Philly snatches the Lombardi from the Patriots in Super Bowl LII

The Patriots lost a heartbreaking contest against the Philadelphia Eagles in Super Bowl LII, as they fell short with a 41-33 loss. The Patriots’ bid to win back-to-back Super Bowls was thwarted by a brilliant performance from Nick Foles, and a game-changing strip sack of Tom Brady with just over 2 minutes to play.

Here are a few takeaways from yesterday’s game.

1. How much more can Tom Brady do?

Tom Brady had a excellent performance against the Eagles, as he threw for over 500 yards (a new Super Bowl record) to go along with 3 touchdowns. Brady was able to dissect the formidable Eagles defense, allowing the Patriots to stay in the game. However, two plays are going to define Brady’s performance in this Super Bowl. Early in the first half, the Patriots opted to try some trickery, as Danny Amendola lofted the ball to TB12, who was unable to corral it on third down. This led to the Pats going for it on fourth down, and giving the ball back to Philadelphia.

The play of the game came with just over 2 minutes left in the fourth quarter. The Pats had just surrendered a touchdown, giving Brady the ball back with a chance to win the game. Brady calmly completed his first pass getting the Pats the 38-yard-line. It appeared as if Brady was going to work his magic again, and win his sixth ring in the process. However, on the next play, Brandon Graham got after his fellow Michigan alum, and forced a fumble that his teammates were able to recover. The fumble gave Philly great field position to milk the clock and extend their lead.

Brady was let down by both his defense and his offensive line, as he had to constantly play from behind, and deal with constant pressure at the same time. He was only sacked one time, but it happened at the worst possible time.

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(Photo by Mark J. Rebilas/USA TODAY Sports)

2. The Patriots’ receivers came up big

Tom Brady and his weapons kept up their end of the bargain throughout the game, with Rob Gronkowksi, Danny Amendola, and Chris Hogan having monster games. Amendola had 8 catches for 152 yards, Hogan had 6 catches for 128 yards and a touchdown, while Gronk had 9 catches for 116 yards and 2 touchdowns. It is really disheartening to see such great performances in a loss, but at the same time, you can never say that the Patriots didn’t do their absolute best to claw their way back into this game.

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(Photo by Richard Mackson/USA TODAY Sports)

3. The Patriots’ defense was terrible

The Patriots’ defense picked the worst time possible to have their worst performance of the year, as they were thoroughly ripped apart by Nick Foles and the Eagles’ offense. They could not get off the field on third down, and also gave up two critical fourth down conversions, with one of them coming on Philly’s side of the field on their game-winning drive. They only forced one point and couldn’t sack Foles.

Other than Stephon Gilmore, the Pats’ secondary struggled heavily, with Eric Rowe giving up several long plays, including a 34-yard touchdown to Alshon Jeffery, and Devin McCourty not being able to cover Zach Ertz on both a crucial fourth down conversion and the game-winning touchdown. The most puzzling aspect of the game was that Matt Patricia opened up the game with Rowe covering Jeffery, which was a matchup that the Eagles exploited on several occasions. Moving Gilmore onto Jeffery earlier would have limited the damage in the first half.

Another mystery of the game was that Malcolm Butler didn’t play a single defensive snap, with Rowe replacing him as a starter. No one knows why Butler was benched, and the Patriots were very cryptic with their responses to the question. However, two things are very clear about Butler’s situation. Having Butler in the lineup would have definitely helped the secondary, and this was probably the last time we saw the Super Bowl XLIX hero in a Patriots uniform.

The Patriots’ bizarre game plan on defense, and their inability to stop the Eagles during crucial situations clearly cost them the game, and also wasted a historic performance by the Patriots’ offense.

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(Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

4. Special team woes hurt the Patriots

It was also a rough night for the Patriots’ special teams unit, as several miscues cost the Patriots points that would have been useful towards the ending of the game. With the Patriots trailing 9-3 in the second quarter, they opted to go for a field goal on 4th & 1 from the Eagles’ 8-yard-line, but their efforts were derailed when long snapper Joe Cardona had an errant snap. Stephen Gostkowski was still able to rush the kick, but it hit the left uprights. Gostkowski also missed an extra point later on in the second quarter.

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(Photo by Tony Gutierrez/AP)

 

The Pats slay the Jags to advance to Super Bowl LII!

Team 1 2 3 4 T
JAX 0 14 3 3 20
NE 3 7 0 14 24

What a comeback!

The Patriots secured a berth in Super Bowl LII, with their heart-stopping triumph over the Jacksonville Jaguars. The Pats overcame a 20-10 fourth quarter deficit with 2 Danny Amendola touchdowns to stamp their tickets to Minnesota with a 24-20 victory.

Here are a few takeaways from yesterday’s game.

1. Tom Brady is the GOAT

TB12 had another vintage playoff performance, but to do so, he had to overcome the mysterious injury to his right hand. Brady’s hand didn’t appear to impact his throws, and he sported some black tape over his thumb. The Pats got off to a quick start on their opening drive, but didn’t have any worthwhile drives until the ending of the first half. Brady was constantly harassed by Jacksonville’s dominant pass rush, who got after him and forced him to rush his throws. Brady shook off his shaky start, and got to work in the fourth quarter. As he has done several times before in the playoffs, Brady was able to lead the Patriots to victory by thoroughly dissecting Jacksonville’s vaunted secondary with a variety of trick plays at his disposal. Brady’s clutch performance gives him a chance of winning his sixth Super Bowl on February 4th.

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(Photo via Getty Images)

2. ‘Dola and Cooks step up in Gronk’s absence

The Patriots’ chances of mounting a comeback appeared to be bleak when Rob Gronkowski was knocked out of the game with a concussion after being smacked by Jacksonville’s Barry Church. Luckily, TB had Brandin Cooks and Danny Amendola step up in Gronk’s absence. Cooks had 6 catches for 100 yards, and also drew several defensive pass interference calls which moved the Pats down the field. Danny Amendola has been one of the Patriots’ most unheralded receivers for the last few years, but it is absolutely impossible for anyone to discount his impact during the Pats’ last few Super Bowl runs. Amendola took over the game in the fourth quarter, with a clutch punt return to give the Patriots prime field position, and he also corralled 7 catches for 84 yards. Amendola had 2 touchdown catches, including a breathtaking toe-tapper to give the Patriots a lead they would never relinquish. Amendola’s ability to come up with plays in the clutch will be vital for the Patriots to have a chance of winning the Super Bowl.

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(Photo by Greg M. Cooper/USA TODAY Sports)

3. No one is better at making defensive adjustments than Bill Belichick

At halftime, it appeared as if the Patriots were already on the ropes, as Jacksonville appeared to be able to drive down the field without any resistance due to their reliance on chunk plays and their clever usage of play action passes. The frequency of rushing plays and play action passes made it extremely difficult for the Patriots to guess if Jacksonville was running or passing the ball. This allowed the Jaguars to gain easy yards, and keep their drives alive. Blake Bortles had the game of his life in the first half, as he easily carved up the Pats’ defense.

In the second half, Belichick had more men near the line of scrimmage, ensuring that Leonard Fournette would not have a hole to run through. Belichick and Matt Patricia dared Bortles to beat them from the pocket, but Jacksonville’s lack of faith in their quarterback showed in the second half, as they had several questionable play calls which doomed their drives. The Pats were also able to get after Bortles in the fourth quarter, with Trey Flowers and the veteran James Harrison making his life difficult. Harrison also had a strip sack on Jacksonville’s last drive, which derailed the momentum they had gained over the previous few plays. Jacksonville’s last offensive play took place on a 4th & 14, when Bortles lobbed a pass towards Dede Westbrook, hoping that the receiver could catch the ball to keep their season alive. However, the Patriots’ maligned free agent signing Stephon Gilmore jumped up and swatted the ball to the ground. Gilmore has been criticized by fans and pundits alike due to his inconsistent play throughout the season, but has been quietly making plays to help win games. Gilmore finally proved that he was worth the $65 million the team invested in him by helping them to advance to the Super Bowl.

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(Photo by Winslow Townson/USA TODAY Sports)

4. Gronk’s health

Rob Gronkowski was expected to have a great impact on yesterday’s game, with the media wondering how the vaunted Jags defense would deal with the transcendent tight end. However, Gronk was a non-factor in the game, catching 1 pass for 21 yards, and was knocked out of the game with a concussion after colliding with Barry Church. Gronk being injured in the AFC title game clearly brings up bad memories from 2011, when he injured his ankle against the Baltimore Ravens, and was clearly hobbled during the loss in Super Bowl XLVI. Thankfully, Gronk should be cleared from the concussion protocol sometime in the next two weeks, and give TB another weapon to add to his arsenal for the Super Bowl.

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(Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

 

What’s next: The Patriots will take on the Philadelphia Eagles in Super Bowl LII, which is a rematch of 2004’s Super Bowl XXXIX,  where the Patriots emerged victorious against the Donovan McNabb and the Eagles to secure their third Super Bowl in 4 years with their 24-21 victory. Ironically if the Patriots win on February 4th, it will be second time they win three titles in four years.

D-Lew and the Pats run through the Bills

It wasn’t easy early on, but the Patriots eventually found their rhythm, en route to a 37-16 victory over the Buffalo Bills. The win secured a first-round bye for the Pats, and keeps them in pursuit of home-field advantage for the playoffs. 

Here are a few takeaways from Sunday’s game.

1. Dion Lewis is downright scary for opposing defenses

The Patriots entered Sunday with several injuries at the running back position, and Dion Lewis answered the call when the Patriots desperately needed him to. Lewis finished the game with 24 carries for 129 yards and a touchdown, to go along with 5 catches for 24 yards and a receiving touchdown. Despite his smaller stature, Lewis made life absolutely miserable for the Bills, by breaking tackles and leaving broken ankles in his wake. Lewis was the spark that propelled the Patriots to outscore the Bills 24-3 in the second half. If Lewis continues to play like this, it’s easy to imagine the Patriots advancing in the playoffs.

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(Photo by Nancy Lane/Boston Herald)

2. Gronk continues to dominate the Bills

Rob Gronkowski has constantly burnt his hometown Bills over the last few seasons, and Sunday was no exception. Gronk finished the game with 5 receptions for 67 yards, and a jaw-dropping one-handed touchdown grab over Micah Hyde in the second quarter. As always, Gronk was a steady safety blanket for Tom Brady, and also made his presence felt in the running game, as he was responsible for several key blocks. The Patriots will need to lean on Gronk to continue to play well down the stretch.

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(Photo by Charles Krupa/AP)

3. What’s wrong with TB12?

Tom Brady had an uneven performance against the Bills, as he had several instances where he made questionable decisions and inaccurate throws. Brady missed several open receivers, and also threw a pick-six when Bills safety Jordan Poyer jumped a route and ran 18 yards for a touchdown. This was Brady’s fifth straight game with an interception, which hasn’t happened since the 2002-03 season. Ironically, Brady followed the interception with a long touchdown drive which leveled the score at 10-10. Brady was bailed out by a dominant rushing attack led by Dion Lewis, but he won’t be so lucky in every game. For the Patriots to continue to win against dominant opponents, TB12 will need to be at his absolute best.

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(Photo by Nancy Lane/Boston Herald)

4. The defense still has areas to work on

The Patriots defense had an up-and-down performance against the Bills, with Buffalo easily advancing the ball down the field on several drives (although the Patriots did continue their bend-but-don’t-break strategy). The Patriots’ cornerback duo of Malcolm Butler and Stephon Gilmore got beaten on several long balls, allowing Buffalo to continue their drives. Also, the Patriots continued to struggle getting off the field on third down, enabling Buffalo to keep TB12 on the bench for long stretches. However, the Patriots did have several bright spots in the game. For example, the Bills did not score an offensive touchdown, and they limited LeSean McCoy to 71 yards. They also got after Tyrod Taylor and sacked him 6 times. Malcolm Brown was an unsung hero for the Patriots, recording 6 tackles (including 1 sack), and eating up blocks. 

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(Photo by Getty Images)

The Patriots tame the Bills!

The Patriots ran over the Bills on Sunday, leaving Orchard Park with a 23-3 win. This victory was the eight straight win for New England, and moves them up to first place in the AFC (for now), with an 10-2 record.

Here are a few takeaways from yesterday’s game.

1. Rex and D-Lew lead the way!

The Patriots won in an unexpected fashion yesterday, with Tom Brady and his receivers not being the main factor in the offense. Rather, it was the Pats’ rushing attack, spearheaded by Dion Lewis and Rex Burkhead, who revitalized the anemic offense, and also helped to put away Buffalo. Lewis totaled 92 yards off 15 carries, while Burkhead had 12 carries for 78 yards and two touchdowns. Lewis and Burkhead continue to improve week by week, ensuring that the two dynamos will be the featured rushers for the rest of the season. 

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(Photo by Adrian Kraus/AP)

2. Have yourself a game, Gronk!

Rob Gronkowski was the standout pass-catcher for the Patriots, as he corralled 9 catches for 147 yards in yet another domination of his hometown Buffalo Bills. On a day when the Patriots’ dynamic offense appeared to be stifled by the stingy Bills, Gronk and TB12 took over in the second half, connecting on several throws that extended long drives.

Unfortunately, Gronk’s monster game has been overshadowed by a reckless decision he made in the waning moments of the game. Late in the fourth quarter, Brady dropped back to loft a ball to #87, but it was intercepted by Tre’Davious White, who appeared to have interfered with Gronk on the play. While White laid motionless on the field, Gronk lunged at him, with his elbow connecting with the back of White’s head. This is definitely out of character for the big tight end, and it is quite disappointing to see, as he let his team down, and also threatened the livelihood of a fellow player. Gronk did apologize to White, and attributed his actions to frustration, but will likely receive a hefty fine from the NFL, along with a possible suspension. 

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(Photo by  Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images)

3. Who’s that Eric Lee guy?

The Patriots’ defense was aided by a dominant linebacker who was involved in several key plays. No, I’m not talking about Kyle Van Noy, or Elandon Roberts, I’m talking about Eric Lee. Sunday’s hero was signed off the Bills’ practice squad 10 days ago, and singlehandedly impacted many of Buffalo’s drives. For instance, on the first drive, Buffalo easily drove down the field, and found themselves in the red zone. Lee ended their drive when he picked off an errant pass by Tyrod Taylor. Lee finished the game with four tackles, 1.5 sacks, one tackle for loss, two pass deflections, three quarterback hits and an interception. As Tony Romo hilariously stated during the CBS broadcast, Lee has to be the most efficient player in the NFL so far this year.

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(Photo by Christopher Evans/Boston Herald)

4. The Pats’ defense continues to thrive

The Patriots continued their defensive dominance yesterday, as they limited Buffalo to 3 points, and 85 passing yards (for two quarterbacks). They also had four sacks, nine quarterback hits and eight pass deflections. Similarly to the last few weeks, the Patriots played a bend-but-don’t-break form of defense, as they allowed Buffalo to drive at times, but were able to stop them when necessary. As mentioned earlier, Eric Lee was one of the most dominant Patriot defenders, but another key contributor was Stephon Gilmore, who had a great performance against his former team. Gilmore was mostly able to shut down the receivers he covered in the beginning of the game, and had several key plays late in the fourth quarter. He had 3 pass deflections during one of Buffalo’s last drives, preventing the Bills from putting any points on the board.

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(Photo by Adrian Kraus/AP)