Surprise, surprise, surprise (Gomer Pyle voice), tell me if you saw this one coming. The Patriots put together their best defensive effort by far this season, against one of the most explosive offenses in football in Matt Ryan and the Falcons and shut them down and out for 56 minutes before what was essentially a garbage-time touchdown with four minutes to go. Missing two out of their top three cornerbacks wasn’t an issue on Sunday night as the team finally put a 60-minute effort together and yes they were impressive.
And the Patriots running game was not only able to take the heat off of Tom Brady but was able to control the clock and finish the game. Dion Lewis rushed 12 times for 76 yards and was the workhorse for the team, as the Patriots gashed the Falcons for 162 yards on the ground.
With the win, the Patriots improve to 5-2 and remain alone atop the AFC East. Speaking of which, your trivia question for the night, which division has the most wins in the National Football League? You guessed it, “that weak AFC East”.
Tom Brady was coolly efficient, passing 29 times, completing 21 for 249 yards and 2 touchdowns. The offensive line had their best game of the season, as we pointed out in our pregame matchups, the best way to attack the Atlanta defense was to run right at them as their speed was too much on the perimeter but they’re smaller and the Patriots ate them up tonight by controlling the clock and the tempo. The Patriots held the ball for 34:05 seconds which kept Ryan and the Falcons offense on the sidelines.
But this was a night for the defense, no one foresaw the type of performance the defense put in tonight especially missing so many pieces on defense. But game balls have to go to Malcolm Butler who was flying all over the field and making plays and Johnson Bademosi, the special teamer who was placed into the starting lineup for the second week in a row due to injuries. Bademosi played very effectively and has given the coaches the confidence to use him now whenever he’s needed. Eric Rowe probably won’t be seen until after the bye but he’s earned more playing time.
The Patriots goal line stand was among the best sequences they’ve had defensively all season. Ryan hit Mohamed Sanu on the one-yard line and the defensive backs (Bademosi and Pat Chung) held him out of the end zone. On fourth and goal from the one, the Falcons tried to get a bit cute and run a jet sweep with Gabriel but it was read perfectly by Kyle Van Noy who burst into the backfield and dropped him for a five-yard loss.
Ryan finished with respectable numbers, 23-33 for 233 yards and a touchdown which broke the Patriots streak for allowing six straight 300-yard passers to open the season. But Ryan’s numbers were actually a bit skewed. After White’s touchdown, Atlanta got the ball with 21 seconds left in the half, and the Patriots allowed Ryan to hit three passes underneath before time ran out that totaled 36 yards but had no chance of getting any points. The same thing on Ryan’s final drive. Up 23-0, the Patriots weren’t going to give up anything deep and made them slowly work underneath and eat up precious time. Ryan connected with Julio Jones for a one-yard touchdown pass but even that appeared to be a Butler interception. It was just a magnificent play by Jones, by reaching over and stealing the ball away from Butler for his first TD of the season.
Atlanta was playing very aggressively going for a 4th and 7 at the end of the first quarter and again near the end of the half. That aggressiveness turned a bit foolhardy as the Patriots stopped them near midfield and then drove a touchdown right before the half that blew the game open at 17-0. Brady hit James White for a 2-yard touchdown at the end of a 7-play, 53-yard drive.
Chris Hogan and Brandin Cooks had impressive games with each hauling in four passes each. Hogan totaled 71 yards and Cooks 65 with a touchdown, a shovel pass from Brady where he followed Rob Gronkowski into the end zone for an easy touchdown. Falcons corner Robert Alford won’t like the film review on that one. WIth Gronkowski bearing down on him at the three-yard line, Alford did his best matador impression and stepped aside, allowing Cooks easy access to the end zone.
Rex Burkhead returned to action for the first time since Week 2 and ran impressively, gaining 31 yards on six carries.
Bill Belichick and Matt Patricia have to be extremely proud of the way the defense stepped up tonight. Holding Atlanta to zip until garbage time was a tremendous effort. They held the Falcons to just 2-9 on third down and just 1-3 on fourth down.
Special Teams got into the act with a blocked field goal by Cassius Marsh and solid kicking by Stephen Gostkowski.
The only downer tonight was the penalties. The Patriots were flagged eight times for 65 yards. Although the offensive pass interference on Gronkowski was horrible as the holding call on Shaq Mason late in the fourth quarter.
The game was played in an increasing fog which got worse as the game went along. Although Devin McCourty after the game said that the conditions on the field were fine.
So with the win, they face the Chargers at home next Sunday at 1 p.m. San Diego er Los Angeles has won three in a row and shut out Denver 21-0 today. The Patriots sit atop the East and the AFC at 5-2 with the Chiefs and Steelers.
Posted Under: Patriots News
Tags: 2017 Patriots Season Atlanta Falcons Bill Belichick Chris Hogan Danny Amendola Dion Lewis Dont'a Hightower James White Julio Jones Malcolm Butler Matt Ryan New England Patriots NFL Patriots Rob Gronkowski robert alford Tom Brady Trey Flowers