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One Up, Two Down? 



September 12th 2010

The first series for each team was indication of how this game was going to go. Both teams lined up in a spread, in a fantasy football geeks dream. Unfortunately for fantasy geeks, the Patriots young defense decided to play like a team of Super Bowl veterans. The Pats entire defense played as well as they possible can in the entire first half. However, before you put the Pats in the Super Bowl, remember that a young defense littered with rookies is as inconsistent as a Kraft Brand promise. 

The Pat's first touchdown of the season was a combination of genius and miracles. In the best-schemed play I’ve seen for the Pats in a while, the pats lined up in a Trips-Formation. A Trips-Formation is when three Wide Receivers line up in the slot on one side, forming a little triangle. Sometimes a tight end lines up with two wide receivers in the slot. So they lined up in Trips, but instead of in the slot they lined up way out wide, and two of the Wide receivers were rookie Tight ends. I have never seen that formation with two tight ends out wide before. They throw a bubble screen to the Miraculous Wes Welker, and the two Tight Ends destroy the two corners who were out wide with them. The Miraculous Wes Welker squeezed between the two blocking Tight ends for a miracle first touchdown of the season, by the guy whose miracle recovery from devastating knee reconstruction and shoulder surgery was ruled complete.

The first half was coming out party for the two young Corners McCourty and Butler. They were spectacular. In fact, the entire young secondary was spectacular. Patrick Chung was a force against the run, and the much maligned Meriweather was playing cover safety like Eugene Wilson. And, I hate say this, it's going to sound stupid, even for me, but every week McCourty reminds me more and more of Darrelle Revis. I know way to premature, but with his combination of size, speed, Intelligence, and awareness in coverage, I just kept seeing the development of a star every week.

The disappoint part of the first half was disappearance of the rookie Tight Ends in the first half. When those two guys were on the field, the Pat's passing attack just looks better. No offense to Alge Crumpler who clearly makes the running game look better when he is on the field. I loved how they went empty with the two rookie tight ends out in the slots, then on the next play they lined up in a two tight end power formation and ran the ball. I hate to say this, because it makes me sound like a yahoo, again, but the passing game looked unstoppable when they were on the field.

I said before the season started that biggest difference in this years team from last years team was the returning game, and then right on cue Brandon Tate returned the opening kick off of the second half for a 97 yard touchdown to put the Pats up 31 to 3. He shortstopped the ball at the 3-yard line, turned up field, did a little skip-to-my-loo, then shake and baked past the kicker, and was gone. Then with 14:48 to go in the 3rd quarter the Bengals went into their one-dimensional No-Huddle offense. The Bengal ’s however, finally scored their first Touchdown of the season with 7:54 left in the Third quarter.

The Patriots came out smartly right after the Bengal ’s scoring drive, not looking to go conservative in the third quarter with a big lead and too much time on the clock, but looking to score again. They ran a fake-reverse reverse-screen, then ran the ball for 3 yard. Brady completed a beautiful 15-yard pass the Alge Crumpler on 3rd and 8, in what may be the most disastrous play of the year, as the play was called back for holding and the back-up-less Stephen Neal limped off the field in obvious pain, and was replaced by number 62, who unfortunately seems to be Ted Larson. As all Pat Fans know the biggest weakness on this team is Neal’s backup. So the Pats faced a 3rd and 18 one down. They ran was a nicely designed short pass to Brandon Tate with three blocker in front of him that came close to a First Down. End series, but I liked the aggressive attitude, rather than working the clock. There will be plenty of time to work the clock in the forth quarter.

Cincinnati came out in a Three-Wide formation looking to scheme another Touchdown. The Pats defense looked good on the first two downs, but started to struggle on 3rd down again, like they did against the Rams in the preseason. The Bengals were able to run the ball effective as the Pats were selling-out to defend the pass. On the first three set of downs, the pats stopped them on first and second down only to give up the first down on third (twice) and forth down (once). Then Bernard Scott ran for 6. Then, boom Carson Palmer goes over the top to Ochocinco for his 63rd career TD reception of his career to tie the Cincinnati Bengals TD reception record, making the score 31-17 with 0:22 seconds left in the 3rd Quarter. And the young defense that looked so confident in the first half suddenly started looking a little over confident 

Then came Brady! He hit the Miraculous Wes Welker for a 13 yard first down reception to end the 3rd quarter. He hit Moss for 9-yard play-action pass. The Pats brought in their new 3-tight end formation for a 4-yard first down run. He continued the drive down the field with a terrific blend of running and passing. Until the Miraculous Wes Welker caught a pass and ran to the 19-yard line. Green-Ellis ran the ball 4 straight time to give the Pats a second and goal from the two yard line, and Brady, ho-hum, dropped back and lofted a soft floater into the soft hands of Gronkowski for a perfectly executed Ho-Hum Touchdown, and making it look too easy. Brady engendered a perfectly symmetrical drive with 7 runs and 7 passes, which took 7 minutes and 41 seconds off the clock. Giving the Pats a 39-17 lead with 7:41 left in the game. These are the type of drives that lead to wins and championships. however Alge Crumpler went down in what looked like serious injury, leaving the two rookie tight ends without there veteran leader. Two Down. The loss of Crumpler is not as disconcerting as the loss of Neal, however the more you have to rely solely on rookie the more inconsistent you become. 

The Bengals continued to fight as Ochocinco caught a pass that gave him over 100-yards for the 30th time in his career. But, Butler came back and made a great defense play, diving to knock down the ball on third down. But, Ochocinco wasn't done, and he made a great grab on 4th and 6, seeming to leap, grab the ball, and get the feet down in bounds all at once, as Butler shoved him from behind. This drive quickly turned into the Ochocinco story as he caught another first down pass as the clock pressured down to under five minutes to go. Another reception by Ochocinco, and a pass to Shipley and Grisham, and the Bengals were on the one-yard line. Benson ran the ball in for a 1-yard TD run with 3:57 left on the clock, like a gun to Bengals head, as they were still down two touch downs 38-24.

Bengals decided to go for the Onside Kick but where offsides. The ball has to travel ten-yard before the kicking team can touch it. The Pats got the ball on the Bengal ’s 37-yard line. A Welker catch and a Taylor run and the Time out game was under way. The Pats were left with 2nd and 7 with 3 minutes left on the clock, and the Bengals were left with one Timeout. Taylor ran for a first down, killing the Bengals. Then two runs and the two minute warning left the Bengals with no Timeouts and no way to stop the clock, and the Pats with a 3rd and 8.Taylor ran the ball right up the middle for 6 tough yards, to make it BB’s dreaded 4th and 2 with under 1:20 left on the clock. The Pats came out in a four wide formation to try and end the game. However Rey Maualuga made a great defensive play and knocked the pass out of Welker’s sticky mitts, giving the Bengals the ball back at their 7-yard line with 1:10 left on the clock, and no hope to win the game. The Bengals were only able to drive 38 yards down the field to end the game. Pats grab one win 38-24. 

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