What A Difference A Week Makes

The Patriots traveled to southern Ohio to take on the "next great team" in the Bengals, a team many predict are taking over for the Patriots in the AFC. PI blogger Shane Leketa heard the media wonks talk about how the Patriots are done, how Tom Brady can't work without Deion Branch... then he saw what they did to to Cincinnati... what a difference a week makes. New England 38 - Cincinnati 13

What a difference a week makes.

We heard it all week. Last week against the running attack of the Denver Broncos the New England Patriots looked slow and lethargic. The offense never showed up to play dropping passes, overthrowing players and a running game that was non-existent.

Now turn the clocks ahead seven days. The New England Patriots went into Paul Brown stadium and showed why they are one of the teams to beat in the AFC. The Patriots looked crisp, precise and were dominant in all facets of the game.

What a difference a week makes.

Right out of the shoot when the team entered the field and on the opening kickoff, rookie kicker Stephen Gostkowski booted the ball to the Cincinnati kickoff returner in the back of the end zone causing a touchback. Some might not look a kickoff as a tone setter but it is.

With the first two drives for the Cincinnati Bengals resulting in field goals, you had to know this defense was coming to play. They were hitting hard and they were all over the field.

This game started to remind me of the Super Bowl game against the Carolina Panthers where both teams started off fairly slow and then began to explode into a shootout. This seemed to be the case until the New England defense started to capitalize on some turnovers and had some takeaways, which is something that has been missing this entire early season.

Now as we all saw in the game, the defense was on the ball and exactly as they needed, the defensive line held the running game in check and closed the pocket in on Carson Palmer, especially in the second half. The linebackers were a little suspect in the first half but stepped up their game with the momentum and drive of the front four.

All week I had heard on the radio and television to how the secondary will never keep up with the Bengal's potent receivers. Well I have to say that they were definitely mistaken (so was I for that fact). They contained well and covered effectively enough to make Palmer rush throws and chuck balls away with the pressure felt up front. Overall, one would definitely have to give the defense the grade of A-. This grade was mostly because when they were counted out and ruled out of this game, they brought their "A game" and showed that they are better than they showed a week ago.

What a difference a week makes.

As for the offense, was that Tom Brady I saw?

This young quarterback was talked about all week as having a look of an unconfident leader. Has he lost too much? Can he even compete with the receiving corps he has right now? I think he answered all of those questions this evening.

I think the perennial quarterback looked sharp with his passes with a couple of overthrows but overall right on the mark. He looked like the Tom Brady of old where he broke down the defensive rush with accurate, crisp passes. He was cool under pressure tonight.

Even though I feel I have to write about them, I really cant express myself with words about this coaching/ownership tandem. New England fans need to realize and appreciate the talented coach they have here in Foxboro. He masterfully coached and game planned against a powerfully offensive team. Coaching staff gets an A+ (like usual)

What a difference a week makes.

Now, mind you as you are standing at the water cooler talking to your buds about how this was the game of the year, this is ONE game. But a VERY important game it was.

We put so much emphasis on the offense and defense but, I have to give hats off to the running game of these New England Patriots. Maybe last week when Corey Dillon got hurt, the outcome could have been different against the Broncos.

The running game clearly showed it fed the passing game. This off-season when all you heard was the name Reggie Bush, this 'no namer' in Laurence Maroney, was a definite find from Minnesota. What a total package deal he is. And with number 28 looking like he is ten years younger than he really is, this running attack could be something to reckon with.

Offense I will have to give a B+ because there were areas I think could improve like some of the blocking up front (mind you injuries did hurt in that department) but the receiving corps also came to play.

What a difference a week makes.

The only flaw in the game this evening would had to be the field goal attempt of 48 yards. Another miss for the rookie kicker. I do feel bad for the fact that he will forever be living in Adam Viniateri's shadow. Now, 48 yards is a hefty chunk of yardage but he needs to step it up and get that ball up!

Last, but certainly not least I need to give a hats off to Troy Brown. This 'undersized' receiver is always there for this team. When he decided to stay in New England when his contract was up, I knew that was a great move. Again, when the defensive secondary was decimated by the news of Eugene Wilson and Ellis Hobbs being out due to injury, he stepped in on defense. Not making huge or spectacular plays but, ask yourself this; is there another receiver in the league that would have the ability to do so? If you said yes, I beg to differ.

Like many other players on this Patriots team, he is a consummate team player. They check their ego at the door and play and give themselves to this team!

What a difference a week made tonight

Shane is a lifelong Patriots fan who grew up in Worcester, MA. He showed his Patriots spirit representing his home team all over the world while in the military and attending games regularly through the years. He now resides in Bangor, ME where he roots for them from afar. He stands firm in his belief in the team and regularly makes the 500 mile round trip trek to watch them whenever he can.

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