New England Patriots Week 8 What We Learned


The New England Patriots completely demolished the St. Louis Rams 45-7 in London, in what can be dubbed as a statement game for the now 5-3 Pats. The team we have come to love is back, and the secondary held up after allowing a 50-yard touchdown pass to Rams wide receiver Chris Givens. Outside of that, the Rams couldn’t get much of anything going on offense.

1. Alfonzo Dennard entrenched as a starter

Kyle Arrington went down with a head injury, but the defensive backfield didn’t miss a beat in one of their best performances of the season. The secondary was, by and large, solid and both rookies Alfonzo Dennard and Tavon Wilson were able to grab interceptions. Dennard has been especially impressive, and he has completely locked down the starting spot opposite of Devin McCourty. Even though I don’t care much for Sterling Moore as a player, he’s still better than Arrington at this point.

No wide receiver had more than three catches in this game.


2. Best line in the division

The New England Patriots offensive line is, in my opinion, the best in the AFC East and one of the best in the league. Even with Logan Mankins out, this line was still so good that they shut down one of the best defensive lines in the league. Top pass rushing DEs Robert Quinn and Chris Long were held silent, and nobody had a hit on Tom Brady. Yeah, the Rams couldn’t even hit Brady.

Great work wasn’t solely done in pass protection, as the Pats offensive line showed why they are even better run blockers by paving the way for a huge 127-yard day for Stevan Ridley. The star back averaged 8.5 yards per carry, and a lot of that credit needs to go to the line as well.

3. Brady-Gronk connection back

Everyone loves a good Gronk spike, and he found the end zone twice (even paying tribute to the Buckingham guards with one of them) in this game. Rob Gronkowski caught eight passes on 13 targets for a monstrous 146 yards, which is an average of just over 18 yards per catch. How about that for a tight end? The Rams linebackers are terrible in coverage, and the safeties aren’t much better either as Gronk worked himself wide open with ease. Tom Brady and Gronkowski are back to getting that magical connection at its best, and every team in the NFL is now trembling again.

4. Vereen on and off

After a breakout performance in Week 7, many people- including me- tabbed Shane Vereen for a big game against the St. Louis Rams. Explosive backs usually do well against subpar OLBs and safeties, but Vereen was unable to take advantage of that. He had a great 14-yard run and punched in a one-yarder to give the Pats a 14-7 lead, but he had just seven yards on those other five carries. That kind of inconsistency will cause him to lose more carries with all the talent at running back, and I would like to see Vereen be more consistent from here on out.

5. Playmaking secondary

My favorite basic statistic on defense is either QB hits or pass defended, and the Patriots had plenty of PDs to go around in this game. Sam Bradford played a solid, accurate game for the Rams, but that didn’t stop the Pats from defending nine passes in this game. Marquice Cole got into the act with a couple of tips, and Brandon Spikes broke up two passes as well. Tavon Wilson and Alfonzo Dennard had interceptions of their own, and the secondary was a lot more active in this game.

You can follow Joe Soriano on Twitter @SorianoJoe.