The New England Patriots, who have apparently put their struggles behind them, are looking like the team of old with a Tom Brady led offense that is suddenly scoring more than 30 points per game. A team that was struggling early in the season has apparently turned it around and become a viable contender again in the AFC.
It was after their one-sided 41-14 week four loss to the Kansas City Chiefs that fans and analysts alike proclaimed that the Patriots are no longer a championship contender. After the last two weeks impressions have changed.
First came a dominating game against a very good Cincinnati team in the fifth week. Tom Brady re-established his dominance with an elite 110.7 passer rating that included 23 completions out of 35 passes with two touchdowns. The team’s 43-17 victory re-energized the fan base and players alike.
Today’s 37-22 victory over the Buffalo Bills has thrust the New England Patriots back into the championship discussion. Tom Brady had his second straight outstanding game by passing for 361 yards and four touchdowns. It was a Brady performance reminiscent of days gone by.
The New England Patriots offense is no longer predicated strictly on the success of Rob Gronkowski and Julian Edelman. Brandon LaFell and Brian Tyms have improved their recent performance giving the team multiple options at the receiver position.
The emergence of LaFell bodes well for a team that was in desperate need of another wide receiver option. His four receptions for 97 yards and two touchdowns have elevated his importance in the passing game. His 56-yard hookup with Brady gives the team a deep threat that has been missing for some time in the Patriots offense.
With this victory the New England Patriots have, once again, established themselves as the favorite in the AFC East division. With the other three teams all losing they sit alone atop the division. According to Brady, this was an important game at a venue that has been less than ideal for the team in the past.
Both teams struggled offensively in the first half which ended with New England leading 13-7. The second half was entirely different as the offense found its rhythm and executed consecutive drives of 80, 56, 80 and 93 yards. Each drive resulted in a score, three touchdowns and one field goal.
Rob Gronkowski seems to have put his ACL injury behind him and is beginning to look like the old Gronk. He caught seven passes for 94 yards and was difficult to tackle as he consistently ran over defenders. He was also a superior blocker, helping in the running game and giving Brady extra time in the passing game. When he is healthy, he is almost unstoppable.
The New England Patriots defense also played well, especially Darrelle Revis. He held wide receiver Sammy Watkins to a single reception for 20 yards. About the only downside of the victory was a knee injury to Jarod Mayo. He was carted off the field and will be evaluated before a final prognosis is made.
With their struggles seemingly behind them, the New England Patriots are back in first place in their division. As Tom Brady continues to excel in the passing game, the team will be a difficult one to beat in future games. The team will have to continue its stellar play as the Jets, Bears and Broncos are the next three opponents before the team enters their bye week.
Commentary By Hans Benes