Early in the first quarter yesterday, it looked a replay of some of the worst moments of last season for the Patriots. The defense gave up a first down on third-and-long, Wes Welker dropped a pass he normally would catch, and Brandon Lloyd looked suspiciously like the guy who wore #85 last season on a long bomb from Brady. The Twitter critics were basking in their self-made glory.
Then the youngsters stepped up. Running back Stevan Ridley flashed a variety of skills, surprise second round pick Tavon Wilson ended up with an interception in the end zone off a tipped pass, then the Pièce de résistance when rookie Chandler Jones came around the edge and strip-sacked Jack Locker and fellow first round pick Dont’a Hightower scooped up the loose ball and took it into the end zone for defensive touchdown.
Young veterans like Aaron Hernandez and Rob Gronkowski were their typical brilliant selves, and even the much-maligned offensive line was solid, save one sack that left Tom Brady with a bloody nose. And Tom Brady was, well, Tom Brady.
At halftime (on CSNNE.com Halftime Live) Mike Felger wanted to know why it took so long for the Patriots to draft players like Jones and Hightower and following the game, he tried his best to drum up a Wes Welker controversy after the wide receiver was almost an afterthought in the offense. It was hard to put a damper on what was a very encouraging afternoon for the Patriots, but he tried.
The Welker situation figures to be the one that most looking for an angle will glom onto. Are the Patriots trying to phase him out of the offense, vindictively and systematically squeezing him? (That whole stream is hysterical.) Are they looking to trade him like they did Randy Moss in the 2010 season? Those should be storylines that some will try and make into headlines.
What we learned Sunday: Patriots dance past Titans – Christopher Price has some things to take away from yesterday. Jonathan Comey has five things we learned, and Hector Longo checks in with a Jerod Mayo-loving two minute drill.
McDaniels, line were dialed in – Greg A Bedard has been pretty much a lone voice in the wilderness since camp opened, saying that the offensive line was not cause for panic and rioting in the streets. Yesterday showed him right.
Patriots have new difference-makers – Mike Reiss looks at the new impact players on defense for New England. Karen Guregian has more on the Patriots new playmakers. Jim Donaldson has the defensive retooling well under way for the Patriots. Mary Paoletti has the defense shutting down Chris Johnson.
Second-year back Stevan Ridley takes heat off Tom Brady – Ron Borges looks at how Ridley makes Brady’s job so much easier. Michael Whitmer has more on Ridley putting together a game to build on.
First and goals to go for Patriots – Chad Finn looks at a number of “firsts” from this one.
Game 1 Notes: Patriots 34, Titans 13 – Tom Curran checks in with some notes and observations.
Nothing lasts forever: Enjoy yourself, Patriots fans – Ryan Hadfield urges you not to be so eager for January to get here. Enjoy the ride.
Check more links at PatriotsLinks.com.