by Chris Warner, Patriots Daily Staff
September 28, 2009

Facing a hot NFC team after a disheartening loss, New England needed a break. It didn’t come when the inactive list went public. It didn’t happen when Vince Wilfork left in the second quarter and didn’t return.

The break occurred when the Patriots started executing the little things. They converted short yardage and prevented the Falcons from doing the same, playing their best game thus far for a 26-10 win. Below, some quick reactions.

Who’s Inactive? “Welker,” Texts A Stranger: Fears for the Patriots offense arose when word got out that Wes Welker, their very own action hero, would not play for the second week in a row. Yes, they still missed him, but Randy Moss (10 grabs, 116 yards) and Julian Edelman (three for 20) helped close that gap. (By the way, Sammy Morris as a receiver: a none-too-shabby three catches for 46 yards.)

Hey Joe, Where You Going Without That Ball In Your Hands? At the end of the first half, quarterback Tom Brady seemed to sing this little ditty to veteran receiver/slow learner Joey Galloway, who let a pass bounce off his hands at the three-yard line. On the next play, Sam Aiken got open in the end zone but slowed and came up short. Brady missed some targets, but at times his receivers moved the bull’s-eye on him.

Taylor Deigns To Run: When constructing his game plan, Coach Bill Belichick had to tell it to his heart that Fred Taylor would become a big part of it. Taylor responded with 21 carries for 105 yards and a TD (the team averaged 4.3 per tote).

Turner For The Worse: On the other side of the ball, nice work by the Patriots’ defense stopping running back Michael Turner. The punishing rusher with a frame that frightens bowling pins managed only 56 yards on 15 attempts and fumbled once at the Pats’ 31. New England also held Heisman hopeful Matt Ryan (some campaigns never die) to 17 of 28 passing (60.7 percent), lowering his percentage coming into this game (68.3).

Go Fourth And Prosper: New England converted two fourth down attempts during their seven-minute field goal drive to wrap up the third. On fourth and one – from their own 24-yard line, no less – Morris gained two. Later on fourth and three, Brady lofted his finest touch pass this season, a 21-yard beauty to Moss along the right sideline. The ensuing kick put New England up by two scores (19-10) at the top of the fourth.

The Refs Fumble: Just a quick note on the worst non-call of the day, Ryan’s batted pass that somehow turned into a fumble and 53-yard runback “touchdown” by Shawn Springs. Hey, guys? Next time, call Jeffrey Wigand.

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