September 30, 2014

PD Game Ball – NE Line of Scrimmage

by Scott Benson, Patriots Daily Staff
September 29, 2009

There is any number of individuals who could have taken this prestigious (cough) award for their play in Sunday’s eminently solid win over the Falcons at Gillette Stadium. Despite what that asshole Mike Freeman says, I’d start with: Randy Moss (Freeman had more credibility when he was lying about his resume), who came off Friday’s injury list to almost singlehandedly create a Pats passing attack; Fred Taylor, who started on the sidelines but came to the lean-forward rescue with some tough inside running; Stephen Gostkowski (when will it be all right to shorten that to Steve?) who drilled some top-notch kickoffs while making four-of-four on field goal attempts; or Brandon McGowan, who gets primary credit (though he usually had help) for limiting perennial all-pro Tony Gonzalez to just one catch on the day.

Yet this august panel will go ball-less this week (you know what I mean) as this game was won up front, on both sides of the ball.

The offensive line hit me where I live by clearing the way for 39 rushing attempts, and even better, 168 yards of production. Not only was their movement startling (they had no trouble getting to the second level, or to the flats for well-blocked screens), they cut way back on those awful clusterfucks that occur when all six men end up pushed into the backfield at about the same time the running back is taking the handoff. You know when you see that there will be precious few clouds of dust on that day. But it was a rare occurrence on Sunday, thankfully; instead, they were so capable that their head coach had no compunction about going for a 4th and 1 from his own 24 yard line – with a six point lead. Be still my heart. They were so good on the ground I barely noticed that they ran their streak to 134 straight pass attempts without a sack. Special recognition goes to veteran Matt Light, who acquitted himself well against John Abraham, one of the league’s top pass rushers.

The defensive line lost their best player when Vince Wilfork went down and Mike Wright rolled up, yet they really facilitated the rest of the team’s defensive success by shutting off the point of attack and removing ace running back Michael Turner from the game entirely, for all intents and purposes. Atlanta had just 17 rushing attempts, thanks in large part to a monster game of space-eating by the always underrated (and now double-teamed) Ty Warren, who led his colleagues in helping linebackers Adalius Thomas and Gary Guyton to flourish. It is the decision of the Game Ball judges that safety McGowan and his rotating partners – nor the corners, often left out on an island to battle Roddy White and Michael Jenkins – would not have remotely been in contention for this coveted (cough) award had Turner been allowed to post his usual 100 yard game.

So, you fat hairy guys on both sides of that line, this ball is for you.

E-mail Scott Benson at [email protected]

Comments

  1. Did the defensive line actually do a good job against the run? Turner averaged 3.73 ypc, 3.85 ypc if you don’t count his 2 yard TD run. This isn’t All-Pro, but also isn’t too bad. I would say that the key was that he only ran 15 times, and that has more to do with Atlanta’s time of possession (not much) and score (behind) than the Pats’ D-line.

  2. But I would argue that TOP is directly correlated to being second and third and long, which started at the LOS.

    Check the PBP – a lot of second and 7′s and 3rd and 3′s because they stuffed Turner on first and second down. ATL didn’t possess the ball because they couldn’t put together any drives, thanks in large part to their run defense on early downs.

    • Nice to hear someone finally giving the Defense some credit for TOP. I keep hearing the pundents saying “well, the offense kept the ball….” when a rational response would be “well, how did they get it?”

      In the “Chicken vs. Egg” argument, they seem very certain it was all chicken and no egg.

  3. Spot on analysis Scott and I totally agree that this was the best part of the Pats game on Sunday. Turner ‘The Burner’ is a brusing back and to keep him in check on 1st and 2nd downs was key. We’ll need to keep that up for this weeks tilt against the Ravens. GO PATS!!!!

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