What we learned in the Patriots’ 30-23 win over the Falcons

Aqib Talib Patriots
Aqib Talib was outstanding for the Patriots Sunday night in their 30-23 win over the Falcons. Credit: Getty Images

What we learned during the Patriots’ 30-23 win over the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday night:

No Vince, no problem?
There has been plenty of discussion as to whether the Patriots are an elite defense or not. Losing Vince Wilfork for any significant period of time would significantly alter that debate, and there was the big defensive tackle leaving the field on a cart after suffering an ankle injury on the 10th play from scrimmage, a potentially damaging blow if it lingers.

Give New England credit for making it a non-factor. So far. Exploding from a stance and smashing into monstrous offensive lineman dozens of times a game requires a solid base, especially if you’re 325 pounds. Obviously, this one bears watching as the week progresses.

Run, Patriots, Run
New England’s first touchdown drive was a thing of beauty if you like physical football. It also had wonderful symmetry; one pass, 10 runs and one pass, the score coming on a 1-yard strike from Tom Brady to Matthew Mulligan. The 10 rushes yielded 51 yards and helped the Pats keep the ball for over six minutes of action. That’s a recipe for winning on the road.

There was some nice play-action success on a drive that resulted in a tiebreaking field goal in the third quarter. The early success running the football certainly helped in that regard. And when LeGarrette Blount rumbled 47 yards for a score and a 20-10 lead late in the third, it was evident that the ground game was New England’s ticket to a 4-0 start.

New England did a nice job of dominating teams on the ground in 2012. It has put forth back-to-back solid showings, outrushing its last two opponents 288-155.

Kenbrell can
The fickle beast that is the Patriots fanbase waited less than one game into Kenbrell Thompkins’ career to question his ability to handle the offense. Those questions have been quashed with back-to-back solid efforts for the rookie, who had two touchdowns against Tampa Bay in Week 3 and collected six catches for 127 yards in this one.

Included in that haul was a 49-yard highlight reel-worthy grab in the first half, a 26-yard catch on third-and-19 just prior to the Blount TD run and an over-the-shoulder beauty for an 18-yard score to give New England a 26-13 advantage with 9:50 left. Brady targeted Thompkins on 11 of his 31 passes.

Thompkins did have a couple more notable drops. Chances are the critics are too few to make much noise about that.

Julio who?
Aqib Talib continued his solid play by blanketing Falcons star receiver Julio Jones for much of the game. Talib deflected four passes, including the decisive one on Atlanta’s last-ditch lob to the end zone with 35 seconds left, and helped New England’s cause with an interception – his fourth in a span of nine quarters – with just over eight minutes remaining.

Talib did his fair share of talking to Jones, especially early. He certainly backed it up with a dominating performance as Jones becomes the latest No. 1 guy (look at the results against the Patriots for Vincent Jackson, Santonio Holmes and Stevie Johnson) to struggle against New England.

Alfonzo Dennard was on Jones late in the game, when the Atlanta standout began to make some noise. And it was Jones outmuscling Devin McCourty for a huge 49-yard catch on the Falcons’ final possession. Jones showed on that catch just how good he is, but he was limited until Atlanta’s late flurry.

Brady blues
It would take plenty to change the overall opinion on Brady, if that’s even possible, and he had some nice moments Sunday night. But even factoring in the limited personnel around him this year, Brady has been shaky at times.

Even before he fumbled a snap on a fourth-down attempt with less than two minutes remaining – the second time this year he has done so – Brady had a small collection of overthrows and underthrows and never saw some open guys at times, most notably Brandon Bolden on a third-and-goal in the third quarter.

Brady is Brady, but sometimes he’s a little less than that. Perhaps that’s a compliment when someone throws for 316 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions.



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
National

Sprint and T-Mobile offer further price discounts

Sprint unveiled a plan on Thursday that gives subscribers access to unlimited data for $60 a month, the industry's cheapest unlimited data offering.

National

Hundreds pay it forward at Florida Starbucks in…

The spontaneous chain of kindness continued for about 11 hours, totaling 457 transactions by the time it ended.

National

Weather system east of Caribbean could turn into…

An area of low pressure located east of the Caribbean Sea has a 50 percent chance of becoming a tropical depression or storm in the next 48 hours, U.S. forecasters…

National

U.S. hospital to discharge doctor treated with experimental…

An American doctor who contracted Ebola treating victims of the deadly virus in Liberia has recovered and will be discharged on Thursday by the Atlanta hospital that treated him with…

Movies

Review: 'When the Game Stands Tall' is both…

The high school football saga "When the Game Stands Tall" fumbles around for a focus while Jim Caviezel offers the most low-key coach in history.

Movies

Girlfriend in a coma: Chloe Grace Moretz

Chloe Grace Moretz is the best cheerleader "If I Stay" could ask for. As the star of the film adaptation of the successful YA novel…

The Word

The Word: Summer lovin' for Zac Efron and…

Ah, the summer romance. So intense, so fleeting. With Labor Day fast approaching, it should come as little surprise that the incredibly surprising romance between…

The Word

The Word: The Zac Efron-Michelle Rodriguez summer fling…

  Ah, the summer romance. So intense, so fleeting. With Labor Day fast approaching, it should come as little surprise that the incredibly surprising romance…

NFL

Fantasy football draft guide: How to draft your…

Many are wondering if we’re entering a new age in fantasy football drafting — one where running backs take a backseat.

NFL

Jets vs. Giants: 3 Giants storylines to watch

The Giants have plenty to work on as they reach the dress rehearsal preseason game Friday night against the rival Jets.

NFL

Jets vs. Giants: 3 Jets storylines to watch

Metro looks at three Jets storylines to watch as they play the Giants Friday.

NFL

Giants expected to work Corey Washington into first-team…

The day of reckoning for the Giants' fringe players will fall upon them Friday night against the Jets.

Sex

Big weddings may lead to long-term happiness

Dreaming of a big wedding? A new study indicates that the longer your guest list, the happier you’ll be in the long run. l A…

Sex

Online dating for every generation

Frank Jackson and his mother Maggie are like lots of modern families: They have dinner together regularly, keep each other updated on their lives —…

Wellbeing

Going green could be the key to getting…

If we could just pursue the things that would actually make us happy, we could help the environment too, according to a New York researcher.…

Tech

Siren: A new dating app that puts women…

Online dating can be brutal, especially for single women. Noting that many women hate wading through inappropriate messages and photos, two tech entrepreneurs decided to…