New England put together the best overall game of anyone we saw in Week 1, grading positively as a team across the board in every facet of offense, defense and special teams.
Vince Wilfork went a long way toward showing just why he got a big-dollar extension from the thrifty Pats, keying the defensive charge on the defensive line.
For the Bengals, the tough, trench terrors we saw in 2009 were nowhere to be seen, and only the efforts of Chad Ochocinco kept the final score respectable.
What a day it was for Patriots rookie CB Devin McCourty (+2.3). He was targeted eight times, broke up two of them and only allowed 45 yards (just 8 YAC). He also impressed in run defense. Doing it against the fading Terrell Owens plays better with the casual observer than it does with us, but it’s regardless a great sign for New England.
The play of rookie tight ends Aaron Hernandez and Rob Gronkowski was the talk of the town, but predictably it was Alge Crumpler (+2.3) that made the biggest impact. Hernandez had a highlight play but was just so-so on the whole, as was Rob Gronkowski. The Patriots had two+ TEs on the field for 36 of 62 snaps.
C Dan Koppen (-4.5) had a brutal day in the middle of a very effective line performance. Going up against the somewhat underwhelming duo of Tank Johnson and Domata Peko, Koppen allowed three pressures and graded an equal -1.6 in pass and run block.
CB Adam Jones (-1.6) played 26 snaps and allowed three catches in four targets. He was expected to be a factor on special teams, but only returned two of four kicks and didn’t get a shot at a punt return with the Patriots only punting once.
WR Chad Ochocinco (+2.4) was the brightest spot on the Bengal offense, bringing in 12 catches on 13 targets (nine vs. Darius Butler). Ochocinco still looks like a player in his peak, running precise routes and taking what the Patriots gave him in the second half.
DRE Robert Geathers (-3.9) managed to produce just a single pressure on 33 rushes, but his run defense was even worse. He has now gone 13 games without being graded +1.0 or higher, but he’s still the Bengals’ most played defensive linemen.
A lot of rookie action in this one. For the Bengals, slot WR Jordan Shipley played 59 snaps and looked sharp. TE Jermaine Gresham, not so much – he might prove to be a tasty fantasy option, but a horrible debut as a run blocker doesn’t excite. Geno Atkins played 22 snaps and at least didn’t look any worse than the Bengals’ other DTs.
For New England, the play of the twin TEs is addressed above. Their twin Florida defensive rookies, Jermaine Cunningham and Brandon Spikes, held their own. Cunningham was thought to be an OLB candidate, but rotated exclusively LE with Ron Brace and Gerard Warren. Run-specialist Spikes only played 20 snaps as the Bengals were in pass-mode all second half, but actually excelled in pass coverage (+1.1). Punter Zoltan Mesko punted once and was the holder for two missed Steven Gostkowski field goals.
The Patriots were cautious with Wes Welker, giving him just 36 snaps while trotting Randy Moss out there for 50. … New England played with three down linemen almost exclusively.