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I think the Patriots were better with Tom Brady

New England’s offense looked positively grim.

New England Patriots v Los Angeles Rams Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images

Question: What do you get when you remove arguably the greatest quarterback in NFL history from an offense, and then pit them against a wholly dominant defense?

Answer: Something either extremely beautiful or extremely ugly, depending on who you’re rooting for.

If you’ve been living under a football rock for a while, the Los Angeles Rams have a capital E Elite defense, and Tom Brady is no longer playing for the New England Patriots.

And so when the two teams met on Thursday night at SoFi Stadium, you could probably guess the general point total New England would muster: not a lot.

You would be correct.

Still, it was a bit shocking to see the Patriots only score 3 points, even if it was a little predictable. It was just the second time since 2006 that New England had scored so few points, and only the fifth time this decade they’d been held under 10 points. This is the Patriots first season without Brady since he injured his ACL in 2008, and it showed in a big way.

It was a balanced defensive showing from the Rams against the Patriots lackluster offense . They avoided the big play, with New England’s longest play from scrimmage being 31 yards. They intercepted Cam Newton. They sacked Newton and his replacement Jarrett Stidham six times. The held the Pats to just 10 first downs, and stopped all three of New England’s fourth down attempts.

But it was a team effort too. While the defense deserves the bulk of the credit, the offense and special teams should be noted as well. Just a week ago, in the same stadium, the Patriots hung 45 points on the Los Angeles Chargers, but that point total is misleading. The Pats scored on a punt return and a return of a blocked field goal, while also having 10 points set up directly by an interception and a 61-yard punt return.

The Rams defense most importantly kept the Patriots out of the end zone, but the offense and special teams did as well.

All things considered, it was a dominant shutdown of the Patriots, who failed to record a first down on seven of their 12 drives, and averaged just 3.8 yards per play.

If you’re a fan of the “Bill Belichick was more important than Tom Brady” club, then it was a bad day for you.

But if you’re a fan of the Rams, it was a pretty good day.