The Pats flatten Pittsburgh on Sunday Night Football!

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The Patriots once again showed that they are still amongst the NFL’s elite with a 33-3 drubbing of the Pittsburgh Steelers. The Pats were dominant on both sides of the ball, and also thoroughly out-coached the Steelers.

Here are some takeaways from yesterday’s game.

1. Gordon and Dorsett lead the way for the offense!

Entering this season, wide receiver was one of the major question marks for the Patriots, but last night dispelled those doubts, due to the brilliant performances of Josh Gordon, Philip Dorsett, and Julian Edelman. Gordon’s first catch of the season was a awe-inspiring 20-yard touchdown, where he broke through multiple tackles en route to the end zone. Gordon followed that up with an amazing 44-yard reception down the field where he absorbed a brutal hit while corralling the ball. Phillip Dorsett finished the night with 2 touchdowns, including a 58-yard score, where he was completely wide open down the field. Julian Edelman was his usual reliable self, as he consistently got open to serve as Tom Brady’s safety blanket. Edelman also helped provide a spark with his arm, when he perfectly executed a double pass to James White.

The Patriots have demonstrated over the years that they have no issue changing their offensive identity, and last night was no different. New England primarily depended on their passing attack, as the team’s stable of running backs combined for only 99 yards.

josh gordon w1.jpg
(Photo via SI)

2. Tom Brady was effective as per usual

Tom Brady started off the game erratic, with several misthrows that derailed the Patriots’ first drive. Following Edelman’s double throw, Brady got back into routine, as he proceeded to dissect the Steelers defense for 341 yards and 3 touchdowns. A major factor for Brady’s brilliant performance was the offensive line, who only gave up one sack despite the season-long absence of center David Andrews and the injury of OT Marcus Cannon. Most importantly, LT Isaiah Wynn was spectacular at covering Brady’s blindside in his professional debut.

tom brady w1.jpg
(Photo via SI)

3. The defense absolutely suffocated Pittsburgh’s offense

Yesterday was the third straight game where the Patriots shut out their opponent in the first half. Ben Roethlisberger was never allowed to be comfortable, as the Patriots were able to apply constant pressure on him. In addition, New England’s corners clamped down on Pittsburgh’s receivers, with Stephon Gilmore winning his matchup against Juju Smith-Schuster. Donte Moncrief was targeted a team-high 10 times, but only managed 3 catches for 7 yards. The Steelers’ lone offensive highlight was a 45 yard pass to James Washington. The Patriots also completely neutralized Pittsburgh’s rushing attack, as James Connor only managed 21 yards off of 10 carries.

Continuing to perform like this will solidify the Pats defense as one of the NFL’s best units.

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(Photo via CBS Sports)

Statistical Leaders:

Patriots

  • Passing: Tom Brady- 24/36 for 341 yards and 3 touchdowns
  • Rushing: Rex Burkhead- 8 carries for 44 yards
  • Receiving: Phillip Dorsett- 4 receptions for 95 yards and 2 touchdowns
  • Defensive: Jason McCourty- 7 tackles

Steelers

  • Passing: Ben Roethlisberger- 27/47 for 276 yards and 1 interception
  • Rushing: James Connor- 10 carries for 21 yards
  • Receiving: Juju Smith-Schuster- 6 receptions for 78 yards
  • Defensive: Devin Bush- 11 tackles

 

What’s next?: The Patriots will head down to Miami for the first time since the ‘Miami Miracle’, where they’ll take on a lowly Dolphins team (0-1) that gave up 59 points in a loss to the Ravens. This game should also mark the debuts of Antonio Brown and Demaryius Thomas as Patriots. In addition, Kyle Van Noy will likely make his season debut, as he missed yesterday’s game due to the birth of his first child.

Super Pats stifle the Rams to win their sixth title!

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I’m not sure that most fans or casual viewers were expecting a defensive slugfest when they tuned into Super Bowl LIII, but that ‘s what we got yesterday, as the Patriots prevailed 13-3 over the Los Angeles Rams (15-4) to win the Super Bowl for the sixth time in the last seventeen years. Although points were at a premium in this game, Julian Edelman capped off his impressive postseason with a performance that earned him the Super Bowl MVP Award.

Here are some takeaways from Super Bowl LIII.

1. Defense wins championships!

As most Patriots fans lament, the New England defense was the weak link the last time the team was in the Super Bowl, as they didn’t have an answer for Nick Foles or the Philadelphia Eagles who dropped 41 points on them. Following that dreadful performance, not much was expected of the defense, with most people overlooking them throughout the season and also leading up to this game, as pundits felt that the Rams had the edge against Bill Belichick’s defensive unit. That was not the case last night, as the raw physicality and ferociousness of the Pats’ defense sent the high-flying Rams crashing down to earth. Whenever Tom Brady and the offense struggled to finish off drives, the defense had their back, as they didn’t allow Jared Goff and the Rams to gain any sort of momentum.

Belichick and Brian Flores ensured that Goff would never be comfortable, as they consistently sent pressure after him which caused the young signal caller to either rush throws or absorb vicious hits. In total, the Pats sacked Goff 4 times and hit him an additional 12 times, with Dont’a Hightower and Kyle Van Noy playing a huge part. The Rams were one of the NFL’s best offenses due to a steady balance between their rushing and passing attacks which allowed them to either stretch the field with play action or punish their opponent with the speed and power of Todd Gurley. Neither facet of their identity was in play yesterday, as Gurley only got 11 touches, and Goff was forced to drop-back more times than he was accustomed to. This resulted in the Rams being shut out in the first half for the first time under Sean McVay.

In the second half, the Rams had a chance to take the lead, as Brandin Cooks was wide open in the end zone due to a busted coverage, but a second’s hesitation by Goff resulted in a wobbly ball that allowed Jason McCourty to cover 10 yards and dislodge the ball from Cooks’ hands. Later on in the fourth quarter, with the score at 10-3 in favor of the Patriots, the Rams were driving to tie the game, and Goff lofted a perfect pass to Cooks that was knocked out by Duron Harmon to save a touchdown. On the very next play, Harmon came on a safety blitz that caused Goff to panic and float a ball in the vicinity of Cooks that was picked off by Stephon Gilmore to all but seal the victory.

The game plan constructed by Belichick and Flores was absolutely remarkable, as it befuddled the normally impervious McVay, and knocked the Rams out of rhythm. As the Pats proved last night, defense wins championships.

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(Mark J. Rebilas/USA TODAY Sports)

2. The offense was clutch when it mattered

As the final score indicates, the Patriots’ offense left a bunch of points on the field, as Wade Phillips’ defensive unit were able to consistently make stops in order to ensure that the Rams were in contention throughout the night. Tom Brady had a nightmarish start to his night, as his first pass was intercepted (due to a bad read on his part), which wiped out a promising opening drive that appeared to be destined for points. Julian Edelman (10 catches for 141 yards) was a consistent mismatch for the Patriots, as the Rams could not cover him regardless of who was on him, with Nickell Roby-Coleman and Aqib Talib being burnt on several occasions. Edelman was Brady’s security blanket throughout the night, and was especially clutch on third down.

In the fourth quarter, the Pats got the ball back with just under 10 minutes left, and Tom Brady relied on his old friends, Edelman and Rob Gronkowski, on a 5 play, 69 yard drive that helped the Patriots drive down the field. Gronk turned back the clock on this drive, as he first beat Samson Ebukam on a 18-yard catch and run, and he set up the Pats deep in the red zone with a diving 29-yard catch. On the very next play, Sony Michel pounded the ball in for the game’s only touchdown to give the Patriots a 10-3 lead that they would never relinquish.

I also feel that the penultimate possession by the Patriots was equally impressive, as they were able to use Gilmore’s interception to milk the clock. They rushed the ball from their own 4-yard line all the way to the Rams’ 24-yard line, with Sony Michel and Rex Burkhead leading the way to set up Stephen Gostkowski’s 41-yard field goal to make it a two possession game.

One of the headlines leading into this game was the matchup between the Rams defensive line and the Pats offensive line, who were amongst the NFL’s best at their respective positions. I think it’s fair to say that the Patriots’ offensive line performed much better than people expected, as the Rams only sacked Brady once (the first and only time he was sacked during the postseason) and hit him 4 times. The duo of Aaron Donald and Ndamukong Suh were limited to 2 combined QB hits.

Brady did look erratic at times and he was hardly his best self, but it is hard to deny that #12 and the rest of the offense were absolutely clutch when it counted.

gronk catch sb53.jpeg
(Photo via Getty Images)

3. Special teams was remarkable!

Apart from Stephen Gostkowski’s missed field goal in the first quarter, the Pats’ special teams unit had an unblemished performance, with Ryan Allen constantly booting impressive punts that resulted in the Rams being pinned deep in their own territory. Matthew Slater also played a big role, as he was responsible for downing Allen’s punts and stopping punt returns before they could become deadly.

Gostkowski made up for his early miss with a late field goal that made it all but impossible for the Rams to mount a comeback.

gostkowski fg sb53.jpg
(Matt Rourke/AP)

Statistical Leaders:

Patriots

  • Passing: Tom Brady – 21/35 for 262 yards, and 1 interception
  • Rushing: Sony Michel – 18 carries for 94 yards, and 1 touchdown
  • Receiving: Julian Edelman – 10 catches for 141 yards
  • Defensive: Jonathan Jones – 8 tackles (including 1 sack)

Rams

  • Passing: Jared Goff – 19/38 for 229 yards, and 1 interception
  • Rushing: Todd Gurley II – 10 carries for 35 yards
  • Receiving: Brandin Cooks – 8 catches for 120 yards
  • Defensive: Cory Littleton – 10 tackles

 

What’s next?: The Patriots enter the offseason as champions, but will need to quickly turn their attention to the draft and free agency, as they may end up losing key contributors to either free agency or retirement. It will be interesting to see how this team looks during the 2019-20 season.

According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, the Pats may end up hosting the Chiefs, Steelers, Cowboys, or Browns for their season opener.

Bonus: Check out this sweet Disney World promo featuring Brady and Edelman!

 

 

The Pats march past the Chiefs in OT to advance to Super Bowl LIII!

 

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What a game!!!

The Patriots secured a berth in Super Bowl LIII yesterday, as they triumphed over the Kansas City Chiefs (13-5) 37-31 in a thrilling contest that went into overtime. The Patriots dominated the Chiefs in the first half, as they grabbed a 14-point lead going into halftime, but the Chiefs roared back, led by their young phenom Patrick Mahomes, and gave the Patriots almost all they could handle.

Here are some takeaways from yesterday’s AFC Championship Game. 

1. TB12 and his weapons came up clutch again!

When the Chiefs took the lead just under 8 minutes to play in the fourth quarter, it appeared as if the Pats had squandered their chance to advance to the Super Bowl, as they had just turned the ball over (due to a drop by Julian Edelman), and watched their lead evaporate in just 10 seconds of game time. The Pats were able to answer the Chiefs by driving down the field, partly aided by an incredible one-handed catch by Chris Hogan, which was upheld following a challenge by Andy Reid. After the Chiefs retook the lead, Tom Brady and the offense had to drive 65 yards with just under 2 minutes left in the game. For a moment, it appeared as if the game was over, as an errant pass went off the hands of Rob Gronkowski and was caught by Charvarius Ward, who seemed to have clinched the AFC for the Chiefs. However, the Pats were aided by the left arm of defensive end Dee Ford, which was over the line of scrimmage, and gave the Pats a second chance. They didn’t waste their opportunity, as their next play was a 25 yard pass to Gronk that got them to the 4-yard line. The Pats quickly scored, but the Chiefs answered, which sent the game to overtime.

Similarly to Super Bowl LI against the Atlanta Falcons, the Pats won the coin toss, and never looked back, as they methodically marched the ball down the field against the Chiefs. A common criticism of the Pats this season has been that their main targets (Gronk and Edelman) were too old and banged up to have an impact on a game. They changed the narrative last night, as the duo came up big on 3 consecutive third downs, which enabled the Patriots to win the game.

A vintage performance by Tom Brady, Julian Edelman, & Rob Gronkowski has the Patriots in prime position to win another Super Bowl.

gronk v chiefs 19ccg.jpg
(Patrick Smith/Getty Images)

2. The running backs were impactful!

The  Pats employed a similar game plan to their Divisional Round victory against the LA Chargers, as they came out running the football during their opening drive that went on for over 8 minutes, and resulted with a touchdown by Sony Michel. Michel and James White were a big part of the offense during the first half, as they were utilized to run the football constantly in an effort to burn the clock and keep the ball out of Patrick Mahomes’ hands. In the second half, Rex Burkhead was primarily used, and he definitely delivered, as he scored 2 touchdowns, including the eventual game winner. 

The Pats will need another solid performance by their running backs if they want to have a good chance of winning Super Bowl LIII.

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(Denny Medley / USA TODAY Sports)

3. The offensive line was simply remarkable

I don’t believe that any unit in this game had more of an impact than the offensive line for the Patriots, as their brilliance was unmatched last night. Kansas City entered this game as the NFL’s top sacking defense, with superstars on the defensive line, including Dee Ford, Justin Houston, and Chris Jones. The Chiefs’ pass-rushing duo never got close to Brady during the game, as they were utterly and completely neutralized. The Chiefs had zero sacks and only hit Brady once. 

They were also heavily efficient in the running game, as they were able to constantly produce gaping holes that enabled their running backs to run rampant through the Chiefs’ defense.

The Pats’ offensive line will need to maintain this performance for them to succeed in the Super Bowl.

offensive line v kc 19ccg.jpg
(Kirby Lee/USA TODAY Sports)

4. The defense did enough to win

As I mentioned in my preview for this game, the Pats were not going to stop Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs, due to the immense talent permeating throughout their offense. However, they did succeed in slowing him down enough for the offense to grab an early lead, which allowed them to weather the second half explosion by Mahomes and the Chiefs. The Pats were able to get after Mahomes consistently, as they sacked him 4 times and hit him 10 times. Kyle Van Noy was extremely efficient in the first half, as he sacked Mahomes twice (including a strip sack that ended the half). The Pats had a great performance against Tyreek Hill (1 catch for 42 yards) and Travis Kelce (3 catches for 23 yards and 1 touchdown) who were virtually non-existent for the majority of this game. However, Sammy Watkins and  Damien Williams caused problems for the Patriots, as they were essential in sparking Kansas City’s comeback. 

I think that Bill Belichick and Brian Flores did a remarkable job in crafting the game plan, as they shut out the Chiefs for the first time at home during the Reid era. As mentioned by Tony Romo, Mahomes is a unique quarterback who is extremely hard to defend against. Hence, I don’t think that we can be too hard on the performance of Belichick’s defense.

For the second time this season, Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs scored 31 in the second half against the Patriots, but New England’s first half heroics ensured that they would emerge victorious.

In order to prevent the result of last year’s Super Bowl, the Pats’ defense will need to be at the top of their game.

mahomes fumble 19ccg.jpg
(Photo via USA TODAY Sports)

Statistical Leaders:

Patriots

  • Passing: Tom Brady – 30/46 for 348 yards, 1 touchdown and 2 interceptions
  • Rushing: Sony Michel – 29 carries for 113 yards and 2 touchdowns
  • Receiving: Julian Edelman – 7 receptions for 96 yards
  • Defensive: Kyle Van Noy – 10 tackles (including 2 sacks)

Chiefs

  • Passing: Patrick Mahomes – 16/31 for 295 yards and 3 touchdowns
  • Rushing: Damien Williams – 10 carries for 30 yards and 1 touchdown
  • Receiving: Sammy Watkins – 4 receptions for 114 yards
  • Daniel Sorenson – 14 tackles and 1 interception

 

What’s next?: The Pats head to Atlanta for Super Bowl LIII (on February 3rd at 6:30 EST on CBS), where they’ll take on the Los Angeles Rams (15-3) in a rematch of Super Bowl XXXVI. It’ll be interesting to see how the Pats match up against the likes of Aaron Donald and Todd Gurley, while coaching against the wunderkind Sean McVay. 

Balanced Pats bolt past the Chargers!

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Contrary to popular belief, the New England Patriots are not dead, as they decisively routed the Los Angeles Chargers (13-5) 41-28 in a Divisional Round game that was not as close as the final score indicates. The Pats took control early by scoring on their first 4 drives and never gave the Chargers a chance of coming back in the second half. This victory improved the Pats to 12-5 on the season and set up a date with the Kansas City Chiefs in the AFC Championship Game.

Here are some takeaways from today’s victory.

1. Michel leads the way!

Sony Michel ended his collegiate career with the Georgia Bulldogs in the College Football Playoffs, where he dominated Oklahoma to set up an appearance in the National Championship Game. Michel didn’t disappoint in his playoff debut with the Pats as he shredded the Chargers for 129 yards and 3 touchdowns off of 24 carries. A week after shutting down Baltimore’s vaunted rushing attack, the Chargers had no answer for the dominant Pats’ offensive line, who were able to consistently open holes for Michel to run through. Rob Gronkowski and James Develin were also essential parts of the rushing attack, as they assisted in pushing back the Chargers.

If the Patriots want to advance further, they’ll need Michel to continue playing like this.

Sony Michel, Kyle Emanuel
(Elise Amendola/AP)

2. Don’t doubt the GOAT and his weapons!

Most pundits entered this game wondering if Tom Brady and his receivers stood much of a chance against the Chargers who featured elite defenders in their defensive line and their secondary. Let’s just say that they were wrong, because the Brady Bunch dissected the Chargers defense early and often. The lethal duo of Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram were neutralized, as they combined for 1 hit on TB12. All in all, the Chargers never sacked Brady and only hit him once, due to the remarkable job done by the offensive line. Julian Edelman had one of his best performances in recent memory, as he corralled 9 receptions for 151 yards. Edelman was consistently a mismatch for the Chargers’ secondary, and was even harder to bring down as demonstrated by an epic conversion on 2nd & 13 when he broke free of a sure tackle to dive for a first down. Edelman’s 9 receptions helped him pass Reggie Wayne for second place in career postseason receptions. James White (15 catches for 97 yards) was a constant problem for the Chargers as he used his speed and agility to get past defenders. White’s 15 catches helped tie a record for receptions in a postseason game, and exceeded the 14 catches he had during Super Bowl LI. Phillip Dorsett (4 catches for 41 yards and a touchdown) and Chris Hogan (3 catches for 13 yards) also pitched in for the passing game. Gronk had 1 catch for 25 yards, but his impact was felt due to his effective blocking and the penalty he drew on the opening drive.

There was no denying that Tom Brady was surgical today, and he will need to be at his absolute best for the Patriots to be successful next week.

 BRADY V CHARGERS DP19.jpg
(Charles Krupa/AP)

3. The defense stifled Rivers & company!

The Pats defense was otherworldly today as they consistently stopped the Chargers and enabled the offense to lengthen their lead. The Chargers had one of the NFL’s best running backs in Melvin Gordon, but the Pats never let him get him settled as they limited him to 15 yards and a touchdown off of 9 carries. Trey Flowers, Dont’a Hightower and the rest of the pass rushers made life miserable for Philip Rivers, as they hit him 7 times and sacked him 2 times. Rivers became increasingly frustrated and emotional throughout the game due to the constant hits he endured. He finished with 331 yards, 3 touchdowns and an interception, with most of his production coming in garbage time.

Stephon Gilmore continued his impressive season, as he rebounded from an early error (which resulted in a 43-yard touchdown by Keenan Allen) by not allowing another completion and also picking off Rivers in the fourth quarter.

The Pats were exceptional in shutting down one of the NFL’s most prolific offenses, and they’ll need to be even better to stand a chance next week.

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(Greg M. Cooper/USA TODAY Sports)

Statistical Leaders:

Patriots

  • Passing: Tom Brady – 34/44 for 341 yards and 1 touchdown
  • Rushing: Sony Michel – 24 carries for 129 yards and 3 touchdowns
  • Receiving: Julian Edelman – 9 catches for 151 yards
  • Defensive: Devin McCourty – 7 tackles

Chargers

  • Passing: Philip Rivers – 25/51 for 331 yards, 3 touchdowns and 1 interception
  • Rushing: Melvin Gordon – 9 carries for 15 yards and 1 touchdown
  • Receiving: Tyrell Williams – 5 catches for 94 yards
  • Defensive: Jahleel Addae – 12 tackles

 

What’s next?: The Pats head to Kansas City to take on the red hot Chiefs (13-4) for the AFC Championship Game. This is a rematch of the wild Week 6 contest that ended with a 43-40 victory for that Pats at Gillette Stadium. It will be interesting to see how the game differs during a cold night at Arrowhead Stadium.

The Patriots vanquish the Vikings!

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7 3 7 7 24

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.

 

 

Balanced Pats fly past the Jets!

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7 3 10 7 27

The Patriots had a messy win today against the New York Jets (3-8), as they triumphed 27-13 over their longtime rivals to move to 8-3 on the season. Despite of a bevy of penalties, the Pats used a balanced offensive attack in order to pull away from the Jets in the second half, and improved to the #2 in the AFC with Pittsburgh’s loss in Denver. 

Here are some takeaways from today’s victory.

1. Michel and White lead the way for the offense!

Sony Michel and James White collaborated for a dynamic performance today, as they combined for over 200 yards on the ground (Michel had 133 yards off of 21 carries and a touchdown, while White had 73 yards off of 9 carries). Michel was clearly the best player on the field, as he made good use of the gaping holes provided by the offensive line and raced past hapless Jets defenders. Luckily enough for the Patriots, Michel avoided a serious injury when he was bended backwards in the third quarter during an awkward tackle, which left him writhing in pain on the field. 

If Michel and White continue to play at this level, it will be hard for opponents to stop the Patriots over the rest of the season.

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(Photo via USA TODAY Sports)

2. Strong bounce-back for the passing game!

Week 11’s loss at Tennessee was especially ugly for the passing game, as Tom Brady could not get anything going due to the constant pressure coming through the middle. Today could not have been more different, as the offensive line rebounded with a great performance and gave up zero sacks against a stout Jets defensive line. Rob Gronkowski had an efficient return from injury, as he had 3 catches for 56 yards and a touchdown. Julian Edelman (4 catches for 84 yards and a touchdown), Josh Gordon (5 catches for 70 yards), and Chris Hogan (2 catches for 47 yards) also had good contributions, as they helped stretch the field for the Patriots.

This was an encouraging performance by the Pats’ passing attack, as they overcame great coverage by the Jets’ secondary to be successful throughout the game.

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(Matthew J. Lee/ Boston Globe)

3. The defense had a steady performance

The Pats’ defense bounced back from Week 11 in a big way, as they clamped down on New York, and allowed only 3 points in the second half. Trey Flowers led the way for the Patriots’ pass rush, as he constantly got after Josh McCown, with 3 hits and 1 sack. Being able to get after the quarterback made it easier for the secondary to perform with confidence, with Stephon Gilmore being the clear star in the backend of the field (he only allowed 1 catch for 17 yards off of 5 targets, and had an interception). The Pats also limited Isaiah Crowell to 30 yards off of 6 carries on the ground. 

The defense still has room to improve, but this was definitely a step in the right direction.

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(Photo via USA TODAY Sports)

4. Are penalties an area of concern for the Pats?

The Pats definitely had a messy performance against the Jets, as they were called for 11 penalties that resulted in 105 yards. This was out of character for the Patriots, as Bill Belichick is known for preparing his team to avoid such mistakes. Constant penalties allowed the Jets to stay in the game, as Patriot drives were halted, while New York drives were extended.

The Patriots played well enough to overcome their messy performance, but they will not be so lucky if they continue to be penalized like this.

NFL: Houston Texans at New England Patriots
(Photo via USA TODAY Sports)

Statistical Leaders:

Patriots

  • Passing: Tom Brady – 20/31 for 283 yards, and 2 touchdowns
  • Rushing: Sony Michel – 21 carries for 133 yards, and 1 touchdown
  • Receiving: Julian Edelman – 4 catches for 84 yards and 1 touchdown
  • Defensive: Patrick Chung – 13 tackles

Jets

  • Passing: Josh McCown – 26/45 for 276 yards, 1 touchdown and 1 interception
  • Rushing: Isaiah Crowell – 6 carries for 30 yards
  • Receiving: Quincy Enunwa – 4 catches for 73 yards
  • Avery Williamson – 11 tackles

 

What’s next?: The Patriots welcome the Minnesota Vikings (5-4-1) in a game that will test them, as Minnesota features a stout defense and a talented offense.

 

 

The Pats blow past the Packers on Sunday Night Football!

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NE

7 10 0 14 31

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.

tb v pack w9.jpg
(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.

aaron jones fumble.jpg
(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.

tb arod.jpg
(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.

 

 

 

 

The Pats overcome sluggish start to stomp the Bills!

TEAM

1

2

3

4

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BUF 0 3 3 0 6

NE

3 6 3 13 25

The Patriots overcame a defensive slugfest last night, and emerged victorious in Orchard Park, as they bested the Buffalo Bills (2-6) 25-6. The Pats offense struggled for a majority of the game, as the defense and special teams led the way to another triumph over their divisional rivals.

Here are some takeaways from yesterday’s game.

1. The Patriots offense struggled to gain momentum against Buffalo

The Patriots were able to drive the ball down the field at will, but they struggled to finish off drives, as they settled for 4 field goals, before scoring their first touchdown in the fourth quarter. Tom Brady had an efficient game as he had 324 passing yards (without any touchdowns or interceptions) along with 8 rushing yards (only 3 short of 1000 career rushing yards!). Buffalo was able to constantly get after Brady, with Lorenzo Alexander and Jerry Hughes leading the way for the Bills’ pass rush. Following the injury to Sony Michel during last week’s win at Chicago, the Patriots tried to be creative with their rushing game, as they featured Cordarrelle Patterson in the backfield on several plays, with #84 rushing for 38 yards off of 10 carries. 

Julian Edelman ( 9 catches for 104 yards) and James White (10 catches for 79 yards) led the way for the passing attack, as they consistently got open whenever Brady was in trouble. The Pats also had solid contributions from Chris Hogan (2 catches for 49 yards) and Josh Gordon (4 catches for 42 yards). Rob Gronkowski had 3 catches for 43 yards, and it definitely appeared as if he was still hampered by injuries he has suffered recently.

The Patriots will definitely need to have a better outing on offense next week as they welcome the Packers, who gave the high-powered Rams fits on offense.

jules v bills w8.jpg
(Adrian Kraus/AP)

2. The defense had a solid outing

Throughout the season, the Pats defense had been described as the team’s weak link due to their inconsistent showings over the last few weeks. That narrative changed last night, as the defense carried the Pats to a win on a night when Tom Brady & Co. were not at their best. The Bills tried to attack the Pats by using the Wildcat formation on several occasions, which was mostly unsuccessful for Buffalo. The Patriots were able to limit the effectiveness of LeSean McCoy, who was limited to 13 yards off of 12 carries. The Patriots also finally won the turnover battle, as they were able to force 2 turnovers that were crucial in breaking the game open for them. Firstly, Pat Chung recovered a Derek Anderson in the third quarter that resulted in a field goal that increased the lead to 12-6. In the fourth quarter, Devin McCourty delivered the dagger, as he picked off Anderson and returned it for a 84 yard touchdown that put the game out of reach. 

If the Patriots’ defense continues to play like this, they will be hard to beat.

dev pick six v buffalo w8.jpg
(Photo via NBC Sports)

Statistical Leaders

Patriots

  • Passing: Tom Brady – 29/45 for 324 yards
  • Rushing: Cordarrelle Patterson – 10 carries for 38 yards
  • Receiving: Julian Edelman – 9 catches for 104 yards
  • Defensive: Kyle Van Noy – 8 tackles (including 2 sacks)

Bills

  • Passing: Derek Anderson – 22/39 for 290 yards, and 1 interception
  • Rushing: Chris Ivory – 6 carries for 34 yards
  • Receiving: LeSean McCoy – 6 catches for 82 yards
  • Defensive: Phillip Gaines – 10 tackles

 

What’s next?: The Pats welcome Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers (3-3-1) for a Sunday Night matchup. Ironically, this is only the second matchup between Brady and Rodgers.

The Pats tame the Bears in thrilling game at Soldier Field!

TEAM

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CHI 10 7 7 7 31

NE

7 14 10 7 38

The Patriots outlasted the Chicago Bears (3-3) in a back-and-forth game at Soldier Field, with a 38-31 victory that improved them to 5-2 on the season. Playing without key contributors on offense and an inconsistent defense, the Pats relied on special teams to pull out their first road victory of the year.

Here are some takeaways from today’s game.

1. The offense was brilliant once again without key playmakers

The Pats took on the Bears without Rob Gronkowski, who didn’t make the trip to Chicago due to back and ankle injuries. They started the game hot, as they dissected the vaunted Bears defense en route to a Julian Edelman touchdown on their opening drive. However, things went downhill from there, as their third drive resulted in Sony Michel suffering a knee injury (which did not look good) and a fumble that helped Chicago take a 17-7 lead. The Patriots displayed their mental fortitude as they were able to bounce back and regain the lead in the second quarter. Tom Brady was his usual self, as he threw for over 270 yards and 3 touchdowns, along with an interception. James White and Kenjon Barner served as a serviceable running back duo, as they helped spread the field for the Patriots. Without Gronk in the lineup, the Pats relied on their trio of receivers in Julian Edelman (5 catches for 36 yards and 1 touchdown), Josh Gordon (4 catches for 100 yards), and Chris Hogan (6 catches for 63 yards). The offensive line performed well against the talented Chicago pass rush, as Brady was only sacked 1 time, and was not touched much throughout the game.

 Sony Michel’s injury is concerning for the rest of the season, as he had proved himself to be a valuable contributor, and the combination of Michel and White was extremely potent for Josh McDaniels’ offense. There hasn’t been any word on the severity of his injury, but let’s hope that he isn’t out for an extended period of time. I also believe that the Patriots shouldn’t rush Rob Gronkowski back into the lineup, as I think that it’s important to allow him to recover and stay healthy as the season progresses.  

White v bears w7.jpg
(Photo via USA TODAY Sports)

2. The defense had another up-and-down performance

Following their dreadful performance against the Chiefs, it was interesting to see how the Pats’ defense would rebound against Mitch Trubisky and the Bears offense, and the best word to describe their performance is inconsistent. Early on in the game, they were able to shut down Chicago’s passing game, but they could not contain Trubisky outside of the pocket, as he frequently scampered for first downs off of big gains. Trubisky had a 8-yard touchdown run, and also had a 39-yard run during which he maneuvered around hapless Patriots’ defenders. Despite their inability to stop Trubisky from running the ball, the Pats were able to make life hard for his receivers, as only Trey Burton (9 receptions for 126 yards and 1 touchdown) and Tarik Cohen (8 catches for 69 yards and 1 touchdown) had great performances. Another area of concern for the Pats was their number of penalties (4 penalties for 29 yards), which helped to extend drives for Chicago. 

The Pats were able to make up for their early miscues, as they forced Trubisky into 2 second half interceptions and most of Chicago’s fourth quarter yardage came in garbage time. Today’s game ended in thrilling fashion, as the Bears’ Hail Mary attempt resulted in Kevin White being tackled at the one-yard line, due to a wall of defenders led by Duron Harmon.

pats bears hial mary
(Photo by John J. Kim / Chicago Tribune)

3. Special Teams came up big!

The Patriots’ special teams did not start very well today, as Cordarrelle Patterson fumbled a kickoff which gave the Bears fantastic field position and led to them snatching the lead. Patterson was able to recover from his miscue, as he returned a second quarter kickoff for a 95-yard touchdown, as he outmaneuvered the Bears’ kickoff unit and helped the Patriots trim their deficit to 17-14. In the third quarter, Dont’a Hightower blocked a punt, which led to a touchdown by Kyle Van Noy which gave the Patriots a lead that they would never relinquish. Interestingly enough, this was the first game in Patriots’ history that featured the men in blue score on a blocked punt and a kickoff. It’s always heartening to see special teams step up when the team requires a spark in order to emerge victorious. 

patterson kickoff w7
(Photo by Barry Chin/ Boston Globe)

Statistical Leaders:

Patriots

  • Passing: Tom Brady – 25/36 for 277 yards, 3 touchdowns and 1 interception
  • Rushing: James White – 11 carries for 40 yards
  • Receiving: Josh Gordon – 4 catches for 100 yards 
  • Defensive: Patrick Chung – 6 tackles

Bears

  • Passing: Mitch Trubisky – 26/50 for 333 yards, 2 touchdowns and 2 interceptions
  • Rushing: Mitch Trubisky – 6 carries for 81 yards, and 1 touchdown
  • Receiving: Trey Burton – 9 catches for 126 yards, and 1 touchdown
  • Defensive: Danny Trevathan – 10 tackles

 

What’s next?: The Pats head to Buffalo to take on their rival, the Buffalo Bills (2-5) on Monday Night Football.  

 

 

The Pats outlast the high-octane Chiefs in Sunday Night thriller!

TEAM

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KC 6 3 17 14 40

NE

10 14 3 16 43

What a game!

Last night’s Week 6 contest between the Patriots and the Kansas City Chiefs (5-1) definitely lived up to the hype, as the two teams flexed their offensive might in a game that had 83 combined points. The Pats eventually prevailed on a Stephen Gostkowski field goal that gave them the 43-40 win. 

Here are some takeaways from last night’s game.

1. The Pats offense was sensational!

A mere three weeks after looking absolutely inept on the offensive side of the ball against the Detroit Lions during a Week 3 clunker, the Patriots went toe to toe with one of the NFL’s best offenses with Tom Brady and Sony Michel leading the way. Brady was pretty unflappable throughout the game, as he had 340 passing yards and 1 passing touchdown, along with a jaw-dropping 4 yard touchdown run (only 15 yards away from 1,000 career rushing yards!). Sony Michel continued his stretch of dominance as he gashed the porous Chiefs defense for 106 yards and 2 touchdowns off of 24 carries. Michel demonstrated the quickness and agility he had at Georgia, as he was able to find his way through holes and pick up huge chunks of yardage. The Pats also enjoyed solid contributions from Julian Edelman ( 4 catches for 54 yards and 1 touchdown), Chris Hogan (4 catches for 78 yards), Josh Gordon ( 5 catches for 42 yards), and James White (6 rushes for 39 yards, and 5 catches for 53 yards). Rob Gronkowski was quiet for most of the game, but he came up clutch when the Patriots needed big plays to seal the deal. For instance, he had a huge 42-yard gain on the drive that increased their lead to 7 (which was aided by an impressive stiff arm!). On the game-winning drive, Gronk also had a 39 yard catch which put the Patriots in range to finish off the Chiefs. #87 finished with 3 catches for 97 yards).

More than anything, I would say that this game showed the mental toughness of the Patriots’ offense, as they were able to shake off losing their 15 point halftime lead, and miscues (such as Tom Brady’s fumble) and still have the ability to drive down the field at will. The Pats were able to win this game because their playmakers came up big when they were required to do so. 

gronk stiff arm vs chiefs.jpg
(Photo by Stephen Senne/AP)

2. The defense had its moments…

It’s hard to fault the Patriots’ defense for giving up 40 points, due to the explosiveness of their opponent, but the Pats were absolutely dissected by Patrick Mahomes and his assortment of weapons.

The first half was very efficient for the Pats defense, as they were able to get after Mahomes, and force him into 2 interceptions. The pressure in his face also forced him to miss wide-open receivers on what would have been sure-fire touchdowns. Limiting the Chiefs to 9 points in the first half was definitely a victory for the Patriots.

The second half was a completely different story for Mahomes and his offense, as evidenced by their opening drive, when Kareem Hunt torched the secondary for a 67-yard touchdown. To be fair to the Patriots’ defense, the next two touchdowns they gave up were not completely on them. The first one was due to a Tom Brady fumble deep in Pats’ territory, while the second one was due to a brilliant kickoff return that set them up mere yards away from the end zone. At the same time, the Pats’ secondary (especially the McCourty twins) could not seem to stop the blazing fast Tyreek Hill who burned them for 7 catches for 142 yards and 3 touchdowns. The secondary’s performance could be epitomized by Hill’s final touchdown, when he was open down the field and outran everyone in the secondary to tie the game at 40. Luckily enough for the Pats’ defense, the Pats’ offense had their back, as they used up the rest of the clock en route to a game-winning field goal.

The Pats defense should not be demoralized, but they can’t depend on the offense to score more than 40 points and bail them out every time they fail to stop their opponent. An example of this could be Super Bowl LII where both defenses struggled, with Philadelphia winning the game due to a strip-sack of Brady on what could have been a game-winning drive. 

mahomes v pats w6.jpg
(Photo via SI)

3. Playoff implications?

It’s never too early to talk about playoff implications in the NFL…

With a win last night, the Chiefs would have given themselves a great opportunity to eventually seize home-field advantage in the AFC. due to victories over the Jaguars, Steelers and the Patriots. However, due to the fact that the Patriots won last night, they will gain a head-to-head edge over the Chiefs, which will definitely come in handy if the two teams finish with the same record. 

Regardless of who finishes with the better record, it would be very entertaining to see these teams battle once more in January.

tb v chiefs w6.jpg
(Photo via USA TODAY Sports)

Statistical Leaders:

Patriots

Passing: Tom Brady – 24/35 for 340 yards and 1 touchdown

Rushing: Sony Michel – 24 carries for 106 yards and 2 touchdowns

Receiving: Rob Gronkowski – 3 catches for 97 yards

Defensive: Trey Flowers and Elandon Roberts with 7 tackles each

Chiefs

Passing: Patrick Mahomes – 23/36 for 352 yards, 4 touchdowns and 2 interceptions

Rushing: Kareem Hunt – 10 carries for 80 yards

Receiving: Tyreek Hill – 7 catches for 142 yards and 3 touchdowns

Defensive: Anthony Hitchens – 14 tackles

 

What’s next: The Pats head to the Windy City to take on Khalil Mack and the fearsome Chicago Bears (3-2)