By Chris Warner, Patriots Daily Staff
You ever wrestle with your big brother? You know when he pins you and somehow dangles saliva inches over your forehead before sucking it back up? Well, that’s what the first half of the Kansas City game felt like: 30 minutes of tense, dreadful saliva-dangling.
Today, all Pats fans feel thankful for myriad reasons, one of them being that the final 30 minutes went much more according to plan.
Some points to ponder as we prep for Sunday’s tilt at Philadelphia…
Just Offensive: A lame display by the New England offense in the first half, as receivers missed assignments, quarterback Tom Brady missed targets, and the offensive line appeared to have missed the bus. Brady had to run for his life and forgot the ball along the way.
All was not lost however…
Up Tight: How ’bout that Rob Gronkowski? You know, at the beginning of the year, a certain someone wrote a certain something about Gronk being the best all-around tight end in Foxboro since Ben Coates. After his two touchdowns and nearly 100 yards receiving Monday night, I hate to say I told you so, but, um.
(Actually, saying “I told you so” is totally satisfying. I apologize.)
Where The Faulk? Nothing against Danny Woodhead, but it seemed that the Pats could have used Faulk’s knack for receiving and more decisive pass blocking in the first half. (It should also be noted that the precision required in hitting a tiny target like Woodhead is akin to scrimshawing a team photo onto a grain of rice.)
To their credit, Woodhead began to click in the second half, as did BenJarvus Green-Ellis.
Plus, we got a look at the rookie –
Shane On Us: We questioned Coach Bill Belichick’s decision to draft running back Shane Vereen in the second round, thinking it a reach. After showing off his abilities late – against a defense looking to stop the run – we got a better glimpse of Vereen’s potential. Lots of speed and strength in a small yet stout frame. Looking forward to seeing more of him.
Something to think about this weekend. Or, not.
In Nate Ability: Looks like the Pats have found their third tight end in tackle Nate Solder. The 6-foot-8, 315-pound offensive tackle not only lined up to block, he also went in motion and ran a pass route (during Gronkowski’s second touchdown, no less).
We can’t wait to see Solder catch a pass.
Special Edelman: Oh, a Julian Edelman 72-yard punt return to ice the game in the third quarter? Yes, please!
Edelman literally ran a circle around one defender and shot up the gap like a geyser. Once he made the punter look silly, he had a clear sprint to the goal line. Who knew the running QB out of Kent State would become New England’s best punt returner ever?
Oh, come on. You know you didn’t.
Opponents Erring A Ton Near Arrington: Defensive back Kyle Arrington has some serious ball awareness, intercepting two tipped passes on Monday night. Arrington now leads the league with seven INTs for the season, not exactly the stat we predicted after 10 games.
Stunting Growth: Good for the defensive linemen and their schemes these recent weeks, as it looks as though they are stunting and looping more than in the past, to solid results. The more Mark Anderson and Andre Carter can charge up the middle and rattle opposing quarterbacks, the better.
Brand New Tyler: Chiefs QB Tyler Palko had only slightly more experience playing in the NFL than Queen Elizabeth, so his missteps shouldn’t have come as a surprise. Still, it might bode well that, once the Pats settled down, they were able to take advantage of his mistakes.
Will Philly’s QB – Vince Young or Michael Vick – make similar gaffes? Tough to say.
On this day, we are thankful for so much. I’m thankful for my wife, who didn’t let her playing of Kansas City running back Jackie Battle for fantasy football blur her allegiance to New England; I’m thankful for my daughter, who once again spat up on me this morning with the force and volume of a fire extinguisher (which makes me laugh every time).
And the Pats are 7-3, tied for first in the AFC. Not too shabby.
Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.
Email Chris Warner at firstname.lastname@example.org