Patriots back home after routing Rams in London
FOXBOROUGH, MASS. (AP)
The toughest part of New England's trip to Old England might have been
getting home, and even that journey wasn't as rough as feared.
The Patriots beat the brunt of Hurricane Sandy into Boston on Monday
one day after routing the St. Louis Rams 45-7 in London. They landed at
Logan Airport at about noon, having moved up their departure before the
heaviest rain and wind struck the area.
''I can't believe we got on that bird,'' linebacker Brandon Spikes
They did and returned safely, and in first place in the AFC East, with
the best offense in the NFL.
''We knew how important this was to us,'' defensive tackle Vince Wilfork said of the win. ''Going into the bye week at 5-3 and winning
two key games to get us going, we are right where we want to be.''
The Patriots had a good time in London, some of it centered around Rob Gronkowski.
At a fan event in Trafalgar Square on Saturday, the fun-loving tight
end spiked a microphone at the urging of a voice in the crowd. On
Sunday, he imitated the stiff-legged walk to mimic a local tourist
attraction - ''a British palace guard,'' he said - after one of his two
touchdowns, then spiked the ball on the Wembley Stadium grass.
All nice memories for the Patriots as they head into their bye week.
Jeff Fisher (L) Patriots Bill Belichick Oct 28, 2012 (Kirby
Lee/Image of Sport-US PRESSWIRE)
Then they'll prepare to play another team they crushed away from home,
the Buffalo Bills. That was a 52-28 win in the fourth game of the
season in which they scored touchdowns on six straight second-half
On Sunday, the Patriots scored on their first six drives - five
touchdowns followed by a field goal.
They also dealt another blow to St. Louis, breaking its NFL record with
their 17th consecutive game with at least 350 yards on offense. The
Rams set that from 1999-2000. The next season, the Patriots beat St.
Louis 20-17 for the first of their three Super Bowl championships.
If they match their league-leading 447.5 yards per game for the rest of
the season, they'll overtake the Rams again, this time for second most
yards in a season with 7,160. Only the New Orleans Saints, with 7,474
last year, gained more.
New England rolled over St. Louis even though tight end Aaron Hernandez
missed the game when his right ankle injury flared up after playing the
last two games following three games on the sidelines.
The defense was pretty good, too, much better than in its previous two
games - a 24-23 loss to the Seattle Seahawks and a 29-26 overtime win
over the New York Jets.
It allowed another big play in a rash of them this season - a 50-yard
touchdown pass from Sam Bradford to Chris Givens on the game's first
series, covering 80 yards.
''I think early in the season, that kills us, giving up a big play.
Then we (would) put our heads down, give up another one,'' safety Devin McCourty said. ''I thought we did a good job (Sunday) of putting that
play past us, then playing great defense after that.''
The Patriots held the Rams to no points and 246 yards the rest of the
way as they avoided late-game problems that have plagued them.
''Everybody stuck together,'' Wilfork said. ''It feels good finally to
put one game together as a team, doing a lot of things correctly, just
playing good football all the way around. It is just a stepping stone.
Guys can see that when we play together, and don't hurt ourselves, we
can be a dangerous football team.''
The Patriots, throughout Bill Belichick's previous 12 years as coach,
have been a better team in the second half of the season; they were
16-0 the last two years.
''We blocked well. We threw the ball well,'' he said. ''We gained some
yards in the running game, scored in the red zone, didn't turn the ball
over. So it's good execution offensively. A lot of good things there.''
With quarterback Tom Brady near the top of his game, a much improved
rushing attack led by Stevan Ridley, a dangerous pass-catching corps
and a young offensive line that's getting better, the offense is
Tom Brady press conference, Wembley. (US Presswire)
The defense remains mediocre. The pass rush is a problem, but the move
for the last two games of McCourty from cornerback, where he struggled,
to safety, where he's been solid, has helped.
''They put me back there, put me in charge of making sure everyone
knows what they're doing,'' he said. ''I felt I did a better job this
week than last week. Things started to slow down for me back there.''
Two rookies, safety Tavon Wilson and cornerback Alfonzo Dennard, also
are progressing with increased playing time. The Rams' 219 yards
passing were the second fewest the Patriots have allowed this year.
They only face two of the top 10 rated quarterbacks, Alex Smith of the
San Francisco 49ers and Matt Schaub of the Houston Texans, the rest of
For now, the Patriots can get a breather during their bye week, enjoy
their lead in the AFC East and hope to play even better after their
''Obviously we're disappointed in our record so far. We have a high
standard,'' linebacker Jerod Mayo said. ''If we play our best football,
we feel we can win any game.''