The Patriots face yet another team that is stronger on defense than on offense Sunday. Here’s a look at some of the obstacles that the Pats offense faces in London.
The biggest strength of this St. Louis team is their defensive front. DE Chris Long should be the focus of the Patriots offensive line; he has amassed 26 sacks in the last 39 games. The thing that makes Long special though is that he is not a one-trick pony; he’s equally adept in run defense as he is rushing the quarterback. To make things more difficult for the Pats the Rams are getting production from DE Robert Quinn, due in part to the attention that Long has generated from opponents; Quinn now has seven sacks in seven games. The Rams are equally adept in the middle with DT Kendall Langford and the now healthy Michael Brockers. As we have seen before the best way to disrupt the Pats passing game is with pressure up the middle without having to blitz; Dan Connolly, Ryan Wendell and Logan Mankins will have their hands full trying to keep the pocket clean for Tom Brady. The bottom line is that this Rams defensive line is better than it has been in a very, very long time, and the Pats offensive line will need to have a very good game if the Pats are to win Sunday .
While those two make the highlight reels the quarterback of the St. Louis defense is James Laurinaitis. Many Pats fans will surely play the woulda’ coulda’ shoulda’ game after watching the former Buckeye on Sunday once they realize the Rams drafted him one pick after the Pats selected Patrick Chung early in the second round of the 2009 draft. Like Long, the middle linebacker is a three-down player that is strong against both the run and the pass; he seldom finds himself out of position yet always seems to be around the ball. One can only wonder what the Pats would be like with Laurinaitis at MLB, flanked by Jerod Mayo and Dont’a Hightower.
The Rams have also upgraded in the secondary with the addition of Cortland Finnegan, the top free agent cornerback this past offseason. Together with rookie Janoris Jenkins this is a vast improvement in coverage for St. Louis compared to last year. Pats receivers need to be aware of Finnegan’s penchant for getting under the skin of opposing receivers and goading them into stupid penalties while also causing them to lose focus on their game.
That leaves the two weak spots of the St. Louis defense for the Patriots to attack: the outside linebackers and safeties. This works perfectly into the Pats offense that thrives on mismatches in the passing game where players from those two positions have to cover tight ends and running backs. It will be interesting to see how the Rams use Finnegan and Jenkins in coverage to compensate, and whether Finnegan is used on one player (Wes Welker?) or is shifted around on different potential receivers.
This Day In Patriots History
October 26, 1950:
Chuck Foreman was born in Frederick MD. The 5-time Pro Bowl running back finished his too-short career in 1980 with the Patriots as a backup to Vagas Ferguson and Don Calhoun.
October 26, 1962:
Gino Cappelletti kicked four field goals, two extra points and caught a touchdown pass to score twenty points as the Patriots defeat the Raiders 26-16 at Nickerson Field to improve their record to 5-2. Larry Garron‘s 41-yard touchdown run in the 4th quarter broke a 16-16 tie and then Gino booted his 4th FG on the day for the final score. Garron ran for 140 yards on just 13 carries and had a total of 231 yards on the day: 140 rushing, 21 receiving, a 39-yard pass and two kick returns for 31 yards. TE Tony Romeo had 87 yards receiving and RB Ron Burton added 94 yards from scrimmage: 7 rushes for 37 yards and 4 catches for 57 yards. The Pats outrushed the Raiders 253 yards to 94, and overall had 430 yards of total offense to Oakland’s 279.
October 26, 1963:
The Buffalo Bills beat the Patriots 28-21 at War Memorial Stadium. The game was a low-scoring defensive battle for three quarters before the two teams combined for four touchdowns in the final fifteen minutes. The Bills took a 21-7 lead on Jack Kemp‘s third one-yard touchdown run but the Patriots came back. Two plays after Buffalo blocked a Gino Cappelletti field goal attempt Ron Hall intercepted Kemp and returned it to the Buffalo 25, setting up a touchdown run by Framingham’s Harry Crump. The Pats forced a three and out and on their first play from scrimmage Babe Parilli hit Art Graham with a 77-yard touchdown strike to tie the game with 5:49 remaining.
On the ensuing possession Kemp drove the Bills all the way down to the Pats 11-yard line but was sacked on back-to-back plays, pushing the Bills all the way back to the 40-yard line. Buffalo’s 47-yard field goal fell short and the Pats took over but were forced to punt. The Bills took over at their own 28-yard line with less than a minute remaining. Kemp had been connecting on slants against the Pats defense in the second half and faked a slant to Charley Ferguson. Three Patriot defenders bit on the fake and Ferguson took off on a post pattern; Kemp hit him in stride for a game-winning 72-yard touchdown pass with just 28 seconds remaining on the clock.
October 26, 1969:
The Patriots nearly pull off a huge upset but lose to the defending Super Bowl champion New York Jets 23-17 at Shea Stadium. Safety John Charles intercepted a Joe Namath pass and returned it 25 yards for a touchdown to give the winless Patriots a 17-10 halftime lead but the Jets defense shut down the Pats the rest of the way. For the Pats WR Bill Rademacher had 78 yards receiving and the first score of the game, a 22-yard touchdown pass from Mike Taliaferro and Jim Nance had 58 yards rushing on 11 carries. Emerson Boozer‘s 2-yard 4th quarter touchdown run gave the Jets the lead and Matt Snell finished with 109 yards rushing for gang green.
October 26, 1975:
In his first NFL start Steve Grogan throws two touchdown passes to lead the Patriots to a 24-16 victory over the 49ers at Schaefer Stadium. Grogan had made his NFL debut seven days earlier against Baltimore, replacing an injured Jim Plunkett and rallying his team, winless in four previous games, to a 21-10 victory. Andy Johnson rushed for 13 yards and scored on an 11-yard reception from Grogan while Randy Vataha had seven catches for 70 yards, with his 7-yard TD reception from Grogan in the 4th quarter putting the game away. The Pats defense was stout, limiting San Francisco to just 31 yards rushing on 17 attempts, and Ron Bolton and Bob Howard both came up with interceptions off 49ers QB Norm Snead.
October 26, 1980:
The Bills beat the Patriots 31-13 at Rich Stadium to move into a first place tie with the Pats at 6-2 in the AFC East. Buffalo’s defense dominated this game, limiting the Pats to just 8 first downs and 148 total yards of offense. The Pats pulled to within one point entering the 4th quarter on a 26-yard touchdown pass from Steve Grogan to Russ Francis and John Smith‘s second field goal, but Joe Cribbs ran for two touchdowns to ice it for the Bills.
October 26, 1986:
In another defensive struggle the Patriots down the Bills 23-3 at Rich Stadium. Their second straight road win put the Pats at 5-3 and this game was the second of what would end up being a seven game winning streak. The Pats running backs couldn’t get much going – they combined for just 70 yards on 35 carries – but the Patriots defense was even better, picking off Jim Kelly and Frank Reich four times and sacking them five times. Ronnie Lippett had two interceptions and Andre Tippett had 3.5 sacks to lead the New England defense.
October 26, 2003:
For the second time in three games the Patriots do not allow a touchdown and the Pats win their 4th game in a row, 9-3 over the Browns at Gillette Stadium. Cleveland reached New England territory just once the entire game while the Pats offense squandered some opportunities, coming away with only three Adam Vinatieri field goals on four trips inside the red zone. Mike Vrabel led the way for the Pats defense, sacking Tim Couch once and Kelly Holcomb twice. The Patriots confused and pressured the two quarterbacks all day, limiting them to 119 net yards and just 3.3 yards per pass attempt.
Kevin Faulk rushed for what was at the time a career high of 96 yards on 23 carries and TE Daniel Graham had career highs of seven receptions and 110 yards receiving.
October 26, 2008:
Despite having three of their running backs sidelined the Patriots persevere and defeat the Rams 23-16 at Gillette Stadium, improving their record to 5-2.
Josh Brown‘s second field goal of the game with 12:25 remaining put the Rams up 16-13 but Stephen Gotkowski responded four minutes later with his third field goal, this one from 41 yards out to tie the score. After taking over on a punt on their own 47 Matt Cassel completed passes of 23 and 3 yards to Randy Moss, and a 7-yard run by Faulk gave the Pats a first down at the St. Louis 28. Cassel then threw an 8-yard completion to Moss and Faulk ran for 5 yards giving the Pats another first down at the 15. Cassel then connected with Faulk on a 15-yard touchdown pass that was just inbounds, with Faulk securing the ball despite being hit by Rams LB Pisa Tinoisamoa for the winning score with 3:13 remaining.
St. Louis got the ball back with plenty of time remaining but on a 3rd and 15 with 1:26 to go from the Patriots 38 Deltha O’Neal intercepted a Marc Bulger pass deep down the right sideline and held on to secure the victory.
Randy Moss had seven receptions for 102 yards; it was the 58th 100-yard game of his career. Faulk led the Pats with 60 yards on 13 carries and added 47 yards on four receptions, and Wes Welker had seven catches for 79 yards. Matt Cassel finished 21-for-33 and had what was then a career high of 267 yards passing.
Last night was a rough one for prognostications but I saw one college game tonight that looks almost too obvious. Nevada is averaging 40 points per game and has one of college football’s leading rushers. They’re playing Air Force, who has the nation’s 13th worst run defense. 68 points sounds like a lot, but it really isn’t when you look at college football scores this year. I have no idea who will win but I’ll put two units on the point total going over 68 points.
– final score: Air Force 48, Nevada 31
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October 26, 1991:
Concert promoter Bill Graham died when the helicopter he was riding in hit the top of a Pacific Gas and Electric transmission tower near Sears Point, northwest of Vallejo and exploded.
October 26, 1984:
A 19-year old commits suicide after spending the day listening to Ozzy Osbourne. A year later his parents sued Ozzy and CBS Records, alleging that the song “Suicide Solution” from the album Blizzard of Ozz contributed to their son’s death. The case was eventually thrown out of court.
October 26, 1982:
Thirty years ago today the top mainstream rock song was Pat Benatar‘s “Love Is A Battlefield”
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