|Trags Take… Patriots 20, Bills 10||11.09.08 at 4:54 pm ET|
In the words of Sonny and Cher, the beat goes on for the New England Patriots. (Somewhere, my bosses are shaking their heads at that one). But I digress.
It really doesn’t matter if Tom Brady or Matt Cassel is running the team. If you are as deadly efficient as the Patriots were in the second half protecting the ball, you’re going to win. That is why Bill Belichick was sooo “proud” (read: happy) with his team following a 20-10 dismantling of the Buffalo Bills to keep a piece of first place in the AFC East with the New York Jets.
Here’s what to take from Sunday’s win.
1. The offensive line imposed its will when it mattered. Two drives determined the game, a 13-play march that consumed 6:49 to begin the second half and the 19-play drive that demoralized the Bills at the end of the fourth quarter.
2. Matt Cassel is getting better and better. This is sounding like a broken record but one that is music to Bill Belichick’s ears. When the middle of the Bills defense parted like the Red Sea, Cassel took off for a 13-yard TD run up the middle. The Patriots never lost control of the game after.
3. The Patriots had their best game of the year stopping the run. Marshawn Lynch and Fred Jackson combined for just 18 carries and 60 yards on the day. The fact that neither of them touched the ball on several third and short chances in the first half spoke volumes to the job that Vince Wilfork, Richard Seymour and Ty Warren did plugging holes and not allowing cutbacks.
4. Wes Welker is giving Kevin Faulk a run for his money when it comes to team MVP talk. Welker had season- highs in catches (10) and yards (107). Don’t forget BenJarvus Green-Ellis, who was pivotal in the 19-play drive. He earned his first career 100-yard game, gaining 105 yards on 26 carries and the clinching TD late in the fourth.
5. The Patriots began a critical stretch of three games against AFC East rivals playing like they know the leaves have already turned. Here comes Manginius on Thursday night as the Patriots welcome the Jets and honor Troy Brown.
Tedy Bruschi: “It’s getting down to crunch time now. It’s mid-November and it’s a race for the AFC East title. This is the way the rest of the games are going to be. They are going go down to the fourth quarter. The Jets, Bills, Dolphins, and everyone else are tough and it’s going to be like this from here on out.”
Wes Welker: “This is a big win. It was for first place in the division for now and we’ve got a big one this next week on Thursday night coming up pretty quick. So, we have to be ready to go. Any time you can finish out the game on offense, it’s huge, especially when you’ve got that much time left in the fourth quarter.”
BenJarvus Green-Ellis: “I knew we were out there. I was just having fun. That’s what we like to do, just pound the ball. We just executed our game plan, offensive line, tight ends, fullbacks, even Matt on some plays was alert (to run).”
Bill Belichick: “I was really proud of the way our team held up there today. I thought defensively, we played a pretty solid game. Offensively, overall, I thought that last drive was awesome and it took a lot of time off the clock and we wound up getting seven points. It was good time management and real good execution when we needed it.”
Matt Cassel: “Josh McDaniels did a great job of mixing up the personnel. It’s just kind of a feel. You see the defense and what they’re running and react to it.”
What were your thoughts on the game? Let us know. Email Trags
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