The Patriots have got to be thanking their lucky stars that Tom Brady is their quarterback, because it took another stellar performance to get the team a 35-21 victory. Brady followed last week’s 517-yard performance up with 423 passing yards and 3 touchdown passes. The Patriots did work the running game in more, as BenJarvus Green-Ellis ran for 70 yards on 17 carries, including a 16-yard touchdown run. Rookie Stevan Ridley even got a couple of carries and totaled 9 yards. Deion Branch and the two second-year tight ends also followed up solid performance last week with big contributions this week. Branch caught 8 passes for 129 yards, Aaron Hernandez caught 7 passes for 62 yards and a touchdown while Rob Gronkowski caught 4 passes for 86 yards and 2 touchdowns.
It’s a good thing the Pats had these contributions on offense because the defense was once again porous.
The defense bent a lot and broke a few times. Luckily, they made some plays in big spots. In the second quarter, the Chargers drove all the way down to the Patriots’ 1-yard line before the defense stepped up and stopped the Chargers on 4th down. The offense followed that up with a 99-yard touchdown drive to go up 17-7. The defensive highlight of the game came within that same quarter when Vince Wilfork tipped a Philip Rivers pass, intercepted it, and then rumbled 28 yards down the sideline before being tackled. The big man looked good returning the INT but I don’t think any of the running backs have to fear for their spots on the team.
The Chargers had other miscues on offense as well. RB Mike Tolbert had a fumble that led to a crucial Patriots touchdown. Rivers threw another interception to Sergio Brown and then had a fumble of his own off a Mike Anderson strip sack. Certainly, the Patriots defense had a hand in forcing those Chargers miscues, but they also had a hand in allowing 378 passing yards and 2 touchdowns by Philip Rivers, 98 total rushing yards and a rushing touchdown, and 172 receiving yards to Vincent Jackson.
While the defense continues to be a work-in-progress, the offense is a well-oiled machine in only the team’s second game of the season. The Pats piled up 504 total net yards on offense against the Chargers on top of their 35 points. As fans wait for the defense to come together, they can rest easy knowing that Tom Brady is their quarterback and playing as well as he’s ever played. Next up for the Pats are another undefeated team, the division-rival Buffalo Bills. Looking at how Buffalo’s offense has been playing, it looks like it could be another high-scoring, fireworks-filled game.