It was (looking like) the best of times and the worst of times after the Patriots squeaker win over the Raiders last Sunday.
On defense there were quite a few different options of plays that defined the game, though one choice was infinitely obvious. Defensively I continue to think things are really coming together and again, defense wins championships. If nothing else I’m ready for a Patriots team that is better on the defensive side of the ball. I mean it’s been a decade since the last time that was true.
Offensively, the Pats can’t get much going and look like the same unit that lacked the necessary dynamics to truly take them to the next level. Things still look just a step off up and down the offense, but given the level of compete on this team, I expect we’ll see them take positive strides forward this coming week.
Here are the three plays that defined the game:
A Gronk TD. Why not? It was just about the only really positive play we saw from the offense, not to mention it saw Gronk beat a double team. That’s a positive sign and as Gronk slowly eases into more and more snaps he should become even more of a factor. Three healthy games down, 16 to go!
Possibly my favorite play of the game comes on this 3rd-and-1 in the fourth quarter with the Pats clinging to a four-point lead. I love the number o f hard hits that keep the Raiders from picking up the first down. That kind of swarming defense is just what we need.
Finally, and most obviously, comes Vince Wilfork’s interception. I can’t say it enough — it’s just unreal how Wilfork has come off such a major injury and looks just as good as he was before it. If anything it appears the year off did the rest of Wilfork’s body some good. Let’s just hope they can keep him this way for the rest of the season.
Sticking with the positive this week with three plays that really stood out to me as game-defining. Could’ve put any number of the penalties in GIF form but that would feel like a waste, even though those really defined the game.
You’ll also notice I didn’t use the Chandler Jones field goal block because that one has already been GIFfed and everyone is well aware of what a huge play that was.
First, we start with Devin McCourty’s interception, a play that might been the unofficial start of the Patriots actually playing football this season. Things didn’t look good on the first drive for either side of the ball. Then, after a nice punt from Ryan Allen, McCourty makes this great play on the ball.
There were a few throws of Brady’s that stood out (and weren’t nullified by penalties), but this one was just a much-needed strike. With the Vikes poised to get good field position of a punt, Brady threaded the needle on third-and-14 to pick up the first down en route to taking a 10 point lead.
No defender has been more impressive for the Pats this season than Dont’a Hightower. Hightower has been used more in a pass rushing role at times and he’s delivered with good pressure. He’s just so strong he can over power running backs trying to block him, but also get underneath a tackle like he does here. This sack effectively sealed any chance of a comeback from happening.
Accurate preview, which are becoming rarer and rarer these days. Once again Bill Belichick has put together a team with a frontline as strong as any in the NFL. IF they stay healthy it’s hard not to see them in the AFC Championship and hopefully hosting it. That could be determined on 11/2 against the Broncos.
New England Patriots 2014 Training Camp Superlatives and Awards
As another training camp for the New England Patriots comes to a close, it’s time to take a look back and hand out some awards for those who did or didn’t stand out for the right or wrong reasons.
Undrafted Rookie Star: An undrafted rookie makes the team almost every year and this year certainly won’t be an exception due to the exceptional play of cornerback Malcolm Butler. Rarely did a practice or game pass where Butler wasn’t making plays on the ball. Butler is a near-lock to make the roster.
Biggest Surprise(s): The immediate return to health of Vince Wilfork and Rob Gronkowski has been one of the nicest surprises of camp. Usually players coming off major injuries like a torn ACL or Achilles start out on the PUP list, but both of these major injury concerns appear to be on track for the season opener. Wilfork still shows great get-off and almost appears refreshed after the season off.
Nice summation of where everyone is at from Mike Loyko. As much sense as it all makes right now you never know where the shocking cut and/or addition will come from. And to be sure, something shocking will happen before the season starts, it always does.
For the most part are all the injured players returning on pace to play in the season opener
Overall I think the Pats have been pretty lucky this summer in that it doesn’t seem like any major pieces have been lost for the season.
The buzz kill injuries were Siliga and Chris Jones. It’s kind of ironic given that neither would’ve likely been on the team last year if Wilfork and Kelly hadn’t gotten hurt and now I’m bummed they’re both out.
Siliga was spotted today doing conditioning work with a cast on his left hand/arm (reports vary how big it was). I have to imagine he’ll be back before too long, just cast it up. He was having a great start to camp too and was really a guy I though could (and still should) break out this season.
Jones had an ankle injury and while initial reports were that he “dodged a bullet” and he was spotted in the locker room yesterday without a cast/limp/walking boot. However I worry (and this is pure Mike D. speculation) that it’s a high ankle sprain. Those can tend to linger.
Hopefully both those guys are back soon.
Otherwise the guys who were injured last season have all been on remarkable recovery tracks. Gronk, Wilfork, Kelly, Smith and Mayo all should likely be ready for the opener. That’s huge news, and ironically, very important for Wilfork/Kelly to be back with Siliga/Jones out.
Vollmer has missed the last few practices, that’s a big question mark but I think we all feel pretty comfortable with Cannon filling in for him for however long.
Lastly, Hoomanawanui has been back at practice, that’s huge to help manage Gronk early in the season. As everyone is aware, tight end depth is scary right now, though I think there will be additions there before the opener.
Regrouping after one week of Patriots training camp
We’re one week into training camp for the New England Patriots, and just one week away from their first preseason game, so it’s time to take a look at what we’ve learned so far about this edition of the Pats.
It’s hard not to be excited, especially on the defensive side of the ball, where the Pats are as healthy as we could’ve hoped headed into camp. Vince Wilfork, Tommy Kelly and Will Smith, all coming off major injuries, appear to be on track for the start of the season.
On the back end, the secondary has been as expected with Revis and Browner leading the way. Browner’s attitude and Revis’ high level of play have already seemed to bring a new swagger to the Pats defense that has been missing for a long time.
PatsPropaganda is written and edited by Mike Dussault, a card-carrying Belichickian. He has a soft spot for hard core X's and O's, and believes in "throw to score, run to win", low pad level, and touchdown celebrations that last two weeks.
He is a Patriots Featured Columnist at Bleacher Report, and his work has been featured on FoxSports.com, Yahoo Sports, and SI.com. He also co-hosts the weekly PatsPropaganda & Frenz Podcast with Bleacher Report's AFC East Editor Erik Frenz.
PatsPropaganda was TruFan.com/CSNNE's 2011 winner for Best Patriots Blog.
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