The Patriots (10-2) pounded a lethargic and ammo-less Rams team, 26-10, on Sunday to give Tom Brady career win No. 201. He surpasses Peyton Manning as the winningest quarterback in league history.
The Rams (4-8) trailed by 17 points at halftime. They were out-gained 230-26 in the opening 30 minutes. Their total yardage was the lowest in the first half by any team this season, including the 49ers and Bears, who played in a Chicago blizzard and did not complete a pass in the first quarter. Rookie quarterback Jared Goff jersey had a quarterback rating of seven, aided by three drops by wide receivers or tight ends that would have gone for first downs. One, from Lance Kendricks, caused an interception. They finished with seven total first downs and 162 total yards. They possessed the ball for just 22 minutes. The game became so uncompetitive that FOX switched the broadcast to Saints-Lions early in the fourth quarter. This was not the kind of game the team had hoped for, especially after news broke that coach Jeff Fisher signed a two-year extension during the offseason. While the stability of a franchise quarterback and team in a new location are important, it’s hard to imagine that this is the way to solve their problems. Their star players on offense, like Todd Gurley jersey and Kenny Britt, are trapped in a predictable, punchless system. Their star players on defense, like Aaron Donald, can only do so much to prop up a team that seems fundamentally broken with no clear solution. On the bright side, at least they let Goff go deep a few times against the Patriots. He has a wonderful arm at times that, some day, could be showcased properly.
Tom Brady is now the winningest quarterback of all time, passing rival Peyton Manning with an efficient performance against the Rams. The Patriots converted to power mode without Rob Gronkowski, which kept an injured Brady (knee) out of harm’s way in the face of an oft-blitzing Rams defense. It’s afternoons like these where we honestly believe the half-joking quarterback when he talks about playing until age 50. There is such a mechanical comfort — even in absence of health — that allows him to pick and pop a good defense to death. The touch on his back shoulder fade is as good as ever. He cares more than just about any player’s wholesale jerseys we’ve seen over the last decade, as evidenced Sunday when he was still arguing with offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels jersey and prodding rookie wide receiver Malcolm Mitchell after a crucial third down drop. If the team manages to navigate their way back to the Super Bowl without Gronkowski, it will be on Brady’s shoulders alone.
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The Rams managed to string one nice drive together on Sunday. Goff connected with Kenny Britt for a 66-yard gain, which was the longest play allowed by the stout Patriots defense all season. The touchdown, on a clever bootleg rollout to Britt, managed to make the score far closer than the game itself. I don’t know what Goff will project into, but squeezing him into this supposed power offense doesn’t feel like the right fit. He has receivers who can play well downfield. Britt is a tough matchup in single coverage and, when healthy, Tavon Austin has game-changing speed. This is not new news for Rams fans who have been waiting for cheap jerseys and a breakthrough all season long, but perhaps it is to the architects of this offense. It’s quite easy for us to sit here and say why don’t they bomb it more? and perhaps Los Angeles’ offensive line is causing more problems than we realize. But it would be interesting to see the team attempt to incorporate some elements of the Bear Raid system that Goff excelled in while at Cal.
“We opened our world to ‘Hard Knocks,'” Fisher said Wednesday, via ESPN.com. “Those comments came after a couple of issues that we had. I’ve never been satisfied with 7-9 or 8-8. I’ve had a number of winning seasons. I’m not concerned. I don’t look over my shoulder, like I’ve said over and over again. I’m not concerned about my job. I have a great relationship with [Rams owner Stan Kroenke]. He understands the difficulties that were placed on this organization as far as the move is concerned. And I’m moving forward optimistically with this team.”
The “7-9 bull—-” quote becoming emblematic of the Rams in 2016 encapsulates every fear coaches have of letting cameras into the building. It’s a line Fisher could have said every year to his players without it going viral.
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That he could have used that line for the past five years in a completely different matter. In his first four seasons with the Rams, Fisher has guided teams to records of 7-8-1, 7-9, 6-10 and 7-9. The 2016 version sits at 4-7 with a tough remaining schedule. In Fisher’s 22 years coaching in the NFL, he’s finished with a winning record six times, the last in 2008 with the Tennessee Titans.
Despite the record and the annoyed response from Los Angeles fans, Rams COO Kevin Demoff jersey told NFL Network’s Steve Wyche that Fisher’s job is safe.
“Everybody will want to judge Jeff through the prism of just the record, but that’s totally unfair when you look at the set of circumstances he was handed this year,” Demoff said. “It was different than any team in the NFL.”
The Lions’ defense was terrible all game but came up big when it mattered: Stuffing Todd Gurley on fourth-and-goal from the 1-yard-line to end the first half and closing the game out with an INT.
Kenny Britt’s career renaissance continued Sunday. Britt burned Detroit for seven catches on eight targets for 136 yards and two touchdowns. Britt used his 6-foot-3 frame to shield defenders from the ball on crossing routes and stretched the field for Keenum with two 40-plus yard receptions. Britt’s yardage didn’t all come against second-rate corners either as he beat Lions top CB Darius Slay several times. As Around The NFL Seer Chris Wesseling pointed out this week, Britt is one of the most overlooked reborn misfits in the NFL this season.
Zach Zenner jersey carried the load for a banged-up Detroit backfield toting 14 times for 58 yards. It was the most efficient the Lions’ ground game has looked since Ameer Abdullah went on injured reserve. Justin Forsett’s debut was forgettable, carrying five times for five yards and he had a dropped pass. If Theo Riddick remains injured, Zenner should carry the load. The newly signed Forsett might not remain on cheap nfl jerseys wholesale and the roster for the duration of the season.
Credit a maligned Lions offensive line (missing starting guard Larry Warford) for doing a solid job against Aaron Donald & Co. Stafford wasn’t sacked until final drive of the game.
Todd Gurley finally had space to run, averaging 4.1 yards per carry (came in averaging 2.7). Against a Lions defensive front seven missing several key players, Gurley actually got to the line of scrimmage without having to break 15 tackles on the way. With Keenum killing the Lions through the air, however, the game script went away from Gurley’s ground game. He had just 14 carries for 58 yards (eerily the same as Zenner).
Fourth down decisions provided huge momentum swings:
Jim Caldwell went for it on fourth down twice in the first half, including a fourth-and-goal from the 2-yard-line. The Lions converted on both — leading to two touchdowns.
Fisher went for a touchdown on fourth-and-goal from the 1-yard-line on the final play of the first half, eschewing a chance to take the lead with a field goal. Gurely was stuffed. Those three points would have come in handy at the end.