Another Classic!: Seattle edges the Pats on SNF

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Seattle. New England. Sunday Night Football.

When you put these words together, you’re bound to get one hell of a football game, and yesterday was no exception. For the third straight matchup between these teams, the game came down to a goal line stand by the victorious team, with Seattle securing a 35-30 victory. This loss drops the Patriots to 1-1 and second place in the AFC East behind the Buffalo Bills.

Here are my takeaways from this Week 2 game.

1. Cam & Jules came to play!
After lighting up the Dolphins on the ground in Week 1, many people wondered how Cam Newton & the Patriots would look when #1 was tasked with beating defenses with his arm. Newton delivered yesterday, as he threw for 397 yards, and almost led the Patriots to a dramatic fourth quarter comeback. Newton primarily connected with Julian Edelman, who totaled 179 receiving yards on a career night. For the first time in multiple seasons, Edelman was a deep threat, with several clutch catches against star safety Jamal Adams, including a 49 yard reception to spark a scoring drive in the fourth quarter. However, Edelman was visibly exhausted and dinged up near the end of the game, which is a situation worth monitoring as the season progresses. Other than Edelman, Damiere Byrd & N’Keal Harry both stepped up, as they both recorded 72 receiving yards. It was great to see Byrd step up after being held without a catch in Week 1, but Harry’s game was even more encouraging, as he made some tough contested catches, including a 4th down play in the first quarter, when he got hit illegally by a Seattle defender. Cam Newton has expressed confidence in Harry, and performances like this will only help expand his role in the offense.

The Patriots’ rushing attack was primarily run through Newton, as both Sony Michel & Rex Burkhead struggled to gain any traction. Newton recorded 2 rushing touchdowns on his now-signature goal line draw play, but it’s starting to look like that play may be becoming predictable for opposing defenses. This was evident on a failed two-point conversion in the fourth quarter, when Jamal Adams dispatched him through a gap in the offensive line. In addition, on the game’s last play, the Patriots opted to use that play again, which resulted in Newton getting knocked down a few yards short of the goal line. I’m not going to question Josh McDaniels’ decision making, as the play could have worked with better blocking, but an option play, or play-action pass in that situation could have helped the Patriots win the game.

To sum up New England’s offensive performance, it’s safe to say that Cam Newton was otherworldly (apart from a bad interception in the third quarter), as his dynamic playmaking made the offense look explosive for the first time in a long time. Almost beating one of the NFL’s best teams in a shootout on the road is an encouraging sign for the second showing of an evolving offense. As Newton & the skill players continue to become more comfortable with each other, the offense will only continue to get better.

Seattle Seahawks strong safety Jamal Adams (33) closes in on a sack of New England Patriots quarterback Cam Newton (1) during the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Sept. 20, 2020, in Seattle. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

2. Russ & the Seahawks’ offense cooked the Pats

The Patriots’ secondary was thought to be the team’s strongest position group, but they got absolutely annihilated by one of the NFL’s best quarterbacks in Russell Wilson, who threw for 5 touchdowns. Wilson only had 1 mistake the whole game, when a pass went through Greg Olsen’s hands, and was caught by Devin McCourty, who returned it for a 43 yard touchdown. Things went downhill from there, as Wilson targeted key members of the secondary, including Jonathan Jones & Stephon Gilmore, with both players giving up touchdowns. Typically, the Patriots stick to tight man-to-man coverage, but with Wilson’s elusiveness out of the pocket, they chose to use zone coverage, which didn’t really work out in their favor. The Patriots were able to sack Wilson twice, but they struggled to keep up with him, as he also gained 39 yards on the ground.

Seattle also had great success running the ball, with Chris Carson accounting for 72 of the team’s 154 rushing yards. The Patriots struggled to win at the line of scrimmage, which should be an area of emphasis for Bill Belichick as the season progresses. Luckily for them, Seattle opted to pass the ball on a crucial 3rd & 1 near the end of the game, which ended up with an incompletion, and gave the Patriots a chance to win the game.

Bill Belichick will likely be ruthless in his evaluation of this game, as his defense was routinely beaten by a blistering air attack, which is something that cannot continue as New England begins to play teams with high-flying offenses.

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(Photo via the Seattle Seahawks)

Statistical Leaders:

Patriots

  • Passing: Cam Newton – 30/44 for 397 yards, 1 touchdown & 1 interception
  • Rushing: Cam Newton – 11 carries for 47 yards & 2 touchdowns
  • Receiving: Julian Edelman – 8 receptions for 179 yards
  • Defensive: John Simon – 8 total tackles

Seahawks

  • Passing: Russell Wilson – 21/28 for 288 yards, 5 touchdowns & 1 interception
  • Rushing: 17 carries for 72 yards
  • Receiving: DK Metcalf – 4 receptions for 92 yards
  • Defensive: Jamal Adams – 10 total tackles, including 1 sack

Bonus:

1. RIP Tyrone White

James White was inactive last night, due to the tragic death of his father, who perished in a car accident. White’s mother is also in critical condition.

Tributes for White poured into social media, and Devin McCourty chose to shout out his teammate after his pick-six in the first quarter.

2. New away uniforms

Yesterday’s game marked the debut of the Patriots’ new away uniforms, which are a marked improvement over the previous set. Hopefully they’ll be more lucky the next time they wear them!

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(Abbie Parr/Getty Images

What’s next?: The Patriots return home to host the Las Vegas Raiders (2-0) for their first matchup since the 2017 season.

Showdown in Seattle!

The Patriots will face a stiff test in Week 2, as they head to Seattle to take on Russell Wilson and the Seahawks (1-0) on Sunday Night Football. This game will help serve as a barometer of how good the Patriots truly are, as the Seahawks are considered to be one of the best teams in the NFC.

Here are some things to consider entering this Week 2 contest.

1. Can the Pats stop Russ from cooking?

Let Russ cook” has been a enduring phrase amongst Seahawks’ fans on Twitter who believed that the team had hamstrung their star quarterback by overly relying on their rushing game in certain situations. Pete Carroll appeared to listen last week, as Russell Wilson dissected the Falcons for 4 touchdowns on a day where he completed 31 of 35 passes. The Patriots had some success causing problems for Ryan Fitzpatrick last week, as they forced 3 interceptions, but Wilson will be much more difficult to defend. He remains one of the NFL’s best deep ball throwers, and it’s impossible to understate his ability to extend plays with his legs. Luckily, New England fields one of the NFL’s best secondaries, so it’ll be interesting to see how they match up against a talented receiving corps, that includes Tyler Lockett & DK Metcalf. I’d expect Stephon Gilmore to be matched up one-on-one with Metcalf, with a combination of Jonathan Jones and a safety on Lockett (due to his immense speed).

In addition to Wilson & their receivers, Seattle also has two good running backs in Chris Carson & Carlos Hyde. Due to the Patriots’ inability to stop the run in recent years, it wouldn’t be much of a surprise if the Seahawks choose to punish them on the ground. Wilson is also a threat as a runner, which may necessitate the usage of a QB spy to monitor him at the line of scrimmage.

All in all, this game will show us how cohesive Bill Belichick’s defense is, as they will have little margin for error against such a talented offense.

(Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)

2. What will Cam & the offense look like?

Last week’s win against Miami was a masterpiece on the ground, as the Patriots compiled 217 rushing yards, due to a game plan that seemed to be designed to take advantage of the Dolphins’ lack of depth at linebacker. This week might look a bit different, as the Seahawks have the NFL’s top middle linebacker in Bobby Wagner, who forms a formidable duo with fellow linebacker KJ Wright. Seattle also features one of the NFL’s best safeties in Jamal Adams, who is very familiar to the Patriots, due to his years with the New York Jets. I’d expect Josh McDaniels to design a run-first game plan once again, but it remains to be seen if Sony Michel & the other running backs will be successful.

One would think that Cam Newton will need to use his arm more tomorrow, as we can’t expect him to rush the ball 15 times on a weekly basis. Newton did look sharp throwing the ball against Miami, but he’ll definitely need to be better this week, as the Patriots cannot afford to play from behind. The Seahawks primarily play zone coverage, which may open up opportunities for receivers such as Julian Edelman to find holes in certain areas of the zone. New England will still likely have issues getting the ball down the field, but they’ll need their young receiving corps to step up and give Newton a chance. I’m still intrigued by the speedster Damiere Byrd, who led the receivers in snaps last week, and appeared to be open down the field on more than one occasion (which is notable due to the strength of the Dolphins’ secondary). If Newton could connect with his former Carolina teammate over the top, it would help add a new level to the Patriots’ offense.

I think that the Patriots will look different than they did last week, but with this being Cam Newton’s second game under center, it’s quite hard to forecast how Josh McDaniels will decide to attack Seattle.

(Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)

Injury Report:

Patriots

  • Adam Butler (shoulder) – Questionable
  • Brandon Copeland (knee) – Questionable
  • Julian Edelman (knee) – Questionable
  • N’Keal Harry (shoulder) – Questionable
  • Dalton Keene (neck) – Questionable
  • Matthew Slater (knee) – Questionable
  • Josh Uche (ankle) – Out

Seahawks

  • Phillip Dorsett (foot) – Questionable
  • Cedric Ogbuehi (pectoral) – Doubtful
  • Rasheem Green (neck) – Doubtful

Bonus:

1. RIP Jeannette Belichick

Bill Belichick’s mother, Jeannette, passed away this past week at the age of 98. At a press conference on Wednesday, Belichick mentioned that he spent a lot of time watching football with her as a child, and that she was able to speak 7 languages. Hopefully the Patriots canget a win in her memory!

2. Shades of XLIX?

This game is being billed as a rematch of 2015’s legendary Super Bowl XLIX in Arizona, but these teams have changed a great deal over the past six years. Prominent figures from that game such as Tom Brady, Rob Gronkowski, Malcolm Butler, Richard Sherman, & Earl Thomas have all changed teams, with others such as Marshawn Lynch, Kam Chancellor, and Darrelle Revis having retired as well.

Other than their head coaches, here are the players that remain from that eventful game.

Patriots

  • Julian Edelman
  • Matthew Slater
  • Devin McCourty
  • James White

Seahawks

  • Russell Wilson
  • Bobby Wagner
  • KJ Wright
  • Luke Willson
  • Bruce Irvin

Prediction: Seahawks 24, Patriots 17

Here are my picks for the rest of the NFL’s Week 2 contests.

Last week: 10-5

Giants at Bears: Giants

Rams at Eagles: Rams

Falcons at Cowboys: Cowboys

Panthers at Buccaneers: Buccaneers

49ers at Jets: 49ers

Broncos at Steelers: Steelers

Jaguars at Titans: Titans

Lions at Packers: Packers

Bills at Dolphins: Bills

Vikings at Colts: Vikings

Washington at Cardinals: Cardinals

Ravens at Texans: Ravens

Chiefs at Chargers: Chiefs

Saints at Raiders: Saints

Miraculous Patriots dominate in Miami!

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Unlike last season’s matchup in Miami, today’s game between the Patriots and Dolphins (0-2) didn’t come down to the last play, as the Patriots cruised to a 43-0 victory, improving them to 2-0 on the season.

Here are some takeaways from this Week 2 contest.

1. Brady and the offense were efficient

The Patriots’ offense had another good performance today, as they had a well balanced attack which constantly caused problems for Miami. Tom Brady threw for 264 yards and 2 touchdowns, as he completed 20 passes to 7 different receivers. Today also marked the debut of Antonio Brown as a Patriot, and he made an impact from the get-go, as he caught 3 passes on the game’s opening drive. Brown ultimately finished with 4 receptions for 56 yards and 1 touchdown. Brown’s superior route-running was in full display, but it is obvious that he and Brady still need to work on their timing, due to a few instances of miscommunication between the duo. Julian Edelman (4 catches for 51 yards), Phillip Dorsett (3 catches for 39 yards), and Josh Gordon (2 catches for 19 yards) has relatively quiet performances, but came through when Brady needed them. Sony Michel (21 carries for 85 yards, and 1 touchdown) and Rex Burkhead (5 carries for 21 yards) combined to form an effective rushing duo, and Brady even added a rushing touchdown with his traditional quarterback sneak.

If the Pats continue to play like this on offense, they will put themselves in a great position to win more contests.

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(Lynne Sladky/Associated Press)

2. The Patriots’ defense was simply remarkable!

For the third straight game (including Super Bowl LIII), the Patriots’ defense did not give up a touchdown, as they absolutely smothered Miami’s offense. The Pats pitched their first shutout since Week 3 of the 2016 season, and were able to limit the Dolphins to 184 total yards. Stephon Gilmore and Jamie Collins led the way for the defense’s dominant performance, as both of them made life difficult for Ryan Fitzpatrick and Josh Rosen. Gilmore forced an interception in the third quarter, when he tipped a ball into Devin McCourty’s hands, and also had a 54 yard pick-six in the fourth quarter when he read Fitzpatrick’s eyes on a 3rd & 2 play. Collins had his own pick-six on the following Miami possession when he snagged a ball juggled by Dolphins HB Kalen Ballage with one hand en route to a 69 yard touchdown. He also picked off Rosen on the game’s final play, hence securing the shutout. The Pats hit Miami’s quarterbacks 12 times and also had 7 sacks. Kenyan Drake haunted the Patriots last year with his speed during the Miami Miracle, but he was rendered non-existent today, finishing with under 50 total yards from scrimmage.

The Patriots’ defense has proven to be the team’s superior unit over the last two weeks, and will definitely solidify themselves as one of the NFL’s best units if they continue to play like this.

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(Photo via Getty Images)

3. Stephen Gostkowski had a dreadful performance

Stephen Gostkowski has typically been reliable for the Patriots over the years, but he was dreadful today, with 1 missed field goal and 2 missed extra points. Ironically, he missed kicks on the same day as other prominent kickers such as Adam Vinatieri, Dan Bailey, and Matt Prater.

Gostkowski’s job is clearly not in jeopardy, but he will need to turn it around for the Patriots to succeed as the season progresses. 

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(Matt Stone/Boston Herald)

 

Statistical Leaders:

Patriots

  • Passing: Tom Brady – 20/28 for 264 yards, and 2 touchdowns
  • Rushing: Sony Michel – 21 carries for 85 yards, and 1 touchdown
  • Receiving: Antonio Brown – 4 receptions for 56 yards, and 1 touchdown
  • Defensive: Jamie Collins – 5 tackles, 2 interceptions, and 1 touchdown

Dolphins

  • Passing: Josh Rosen: 7/18 for 97 yards, and 1 interception
  • Rushing: Kenyan Drake – 6 carries for 19 yards
  • Receiving: Preston Williams – 4 receptions for 63 yards
  • Defensive: Jerome Baker – 12 tackles

 

What’s next?: The Patriots will host their hated rival, the New York Jets (0-1), who will be missing their starting quarterback Sam Darnold due to his mononucleosis diagnois. It will be interesting to see if Antonio Brown will be on the Pats’ roster next week, as the NFL will be meeting with the woman who accused him of sexual assault in the coming days, and Roger Goodell has reportedly not ruled out putting Brown on the league’s exempt list if necessary.

Will the Patriots finally overcome their struggles in South Beach?

Even though the Patriots were dominant during their Week 1 rout of Pittsburgh, they should be extremely cautious entering tomorrow’s divisional matchup against the lowly Miami Dolphins (0-1), due to their historic struggles in Hard Rock Stadium. The Patriots have lost 5 of their last 6 games in Miami, with their last win coming in 2016.

Here are some things to consider entering tomorrow’s game.

1. Who will win the matchup between Josh McDaniels and Brian Flores?

The Dolphins defense was dreadful against Baltimore in Week 1, as they surrendered 59 points to the Lamar Jackson-led Ravens. Most surprisingly, Jackson threw for over 300 yards and 5 touchdowns, and was able to silence his critics who felt that he would never succeed as a passer in the NFL. Due to Baltimore’s performance, most pundits expect the Patriots to light up the scoreboard in Miami, which is a claim I am skeptical of. Don’t get me wrong, adding Antonio Brown to the offense that scored 33 points against the Steelers should make Patriots fans excited about playing a dreadful Dolphins defense, but there is one key factor that cannot be ignored. Miami’s new head coach is Brian Flores, who was a member of the Pats’ staff from 2004 to 2018, including one season as the team’s primary defensive play-caller. Flores was the architect (along with Bill Belichick) of the game plan that limited the Rams to 3 points in Super Bowl LIII, and clearly has a great understanding of the way Josh McDaniels, Tom Brady, and the offense operate. Belichick and the Patriots have always struggled against his ex-pupils, which makes this matchup even more intriguing.

I wouldn’t be surprised if Brady and the offense have a great performance, but the presence of Brian Flores on the other sideline may make this matchup tighter than people expect it to be.

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(Photo via Getty Images)

2. Can the Pats’ defense shut down Miami’s offense?

It wasn’t pretty the last time the Patriots’ defense took the field in Miami, as they gave up a 69-yard multi-lateral touchdown to Miami on the last play of the game now known as the ”Miracle in Miami”. The defense has clearly improved since that fateful day in December, becoming more stout against both the run and the pass. On the other hand, Miami’s offense had a terrible outing in Week 1, as they only mustered 10 points against the dominant Ravens defense. Both Ryan Fitzpatrick and Josh Rosen struggled at quarterback, with the Dolphins rushing attack also being rendered non-existent. Once again, the Patriots’ effective performance against Pittsburgh doesn’t necessarily guarantee an easy win against Miami, due to the fact that their former wide receiver’s coach, Chad O’Shea, is now the Dolphins’ offense coordinator. O’Shea’s familiarity with the Patriots’ system may enable him to find some chinks in their armor, which is something Belichick and Jerod Mayo will need to be cognizant about.

At the same time, I feel like the Patriots’ defense will have the ability to dominate this game if they continue to smother the opposing offense’s weapons, while applying effective pressure on the quarterback.

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(Photo via NBC Sports)

Injury Report:

Patriots

  • Marcus Cannon (shoulder) – Questionable
  • Matt LaCosse (ankle) – Questionable
  • Brandon Bolden (hamstring) – Out

Dolphins

  • Charles Harris (wrist) – Questionable
  • Trent Harris (foot) – Questionable
  • Bobby McCain (shoulder) – Questionable
  • Daniel Kilgore (shoulder) – Questionable
  • Reshad Jones (ankle) – Out
  • Albert Wilson (hip/calf) – Out
  • Walt Aikens (shoulder) – Not listed

 

Prediction: Patriots 27, Dolphins 14

Here are my picks for the NFL’s other Week 2 games (excluding Thursday Night Football)

Cardinals at Ravens: Ravens

Chargers at Lions: Chargers

Colts at Titans: Titans

49ers at Bengals: Bengals

Jaguars at Texans: Texans

Vikings at Packers: Vikings

Cowboys at Redskins: Cowboys

Seahawks at Steelers: Steelers

Bills at Giants: Bills

Chiefs at Raiders: Chiefs

Saints at Rams: Rams

Bears at Broncos: Bears

Eagles at Falcons: Eagles

Browns at Jets: Browns

Wakeup Call?: The Pats get outclassed in Duval County!

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The Patriots suffered an ugly loss today, as they fell 31-20 to the Jacksonville Jaguars in a rematch of January’s AFC Championship Game. Jacksonville thoroughly outplayed the Pats on both sides of the ball, as they grabbed the lead early and never let it up. 

Here are some takeaways from today’s loss.

1. The Jacksonville offense had its way with the Pats’ defense

The Pats’ defense took a serious step back from last week’s impressive performance against the Houston Texans, as they were porous and inept against Blake Bortles and the Jaguars’ offense. Playing without his top weapon in Leonard Fournette, Bortles did not miss a step, as he had 377 yards with 4 touchdowns and 1 interception. Today’s game was reminiscent of the first 3 and a half quarters of the AFC Championship Game, as Jacksonville dictated the pace of the game with strong rushes and passes. However, unlike the Championship Game, the Jaguars kept up their pace, which enabled them to finish off the Patriots. In the second half, after forcing 2 turnovers, it appeared as if the Patriots defense finally had its act together, but they ended up giving a 61-yard dagger when Dede Westbrook went uncovered across the middle of the field. To add insult to injury, the Pats lost 2 key starters in Trey Flowers and Patrick Chung, as both players suffered concussions.

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(Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)

 2. The Patriots’ offense was absolutely anemic

The Patriots started off today’s game by advancing to the Jaguars’ 38-yard line, with a balanced rushing/passing attack, but they ended their opening drive with a missed field goal. Following that drive, the Jaguars put their clamps on the Pats’ offense, with the Brady Bunch scoring their first points with 8 minutes left in the second quarter. Jalen Ramsey and the Jags defense backed up their talk, as they limited Rob Gronkowski to 2 catches for 15 yards, and constantly harassed Tom Brady throughout the game. As CBS’ Tony Romo mentioned, the effect of the Jags’ pass rush was evident, as Brady tried to operate as quickly as possible. The sole bright spots for the Patriots’ offense were James White who had over 70 receiving yards, and Chris Hogan who caught both of Brady’s touchdowns. When it appeared as if the Patriots had gained momentum following a fourth quarter Bortles interception, Dante Fowler Jr. strip-sacked Brady, which prevented the Pats from trimming their 11 point deficit.

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(Photo via USA TODAY)

What’s next: The Pats head to the Motor City to take on their former defensive coordinator Matt Patricia and the winless Detroit Lions (0-2)