by Mark Beauchamp, Contributing Writer and Loyal Patriots Fan
The New England Patriots got back on track last Sunday with a much needed 52-28 road victory over the Buffalo Bills. Despite the lopsided final score the Pats were forced to overcome some serious adversity in this game, displaying a lot of heart and perhaps learning about what kind of football team they want to be this season in the process. The Patriots now prepare for a familiar and formidable foe sporting some new laundry as Peyton Manning leads his Denver Broncos into Gillette Stadium in Foxboro, MA for another big AFC showdown.
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There was plenty of doubt in NFL circles regarding the Patriots coming into the Bills game last week. New England looked suddenly and uncharacteristically vulnerable after two straight defeats. Many thought the Bills had a great chance of pulling off the win and sending the Pats to a 1-3 start relegating them to the basement of the AFC East. The first half of the game provided no relief for stressed out Pats fans. Several miscues including fumbles by Rock Star Tight End Rob Gronkowski and veteran Wide Receiver Wes Welker, missed field goals of 49 and 42 yards by placekicker Stephen “Pro Bowl” Gostowski and the continued average, very average play of All World QB Tom Brady put New England in a desperate situation. Hard hitting Linebacker Brandon Spikes caused a Buffalo fumble on the goal line to prevent points near the end of the first half, but the Bills struck quickly at the start of the second half and New England found themselves down 21-7 in the third quarter. The buzzards were circling.
But the Patriots showed how they still own the AFC East, charging back to score on seven straight possessions to rip control of the game and the Division away from the Bills. They showed their old resolve and heart. They also showed some new balance with a powerful rushing attack finally complimenting the aerial attack. Rookie Running Back Brandon Bolden (undrafted out of Ole Miss) rushed for 137 yards and sophomore Stevan Ridley added 106 yards on the ground. This was the first time since 1980 that the Patriots had two 100 yard rushers in a game. Add to that the over 100 yards receiving for Gronk and Welker and the Patriots became only the second team in NFL history with a pair of 100-yard rushers and a pair of 100-yard receivers in the same game.
Things seemed back to normal for Patriots Nation by the end of the day – the Real Zebras keeping it fair, Brady rolling and HC NEP Bill Belichick back in a hoodie – albeit a new hoodie.
And now the Orange Crush and Peyton Manning visit the Razor. QB Peyton Manning may go down as the best ever at the position. Wisely, Broncos Head Coach John Fox has brought Peyton’s system to Denver. Manning has struggled a little bit early in the season as the Broncos offense has had to get used to him.
There have been some questions about arm strength after multiple surgeries But this is still Peyton Manning and he’s pretty damn good. The Patriots know him really well. The offense they’re running in Denver looks just like old Colts offense. So many epic battles between Belichick and Brady with the Colts and Manning over the years and now with Denver it’s going to be the same. The same chess match between Belichick and Manning. The same pressure on Brady to match the production of a player he admits he looks up to.
Oh man …. Talk about a big one.
Pats fans know what to do … Fire up the grills early… Get lubed up …. Be a factor … Make it home alive and have fun doing it.
F The Orange Crush and (all due respect) F Eli’s Big Brother.
Go Pats Go.