Patriots - Falcons: Game Balls & Goats

The New England Patriots managed to take care of business after sticking it out neck-and-neck with the Atlanta Falcons through the first three quarters. New England won 26-10. Here are our Game Balls (good things) and Goats (not good).

GAME BALLS

1) Fred Taylor -- It's been a long time since the Patriots decided on one running back to carry the load. Despite sharing carries, Fred Taylor ground up enough yards to record his 49th career 100-yard game. he ran hard and ran strong, showing that New England can establish a running game.

2) Tom Brady -- Despite not connecting on a number of passes, Brady managed the game admirably, avoiding turnovers and the big sack time and again. He ended the day completing 25/42 for 277 yards and 1 TD. Two or three catches would have given him another TD or two and at least another 50 yards passing. Chalk it up to rust, miscommunication or fate, but Brady is on the verge of a very big breakout game.

3) Run Defense - Despite losing both Mike Wright and Vince Wilfork the Patriot s held the Falcons to 58 net yards on 17 carries. It was a MAJOR win by a defense considered susceptible to the run at the start of the season.

Honorable Mention(s):
Stephen Gostkowski - four for four on the night. Gostkowski was clutch on every kick. Even his final kickoff was key.

Pass defense - Tony Gonzales made just 1 catch for 16 yards and never came near hurting the Patriots. Whether it was the scheme or the players, both factors took away Atlanta's most potent weapon.

Patriots Fans - An ugly weather day to watch football. Fans who paied big money to see that game in person deserve a game ball for sitting through a tough weather day and paying big bucks to do so. Hats off to all of you, we saw you still there late in the game making noise.

Offensive line - Brady had plenty of time to throw, with no issues. The running game had holes to run through. Good game for the most part.

GOATS

1) Joey Galloway -- Will Galloway get on the same page as his QB? Too many missed opportunities again for the veteran wideout. The Patriots looked at WR options this week, thinking injuries may be a concern. Lack of production may be a bigger factor.

2) FOX Sports Programming - Considering the implications of the game, FOX opted to cut off tens of thousands of Patriot fans from watching their team. Some saw a pet show, others, a Baseball game, and still others were subjected to the Giant's blowout of the Buccaneers. How that made sense is anyone's guess. Even NBC knows the value of a Brady led team promoting it relentlessly during their Sunday evening broadcast.

3) The Weather - poor day to watch a football game. Too bad the stadium didn't have a roof. Tons of fans telling us they watched from the concourse by the 4th Q as the top stands cleared out.

Dishonorable Mention(s): None to mention.


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