After embarrassing the Dolphins on national television, the Patriots offense continued to score at a torrid pace, dropping 35 points on the Chargers.
For the second week, Tom Brady threw for more than 400 yards and spread the ball to his receivers, tight ends and backs.
While Philip Rivers did throw for 378 yards and two touchdowns, the defense was opportunistic, picking off two passes.
With two convincing wins under their belt, here are the Pats’ Week 2 risers and fallers.
1. Tom Brady: After throwing for 517 yards and four touchdowns against the Dolphins, few thought Brady could play better against the high-powered Chargers.
They thought wrong. Brady completed a ridiculous 77 percent of his passes for 423 yards and three touchdowns against last year’s top-ranked defense. Once again, Brady relied on his favorite target – Deion Branch – who finished the game with eight catches for 129 yards. Brady looks poised to capture the MVP award again.
2. Gronk & Hernandez: The tight end duo proved last season was no fluke in week one. But in week two, they were even better. Gronkowski simply manhandled the Chargers’ smaller safeties. The 6-foot-6, 265-pounder reeled in four catches for 86 yards and a pair of scores. His 6-foot-2 counterpart, the speedy Hernandez, caught seven passes for 62 yards including an impressive leaping touchdown.
3. Front seven: While the Patriots only recorded two sacks, the front seven made some key plays in a game where the secondary was exposed. Vince Wilfork made an incredibly athletic interception near the end of the second quarter, rumbling 30 yards down the field before being tackled. Kyle Love also had an active game and recovered a fumble. Free agent acquisition Mark Anderson had a strip sack of Rivers and Jerod Mayo made a key tackle on a fourth-and-one play.
1. Leigh Bodden: The Patriots’ top corner in 2009 simply hasn’t looked good this year. Nursing back and thumb injuries, he didn’t even draw the start, but had to come on when rookie Ras-I Dowling went down with a thigh injury. Bodden was flagged for holding twice and was part of a secondary that got abused by Vincent Jackson who had 10 catches for 172 yards and two scores.
2. Ras-I Dowling: While it isn’t necessarily his fault, Dowling had to leave the game with an injury to his thigh, doing nothing to shed his injury-prone label. The Patriots used the top pick in the second round to take the big corner from Virginia and need him to stay healthy and on the field to justify his draft selection.
3. Danny Woodhead: Some would say this choice is a little critical, but last season’s unsung hero didn’t have a strong game. After a great game against Miami, Woodhead managed only 12 yards on four carries and caught two passes for 15 yards. Beyond his lack of production, he also got exposed in pass protection a few times.