Pats win; Branch out
Winning a football game on a safety is among the rarest sights in the NFL, but following that up with the trade of a top offensive talent and former Super Bowl MVP by the same team the next day is something you'll never see again.
The Patriots announced Monday afternoon that they had traded Tom Brady's number one target and two time Super Bowl winning wide receiver Deion Branch to Seattle for the Seahawks first round draft pick in 2007. The well documented contract dispute between Branch and the Patriots has been spinning it's wheels for weeks after Branch sat out training camp looking for the Pats to throw out the final year of his 5-year rookie deal and give him a new contract. The Patriots extended an initial "low-ball" offer to the Super Bowl XXXIX MVP, but it was rejected without a counter offer. A week or so before the season the Pats gave Branch a chance to get himself a new contract and trade out of town. Branch got offers from Seattle and the New York Jets but neither were willing to offer the Pats a number one pick. Seattle's lack of offense in Sunday's 9-6 win apparently was enough to convince the Seahawks to make the deal for Branch. For the Patriots the move appears to have been a last resort as Branch would have not been on the field until November at the earliest anyway.
As for Sunday's game between the Pats and Buffalo Bills, things started just as badly as you could imagine, with Brady begin strip-sacked on the opening play, leading to a 7-0 Bills lead. Although the Pats tied it up 7-7 on the next drive, they trailed 17-7 at halftime as the passing game was a disaster.
Just about the only highlight of the 1st half was the play of rookie running back Lawrence Maroney who had 50 yards rushing in his 1st two carries. Maroney ended with 86 yards on 17 carries.
In the 2nd half the Patriots defense finally came alive, and came up with the two biggest plays of the game:
- In the 3rd quarter, trailing 17-7, the Pats D stopped the Bills on 4th and 1 at their own 7 yard line. The momentum shift was complete after the offense then took the ball and went 93 yards to make it a 17-14 game.
- After tying up the game on a field goal, the Pats had the Bills backed up and were able to score a safety when Ty Warren sacked J.P. Losman in the end zone to make it 19-17 Patriots. From there the Pats were able to run out the clock (after getting away with a Brady INT) and preserve the win.
So the Patriots dodge a flat performance on opening day and look forward to Sunday's matchup with the New Jersey Jets (1-0) and their head coach Eric Mangini.