It probably goes without saying that you don’t quite catch everything that’s going on when you’re up in the All-22 seats at the game, so it was educational to go back and watch the Patriots-Giants on TV.
I’m a big picture guy, the goal is to win the Super Bowl, and I have to say I’m feeling a lot better right now than I was as I trudged out of Gillette on Sunday night.
Let’s not try to extrapolate every single game and try to make it a defining one of the Belichick era or even the 2011 season. The Patriots have lost two games in a row to two good teams by a combined 12 points. Neither game saw the Pats put forth their best effort, and I’ve seen enough flashes to know that this could be a very good team come January if they can just execute consistently.
Fighting through adversity is one of the best ingredients for constructing a Super Bowl team. Yes it’s nice to be 14-2, but it’s more often the unheralded teams that go through ups and downs over the regular season that are able to come together and put together a run for the Lombardi.
First, because I’m a defense guy, I want to start with them. We’ll post later in the day showing just how well they played until those last two possessions on Sunday night, but what we’ve seen from this group in two of the last three weeks is a significant improvement from what we saw in 2009 and 2010. They have been keeping the Patriots in games despite losing the turnover battle.
Some can say they lack talent but what I saw in the re-watch was a defense that consistently pressured Eli Manning forcing him into off-balance and hurried throws. Sadly they fell apart at the end of the game and allowed two 4th quarter touchdowns, but that’s no reason throw the baby out with the bath water. The improvement is apparent.
Devin McCourty is returning to form. Brandon Spikes is becoming the team’s best linebacker (sorry Jerod), and Kyle Arrington continues to be a ball hawk. Brandon Deaderick flashed a lot against the Giants making me question if he doesn’t keep that spot over Shaun Ellis. They were flying to the ball and playing physical the whole game, yet they will continue to get no love from the media because of how the game ended.
As for the offense Tom Brady was off and the execution was sloppy all game. It’s disconcerting to see Brady turning the ball over so much, but if there’s one player I’d expect to turn it around it’s TFB.
I’d also like to defend Chad Ochocinco a bit. He was getting open, Brady was just not hitting him. He exhibited the ability to get off press man coverage that he was brought in for, now Brady just needs to get him the ball and this offense will take a major step forward.
When it comes down to it you can say the Patriots lost this game because of four turnovers and two pass interference calls. It was not their lack of talent. It was not their lack of pressure or lack of a deep threat. It was sloppy play. On offense the chances were there, and on defense it’s just a matter of consistency and making the big stop in the big moments.
I’m even more excited for this weekend’s match-up against the Jets. The Pats backs are against the wall and they now have to go into the biggest hornet’s nest of all. I wouldn’t want it any other way.