Ever since Roger Goodell started shipping a game a year to England, fans have often been a bit cold to the idea. Teams do not like the idea of having to make such a long trip to play a football game in the middle of the season. After a dominant 45-7 win over the St. Louis Rams, could the Patriots actually be the first team to really come out of London better than when they came in?
Going into the London game, the Patriots were a modest 4-3 on the year. This is a team that many thought could possibly make a run at an undefeated season, but some injuries and inconsistent play sidelined that thought pretty early on. The Patriots, since being led by Tom Brady, have made a name for themselves closing out the close games. Going into the Rams matchup, the team had lost three of their four close matchups, with their lone win coming over the struggling Jets.
Sure, no one is trying to say that the St. Louis Rams are a solid football team, but what the Patriots needed was a good old-fashioned dominant game. Brady threw for 304 yards. Stevan Ridley exploded for 127 yards and a touchdown. Rob Gronkowski picked up 146 yards and a pair of touchdowns confirming himself as a favorite TE in fantasy football. Even the defense was dominant, holding the Rams scoreless after giving up a touchdown in the first three minutes of the game.
With the long trip abroad and the off week, the Patriots had the chance to enjoy their divisional lead at 5-3 and get healthy. After hearing so much about their struggles (by New England standards) to start the season, the team enjoyed getting away from the United States and getting everything clicking again. They return to action this week to start a two-game home stand against Buffalo and Indianapolis. In fact, their next four games are all very winnable until they have to face off against both Houston and San Francisco back to back in the middle of December.
For Patriots fans, seeing the offense clicking and the defense making stops was a long time coming. Yes, it still needs to happen more frequently on United States soil, but maybe that trip was just what the doctor ordered for the Patriots to grow as a team.