BOSTON (CBS) — The Patriots’ win over the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday night was their most complete effort of the year. Definitely a stepping stone game going forward. Here are your gold stars and penalty flags.

Gold Stars

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Cassius Marsh and Johnson Bademosi get gold stars. The Pats acquired both of these players right before the start of the season in roster boosting moves and all they’ve done is strengthen the team. It was Marsh’s field goal block that lit the spark on the team and he continues to play tenacious on defense. Bademosi is a core special teamer but now he’s been pressed into cornerback coverage, and the defensive backfield has only improved since adding him to the mix.  Marsh and Bademosi are proving their worth.

The running backs gets a gold star. James White, Rex Burhead, Dion Lewis and Mike Gillislee, the Pats ground game was in full force on Sunday night. This was the epitome of a balanced offensive attack and when the Pats got the ball with four minutes to go in the game, they never gave it back. They ran the ball and ran out the clock. This is what they need to have going forward.

The Patriots defense gets a gold star. I’m not going to jump up and down here but this was the first time all season they didn’t allow a 300-yard passer. The defense swarmed the ball all game long and made it tough for Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones. They also took the Atlanta tight ends out of the game. This was the Pats’ best defensive effort of the season.

Penalty Flags

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The refs get penalty flags. Everyone is wondering why viewership is down around the NFL and I’m going to blame the refs. Way too many flags are being thrown and these games, at times, have no flow and are tough to watch. The first couple of minutes on Sunday night had more penalty yards than game yards and the fouls are very ticky tack. I understand calling the game close but you also have to let the players play. There has to be a better way because the beginning of most NFL games are littered with flags. Because the refs are setting a tone, people are turning away.

The fog gets a penalty flag. The second half was no fun, because you couldn’t see the game from the upper levels, the press box, the announcers box or the game camera. The broadcast ended up using the replay camera as the game cam, which meant there were less replays. If it wasn’t for the crowd down low, I would have never known that Kyle Van Noy made that stop on the goal line. It made the game was interesting and different, but the lingering fog may have been a bit too much.

Patriots linebacker Kyle Van Noy. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

The Atlanta Falcons get a penalty flag. You can officially put the Falcons in the same category as the Rams, the Chargers, the Seahawks and the Eagles. These are teams that have had crushing losses to the Pats and then afterwards, just lost their way.  The Falcons look awful. I’m not sure what they are trying to do offensively but they have zero identity.

How far they have fallen? They had one of the best offenses in NFL history last season but on Sunday night, they made poor fourth down choices and struggled to put points on the board.

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Ruining franchises, that is truly the Patriots way.