PATRIOTS REPORT CARD VS. PACKERS
PASSING OFFENSE: A -- Thanksgiving is still a few days away, but Tom Brady started his carving a little early. After two bad games, Brady bombed the struggling Packers secondary by completing 20 of 31 passes for 244 yards and four touchdowns. He spread the ball around to eight receivers, with Ben Watson leading the way. The big tight end caught five passes for 74 yards, including a nice 8-yard touchdown reception. Reche Caldwell continues to make big plays, scoring from 54 yards out. The offensive line played one of its best games of the year. Brady was barely touched, as he was able to sit in the pocket and pick the Green Bay secondary apart.
RUSHING OFFENSE: B -- The Packers did a pretty good job of controlling the Patriots ground game, but New England still managed to rumble for 122 yards on 40 carries. The Patriots only had a 3.1-yard average per carry, but this is a situation where the amount of carries was more important than the actual average. The Patriots hit a lot of big plays off of play-action passes, so keeping the threat of running the football was key. Laurence Maroney led the team with 82 yards on 19 carries, and Corey Dillon added 31 yards. This wasn't a dominant performance by the Patriots on the ground, but it was an effective one that helped open up the passing game.
PASS DEFENSE: A-plus -- With Asante Samuel not making the trip, the Patriots were without three starters in their secondary. However, it made no difference at all as the Packers completed just nine passes for 105 yards. Brett Favre was injured late in the first half, but he was playing poorly when he was on the field. Aaron Rodgers replaced Favre but only threw for 32 yards in the second half and never really looked comfortable running the Packers offense. The Patriots defense recorded four sacks and held Donald Driver -- the Packers' most dangerous weapon -- to a measly two receptions for 42 yards.
|Green Bay Packers quarterback Brett Favre looks down at his arm as he runs off the field during the second half of an NFL football game against thew New England Patriots Sunday, Nov. 19, 2006, in Green Bay, Wis. Favre was injured in the first half on a sack and did not get back in the game. The Patriots won 35-0. (AP Photo/Morry Gash)|
RUSH DEFENSE: A -- The Packers couldn't get anything going on the ground. After playing his worst game of the year against New York, Vince Wilfork was back to his dominant self. The big nose tackle was a fixture in the Packers backfield. The return of Ty Warren helped, as he racked up three tackles and 1.5 sacks. Those two, along with Richard Seymour, completely owned the line of scrimmage, constantly pushing the Packers offensive line back throughout the game. Green Bay managed only 43 yards on 17 carries, with its longest rush of the afternoon going for 9 yards.
SPECIAL TEAMS: B -- The Patriots have struggled on kickoff coverage in recent weeks. However, in a game in which they kicked off often, they only allowed the Packers to average 19.3 yards on six returns. Kevin Faulk broke a 36-yard punt return to set up a touchdown. The Packers didn't score, so the Patriots will have to work on kickoff returns another time since they only had one opportunity at the start of the third quarter. One negative continues to be the punting of Josh Miller. He averaged just 35.7 yards on six punts, and his struggles are starting to become a major concern.
COACHING: A-plus -- There's really not much to say other than this was a terrific game plan by the coaching staff that was implemented to perfection on the field by the players. The Patriots used their running game to set up the pass. Three of their touchdowns were a result of play-action passes. The much-maligned Josh McDaniels did an excellent job calling plays in this game. The defense got pressure on the quarterback and didn't try to get too tricky. With Samuel out, the Patriots stayed mostly in their base defense, brining in Troy Brown every now and then when they needed an extra defense back. The results on both sides of the ball were close to perfect, as this was the Patriots' best performance of the year. Not just from the players, but from the coaching staff as well.