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New England Patriots Week 8 Grades

The New England Patriots gave the St. Louis Rams a beating in London, so it’s no surprise that the grades are good for the Pats after the 45-7 drubbing. It was a true statement game for the team, and the Patriots will be going into the bye week with five wins and a lot of confidence sitting atop the division standings.

Patriots Pass Offense A+

Tom Brady played his best game of the season and completely picked apart the St. Louis Rams secondary. He took advantage of the lopsided matchup between the Rams LB/S group against tight end Rob Gronkowski, who had 146 yards on eight receptions and two touchdowns. He more than made up for the loss of Aaron Hernandez, and Brady finished with over 300 passing yards and four TDs. He also averaged 8.7 yards per attempt, had a 131.1 QB Rating, and an incredibly impressive 98.4 TQBR. That means he was extremely close to being flawless. That deserves an A+ in my book.

Danny Woodhead chipped in with five catches for 56 yards, and Wes Welker also had six catches before leaving the game in the fourth quarter with an ankle injury. Getting six catches in the slot against Cortland Finnegan constitutes a win in my eyes.

Patriots Run Offense A

Stevan Ridley was at his best today and ran for 127 yards on just 15 carries for an average of 8.5 yards per carry. The offensive line was nasty, with the right side of the line in particular being a high point. Sebastian Vollmer has probably been the best tackle in the league so far this year, and he continues to show it with his prowess as a run blocker. Outside of Ridley’s big day, there wasn’t much to like about the rushing attack. Shane Vereen had a nice one-yard punch-in (give a lot of credit to Nate Solder there), but he only had one other “good” run in a subpar day (14-yarder).

Patriots Pass Defense B+

This is the best I’ve ever seen this unit all year, and both rookies Alfonzo Dennard and Tavon Wilson had a lot to do with it.  Wilson was burned for a 50-yard touchdown to Chris Givens, and that had all of us worried until the Patriots defense started locking it down again. The rookie safety redeemed himself with a pick later on, and the only true weak link in the secondary was Sterling Moore.

Sam Bradford played a solid game, and he showed off his accuracy that was previously missing earlier this season. He completed 73% of his passes, but he only averaged 9.3 yards per completion. The Pats secondary bent a little bit, but they definitely didn’t break and made a relatively easy matchup against the Rams receivers look like that. The Rams dinked-and-dunked to a solid degree, but a team that allows just seven points likely played very good pass defense. The Patriots certainly did.

Nine passes defended. That’s some great playmaking, and the ability to tip passes and create turnovers is this secondary’s strength.

Patriots Run Defense B-

I know the 4.7 yards per carry against average doesn’t play into the Pats favor here, but the stats can be misleading in these cases. The Patriots completely shut down Steven Jackson, and the yardage the Rams gained with rookies Daryl Richardson and Isaiah Pead on the ground were mostly garbage yards. Even so, giving up 7.6 YPC to Richardson and 32 yards on three carries to Pead isn’t worth a round of applause. However, the most important stat is 3.3- the number of yards per carry Jackson had on seven runs. They stayed stout up front and shut down the main guy.

You can follow Joe Soriano on Twitter @SorianoJoe.

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