Rob Gronkowski on the Pats offense: ‘It’s not as easy as it looks’
|10.01.12 at 6:48 pm ET|
After rolling up 35 straight points and punishing the Bills defense for 45 points in the second half, it might be worth remembering that the Patriots – even without Aaron Hernandez – still have the most toys of any offense in the NFL.
As Kirk Minihane pointed out, a lot of the credit has to go to offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels for the perfect mix of run and pass Sunday in the 52-28 win at Ralph Wilson Stadium.
But the largest portion of the credit has to go to the players who went out and did what was asked, as Brandon Bolden put it after the game. The Bolden, Stevan Ridley, Wes Welker, Rob Gronkowski and Tom Brady produced the most balanced offensive single-game attack in franchise history, a history that includes some video game-like statistical seasons.
But the Patriots of 2007, 2009 and 2010 never did what the Patriots managed Sunday.
The Patriots ran the ball 40 times for 247 yards. They actually rushed four more times than they passed, as Brady was 22-of-36. But the Patriots didn’t give up on the ground attack, even when they trailed 21-7.
“We just made plays when they called our numbers,” Ridley said. “That’s all we can do, when they call our number we handle the plays. It’s all about trying to move the football, moving down the field to score.
“We worked on it hard this week in practice, and that’s what we do in and out of practice every week. When we mess up, we try and improve that as a team. The line did an exceptional job, and this wouldn’t have been done without them. It takes a team effort, with 10 other players out there to do what we did on the ground and I’m excited that those guys are doing work for us up front.”
In the passing game, Welker and Gronkowski overcame first-half fumbles to put up 100-yard receiving performances. They were each targeted 11 times. Welker caught nine passes for 129 yards while Gronkowski had a five catches for 104 yards and a touchdown on a wide open seam route over the middle.
“It’s not as easy as it looks,” Gronkowski said. “It’s the NFL, those guys are out there, they are great players, you got to work your butt off, you got to be going full speed in order to execute, in order to make plays. Overall, everyone just game together, chemistry, and worked hard, and things went rolling from the third quarter on.”
“I don’t think you really take your foot off the pedal at all as a receiver,” Welker added. “Eventually we’re going to have to pass the ball and make some plays in the pass game. The running backs and offensive line did a phenomenal job and hats off to them. It really does make our job a lot easier when they have to think about the run like that.”
The Patriots rolled up 580 yards, rushed for four touchdowns for the seventh time in their history and scored 45 points in the second half, including 31 in the fourth quarter. They scored on their last seven possessions.
Now, the challenge is to maintain the consistency with the defensive-minded Broncos coming to town this weekend. The Broncos enter with the third-best ranked overall defense in the AFC. They are fourth against the run and fifth against the pass.
The trademark of great Patriots teams in the past is proving the ability to perform week in and week out. Now it’s up to the 2012 Patriots to prove they belong in that group.
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