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The Patriots will return home 5-3 on the season, and enter their bye week with a win that should make them feel a whole lot better about themselves for the second half of the season.
Here are the Ups and Downs from New England’s win over the Rams:
With all the talk that the offense couldn’t close out games, they put all that to rest with a dominating performance against St. Louis.
The Patriots racked up their 17th straight 350-yard game on offense – a new NFL record – with Tom Brady making it look easy. He finished the afternoon with 304 yards and four touchdowns on 23-for-35 passing, throwing two touchdowns to both Rob Gronkowski and Brandon Lloyd.
It was another big day for the Patriots run game as well, with Stevan Ridley, Shane Vereen and Danny Woodhead racking up 151 yards on the ground. Ridley led the pack with 127 yards, including a career-long 41-yard rush in the third quarter.
Overall, the Patriots offense picked up 472 yards and eclipsed the 40-point mark for just the second time this season.
Gronk Is A Big Hit Overseas
It didn’t take long for New England to fall in love with Rob Gronkowski, and now the “old” England is feeling the same way.
After spiking a microphone at a Fanfest event on Saturday, the fans overseas were anxious to see a real spike from Gronk. They got their wish, twice, with an added bonus of some pre and post-spike celebrations.
Celebrations aside, Gronk was a beast with eight receptions for 146 yards and the two scores as the Rams could not contain him at any point in the afternoon.
Vereen Gets In On The Mix
And it wasn’t just a one-yard touchdown run for the second-year back, although he did do that again — on a fourth down.
Shane Vereen saw extended playing time, rushing for 27 yards on seven carries. He also had a 17-yard catch-and-run reception from Ryan Mallet in the fourth quarter on a 3rd and 14 play.
As long as he stays healthy, Vereen should see himself in the mix at running back the rest of the way.
No Mankins, No Problem
Mankins was a game-time scratch as he continues to battle calf and hip ailments, but the Patriots offensive line did not miss a beat. With Donald Thomas taking over at left guard for Mankins, Tom Brady had plenty of time to do his thing and was not sacked once by St. Louis. The line also opened up some big holes for the Patriots rush attack.
Secondary Still Struggles
Although the secondary played 55 strong minutes, it was another big passing play that beat the Patriots’ secondary early on.
The Rams scored on their first drive of the game thanks to a 50-yard touchdown strike from Sam Bradford to Chris Givens. Rookie safety Tavon Wilson was beat on the play, and you could tell as soon as the ball left Bradford’s hand that Givens was destined for the end zone.
Overall, it wasn’t a bad day by the New England secondary, and Wilson made up for getting burned early with a late interception.
In-Game Injuries To Worry About
It’s a good thing the Patriots have two weeks until they take on the Bills, with a lot of nicks and bruises to heal up.
In addition to all the players that didn’t make the trip or were a late scratch, Wes Welker landed on his left ankle in the fourth quarter and didn’t see the field again. He was back on the sidelines, helmet on and all, but any ankle injury is concerning with Welker.
In the secondary, Kyle Arrington and Marquice Cole each left with an injury. Arrington left in the first quarter with a head injury, while Cole left in the fourth with an undisclosed injury. Neither player returned after leaving the field.
Defensive lineman Ron Brace also left with an undisclosed injury in the fourth quarter, and did not return.
Punt Returning Still An Issue
Julien Edelman returned three punts for the Patriots, and netted just 16 yards – 14 of which came on one return.
Patriots special teams have been an issue this season, so expect Bill Belichick to make that a focal point when the Pats hit the practice field these next two weeks.
It doesn’t look like the Patriots will be returning home any time soon. With Hurricane Sandy set to wreak havoc on the East Coast, the Patriots will likely be stuck across the pond until the middle the week.
Just another chance to enjoy some fish and chips and a couple of pints after a big win.