This week the Patriots showed a quality of good football teams: weathering the storm. The Patriots stumbled a bit in the first half but won decisively 33-7 against the Redskins in the nation’s capital.
Good football teams find ways to win games. It seems like a simple concept, right? But that means winning even when you’re not at your best, winning sloppy games, winning shootouts or slugfests or any type of game. The Patriots didn’t have a perfect first half, featuring turnovers, defensive breakdowns, and missed opportunities. Then they promptly came into the second half and scored 21 straight points.
They won ugly last week, and this week they were able to bounce back after a sloppy first half. Somehow Patriots fans are dissatisfied with these wins, but it’s beyond unrealistic to expect them to blow out every team. This team is solid. There are some (very few) roster weak spots and some tough injuries, but almost every other team in the league has a lot more issues right now.
Patriots Dismantle Redskins
Rewatching the Film
The game did not start well for the Patriots. After forcing a punt, Tom Brady took a sack on third down to give the ball right back.
From there, the Redskins gave the ball to rookie Steve Sims on a reverse that burned the Patriots for a touchdown. Sims ripped 65-yards through the Patriot’s defense, who looked uncharacteristically incompetent on the play. In hindsight, it wasn’t that bad considering it was the last points the Redskins would score.
Brady and the offense would answer right back though. Brady found his tight ends on back-to-back passes for big chunks to put them in Redskins territory. After some nice Sony Michel running, Brady found Julian Edelman in the endzone for their first score.
The newly-acquired kicker Mike Nugent had a good day despite missing his first extra point. He finished 2/2 on field goals and 3/4 on extra points.
In the second quarter, the Patriots defense forced their first turnover of the game off a fumble forced by Jonathan Jones. But the offense wouldn’t capitalize as Brady threw his second red-zone interception of the season.
After the slow first half, the Patriots came out firing. They went 75 yards in seven plays, capped off by a 29-yard touchdown pass to Brandon Bolden. Brady floated the ball just over the Redskins defense as he evaded pressure, showing some spryness at the young age of 42.
Their next drive was propelled by Michel on the ground and Edelman catching another score. Two drives later, they were set up around midfield after a nice punt return from Gunner Olszewski. They would score again, this time a 10-yard touchdown pass to Ryan Izzo.
The defense held tout throughout, as the Redskins didn’t even reach Patriots territory until their final two plays. Besides one busted play, they had another dominant, smothering performance.
This first one goes to the quarterback Tom Brady. Realistically, he deserves this almost every week, but this week stood out a bit. He bounced back from a rocky game last week, throwing for 348 yards and three touchdowns. More notably, he passed Brett Favre in all-time passing yards with 71,923. Brady is also only 17 yards away from passing Peyton Manning to reach second on the list. Drew Brees sits in first with 74,845 passing yards.
Another game ball goes to Sony Michel. Michel received criticism for a slow start this year, but he finally found his rhythm. He went for a season-high 91 yards rushing and a touchdown, as well as three catches for 32 yards. What’s most encouraging is to finally see him affecting the passing game. As a first-round pick last year he was touted as a great rusher and receiver, but the Patriots had usually deferred to James White as the primary receiving back. Seeing Michel receiving is very encouraging and gives the offense more options moving forward.
Updates From Outside the Uprights
In a bit of a surprising move, the Patriots released veteran tight end, Benjamin Watson. In his second stint with the team, Watson was suspended the first four games of the season for PED use. He did not travel with the team to DC this week in his first eligible game off suspension and was cut on Monday. This move signals the coaching staff trusts in their current tight end situation with Ryan Izzo and Matt LaCosse.
In other news, Rob Gronkowski announced he has joined Fox’s football broadcast as an analyst. Gronk was definitely entertaining on the field, but it’s arguable he can be just as fun off of it. His debut? This Thursday for the Patriots and Giants game.
Next Man Up: vs New York Giants (Thursday Night)
The Patriots may be 16.5-point favorites, but their games with the Giants are always highly anticipated. Belichick’s defenses tend to feast on rookie quarterbacks, and I’d expect this year’s unit to continue that trend. Daniel Jones is facing the best defense he’s seen in his young career, and he’s shorthanded. Saquon Barkley‘s availability in the game remains doubtful. His backup Wayne Gallman is in concussion protocol. Giant’s starting receiver Sterling Shepard is out with a concussion, and their starting tight end Evan Engram is questionable as well.
Essentially, if the offense can score one, maybe two touchdowns, they’ll be in good shape. With the level the defense has played at and the health of the Giants offense, it looks like another easy win for the Patriots.
Top Photo: Scott Taetsch/Getty Images