By Alice Cook, She's Game Sports
They almost blew it in Buffalo. That almost never happens. The Patriots are 1 and 0 today like the world expected them to be. Football is not won or lost on style points, and yesterday's game was as ugly as a wart.
It will take some time for our eyes to adjust to an offense that does not include Wes Welker, and for now, Rob Gronkowski. Those sorry Bills fans in the RV lot at Ralph Wilson Stadium were pulling out this morning with another sad hangover -drowning their sorrows in the stale odor of their Genessee beer.
Here are my top ten takeaways from the Week One.
1. Tommy Points:
Tom Brady said recently he wants to still be playing at age 50. Yesterday's game probably aged him by ten years, so that means he has 4 years left.
Brady got it done against the Bills with crazy glue and chicken wire. His receivers were zigging and zagging the wrong way, bumping into each other, not staying inbounds, and not catching catchable passes.
There was a bench shot of Brady yelling at Danny Amendola in the third quarter. There were cutaways of Brady in hands to the helmut frustration after incompletions. There was Brady on his backside. There was Brady getting pressured. There was Brady fumbling at the goal line. There was Brady looking for an open man- and nobody was there.
And there was Brady being Brady on the final drive, a 12 play, 49 yard, text book beauty, putting his team in field goal range for the winner. Kick is good. One second left on the clock. Game over. Patriots win- thanks to TB12.
2. Oh Danny Boy:
Danny Amendola gives us hope that there is life in the slot after Wes Welker. There was concern when Amendola limped off the field with an aggravated groin in the second quarter. Even Brady thought he would be out the rest of the game.
Amendola returned to a good old fashioned tongue lashing from Brady on the bench, and ended up with 10 catches, nine that went for first downs. Amendola at times looked "Welker-esque." Let's hope the groin injury does not become an issue. Tom Brady and the Patriots need a healthy Danny Amendola. In week one Amendola showed he's tough- maybe as tough as the player he replaced.
3. Rocky Start:
Rookie receiver Kenbrell Thompkins had a rough day. He also could use some footwork lessons. Maybe Shane Vereen's uncle Ben Vereen can help him out here. (Draaag that toe!) After all the pre-season hype, Thompkins played with the rookie jitters. The ball went his way 14 times, and he shakily caught just four. He'll get better.
4. Hidden Jule:
Julien Edelman was the man yesterday, and easily Brady's most solid target. Jules had two touchdown receptions in a break out game. He is about half the size of the sidelined Rob Gronkowski, and showed up in a big way. Edelman's performance bodes well for the Patriots offense.
5. Danke Shane:
Shane Vereen had a 100 yard game contributing to a team total of 431. The Patriots ran up 89 total plays on offense, more than any game last year. It didn't feel that good while they were playing- but the numbers don't lie.
6. Out Buffaloed:
The Bills rookie coach, Doug Marrone proved to be no Bill Belichick down the stretch. When Buffalo went 3 and out on their most crucial drive with a a three point lead, it was game over. The Patriots got the ball back, and ate the clock up before going in for the final kill. That's how it's done. Put the nail in the coffin and kill the clock.
7. Stout D:
Lost in all the hand wringing over the offense is the solid effort turned in by the Patriots defense. Kyle Arrington had a massive game, forcing two fumbles, both of which led to Patriots touchdowns. The Patriots defense surrendered just 14 points, and the Bills managed just one sustained scoring drive. Good day for the D.
8. In the Dog House:
For Stevan Ridley it was a day to forget. After a costly fumble in the second quarter, Ridley was benched for the remainder of the game. Ridley took it like a man after the game saying, "I just have to accept that I messed up, made a mistake, and grow from it. We've got 15 more weeks in front of us and I'm going right back to work." Ridley has been riddled in the past with ball handling mishaps. After Vereen's 100 yard performance the pressure will be on the Riddler.
9. Manuel Play:
Rookie EJ Manuel had a solid debut. The first round draft pick out of Florida State proved that he has a future as a pro. He was inconsistent, but showed flashes of poise in the pocket. A good sign for the beleaugered Bills.
10. End Game:
In sum, the Patriots have some work to do developing a chemistry on offense. It may take until week 8 to find the rhythym, or it could magically appear around the same time Gronk suits up. Brady has now led his team to victory 36 times while the Patriots were tied or trailing in the fourth quarter.
We miss those familiar tight ends in goal line situations, but in the words of the coach, "it is what it is." The Patriots are 1 and 0. Jets are up next on Thursday.
It's a short week with lots of work to do.
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