The Pats overcome a sloppy second half to put away the Colts!

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Yesterday’s game against the Indianapolis Colts (1-4) was truly a tale of two halves, as the Patriots started blistering hot in the first half, but made a series of mental mistakes in the second half that enabled Andrew Luck and the Colts to get back in the game. Thankfully, Bill Belichick’s team was able to get their act together, and close out Indy with a final score of 38-24 in order to improve to 3-2 on the season.

Here are some takeaways from last night’s victory.

1. TB12 and the offense will only continue to get better

The major headline leading into yesterday’s game was the return of Julian Edelman from his 4 game suspension. #11 did not miss a beat, as he caught the game’s first pass, and also had 2 other receptions on the Patriots’ first drive which spanned 6 minutes and put the Patriots up early. Edelman had 7 receptions for 57 yards, which may not look very special, but it’s hard to deny the impact his presence had on the rest of the offense.

Tom Brady had a pretty good game last night, as he completed 34 of 44 passes for 341 yards and 3 touchdowns, to go along with 2 interceptions ( more on those later). Brady was surgically efficient right from the get-go, and his successful night can be attributed to the offensive line’s remarkable performance, as he was rarely touched or disturbed throughout the game. Last night’s performance for the GOAT can also be described as record breaking, as he completed a touchdown to a record 71st different receiver, and also reached 500 touchdowns on his career (only Peyton Manning and Brett Favre have more).

Brady also had solid contributions from his other pass-catchers, including James White (10 receptions for 77 yards and 1 touchdown) and Rob Gronkowski (6 receptions for 75 yards), who enabled the Patriots to stretch the field with ease. Josh Gordon certainly frustrated both fantasy owners and Brady in the first half, but he proved his worth in the second half with 2 catches for 50 yards, including a 34 yard jaw-dropping touchdown under double coverage in the fourth quarter which helped put the game away. It’s important to note that Gordon is dealing with a nagging hamstring injury and is still getting acclimated with the Patriots’ system. Hence, Brady having the confidence to fling a deep ball to Gordon speaks volumes about the work he has put in and makes us optimistic about his future with the team.

Sony Michel had another solid performance on the ground, as he had 18 carries for 98 yards and a game-sealing 34-yard touchdown. Michel has clearly improved as the season has progressed, and his elusiveness and decision-making make him a threat to be wary of for opposing defenses.

At the same time, yesterday’s game was not without blunders for the Brady Bunch. As mentioned earlier, #12 had 2 interceptions which cannot be completely pinned on him. The first interception went through the hands of Chris Hogan and right into the hands of a Colts defender, while the second one was caused by a defender smashing Gronk, which tipped the ball to another Colts defender. These two plays occurred in the red zone, when the Pats were driving and threatening to extend their lead over Indy. As a result, instead of going up 31-10 and finishing the game, they gave the Colts new life and only a 7 point deficit.

Another thing to pay attention to is Gronk’s lingering ankle injury, as he was noticably limping throughout the game. Gronk’s health will be vital for the Patriots to have a chance at another Super Bowl run.

There were enough bright spots in yesterday’s game to be highly optimistic about the performance of the offense for the rest of the season.

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(Photo by Winslow Townson/USA TODAY Sports)

2. The defense was very inconsistent

The Pats’ defense was rock solid in the first half, as they were able to limit the Colts to 3 points, which allowed the Pats to take a 24-3 halftime lead. However, they allowed Andrew Luck and the Colts offense to find a rhythm in the second half, as Indy was able to trim their deficit to 24-17. It was disappointing to see the pass rush only sack Luck once, considering the very public struggles the Indianapolis offensive line has had over the last few seasons. Also, Devin McCourty had a dreadful game last night, as he gave up two touchdowns on man coverage.

At the same time, the secondary was opportunistic, as they were able to pick off Luck twice. Devin McCourty also made up for his blunders by ripping the ball from a Colts running back in the third quarter (following Brady’s first interception). I think it’s fair to say that the offense’s sloppy start to the second half put the defense in unfavorable circumstances. On the plus side, the Pats defense will have 10 days to regroup and study film before their big matchup with the Chiefs in Week 6.

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(Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images)

Statistical Leaders:

Patriots

Passing: Tom Brady – 34/44 for 341 yards, 3 touchdowns and 1 interception

Rushing: Sony Michel – 18 carries for 98 yards and 1 touchdown

Receiving: James White – 10 receptions for 77 yards and 1 touchdown off of 14 targets

Defensive: Devin McCourty – 11 tackles and one forced/recovered fumble

Colts

Passing: Andrew Luck – 38/59 for 365 yards, 3 touchdowns and 2 interceptions

Rushing: Nyheim Hines – 15 carries for 45 yards

Receiving: Eric Ebron – 9 receptions for 105 yards and 2 touchdowns off of 15 targets

Defensive: Lenzy Pipkins – 6 tackles

 

Bonus: Take a look at what @CaptAndrewLuck had to say about last night’s game.

What’s next?: The Pats have a big matchup against Patrick Mahomes and the high-flying Kansas City Chiefs (4-0) which could very well help to decide home-field advantage in the AFC playoffs down the line.

The Pats get back on track by squishing the Fish!

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The Patriots squashed the rumors of their supposed demise by absolutely annihilating the Miami Dolphins 38-7 to improve to 2-2 on the season. The Pats were dominant on both sides of the ball from the get-go and never let Miami find a rhythm.

Here are some takeaways from today’s victory.

1. Michel and White lead the way!

One major criticism of the Patriots over the past three weeks was that their over-reliance on rookie RB Sony Michel had not paid dividends for the offense as it made them increasingly one dimensional. That narrative changed today, as Michel rewarded the Patriots’ faith in him with a 112 yard performance off of 25 carries. #26 showed why he deserved to be a first round draft choice as he consistently fooled Miami defenders with his shifty moves. Michel capped off his breakout game with his first NFL touchdown.

Veteran James White was also a key cog in the Pats’ victory, as he was essential in both the passing and rushing attacks. White had 8 receptions for 68 yards and a receiving touchdown and 8 carries for 44 yards  and a rushing touchdown. 

If the Patriots can have Michel and White constantly dominate on the ground, it will be hard to stop the Brady Bunch!

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(Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

2. TB12 and the receivers bounce back!

Tom Brady had a vintage performance against Miami as he completed 65% of his passes for over 250 yards and 3 touchdowns. Brady was able to dissect the Dolphins following a shaky first quarter, and constantly led the Patriots down the field to increase their lead. 

The Patriots’ wide receivers also had a strong outing against Miami as they were able to win their individual matchups against the Dolphins’ strong secondary and get open down the field. Phillip Dorsett followed up his catch-less game against Detroit with 4 catches for 55 yards to go along with an acrobatic touchdown at the end of the second quarter.

Josh Gordon also made his debut as a Patriot today, as he was on the field for 18 of the Patriots’ 78 offensive snaps. Gordon had 2 catches for 32 yards (with both catches coming on third down), and he clearly made his presence felt whenever he was on the field. Gordon had a key block on James White’s 22-yard touchdown and also drew a defensive holding penalty. Gordon showed off his growing rapport with Brady and the rest of the offense and it’s not hard to be excited about the potential of Gordon when he’s fully acclimated with the Patriots’ offense.

However, there are still things to be concerned about for the Patriots’ offense. Tom Brady got clobbered throughout the game, and the pressure clearly impacted his decision-making at times, as evidenced by his 2 interceptions. Also, Rob Gronkowski left the game in the third quarter due to a ankle injury, which should be monitored closely leading into Week 5.

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(Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

3. Don’t count out the defense!

The Patriots’ defense silenced their critics with an absolutely brilliant performance against the Dolphins. It’s not hard to imagine that Bill Belichick ripped apart his defense for their evident lack of speed against the Lions, as they were swarming against Miami. One of my major questions from the preview of this game was if the Patriots would be able to contain Ryan Tannehill, Danny Amendola, Kenny Stills or Kenyan Drake, and I think it’s safe to say that the Patriots were able to do so. Tannehill only had 100 passing yards along with an interception and a fumble, Amendola had 2 catches for 21 yards, Stills had 3 catches for 40 yards, and Drake had 3 rushes for 3 yards. The return of Trey Flowers was key for the Patriots, as he helped to revitalize their pass rush. Continuing to play like this will be heavily important for the Pats, as their slate over the next 5-7 weeks will be extremely difficult.

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(Photo by Matthew J. Lee/Boston Globe)

What’s next?: The Pats have a short week as they welcome Andrew Luck and the Indianapolis Colts (1-3) on Thursday Night Football.