The Patriots vanquish the Vikings!

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The Patriots had a dominant performance today, as they beat the Minnesota Vikings 24-10 to improve to 9-3 on the season. The game was relatively tight until the middle of the third quarter when the Pats took the lead and never looked back. Both sides of the ball performed well which enabled the Patriots to dictate the pace of the game. Continuing to play like this will be essential for the team as they enter the last 4 games of the season.

Here are some takeaways from this Week 13 contest.

1. Tom Brady and the passing game challenged the Minnesota secondary early and often

Tom Brady had an efficient performance against a ferocious defense, as he threw for over 300 yards and 1 touchdown (along with a late interception). The offensive line was able to counter Minnesota’s pass rush, as Brady was constantly held upright, and was not sacked. James White (7 catches for 92 yards) and Josh Gordon (3 catches for 58 yards and a touchdown) led the way for the passing game, with Rob Gronkowski (3 catches for 26 yards) and Julian Edelman (3 catches for 25 yards) having a relatively quiet game. Cordarrelle Patterson played his former team for the first time, and he had a remarkable catch down the field, as he corralled the ball before it hit the ground. The passing attack had its way with Minnesota’s secondary, as they were able to connect on both deep passes and passes across the middle of the field. 

This was an encouraging performance for the passing game, as Brady and his arsenal of weapons were able to overcome a well-coached unit in Minnesota. 

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(Elise Amendola/AP)

2. The committee of running backs had a fine performance

The Patriots welcomed back Rex Burkhead following a 10-week absence, and he helped in relieving pressure off of James White and Sony Michel. Burkhead may not have had the most efficient performance (7 rushes for 20 yards), but he definitely had fresh legs, which allowed Michel and White to get some much-needed rest. Michel had 17 carries for 63 yards, as he was frequently able to find space to get around Minnesota’s talented defensive linemen, while White chipped in with 6 carries for 26 yards. Fullback James Develin had 2 touchdowns on the ground, as he punched it in twice from the one-yard line.

As the weather continues to get colder, it will be essential for the committee of running backs to gain some traction in order for the Pats to control games.

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(Jim Davis/Boston Globe)

3. Defense wins championships!

I’ve been pretty hard on the Patriots defense this season, as I’ve felt that they have not held up their end of the bargain, which has put the offense in tough spots. However, today was remarkable for them, as they utterly stifled the potent Vikings offense. Kirk Cousins was constantly rattled, as the Pats were able to get after him consistently, which helped result in 2 interceptions. Cousins rarely had the time to look down the field, which forced him to look for short completions instead. As a result, Cousins had over 30 completions, but only barely scraped past 200 yards. Stephon Gilmore and the McCourty twins were sensational today as they neutralized both Adam Thielen (5 catches for 28 yards and a touchdown) and Stefon Diggs (5 catches for 49 yards), and forced Cousins to look for his less-reliable targets. 

The one aspect with which the Pats struggled was stopping the run, as they couldn’t stop Dalvin Cook who ran for 84 yards off of 9 carries. As pundits remarked, Minnesota’s play-calling was suspect, as they went drives without running the ball, which was strange because Cook was clearly having success when he got the ball. 

The Patriots may have benefited from spotty play-calling, but there’s no denying that they dominated Minnesota’s offense, which is heartening as they begin to play more talented teams in the playoffs.

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(Travis Ellison/Minnesota Vikings)

Statistical Leaders:

Patriots

  • Passing: Tom Brady – 24/32 for 311 yards, 1 touchdown and 1 interception
  • Rushing: Sony Michel – 17 carries for 63 yards
  • Receiving: James White – 7 catches for 92 yards
  • Defensive: Devin McCourty – 8 tackles

Vikings

  • Passing: Kirk Cousins – 32/44 for 201 yards, 1 touchdown and 2 interceptions
  • Rushing: Dalvin Cook – 9 carries for 84 yards
  • Receiving: Stefon Diggs – 5 catches for 49 yards
  • Defensive: Eric Kendricks – 16 tackles and 1 interception

 

Bonus:

1. Brady has a record-setting day!: Tom Brady achieved a remarkable feat, as he finally crossed 1000 career rushing yards in 19 seasons as a starter. He also tied the all-time passing touchdowns record (including postseason) with 579. Brady also moved to 3rd all-time on the passing touchdowns list (regular season) as he tied Brett Favre with 508. 

Check out this humorous video produced by the Checkdown!

2. Bill Belichick had an amusing encounter with Adam Thielen: Bill Belichick and Adam Thielen had an interesting chat during today’s game, when Belichick opted to challenge a play in the fourth quarter. It’s clear that Belichick told Thielen to do something that’s not very kind…

Check out their encounter below!

 

What’s next?: The Pats head down to Miami to face the Dolphins (6-6) in a rematch of a dominant Week 3 victory for New England. The Pats have historically struggled in Miami during the Brady/Belichick era, so it will be interesting to see how they perform next week.

 

 

The Pats blow past the Packers on Sunday Night Football!

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The Patriots had a complete team effort last night, as they beat the Green Bay Packers (3-4-1) 31-17 to improve to 7-2 on the season. This performance by the Pats is heavily encouraging as they enter the second half of the season.

Here are some takeaways from yesterday’s game.

1. The offensive’s creativity led them to victory

The Patriots played last night without two of their most important offensive contributors in Rob Gronkowski and Sony Michel, so Josh McDaniels had to be creative for the Patriots to have success against a tough Green Bay defense. The Patriots started out the game with a laser-quick pace as they went no-huddle on their opening drive which spanned 59 yards and resulted in a James White touchdown. Things looked dire in the second quarter when White went down with what appeared to be a knee injury, but the creativity of the Pats helped them weather through the rest of the half without their top running back. Similarly to last week’s win at Buffalo, the Pats used Cordarrelle Patterson as a running back, and Patterson did not disappoint, as he totaled 61 yards and 1 touchdown off of 11 carries. 

Tom Brady was not at his best for a majority of the game, but he did make throws when it counted. Brady finished yesterday’s game with 294 passing yards and 1 touchdown. A trick play in the fourth quarter helped the Pats gain a lead that they wouldn’t relinquish, as Brady tossed the ball to Edelman, who proceeded to loft it to White, which resulted in a 37-yard catch and run that brought the ball into the red zone and eventually gave the Pats a 24-17 lead. Josh Gordon delivered the dagger with a 55 yard touchdown that capped off his best performance as a Patriot (5 receptions for 130 yards), even though he dealt with a dislocated finger. White (6 receptions for 72 yards) and Edelman (6 receptions for 71 yards) were also important cogs in the passing game.

Continuing to play like this will be huge for the Patriots as the season progresses.

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(Mathew J. Lee/ Boston Globe)

2. The defense came to play last night

The defense had arguably their best performance of the season last night as they held Aaron Rodgers and his offense to just 17 points. The Pats were able to get after Rodgers and keep him in the pocket, as they sacked him 1 time (to go along with 6 QB hits). Rodgers did not have one of his typically remarkable performances, as he did look confused/indecisive at times (due to the Pats’ pressure and coverage schemes), and he finished with 259 yards and 2 touchdowns. Other than an outstanding performance for receiver Marquez Valdes-Scantling, the Pats were mostly able to eliminate Green Bay’s weapons, as Davante Adams and Jimmy Graham were not very involved throughout the game. Stephon Gilmore had a great game matched up against Adams, as he only allowed 2 catches for 15 yards, which continued his great stretch of performances since the Pats’ Week 3 loss at Detroit.

The play of the game arguably came during the first play of the fourth quarter when the game was tied at 17 and it appeared as if Green Bay was going to take the lead. Lawrence Guy forced Aaron Jones to fumble and the Pats recovered, which resulted in them scoring a touchdown. On the next Green Bay drive, the Pats forced the Packers to turnover on downs, and essentially sealed the deal.

Giving up only 17 points to a potent offense and coming up clutch in the fourth quarter is huge for the Pats’ defense as they enter the latter half of the season.

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(Nancy Lane/ Boston Herald)

Statistical Leaders

Patriots

  • Passing: Tom Brady – 22/35 for 294 yards and 1 touchdown
  • Rushing: Cordarrelle Patterson – 11 carries for 61 yards and 1 touchdown
  • Receiving: Josh Gordon – 5 catches for 130 yards and 1 touchdown
  • Defensive: Kyle Van Noy – 9 tackles

Packers

  • Passing: Aaron Rodgers – 24/43 for 259 yards and 2 touchdowns
  • Rushing: Aaron Jones – 14 carries for 76 yards
  • Receiving: Marquez Valdes-Scantling – 3 catches for 101 yards
  • Defensive: Antonio Morrison – 8 tackles

Bonus: The Pats wore their gorgeous Color Rush alternates for the second and final time this season.

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(Charles Krupa/ AP)

What’s next?: The Pats head down to Nashville to take on the Tennessee Titans (3-4) in a rematch of last year’s divisional playoff game won by the Patriots. Tennessee features ex-Patriots such as Malcolm Butler, Dion Lewis, and Logan Ryan.