This Thursday night game felt a lot like last week’s sort of slow start, strong finish for the Patriots. Again, it wasn’t a close final score and again Patriot fans and media are dissatisfied. Nevertheless, a 35-14 home victory over the Giants in primetime is always enough for me.
This game was a bit unusual, as most Thursday games are. NFL teams really benefit from more time to prepare for games, so the sloppiness on both sides wasn’t surprising. In an all-around effort, the Patriots scored on an offense, defense, and special teams. They also forced four turnovers and blocked a punt, putting together another great defensive performance.
As for the offense, where most of the criticism lies, I’m still confident they can put it together. Josh Gordon got banged up in this game, limiting their options at receiver, with Phillip Dorsett also out. He’ll be back soon, and so will their 2019 first-round pick N’Keal Harry. That should fix any depth issues they’re having at wide receiver. I’d also like to point out that Dorsett serves a very underrated role in this offense as their speedy, over-the-top guy. His absence is especially heavy, but he should return soon as well.
In classic Patriots fan fashion, they’re worried about a team who is undefeated, has the best defense in the league, quarterbacked by Tom Brady and coached by the best to ever do it, Bill Belichick. Every other fan base would kill to be in this position right now.
Rewatching the Film
The Patriots began this game by pushing the ball all the way to the Giants redzone. However, they were stonewalled on third and fourth down as Sony Michel couldn’t find daylight.
On their second series, the Giants committed their first turnover of the day. Stephon Gilmore tipped one of Daniel Jones‘ passes up in the air where it fell into the waiting arms of John Simon. On the very next play, Brady gave the ball right back to the Giants, trying to hit Julian Edelman on a deep throw but being intercepted instead.
A few drives later, the Giants found themselves punting from deep in their own territory. Brandon Bolden broke through and bull-rushed his blocker right into the punt, deflecting it straight up. Chase Winovich located the fly ball and scampered into the endzone for the rookie’s first career touchdown. It’s well deserved too, as he’s immediately impacted the Patriots pass rush.
On to the second quarter, Jones threw his second pick of the contest, this time to Duron Harmon. However, this time the Patriots were able to capitalize. Starting their drive just beyond the redzone after a false start, Jakobi Meyers made a great sliding catch to put the Patriots at the goal line. Bolden capped it off with a 1-yard run into the endzone.
Down two touchdowns and with their backs against the walls, the Giants would respond. Daniel Jones lofted a deep pass for Golden Tate, just beyond the reach of Jonathan Jones who was covering. Tate made the catch and scurried into the endzone untouched for a 64-yard score.
Then, on the Patriots ensuing possession, they made another costly error. As Brady dropped back to throw, Lorenzo Carter beat the tackle on the edge and swiped the ball away from the quarterback. Markus Golden recovered and took it back for a Giants touchdown, tying the game late in the second quarter.
Looking like things were starting to spiral, the Patriots responded with an 11 play, 75-yard drive, taking up most of the remaining four and half minutes. At the goal line, Brady took it in himself for his first touchdown run of the game.
On the first Giants drive of the second half, Jones threw a third interception, this time to Stephon Gilmore. The Patriots would run 16 plays on their next drive but ultimately came away with nothing as Mike Nugent‘s field goal bounced off the upright.
A few possessions later, the Giants turned it over again, this time via a fumble by Jon Hilliman. Kyle Van Noy scooped the ball up, ran and dove for the pylon, giving the Patriots their fifth non-offensive touchdown of the season.
The Patriots finished the game by scoring one more touchdown by virtue of another Brady sneak at the goal line.
The first one goes to the All-Pro Stephon Gilmore, who is cementing his status as the league’s best cover corner. He’s in a league of his own right now, and his juggling sideline interception showed it. Gilmore also set up another interception by batting a pass into the air.
Another game ball goes to Julian Edelman, who finished with nine catches for 113 yards. Like Brady, Edelman shows no signs of slowing down and is one of the most reliable guys on this offense. His grit and commitment to the team are invaluable assets to the team, and his production on the field seems a byproduct of that.
Updates from Outside the Uprights
The main focus for this team right now needs to be getting healthy. Josh Gordon had a painful-looking leg injury that knocked him out of the game. Fortunately, Gordon “avoided any major injuries” according to Ian Rapoport. It’s unclear if or how long he will be out, but the team remains optimistic.
Phillip Dorsett injured his hamstring last week and didn’t play Thursday, with medical staff not wanting him to rush right back into play. The expectation is that this will be the only game he misses, but you can never be sure with injuries.
With week eight approaching, Isaiah Wynn and N’Keal Harry will be available to return from IR. It’s a safe assumption that they will be the two players returning (NFL rules allow two players to return from IR after week eight), and I’d expect them to make an immediate impact. The first-round picks are both largely unproven, but Patriots need their starting left tackle back and more depth at receiver.
Next Man Up: @ New York Jets (Monday)
The Patriots will have a nice break before this game with ten full days off, the perfect time to get healthy. Even with Sam Darnold back for this game, I don’t expect the results to be much different from their first game. The Patriots dominated the Jets offensive line last time, and there’s not much they can do to change that. The offense should expect similar success as well, as they’ll be fully rested and benefiting from extra time to gameplan. They should never take divisional opponents for granted, but the Patriots have a good shot at improving to 7-0.
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