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Defense Struggles as Patriots Fall to Rams 36-35

Rob Gronkowski stole the show against the Rams today.
Rob Gronkowski stole the show against the Rams today.

Most of today's game wasn't pretty for the New England Patriots starting defense.

While things started off really well for the team with a 97 yard kick return touchdown by Brandon Tate, it went downhill for most of the half from there.  Sam Bradford, in his first NFL start, took the field and tore apart the Patriots defense, finding holes in the soft zone played by the Patriots.  It seemed that the Patriots could only get pressure with loaded blitzes that usually had the safety running around the corner.

After allowing the Rams to score 17 unanswered points, the Patriots finally got the ball rolling on offense on a drive that had three highlight reel plays.  The first was a 39 yard post play that was thrown on a rope to Wes Welker.  The second play started with the pocket collapsing on Tom Brady.  Brady fell to the ground, only to realize that he actually had time to throw.  So Brady got up, delivered a rope to the sidelines that was caught by Alge Crumpler, who had to dive, drag both feet, and maintain possession of the ball to make the catch.  The third highlight reel play came shortly after.  Tom Brady found rookie tight end Rob Gronkowski crossing over the middle.  Gronkowski had linebacker James Laurinaitis draped on his ankles, yet Gronkowski kept driving his legs, and literally jumping his way six yards into the end zone.

With the Patriots trailing 20-14 at halftime, the defense looked to get off to a strong start in the second half.  However, they were picked apart by a Rams second string offense led by quarterback Thaddeus Lewis, and eventually surrendered a touchdown on a drive that lasted more than nine minutes.

Down 27-14 with just over five minutes to go in the third quarter, Tom Brady and the first string offense continued to keep things going, with Randy Moss catching a beautiful bomb for the touchdown, leaving the Patriots down just six.

As the third quarter closed, Tom Brady led his final drive, starting from his own two.  The Patriots worked out of the no huddle, and the team was sharp.  Brady found Kevin Faulk multiple times, and threw a great pass down the seam to Rob Gronkowski for a big game.  The drive was capped off with a short post by Rob Gronkowski, who jumped in the air and secured his second touchdown, giving the Patriots a 28-27 lead.

On the ensuing Rams possession, Brandon McGowan intercepted a Thaddeus Lewis pass and returned it to the Rams' nine yard line.  Three plays later, the Patriots scored on a five yard pass from Brian Hoyer to Sam Aiken.

While the team took the lead, the Rams offense drove right back down the field on a drive that included a coverage breakdown on a fourth and two play.  While the Rams couldn't convert the two point conversion, they stopped the Patriots in six plays.  With just over two minutes to play, the Rams took their time and worked their way into field goal position.  As time expired, Josh Brown kicked the game winning field goal, with the final score being 36-35, with the Rams on top.