by Scott Benson
Some barely-cold leftovers from last night’s late-nite 56-10 Patriots win over the Bills:
*Hard to ask for any more from the Patriots last night, needless to say. Even after what amounted to a two week layoff on the top of the world, they were physically and mentally crisp from the start, and once Randall Gay intercepted JP Losman on Buffalo’s first possession, they were never in danger. This may end up being one of the best teams in NFL history (meh, nine other teams have gone 10-0 since the merger), but it may already be one of the best coaching jobs ever. Ever seen a team more focused than this one?
*If Tom Brady doesn’t win NFL MVP this year, he never will. It’s an odd emotion to have after all this time, but I still can’t believe this guy plays for the Patriots.
*Ditto Randy Moss. I’ll just say again – I cannot imagine the Patriots offense without Randy Moss, not now, not next year. There will be some high drama around here when the Pats and Moss decide on his future with the team after the season.
*It wouldn’t be a week in the NFL without suspicion that the Patriots are running it up. It occurred to me last night; are the Patriots supposed to keep taking Brady and other key players out in the third quarter every week? That doesn’t seem like the best way to get ready to win a championship. Buffalo didn’t help any, with a defensive effort that looked positively Washingtonian.
*The Bills, winners of four straight, were hoping to take a big step towards a Wild Card last night, but this just in….no. We thought their offense was the problem. Granted, they’ve been hammered by injuries, but they aren’t beating anybody of consequence with that defense. Brady, Moss and the others did anything they wanted, and you could see the will seep from Buffalo’s D. Early. And the Bills were outplayed on special teams last night, which is a match up they have to win.
*Anyway, as far as taking the foot off the gas, it seemed to me that’s what Belichick did in the fourth quarter last night, with Matt Cassel in and the Heath Evans/Kyle Eckel dive play on every down.
*Speaking of Evans and Eckel, the running back situation looks kind of bleak this morning. In a game where many expected him to be featured, Laurence Maroney played a half – sporadically – and then left with a foot injury. No evidence yet exists that says the Pats can count on Maroney for anything, no matter how long this particular injury keeps him on the shelf. Something else will come along. Kevin Faulk left with a head injury that didn’t appear to be serious, but if the veteran can’t go for awhile, the Pats are down to Evans and Eckel. Understatement: this bears watching over the next few days.
*More great coaching: Adalius Thomas was a veritable no-show against Indy, shocking fans that expected him to be a difference-maker, especially against the Colts. Last night he shows as an end in a four-man defensive line, and other times as a standup outside linebacker, where he pounded away at the Bills pocket. At inside linebacker, he hasn’t been able to take over like he did last night, and for the first time we really saw the combination of size, speed and strength that made him a Pro Bowler. The lesson here is you can never tell what’s going to happen next.
*Which Sanders was better yesterday – Bob, or James? New England’s was flying around on run support like never before. It’s looking more and more like the Pats really hit on this fourth rounder from the 05 draft. On a defense full of veterans he’s in command as much as anyone.
*It’s only natural that all the attention goes to Belichick, Brady and Moss, but the foundation of it all may be the play of the team’s linemen. There weren’t more than a handful of plays last night when they didn”t win their individual and collective battles, on both sides of the ball. Special note should go to Russ Hochstein and Billy Yates, who filled in for Stephen Neal and – as usual – didn’t miss a beat. Jarvis Green had his best game in weeks for the defense.
*The Pats kickoff coverage teams were outstanding against one of the best return teams they face. How about a hand for Kelley Washington? He hasn’t played much at receiver, but he’s found a role he can play, and he’s putting in the time to be successful at it. Says a lot for a player that was supposed to be an underachiever.