There was some concern that the Patriots might not beat hurricane “Sandy” back to Boston on Monday, and after their 45-7 rout of the St. Louis Rams ‘across the pond’, the Patriots might have wanted to stay another week or two. After all, the Patriots are now 2-0 with a combined score of 80-14 in their only 2 games in London. They handled Tampa Bay back in 2009, 35-7.
Now, I’ll admit that I was among those who wondered if the Patriots might suffer from “Jet-Lag” (pun intended) after flying into London only 2 days before the game (in perspective, the Rams were 6 days early), but now I think it’s safe to say they handled it pretty well.
Tom Brady had the offense firing on all cylinders from the time the plane landed on Friday. Brady led the Pats to a touchdown on each of their first 5 possessions and to points on 7 of his 8 drives overall (Ryan Mallet took over late in the 4th quarter). Brady was 23 for 35, threw for 304 yards, and 4 Touchdowns (2 to Gronkowski and 2 to Lloyd), while Steven Ridley paced the running game and went for 127 yards on 15 carries and reached the end zone once as well.
On the other side of the ball, the struggling and often maligned Patriots’ defense piggybacked their dominant offense for arguably their best performance of the year. It was a night and day difference from the defense we saw the past few weeks. The Patriots defense was aggressive, relentless and (minus the first drive) managed to limit the ‘big play’ for the first time this season.
Now, with that being said, I don’t think the defense is anywhere near “fixed”. The Patriots’ defense has still given up the 6th best passer rating, and the 5th most passing yards in the league --granted, the acquisition of Cornerback Aqib Talib from the Buccaneers could greatly improve their secondary, but it certainly won’t fix all of the problems. To the naked eye, Sunday appeared to be more of the culmination of a big lead and the defense being able to play with a loose, carefree, and attacking style. There are still big holes in the secondary (42 plays of over 20 yards thus far, which leads the league) and their pass rush has been mediocre. In the end, maybe it was the big lead, maybe it was a young Rams offense, or maybe it was London.
Regardless of what it was, the Patriots have very little to be concerned about for the time being. They are back home for their bye week and will have time to get healthy and well rested for their home game on Nov 11th against a Bills team that they dropped 45 points against last time they met…. in the second half.
With the Patriots offense on a roll, everyone getting an extra week to rest, and key players getting healthy, it’s hard to find any good news for the Bills going into Foxboro next week. Although, for those of you looking for the silver lining for the Bills next Sunday, at least they don’t have to play the Patriots in London….Yeah, I know, you have to really want to see it.