It wasn't quite as dramatic as a tale of two weeks, but New England's Week 2 win in Minnesota was certainly an improvement. The 30-7 victory over the Vikings, in which the Patriots defense held the home team scoreless for the final 55-plus minutes, was a marked improvement from the previous week's wilting in the heat of Miami.
The New England Patriots visit TCF Bank Stadium for their Week 2 matchup with the Minnesota Vikings.
The offense found ways to move the ball, even if the scoring dried up a bit in the second half, while the defense continued to make plays on the football while taking advantage of opportunities for turnovers.
Bill Belichick will certainly still have plenty to get on his team about during film review of the win before turning the page toward next week's home opener against the Raiders, but there is no doubt the Patriots took a step forward on Sunday in the Land of 10,000 Lakes.
Here are some of the individual highs and lows from the Patriots victory over the Adrian Peterson-less Vikings:
Julian Edelman – No. 11 on your roster continues to be No. 1 in terms of Tom Brady's list of preferred options. Edelman had a game-high six catches for 81 yards including the only Patriots aerial touchdown. Edelman also had a 16.5-yard average on four punt returns, including a 34-yard long. The only downside of his game was the fact that he had just one catch in the second half, the second-straight week he's been held in check after halftime. Regardless, Edelman remains the only consistent productive receiver at Brady's disposal.
Chandler Jones** – Jones' only real production in the opener came in the form of a couple roughing-the-passer calls against Ryan Tannehill. It was a big difference in Minnesota where he was used more on the end of the line and in a two-point stance. He responded by tying for the team lead with eight tackles, including a pair of sacks, three tackles for a loss and three quarterback hits. Like Edelman, Jones also popped in the kicking game with a blocked field goal that he then scooped up and returned 58 yards for the touchdown. Easily Jones' best game as a Patriot.
Stevan Ridley – The Patriots came out looking to establish the run and create play-action passing chances. Ridley was the lead dog in the plan finishing with 25 carries for 101 yards and a hard-fought 1-yard touchdown. Ridley's numbers didn't look great in the first half when he had 29 yards on 11 attempts, but even then he'd run well and seemingly maximized the yards in front of him. Really, despite playing with a fullback and extra tackle (Cameron Fleming working as a tight end) on many running downs, Ridley still had to work for everything he got. The yards came a bit more freely in the second half as he notched his first 100-yard game since last Nov. 3 against the Steelers.
Nate Solder – The Patriots tackles were much better in pass protection in Minnesota, even considering that the Vikings rush isn't nearly as talented as Miami's. Penalties were a major problem for the entire New England team and Solder exemplified that when he had three penalties in a two-play stretch, which obviously means he had a pair on a single play. Three penalties in three games isn't great. Three penalties in a game is bad. Three penalties on two plays is putrid.
Danny Amendola/Brandon LaFell/Kenbrell Thompkins/Aaron Dobson – The wider receiver position remains a major question mark for everyone not named Julian Edelman. Dobson made his debut and caught one of two balls thrown his way for 13 yards. Thompkins was a healthy scratch, switching spots with Dobson. Amendola had no catches, officially targeted just once with a potential big-play (26 yards) wiped out by an offensive pass interference on Dobson. LaFell saw limited snaps and was not targeted. Edelman and Rob Gronkowski (four catches for 32 yards on six targets) accounted for 13 of Brady's 22 attempts, or 60 percent of his passes. The passing game just isn't diversifying at this point in the season. Hard to compliment the complementary receivers right now.
Alfonzo Dennard – Theoretically, after missing much of the summer coming back from injury, Dennard had four weeks to establish his role on the defense prior to Brandon Browner coming off suspension. Though he wasn't on the injury report last week, Dennard was inactive in Minnesota after working out prior to the game. The Patriots depth at cornerback takes a major hit with Browner and Dennard sidelined. Logan Ryan and Kyle Arrington stepped up against the Vikings, but it's less than ideal.