When it comes to defense, the Baltimore Ravens still rank among the best in the NFL, so the New England Patriots should pat themselves on the back for Sunday's effort at Gillette Stadium.
Against a team known for harassing opposing quarterbacks and making life difficult for offensive coordinators, Tom Brady had arguably his best game of the season, completing 21 of 32 passes for 252 yards and a touchdown.
Granted, losing the football on a strip sack that was recovered for a touchdown didn't help matters, but that's almost to be expected at times against Baltimore's defense. In the end, Brady made more than enough plays to win the game, and that's all the Patriots are concerned about at this point.
They enter the second quarter of the season at 3-1.
More important, Brady connected with Randy Moss on a touchdown pass for the first time all season.
"It's about time," Brady said. "You know, we're finding our way out there, and he's a huge part of this offense. And we need to keep finding ways to get him the ball down there because he's able to make those plays. We're just going to keep at it."
Asked, however, if this had been his sharpest game of the season, Brady said, "We'll have to see the film." To the naked eye, it appeared to be the most comfortable he's looked all year, which is no small feat against a defense that entered Sunday ranked among the league's best.
"There were plays that I wish I had probably done different things on, there's no doubt about that. We made some good plays out there, but we had some opportunities to really put the game away and we didn't do that, which I'm a little frustrated by," Brady said, "but we've got a big opponent this weekend (Denver).
"They're undefeated right now in Denver, so it's going to be a tough matchup for us."
In typical Patriots fashion, Brady chose to look forward rather than peek in the rearview mirror, but there's no doubt New England is breathing a sigh of relief after seeing incremental improvements from its franchise quarterback on a weekly basis.The balance on offense is starting to develop, too. Sammy Morris got some significant carries Sunday, and Fred Taylor's presence has been a blessing in disguise. Sure, it's not the 2007 offense, but this 2009 version is clearly heading in the right direction.
"I think we have a lot of good football players -- at the running back position, at the skill positions -- so we've got to use everybody," Brady said. "It does no good to have all these good players and not use them, so I think we're finding ways to get guys involved in the offense, and we're going to do whatever we need to do to move the ball. You've got to get the ball to the playmakers, and our running backs are playmakers for us, and we'll see how it goes this year. I'm sure there are plenty of things we'll be changing over the next 12 weeks."
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