Perfect during the regular season at 16-0, the The New England Patriots went through the post-season focused on their ultimate goal—another Super Bowl victory. They came close to winning their fourth Super Bowl but fell short when the New York Giants and Eli Manning beat them in a close one 17-14. For this Patriots team, the 2008-2009 season is about avenging that lone defeat.
Tom Brady leads by example. He’s intelligent, tough and skilled. In 2007, he broke Peyton Manning’s touchdown toss record by throwing 50. He threw just eight picks. Brady ran the best passing game in the NFL.
The Pats were the top scoring team in the league and were second touchdown percentage when in the red zone. Randy Moss, the best wide receiver in the game, had 23-touchdown grabs, setting a new NFL record for most regular season TD catches. Both Wes Welker and Jabar Gaffney have great hands and moves. The Pats were 13th when it came to the run. Last season, RB Laurence Maroney, who played injured at times, was inconsistent. Maroney looks healthy and ready to be supported by New England’s first-rate frontline.
The club had a good pass rush, sacking quarterbacks 47 times. Mike Vrabel notched a team-best 12.5 sacks. In the secondary, Rodney Harrison once again proved to be one of the best safeties in the league, showing unrelenting toughness. But the loss of Asante Samuel leaves the secondary a bit thin. There’s depth in the linebackering unit and rookie Jerod Mayo looks like he can be an instant asset.
Place kicker Stephen Gostkowski set a single season league mark for extra points. He’s an on-target field goal kicker with a strong leg. The return game is solid. Punting has been a problem for this team.
Through the last half-decade, the Patriots have been victorious in two of their past three Super Bowl appearances. During that same time, the team has averaged 13 wins per season. Coach Bill Belichick made it through Spygate and will make other teams pay for that controversy and for his team’s Super Bowl loss. New England will be in the Super Bowl in 2008.