I think I was supposed to be crying into my beer right now, thinking up excuses as to why my team ain't all that.
According to a lot of fans around the league, I was supposed to be facing the grim reality that Tom Brady is done, so is Randy Moss, the Patriots' defense is hideous, and the Patriots never had a chance without Wes Welker.
I should be admitting to the bitter fact that the Atlanta Falcons are just better, that Matt Ryan is the hottest young quarterback in the NFL. Maybe he is, but not today.
Of course, diehard fan that I am, I never expected to be doing any of that. I expected to be writing an article about the Patriots' victory over a good Atlanta team.
I expected to write that the Patriots are making progress, just as we here in New England anticipated. I expected to be writing that they won.
I am not disappointed. I get to say just what I expected and to sit back to wait for other people to tell me, So, they got lucky, they cheated, they are demons from hell. You know, the usual.
I invite that sort of comment, so bring it on if that is what you think. The fact remains that the Patriots defeated the Falcons in Foxborough, 26-10, in a game that was hard-fought for at least a half.
The Patriots went to the ground game early and often, with Tom Brady mixing in a few poorly timed passes to begin the game.
Laurence Maroney, Sammy Morris, and Fred Taylor kept the Patriots' offense in gear early, as the defense held its own.
Granted, the Pats settled for field goals far too often, as their red zone allergy continued to plague them. But they were able to keep drives alive on third downs (8 for 18 overall, 7 of 10 short ones) and fourth downs (an eye-popping three for three).
In the second half, Brady began to look like...well, Brady, as he managed to get the ball to his receivers with some regularity. Finishing 25 for 42, he is continuing to throw the ball more than most of us would like.
But he finished with 10 strikes to Randy Moss, good for 116 yards, enough to confirm, in my mind at least, that he is getting his timing back. That timing is something he would not be recovering if he weren't going out and tossing the ball a lot.
Could this be the method to Bill Belichick's madness?
Brady's longest pass of the day was a 36-yarder to TE Chris Baker, good for a touchdown that pretty much put the game away.
The offensive line gave him some protection today, something that was lacking last week. He moved well in the pocket, and looked comfortable doing it.
The defense wasn't perfect, but they played better than I have seen yet this year.
Neither Brady nor Ryan threw an interception, and for the first time this year, Ryan did not throw for a touchdown.
The only turnover of the game was a Michael Turner fumble, recovered by James Sanders.
Fred Taylor finally got a lot of work for the Patriots, carrying the ball 21 times for 105 yards and his first TD as a Patriot.
Kevin Faulk made his appearance as one of the usual suspects.
Maroney left early with a thigh injury, and Vince Wilfork left in the first half with an ankle injury. He did not return.
It is only week three, a fact of which I am well aware. But if the naysayers are allowed to write this team off after week two, I think we Patriots fans are allowed to feel pretty encouraged by what we saw in rainy Foxborough today.
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