On a possible serious injury to Rob Gronkowski, Tom Brady being wicked smart, and Tony Romo blowing away Phil Simms yet again. Three things we learned in the Patriots - Saints game Sunday.
1. One win, multiple losses
While it was a return to form for Tom Brady and the Patriots offense within their 36-20 win over the New Orleans Saints Sunday (including 362 total yards in the first half, the second-largest total during the Bill Belichick era), it seems that New England paid the price for every score they attained. The Patriots left New Orleans with their first win of the season, but don't be surprised if the midweek injury report resembles something out of a shopping list for household essentials. As it was, Brady headed into the contest with only three wide receivers — Brandin Cooks, Chris Hogan, and Philip Dorsett — after Danny Amendola was a no-go with a concussion and a knee injury. Hogan went limping off the field during the third quarter, a short time after tight end Rob Gronkowski (116 yards receiving and a touchdown) went to the dreaded sideline tent with what was reported a groin injury. It’s the same place Dorsett (knee) visited in the fourth quarter of a game that also saw injuries to running back Rex Burkhead, (scored the team’s first touchdown of the day), and cornerback Eric Rowe (groin). Add that to a walking wounded list that also includes linebacker Dont'a Hightower (knee), Julian Edelman (out for the season), and Malcolm Mitchell (knee). If last week’s defensive worries against the Chiefs were reason to wonder if Rob Ninkovich might cancel his retirement, maybe this week’s injury-filled reaction might be hoping that Belichick hung onto wide receiver Andrew Hawkins’ phone number after the former Cleveland Brown announced his own retirement at the beginning of training camp with the Patriots last summer.
2. Let’s go to Tom for the review
If Brady rebounded well with his arm (447 yards, three touchdowns) after a so-so start against Kansas City 10 days ago, he did just as good a job with his football acumen. The same guy who at one time publicly told Baltimore Ravens head coach John Harbaugh that he should “study the rule book,” took that suggestion to a deeper level on Sunday, twice conferring with referees to have an offensive interference penalty (pick play was legally at the line of scrimmage) taken away from the Patriots, as well as an overlooked 12 men on the field gaffe committed by the Saints. Just in case you were somehow worried that Brady’s head might not be in the game.
3. Everybody loves Romo
Social media was abuzz during the game over former Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Roma’s ease into the broadcast booth with CBS. In only his second week, Romo was already regarded as a huge upgrade to Jim Nantz’s former booth partner, Phil Simms, however low the bar might have been. But just as he did in Week One, Romo impresses with his insight into the game, at one point comparing the Patriots’ offense utilizing a fullback to the 2001 New England offense. His pre-snap reads and formation commentary were fresh not only to the CBS broadcast, but to game coverage in general. Two games in, and he’s already in the same stratosphere as Gruden and Collinsworth. “You talk about” a good color man, Romo is it.