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Sunday, 04 December 2016 05:49

INITIAL IMPRESSIONS: New England Patriots Defeat Los Angeles Rams 26-10

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It was a banner day in Foxboro as the Patriots hosted the Rams and honored the 15th anniversary of the 2001 Super Bowl Champions.

In their first game since Rob Gronkowski was placed on season ending injured reserve, the Patriots offense continued where they left off as they piled up over 400 total yards en route to a victory.

 

1. Tom Brady - Numbers wise, it was a very pedestrian day for Brady. He threw for 269 yards and one passing touchdown. Ho-hum. One number is more important than others for Brady, 201. Sunday's victory gave Brady 201 career victories including postseason. That makes him the winningest quarterback of all time.

 

2. Malcolm Mitchell - With Rob Gronkowski done for the season, the Patriots needed someone to step up and account for the balls thrown Gronkowski's way. That is exactly what Mitchell did. He caught eight passes for 82 yards. Those eight catches came on 10 targets. Mitchell built on last week's strong performance with yet another one as he positions himself to get more and more targets over the next few weeks.

 

3. Turnovers - After struggling to force turnovers most of the season, the New England defense has forced two turnovers in each of the last two games. Both of the turnovers on Sunday were interceptions, one by Malcolm Butler and one by Kyle Van Noy. Those turnovers may have been due to facing a rookie quarterback but it is still an encouraging sign.

 

4. Bring the Heat - Like the turnovers, the Patriots have failed to generate consistent pressure on the quarterback this season. Things were different on Sunday as rookie quarterback Jared Goff was under fire all afternoon. Defensive coordinator Matt Patricia was dialing up blitzes from all angles to confuse the rookie. Goff was sacked four times on the afternoon. It remains to be seen whether the heat was to confuse the rookie or a new attempt at forcing turnovers.

 

5. Martellus Bennett - For the first time since early in the season, Bennett was the top option at the tight end position. Bennett caught two passes for a measly two yards. For the Patriots, it may be smart to limit Bennett going forward as he is still banged up after dealing with an ankle injury most of the season. For a team that utilizes the tight end as much as anyone else in the league, getting Bennett healthy for the postseason has to be a top priority.

 

6. LeGarrette Blount - Blount fell just short of 100 rushing yards in the victory as he finished the game with 88 yards and a touchdown. Those 88 yards came on 18 carries, good for almost five yards per carry. Gaining 88 yards against the tough Rams front isn't an easy feat. It just reinforces how good Blount has been all season for the Patriots. His rushing touchdown gives him 13 for the season, which leads the NFL.

 

Extra Point - After being MIA for most of the season Jabaal Sheard made himself known again on Sunday. He almost came away with two interceptions and flashed his ability to create pressure on the quarterback. If Sheard is indeed back to his 2015 form, that will bring a much needed weapon to the Patriots defense.

Billy Wyatt

Billy Wyatt is a New England Patriots beat reporter for CLNS Radio. Now covering the Patriots for multiple seasons, Billy is a veteran journalist at CLNSRadio.com A graduate of the University of Hartford with a communications degree, Billy’s prior experience was as a sports writer for the Hartford Informer.You can reach Billy via e-mail at bwyatt_91@yahoo.com. And you can follow him on Twitter @Billy_NFL.