Somehow, despite an encouraging performance on the field, most of the news emanating from Foxborough on Sunday had to do with what went on off the field regarding one player who was there physically and one who apparently watched from his couch in dismay.
Randy Moss, who earlier in the week expressed how he feels "not wanted" by the Patriots because they haven't offered him a contract extension, followed Sunday's season-opening win over Cincinnati with a lengthy press conference expanding on his thoughts.
Elsewhere, a report surfaced about offensive lineman Logan Mankins, who apparently came close to reaching a long-term extension with the Patriots that would've ended his holdout, but instead balked at owner Robert Kraft's suggestion that he issue a public apology for his previous comments regarding Kraft's integrity. According to that same report, Mankins chose pride over the money and decided not to sign the deal after all.
Through it all, a game was played, and in that game the Patriots looked pretty sharp, holding on for a 38-24 win over the Bengals despite some shaky moments defensively in the second half. Now it's time to prepare for the New York Jets, who pose a different set of challenges.
"We had a big first half and that went a long way in this game," head coach Bill Belichick said of Sunday's finish. "We'll see how it goes next week. We've got other challenges: going on the road and playing a different type of team with the Jets. We'll give it a few games here and see how it goes.
"We learned a little bit (Sunday), but we won't even be in that situation next week. We'll go through a few games here and see how things come together, but I was happy with the way they came out in terms of their energy (and) their effort. I thought we really had a lot of spark and energy to start the game -- as we should (since) it's opening day -- but it was great to see that. It was a lot more than we've had in the last two years here at home; let's put it that way."
The big news emanating from the game itself was quarterback Tom Brady's performance. Brady threw three touchdown passes with no interceptions and was nearly flawless less than a week after getting tangled up in an automobile accident in Boston.
After getting off to a fast start, the defense looked weary down the stretch, allowing touchdowns on three consecutive drives in the second half before the offense engineered another long scoring drive to put the game out of reach. As is always the case with season openers, there were both positives and negatives, and plenty for the coaching staff to dissect in anticipation of the next big game on the horizon, which happens to be next week at the Meadowlands.
Strangely enough, it appears the Patriots will have to deal with as much off the field as they will deal with between the lines unless these situations with Moss and Mankins find a way to resolve themselves.
--Speaking Monday on WEEI 850 AM in Boston, Patriots QB Tom Brady said he was "scared out of my mind" after getting into an automobile last week before the season opener against Cincinnati.
"I'm telling you, when it happened, I didn't even know what to do, because you're just in shock," Brady said. "I was kind of sitting there in the car, looking around, trying to get my bearings."
Brady went on to practice later that day and then threw three touchdown passes in Sunday's opening win over the Bengals.
--The Patriots improved to a perfect 9-0 at Gillette Stadium in home openers following Sunday's win.
New England has won its home opener in each season since moving into Gillette Stadium in 2002 and has won 14 of its last 16 home openers overall.
The Patriots have also won seven consecutive times on Kickoff Weekend. New England is now 60-13 (.822) all-time at Gillette Stadium (including the playoffs, which is the best home record in the NFL since the facility opened in 2002).
--LB Quinn Ojinnaka rejoined the team following his suspension, which prompted the release of LB Marques Murrell.
--In addition to his overall numbers, QB Tom Brady was particularly at his best in the fourth quarter when he went 7-for-7 on a 14-play scoring drive.
--S Patrick Chung was the only defensive player on the field the entire game for New England and he responded with 16 tackles in one of his best efforts since joining the team a year ago.
--S Brandon Meriweather played primarily on sub-defense packages while Patrick Chung took the majority of the snaps with the base defense.
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