Five Things We Learned From Patriots Victory Over Titans
New England Patriots fans got their wish Sunday — a Patriot win to end what was a long off-season following a Super Bowl defeat. Everything went according to plan in the team’s 34-13 win except Gronkowski’s spike, Brady’s bloody nose, and Lloyd’s miscalculation wide open on play action fake end-aroudn. All kidding aside, coach Bill Belichick surely has to be pleased with what he saw from his team.
Let’s take a look at five things we learned from the team’s win on Sunday:
1) Stevan Ridley can handle the load. Second year running back Stevan Ridley earned a starting role on this team after coming on late last season. He held onto the football and was the focal point of the Pats offense rushing 21 times for 125 yards and a score while adding two catches for 27 yards. Ridley proved to be very well rounded, excelling up the middle and especially on stretch plays where he found the outside and kept his balance quite well. It was a great display of physical talent.
2) Tom Brady has a lot of weapons at his disposal. The Patriots scored 34 points and Wes Welker only had 14 receiving yards. It’s the kind of balanced and non-dependent style this team can thrive of off. Brandon Lloyd, outside of an early mis-play, seamlessly stepped into a large role for the team as he (5 catches 69 yards), Gronkowski (6, 60, 1 TD), Hernandez (6, 59, 1), and Welker give Brady four legitimate number one options. If Ridley can keep those legs turning and the offensive line does no worse than yesterday, no one will stop this scoring attack.
3) Rookies make immediate impact on defense. On back-to-back second quarter defensive possessions the Patriots 2012 draft picks made impact plays to reverse the course of the football game. Tavon Wilson proved to be in the right place at the right time while displaying superb ball skills on an deep ball interception. The Patriots offense would proceed to go three and out. On the very next possession, Chandler Jones’ strip sack cleared the way for fellow rookie first rounder, Dont’a Hightower, to pick up the rock and gallop into the endzone, making the score 14-3. All three played extensively and the team’s decisions appear to be paying immediate dividends.
4) Patriots defense looks tough. In addition to the aforementioned play of the Patriots rookie defenders, the team defense played a smash-mouth style of defense all afternoon. The Pats cranked out some huge hits, including one on a play that did not count — the Nate Washington fumble where Jerod Mayo and Pat Chung crunched the Titans wideout to force a fumble. The team’s defensive line hit hard too, with notable tackles by the big boys Vince Wilfork, Kyle Love, and Brandon Deaderick.
Two notable numbers stood out:
- The Patriots held a Titans rushing attack featuring Chris Johnson to just 20 total yards (11 from QB Jake Locker)
- The Patriots held the Titans to just 6-for-16 on 3rd and 4th down plays
It’s only one game, and it was against a QB making his first NFL start, but the defense proved to be imposing.
5) Tom Brady and the offensive line will get one more “tune-up” game. There wasn’t much to critique following the team’s first win, but Tom Brady and his offensive line will get a chance to get some more work in. There are no given wins in the NFL, the Patriots at home versus a below average west coast team starting a back-up QB (most likely) is a good formula. Kevin Kolb and the Arizona Cardinals travel to Gillette Sunday for a 1PM start.
The key will be for the coaching staff to not allow their team to overlook the opponent. There will be some good coach-able points too, as the Cardinals defense features some big time players in Calais Campbell, Daryl Washington, Adrian Wilson, and Patrick Peterson. This will be a good tune-up for the Patriots before traveling to Baltimore for Sunday Night Football in week 3 in what is a pivotal early season match-up.