possible chance for Belichick to re-sign John Lynch? Hmm...
A satisfying win. The team improved in some areas they needed work on (secondary) and dialed up a crushing running attack. There's still some problems, but faith, my friends, faith. Belichick will work it. He always does.