If this was the New England Patriot's version of the ol' Boston Tea Party, the rest of the league should take notice. St. Louis stood little chance of pulling out a victory after quarterback Sam Bradford hit receiver Chris Givens for a 50-yard touchdown throw on their first drive of the game.
Soon after, New England exploded for touchdowns on their first 5 possessions and seemed to have the game well in hand when they lead 28-7 at the half. Tight End Rob Gronkowski celebrated his warm overseas welcome by replicating a British soldier's march (to the crowd's delight) after his first touchdown reception in the second quarter.
Heading into today's match up, many questioned the Patriot's ability to defend the pass. However, they adjusted seamlessly and answered the challenge, holding Bradford to his lone 50-yard strike and 205 total yards passing on 6.6 yards per pass.
Surprisingly, this might have been the secondary’s best game this season. Bradford hit most of his receivers and at one point threw only 3 incompletions. However, his throws were short and provided little to help the Ram's offense gain momentum.
Another point of emphasis was the Patriot's willingness to turn up the heat against the 28th ranked total offense, which had surrendered 21 sacks this season. And they did, seeming to switch to a slightly more “amoeba” defense on third downs. At one point defensive coordinator Matt Patricia sent both middle linebackers Brandon Spikes and Jerod Mayo on a crisscrossing blitz to overwhelm the Ram’s inexperienced offensive line.
New England sacked Bradford only twice (C. Jones and R. Ninkovich) and recorded 3 quarterback hits, but as head coach Bill Belichick often indicates, sacks can be an overrated stat. On more than one occasion, Bradford appeared uneasy and his 1 intentional grounding call and illegal forward pass proves this point.
St. Louis finished the first half with only 1 scoring opportunity, resulting in a botched snap by holder Jonny Hekker and a subsequent 9-yard loss.
New England’s defense was stout, shutting down Steven Jackson for 23 yards on 7 carries; he has failed to record a 100 yard rushing game all season. Although the Rams finished with a respectable 107 yards on 23 carries, they picked up many of their yards late in the game while Patriot's defensive monsters Vince Wilfork and Kyle Love rested.
New England's offense finally found ways to also generate rhythm. On their second drive of the third quarter, running back Steven Ridley ran over St. Louis for 56 yards to help extend the Patriot's lead to a crushing 38-7. He totaled 127 yards on 15 carries and carried an unstoppable 8.5 yards per carry.
Let me repeat, 8.5 yards per carry.
Change-of-pace running back Shane Vereen engineered solid yardage on a few second quarter drives to finish with a touchdown and running back Danny Woodhead continued to solidify himself as New England’s next Kevin Faulk. Although, most agree, Time will have its final say in that matter.
About mid way through the 3rd quarter, the Patriots held a 401 to 178 offensive yardage advantage over the Rams. Almost by this point Brady and the Patriots had accomplished plenty:
- Brady threw for 300 + yards in his 50th career game
- Brady also extended his streak to 40 games with at least 1 touchdown pass. He stands behind only Johnny Unitas (47) and current leader Drew Breese (49)
- The New England Patriots passed the 1999-2001 St. Louis Rams dubbed the “Greatest Show on Turf” by racking up at least 350 total yards of offense for the 17th straight game
The Patriots are off on their Bye next week and will host the Buffalo Bills on November 11th. Two weeks of rest should be plenty of time for injured starters like tight end Aaron Hernandez and safeties Steve Gregory and Patrick Chung to get back into the swing of things.