The New England Patriots have had an incredible one week turnaround. Just six days after suffering an embarrassing 41-14 to the Chiefs, they have handed the Bengals a similar outcome in a 43-17 win on Sunday Night Football.
Here are five things we learned from the game:
These Patriots are resilient.
Earlier in the week, we pointed out that tonight's game would be the ultimate chance at redemption for the Patriots. All week, they scrutinized. The national media, the local media, and even a large segment of the fanbase commented that this team was dead in the water. They were wrong. This team could have folded, but instead they flourished against the NFL's last remaining undefeated team. There might not have been a team in the world that could have beaten the Patriots tonight. They were angry and had a collective chip on their shoulder. To put it simply, it was awesome.
Tom Brady can still be Tom Terrific.
We've all seen angry Tom Brady. But tonight's angry Tom Brady was a different kind of angry Tom. He had a chip on his shoulder. Perhaps better stated, he had a chip on his other shoulder, since we know he normall already plays with one. Who didn't get chills from the "Brady! Brady! Brady!" chants that were echoing throughout Gillette Stadium. Brady was awesome tonight, just not on the field, but as a leader.
The Patriots have an interior offensive line.
The Patriots trotted out a new interior line tonight. Dan Connolly started at left guard, rookie Bryan Stork at center, and Ryan Wendell at right guard. The results, from the initial viewing, were phenomenal. The fact that the Patriots were able to stick to one combination at those three positions was a win to begin with. But each of those three played very, very well. The Patriots had nearly 200 yards running the ball up the middle (and here's my shout-out to Stevan Ridley and Shane Vereen). Brady had all day to throw. It took a quarter of the season, but it looks like the Patriots have found their solution on the interior.
Tim Wright will be a factor and that Gronk guy still is.
There was a Tim Wright sighting in Foxboro. After very limited usage over the first four weeks, the Patriots unleashed Tim Wright tonight. They lined him up at a variety of spots, got him involved down the seam, in the screen game, and at multiple levels of the field. He isn't Aaron Hernandez, but he could be the compliment to Rob Gronkowski that the Patriots have been seeking. Gronkowski, by the way, had 100 yards on six catches and had a touchdown of his own. He looked quicker in his cuts, and although he did have a few drops, he looks to be getting closer and closer to the Gronk we've grown accustomed to.
Darrelle Revis is still elite.
We all asked the Patriots to use Darrelle Revis in man coverage. We begged to have him shadowing A.J. Green. And that's exactly what he did. Revis shadowed Green for almost the entire game - from the outside, to the slot, to either side of the field. He clearly won the match-up with Green, allowing just two receptions, and forcing a fumble that was recovered by the Patriots. With Brandon Browner coming back next week, hopefully this is a trend that will continue.
Bonus: what about those refs? The Patriots clearly made some mental mistakes out there, but Jerome Bogar and his crew had more than a few questionable calls.