By Bruce Allen, Patriots Daily Staff
It wasn’t pretty, and it probably created more questions than it answered, but a win is a win, especially in the AFC East.
The defense once again showed that it has a long ways to go, but contrary to media reports that there has been NO improvement by this young unit, there actually were a few encouraging signs yesterday.
The biggest for me, on the defensive side of the ball, was the semblance of a pass rush actually appearing at times. While many in the media have been quick to dismiss the two Ryan Fitzpatrick interceptions as “poorly thrown passes,” there is a reason they were poorly thrown. He actually felt some pressure.
There was a Jerod Mayo sighting yesterday, who led the team in tackles, had a sack, and a tackle for a loss. Ron Brace looked like an NFL defensive lineman out there, and in contrast to the last time the Patriots played the Bills and Brace was playing nose tackle and getting pushed around like he was on roller skates, yesterday he held his ground pretty well.
The defense actually only gave up two touchdowns, one in each half, holding the Bills to field goal attempts four other times…bend don’t break.
There are signs of improvement, even if the total yardage and points allowed don’t scream it. Yes, there were flat out inexcusable lapses on defense, and those need to be eliminated…but it’s not going to happen overnight.
If you’re a fan of offense, you had to have loved the diversity and creativity of the game plan yesterday. Where was this stuff last week, you’re probably asking, when Tom Brady seemed locked onto Randy Moss the entire second half. Good question.
Has the loss of Kevin Faulk force them to be more creative? Was Faulk a safety net for them, where they felt that they could take chances on the 1st and 2nd down because Faulk could bail them out on 3rd down?
Aaron Hernandez. That first drive belonged to him, showcasing his entire skill set. How big of a weapon can this kid be if they can keep him on the straight-and-narrow? Brady has never had a guy like this on his offense. The kid even took an end-around and made good yardage. Think of that. A tight end, on an end-around.
While the score was never entirely comfortable, I never had the feeling throughout the afternoon that the team was actually in danger of losing the game. Maybe that’s a false expectation based on what this team has been in the past, but nonetheless, I was never worried about the outcome.
This week brings another road challenge, and it’s a big one – Monday Night Football in Miami -a place in which the Patriots have always had trouble winning.