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
News

Easter Egg hunt horror as skydiver plummets to…

A FAMILY Easter egg hunt ended in horror when a skydiver plummeted to his death in a New York garden after his parachute failed to…

News

Boston Marathon 2014 on high alert, Red Sox…

One year on from the horrific Boston Marathon bombings a ring of steel has been thrown around today's race, and a city stands defiant against…

News

Boston Strong: One year on from Boston Marathon…

  For more than a century the Boston Marathon has been an even centred around sportsmanship, endurance and athleticism, but there's no denying the face…

Local

Best nature spots for kids in New York…

When it comes to kids and nature, most U.S. parents agree: children should be spending more time outdoors. According to a recent survey by The…

Television

‘Mad Men’ recap: Season 7, Episode 2, ‘A…

Peggy and Lou are horrible, Bert's racist, Don is honest(ish) and Roger and Pete are frustrated. "A Day's Work" not quite worthy of "This Will Be Our Year."

Television

'Game of Thrones' recap: Season 4, Episode 3,…

The problem with the devil you know is that ignoring them doesn’t mean they simply lie in wait. It allows them time to do things…

Television

Discovery cancels 'Everest Jump Live' special in wake…

The Discovery Channel has indicated it will not be moving forward with "Everest Jump Live," a planned special about mountain climber Joby Ogwyn's effort to…

The Word

'X-Men' director Bryan Singer drama continues

  News broke late last week that "X-Men" and "The Usual Suspects" director Bryan Singer is being sued by a man who said Singer molested…

NHL

Rangers let chance at victory slip away in…

All the Rangers had to do was hold serve in a raucous Madison Square Garden — roaring in anticipation of putting a hated rival in a 2-0 series hole.

MLB

Yankees place Ivan Nova on DL with partially…

Yankees starter Ivan Nova was diagnosed with a partially torn UCL in his throwing elbow Sunday.

NHL

Rangers never thought opening round would be 'an…

You might have thought the Metropolitan Division semifinal series was going to be a rout after watching Game 1 Thursday night. The Rangers did not.

NHL

Rangers blow two-goal lead in Game 2 loss…

The Rangers got out to an early 2-0 lead in Game 2 and the Garden was rocking. But it went downhill quickly from there.

Travel

Packing: The one thing you need in your…

A new survey that looks at the travel habits of 50,000 people around the world has revealed that Western and Asian globetrotters have different priorities…

Home

Is your chair making it hard to talk?

Ever wished there was an office chair that could make impromptu meetings and discussions more private? The Cristiana Wing Chair is an asymmetrical armchair which…

Travel

Live large at these luxury hotels

From Thai boxing lessons and macabre Dracula tours to the Australian Outback, the Four Seasons hotel chain launched a series of new travel packages this…

Parenting

4 things that every summer camp should have

Alan Saltz, director of the 92nd street Y program lists things that every summer camp should have.