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Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Uh, Didn't See that one Coming

And you thought the New England Patriots had issues? The Denver Broncos came to Gillette Stadium last night for Monday Night Football and laid an even bigger egg than the Patriots' recent losses to the Dolphins or Chargers (which is pretty hard to do). All was right in Foxboro (for one night at least) as the Patriots rolled, 41-7.

Since the Patriots won the Super Bowl in 2002, I don't think I've ever gone into a game with lower expectations than last night. Part of that was the simple fact of the Red Sox hangover from the night before, when Boston was eliminated in game 7 of the ALCS by the Rays. The other thing was I thought it was clear the Patriots had way too many issues to be any kind of factor in the NFL this season. Maybe, they'd sneak into the playoffs, but they wouldn't win a game in January.

I was completely wrong and I couldn't be more happier about it. We have to temper our expectations until the Pats do this in consecutive games but at least it makes the season seem much more promising.

Denver (4-2) fumbled on its first two possessions in New England territory but the Pats could only convert two Stephen Gostowski field goals: from 31-yards and 40-yards.

Sammy Morris had probably the game of his life and it all came in the first half as he left with a knee injury in the third quarter. He carried the ball 16 times for 138 yards. Ironically, this happened on a night when New England placed Laurence Maroney on season-ending IR.

A four-yard burst by Morris put the Pats up 13-0 and they opened up a 20-0 halftime lead as Matt Cassel (18 of 24, 185 yards, 3 touchdowns) found Randy Moss (5 catches, 69 yards) for a 13-yard touchdown.

The second half was more of the same as the Patriots' offensive line and every running back they plugged in completely dominated the Broncos. Jay Cutler (17 of 26, 168 yards) hurt his pinkie on the first play of the game and was inneffective the whole night. He tossed two picks, to James Sanders and Brandon Meriweather.

It was a game to remember for Moss and Wes Welker (6 catches, 63 yards). Moss turned a screen into a 27-yard touchdown and Welker found the end zone with a 6-yard catch and run.

Former Pats tight end Daniel Graham broke the shutout with a 10-yard catch early in the fourth quarter, making it 34-7 New England.

Rookie running back Benjarvus Green-Ellis (13 carries, 65 yards) scored his first NFL touchdown, plunging in from one yard out.

Another rookie, inside linebacker Jerod Mayo continued to impress as he finished with eight tackles and a fumble recovery.

The injury bug was contagious on both sides: All-Pro cornerback Champ Bailey left with a strained groin and Patriots safety Rodney Harrison was carted off with yet another knee injury. It did not look good for Harrison, who has had a terrible string of injuries the last few seasons. Every opposing fan hates him but it would be sad to see such a great career like his end like that.

The St. Louis Rams, fresh off impressive wins over the Redskins and Cowboys come to Gillette on Sunday afternoon. Who knows what to expect from either team? People will no doubt be jumping back on the Patriots' bandwagon but if we've learned anything so far this year, it's that they are schizophrenic.

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