The New England Patriots got their first win of the year this past weekend, dominating the Minnesota Vikings, 30-7. It wasn’t a perfect performance for New England, but they did what was needed to get a victory, which is just fine in my eyes. Here are my game grades for Sunday’s contest:
Passing Offense: C+
Usually when the Patriots win in a dominating fashion, it is because of an excellent day from Tom Brady‘s aerial attack. But that was not the case in week two, as the passing offense was actually the worst performing unit of the game. Of course, this is partly due to New England’s game-plan, which was focused in on the run, but it still should be looked at as a negative day for Brady and his receiving corps. The offensive line was good, only allowing Brady to go down once, but they relied heavily on the run game, and the play-action pass game, which took a lot of pressure off of the big guys up front.
Aside from Julian Edelman, nobody else made any plays for the Pats, particularly Danny Amendola and Brandon LaFell, who have been relegated to extremely expensive decoys. As the season moves on, and defenses begin to key in on Edelman, the Patriots must find ways to get the ball out to different wideouts, otherwise, they will be sitting at home come February.
Rushing Offense: B+
Stevan Ridley played very well against the Vikings, carrying the ball 25 times for 101 yards and a touchdown. He was decisive, physical, extremely explosive through the hole, and worked his ass off all game long. The Patriots’ offensive line did a much better job than last week, but rarely did Ridley have an open hole to prance through on Sunday. He had to make a lot of his yardage happen on his own, which only makes his performance more impressive.
Shane Vereen saw a decreased role, only touching the ball seven times, for a total of 40 yards. Bill Belichick decided to go with Brandon Bolden for a good chunk of the game, which is a dumb move in my mind. Bolden isn’t in the same universe as Vereen, and he should not be taking away Vereen’s playing time.
Pass Defense: A
What we witnessed on Sunday was exactly what we had envisioned unfolding when it was announced the Pats had signed Darrelle Revis. The entire secondary was on lock-down mode all game long, hitting hard, and coming up with four huge takeaways. Revis completely shut down Greg Jennings, while Logan Ryan surprisingly had no trouble taking care of Cordarrelle Patterson. Devin McCourty was great as usual patrolling the back, even coming up with an impressive interception that turned the game around early in the first quarter.
The pass rush was good as well, as led by Chandler Jones and Dont’a Hightower, they got to Matt Cassel six times on Sunday, and made life uncomfortable for him all day long. When the pass rush is on like they were on Sunday, and the secondary is dialed in, this defense is going to be lethal.
Run Defense: A-
They started out a bit rocky, but the Pats quickly recovered, and dominated as we expected them to do once it was announced that Adrian Peterson would be out. Minnesota averaged a mere 2.8 yards per carry on 19 attempts in this one, as they couldn’t get anything going on the ground behind Matt Asiata, Peterson’s backup.
Jerod Mayo and Vince Wilfork had big bounce-back performances, but it was Hightower and Jones that stole the show once again. They were aggressive, always making their presence felt off of the edge, and really set the tone for the entire defense early. I am expecting big things for those two as this season progresses.
Special Teams: A
Stephen Gostkowski drained three long field goals in this one, Ryan Allen had a monster day punting the ball, their coverage was solid all game long, and Julian Edelman averaged 16.5 yards per punt return. I would call that a very successful day for the special-teams.