After a two game slide, the Patriots leveled the ship against their biggest division rival yesterday, with Tom Brady leading the way in a dominating second half that resulted in a 37-16 win. With the victory the Patriots swept their division series against the Jets while taking control of the division. With an easy schedule from here on out, the Patriots’ playoff fate now lies firmly in their own hands.
Aside from the playoff implications, there were four other items of note to me throughout this game.
1) The play of Tom Brady – After receiving really the only interception related controversy of his career the last couple of weeks, Brady silenced his critics with a dominant 329 yard, 3 touchdown passing performance. There’s no doubt that few if any quarterbacks with a 100+ rating have ever been subject to such criticism. Brady was nearly flawless in the second half last night – to steal the wonderful words of Chris Collinsworth we were witnessing “quarterback play at the absolute highest level” as Brady relentlessly marched a no huddle offense down the field. And while Benjarvus Green-Ellis tore up the Jets in their last meeting, Danny Woodhead led the Pats’ rushing attack with a measly 38 yards this time around – meaning Brady’s help from the run game was nonexistent.
2) The play of Rob Gronkowski – Rob Gronkowski – lover of playmates and touchdowns – may very well be the best tight end in the league right now. Standing at 6’6 and 265 pounds, the Gronk man also runs a 4.65 40-yard dash. That means he’s fast enough to get open, is a huge target, and basically can’t be taken down after the catch. Welker aside, Gronk has become Brady’s favorite receiver. His performance last night (113 yards, 2 TDs) was spectacular, although he needs some pointers from Aaron Hernandez on awesome touchdown dances. Since he broke into the league no tight end has been as productive offensively, and his blocking is also second to none.
3) The play of Darrelle Revis – This should come as little surprise to anyone, but Darrelle Revis was just about flawless last night. In all the NFL games that I watch, Revis is one of very few players that consistently impresses me. In my eyes, he has no peer in the NFL. Let’s put it this way – he spent all night matched up with Wes Welker, the league’s leading receiver. Welker’s stat line at the end of the game? Only 6 receptions for 46 yards.
4) The play of New England’s Secondary – Leigh Bodden? Gone. Patrick Chung? Out. Devin McCourty? Out. James Ihedigbo? Out. The Patriots’ already worst pass defense in the league played last night with one starter and three back-ups, frequently using their 5th string backups. A recipe for disaster, right? Not so fast. Give credit where credit is due, this group manned up and played one hell of a game. Now can they build off of it?
All in all a big win, and it should be fun to watch Tom Brady rack up fantasy numbers from here on out. The fun begins with a Monday night matchup next week against the Chiefs.