BOSTON (CBS) — Things are back to normal.

Sure, the version of the Vikings that showed up to TCF Bank Stadium on Sunday weren’t exactly the NFL’s most dangerous squad, but the Patriots took care of business by defeating a lesser opponent and doing so convincingly. It was a victory that didn’t rely too much on Tom Brady, who threw just 22 passes one week after throwing 56, and it was a win that was driven by all three phases of the game. The defense made plays, special teams shined, and the offense did enough to control the ball and eliminate any drama from this one.

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So while a win over the Adrian Peterson-less Vikings doesn’t mean much in the grand scheme of things, at least New England can breathe easy after the team did what it was supposed to do. After Week 1’s second-half flop, it was much needed.

Let’s dive right on in to all of the leftover thoughts from the Patriots’ 30-7 thumping of the Vikings.

–I think we all expected a beastly season out of Chandler Jones in year three, but I’d venture to guess that few (or none) of us thought it would play out in the form of a blocked field goal and a scoop and score for a 58-yard touchdown. I mean, I knew that Jones was coming into his own physically, and I expected him to rag-doll a few quarterbacks this season, but I did not anticipate him busting out a swim move on a field goal, Superman-ing into the air and then bolting down the entire field for a touchdown.

That being said, I wasn’t surprised in the least. Chandler Jones is a beast.

(Yes, I’m into poetry now, but don’t worry, I won’t be writing any football haikus.)

–The scariest part of Jones’ play? His vacant stare into the crowd:

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Cold-blooded. Frightening.

–Speaking of frightening, Bryan Stork has finally been released out of his cage. This is, in my humble estimation, the biggest storyline coming out of Sunday’s game, because I believe Bryan Stork is the badass interior lineman of the future. Whether he’s a center or a guard, I don’t know, but I do know he is not someone whom I would be particularly excited to go up against 55 times per game.

Bryan Stork (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

Bryan Stork (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

Thank you to everyone who participated in the #ReleaseTheStork movement. We did it!

–Obviously, this game didn’t start too well for New England, as Matt Cassel went 4-for-4 for 75 yards on an opening-drive touchdown. On the third play of the game, undrafted rookie linebacker Deontae Skinner looked like he was running in slow motion across the field while trying to catch up to Kyle Rudolph. Skinner was wearing No. 55, so I figured it was just his homage to Brandon Spikes. We’ve grown accustomed to seeing the back of the No. 55 jersey desperately trying to play catch-up in pass coverage, so it was really well done by Skinner.

–It was nice to finally get a glimpse of Darrelle Revis displaying his excellence. I found it very telling that for as much hype as buffoons such as myself gave to Cordarrelle Patterson, Bill Belichick put Patterson duties on second-year corner Logan Ryan. That left Revis to stick like glue to Greg Jennings, and the play he made on the ball to pick up the interception was tremendous.

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Darrelle Revis (Screen shot from

It actually looked like the mirror image of Wes Welker’s drop in the Super Bowl — you know, the one where lots of people still blame Tom Brady for making a “bad pass.” See?

Wes Welker, Darrelle Revis (Welker photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

Wes Welker, Darrelle Revis (Welker photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

What’s the old saying? If the defensive back could catch, he’d be a wide receiver. Well, if a cornerback can haul in that throw, I think a professional pass-catcher should have been able to as well. (No, I’ll never stop talking about that one. Because the pass was OK.)

–Speaking of Tom Brady, I mentioned earlier that the Patriots didn’t rely on him too heavily, but the QB still made some nice plays. In particular, he showed classic poise to stand in the pocket while waiting for Julian Edelman to get open in the corner of the end zone. After audibling at the line and moving from under center to the shotgun, Brady took the snap and got absolutely crushed by an untouched Chad Greenway, who rushed in from the blind side, but he stood in long enough to put the perfect amount of touch on the touchdown pass.

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–That touchdown was just the latest evidence that football is not a game of inches; it’s a game of centimeters. The play that preceded it was a third-and-4 at the Minnesota 15-yard line. Brady threw over the middle to Edelman, who had to make a finger-tip catch while dealing with a linebacker in his face.

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Edelman hung on and protected himself, and just like that, a field goal turned into a touchdown.

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–I always get a kick out of scanning Facebook during Patriots games. Whenever one thing goes bad early, it’s doom and gloom and swears and anger and everything else you could imagine. And then the Patriots, as they typically do, come back and win, and those statuses are still sitting there, and people look dumb, but they do the same thing again the next week. You’d think that Patriots fans would have picked up on this over the past decade, but it nevertheless happens every single weekend.

–I spent some time Sunday thinking about the NFL’s selective protection of quarterbacks and defenseless receivers and how it stands in stark contrast to the league’s consideration for the health and safety of running backs. You can’t hit a receiver in the shoulder pad if he hasn’t taken a few steps with the ball, and you can’t sneeze on a quarterback without drawing a 15-yard penalty, but you can basically dropkick and piledrive a running back if you want to. It’s weird.

Consider this first-quarter goal-line run up the middle by Stevan Ridley. As Ridley hits the line, Harrison Smith comes flying in and launches himself directly into Ridley’s helmet:

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Note that this is bad for Ridley, but also bad for Smith. Yet it is legal and encouraged.

Also consider this hit by Logan Ryan on Matt Asiata:

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Ryan’s shoulder pad made contact with Asiata’s facemask about 0.4 seconds after Asiata made the catch. Such an offense would have resulted in an arrest if it had been on a quarterback. But, eh, it was a running back, so who cares? I guess you can only be a defenseless receiver if you’re not a running back.

–There was one run in particular when it looked like Ridley got into two consecutive car crashes. There was a hit straight-on, and then as he twisted, a giant man bulldozed into Ridley’s back. It made me think that A) we might not even be able to begin to understand what that’s like, and B) when we say “hold onto the football!” we might be oversimplifying things a little bit.

And after a 101-yard day, Ridley has his sixth 100-yard rushing performance. If you add in four more games of 96, 97, 97 and 98 yards, that makes it 10 in 34 games in which he’s had 14 or more rushing attempts. He also has an impressive streak of two straight games in which his helmet has come flying off after taking a hit.

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Damn it, Stevan — hold on to the helmet!

–The broadcast team referred to Mike Zimmer as having “that no-nonsense approach.” It made me realize that “no-nonsense approach” is the most meaningless description of all time. I think I’m going to interview for a head coaching vacancy, sit down, hand over my resume, and let the bosses know that I’m all about nonsense. “Well, gentlemen, I have an all-nonsense approach. I have actually strapped an electronic fart machine under this table for comedic effect. If you shake my hand, you better be prepared for an electric shock pulsating up your arm. Please hire me.”

–When the Minnesota fans — many of whom were wearing Adrian Peterson jerseys, because beating children is apparently a cool thing to do — started chanting for Teddy Bridgewater, I felt bad for Matt Cassel. I then quickly remembered that he got to attend USC for free without ever having to get hit by any football players, and he has since made well over $60 million, despite not being on the better side of average among NFL quarterbacks. I’m sure Matt slept just fine last night.

Actually, I think he might have slept in an ice tub. Dude got crushed all day long.

Dont'a Hightower hits Matt Cassel. (Photo by Adam Bettcher/Getty Images)

Dont’a Hightower hits Matt Cassel. (Photo by Adam Bettcher/Getty Images)

–During the Patriots drive at the end of the third quarter there was a stretch of five penalties on 11 snaps. The ball moved a grand total of 26 yards in that time, and 5:03 elapsed off the clock, though it felt like it took 500 minutes. I would like to see some next-level television ratings which tell you not just how many people had their televisions tuned to the game but how many fell asleep, clicker in left hand, beer in right hand, head back, snoring on the couch during certain stretches. I would venture to guess that the stretch at the end of the third quarter of this game might have had the highest Nap Share of the entire weekend. (Sunday night’s flag-fest in San Francisco is not eligible to win Nap Share sweeps because at that hour, you’re not napping — you’re sleeping. Pass Out Share is a different TV metric.)

–I said last week in my picks column that the idea that the Patriots never lose two games in a row was old and tired and flat-out wrong, but this info from the Pats is actually pretty staggering: Since the beginning of 2003, the Patriots are now 35-4 (.897) in regular-season games following a loss. The Patriots have dropped back-to-back regular season games just four times since 2003. As a starter, Tom Brady is 36-8 in games following a loss.

–Also noteworthy: Tom Brady is undefeated in his career against the Vikings, Falcons, Bears, Cowboys, Lions, Jaguars, Eagles and Buccaneers. That is 25 percent of the NFL that has never beaten Tom Brady. That’s hilarious.

–I was, obviously, happy that Bill Belichick finally let Bryan Stork play (#ReleaseTheStork), but if a 30-7 lead with 5:57 left to play doesn’t scream “It’s Jimmy G Time, baby!” then I honestly don’t know what does.

–I’d like to thank Mike Carey for taking time to explain to me why it wasn’t a touchdown when the man caught the ball out of bounds. That was cool.

–So like I said, things are back to normal in the sense that the Patriots can beat a bad opponent. But how good are the Patriots? We may not know for a while. The Raiders are coming to town next week, and the Raiders have Charles Woodson telling everybody that the Raiders “suck.” So that’s good. But for now, the ship at least appears to have been righted for Bill Belichick’s team, and the upcoming week should be considerably less chaotic than the last one.

Read more from Michael Hurley by clicking here, or find him on Twitter @michaelFhurley.

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