Author Archives: Ian Logue

Ian Logue

About Ian Logue

Ian Logue is a Seacoast native and owner and senior writer for, an independent media site covering the New England Patriots and has been running this site in one form or another since 1997.

Five Takeaways From the Patriots Loss to the Steelers

Ian Logue
December 16, 2018 at 10:18 pm ET

Sunday’s 17-10 loss to the Steelers was both disappointing and frustrating, with the Patriots yet again coming away with another self-inflicted defeat thanks to their performance down in Pittsburgh.

Here are some thoughts as the Patriots find themselves still without an AFC East title and an unsettled postseason situation:

1) This one stung but unlike last week in Miami, you could see it coming – Last week’s defeat might have come in shocking fashion, but Sunday’s outcome was more like a slow twisting of the knife after fans had to endure a death by a thousand cuts, some of which ended up being self-inflicted.

Oddly enough, it didn’t feel that way in the beginning. While Pittsburgh put together a strong drive to open the game, the Patriots offense gave everyone hope that it would be business as usual after Tom Brady found Chris Hogan wide open for a 63-yard touchdown on just their third offensive snap of the game.

Unfortunately, that was the only highlight of the contest and things started to unravel a bit in the second quarter thanks to a phantom pass-interference call on Jonathan Jones that helped set up the Steelers’ second touchdown, which put Pittsburgh ahead at 14-7.

From there, the two teams battled back and forth yet despite the close margin, it never felt like the Patriots were ever able to get a handle on the game. Following the jubilation people enjoyed watching Hogan score and even with the two interceptions by Duron Harmon, the rest of the game felt like an uphill battle with the Patriots pushing a boulder up a hill that kept rolling back at them.

Hogan’s touchdown would be the only time they would see the end zone after they managed just three points the rest of the way. For a team that felt like they might have been figuring it out and finally coming together on the offensive side of the football, Sunday was an unsettling reminder that they still have their work cut out for them with just two weeks left in the regular season.

2) They definitely had their chances – The worst part was, they had their chances to win this one. But for a team that’s normally among the best in the NFL when it comes to playing disciplined football, Sunday’s match-up certainly proved otherwise. They committed an astounding 14 penalties for 106 yards, including an unbelievable sequence in the fourth quarter where they squandered a key opportunity to take the lead after driving down to the Steelers’ 5yd line.

After Sony Michel picked up 3 yards to get the Patriots down to Pittsburgh’s 2-yard line, Marcus Cannon was called for offensive holding, backing the Patriots up to their own 15. Brady connected with James White on the next play for a loss of one-yard, and the Steelers then put pressure on Brady on the ensuing 2nd-and-16, which flushed him out and saw him have to flee backward.

As he retreated, Brady tried to throw the ball out of bounds off of his back foot but he couldn’t get nearly enough on it. Pittsburgh’s Joe Haden leaped up and snatched it out of the air near the right sideline, out-leaping both Julian Edelman and Rob Gronkowski while managing to get both feet down and ending the potential Patriots threat.

The play came with just under 8-minutes left to play in the game, which might seem like there was still plenty of time left but you could feel the momentum swing from there. The Steelers took advantage, marching 66-yards on 13 plays, which ended in Chris Boswell getting redemption after having missed an earlier field goal by hitting from 48-yards out to put Pittsburgh up 17-10 with just two minutes left in the game. You could essentially feel it coming, knowing that Boswell would get an opportunity like that to redeem himself and potentially spoil the Patriots chance of dealing them a home loss. Unfortunately, that’s more or less what happened.

The offense struggled to string mistake-free drives together.

3) They ultimately beat themselves – The worst part was, even as bad as the game had gone to that point, New England had one more shot to get back in it and tie things up after being down by just one touchdown at 17-10 at the end of the game.

But much like the rest of the game, miscues by their offensive line sabotaged them down the stretch. Joe Thuney made the first mistake, with the offensive lineman drawing a false start penalty after the Patriots had managed to fight their way out to their own 40-yard line.

However, Brady bailed him out when he found Edelman for a 34-yard strike down the seam, which put them in Steelers territory. Three plays later, they managed to get themselves down to Pittsburgh’s 11-yard line.

But an incompletion on 2nd-and-5 saw Shaq Mason get called for a holding penalty, which then made it 2nd-and-15 and took them out of scoring territory after they were backed up to Pittsburgh’s 21-yard line. From there, Brady threw incomplete twice to Gronkowski and then overthrew Edelman down the middle on 4th-and-15, with the ball landing on the turf.

That caused the Steelers faithful to erupt and start wildly waving their ridiculous yellow towels, confirming the ugly reality that any shot at a comeback by the Patriots was officially over.

4) Penalties and mental errors killed them – When the Patriots look back at the film on Monday, the biggest thing they’re going to realize is how badly they gave this game away. For a team that normally makes timely plays to win a game, they made more untimely plays that ruined any chance to pull off a win in a stadium where they had previously had success.

Let’s be honest, this was arguably the most uncharacteristic performance we’ve seen in recent memory in terms of mental errors. Some of the flags were questionable at best, but the frustrating part was the fact they just couldn’t do enough consistently to keep that from being a factor.

To make matters worse, drops by key players compounded an already big problem. When they weren’t being called back for being flagged, they had their best players letting opportunities slip right through their fingers.

For a player who is normally pretty clutch and reliable, Julian Edelman seems like he’s been struggling as of late and he’s had trouble holding on to the football. The veteran receiver had a couple of key drops in this one, with Josh Gordon also suffering a big drop of his own on a key third down play to begin the second half.

It felt like they essentially killed their own momentum and you never had a feeling throughout the entire contest that they were ever going to come out of it. The fact the Patriots were still in the game at the end was surprising, but they just didn’t have the mental toughness to be able to go out and execute an improbable come-from-behind win.

Belichick’s defense didn’t play well against the run Sunday.

5) The run defense made things tough – While the Patriots will play their final two games at home, the stark difference in their defense away from Gillette Stadium should have most fans concerned about what the future may hold in January. This is a team that during the last two weeks hasn’t looked anything like the group we saw dominate against Minnesota, which at the time had some believing they had finally had a breakthrough game.

Instead, their issues are clearly still there, with their problems against the run being the most glaring. Mike Tomlin surprisingly took advantage, with the Steelers making a big commitment to their ground game to try and exploit them. New England’s defensive line was pushed around throughout most of the game and the number that stands out was the fact that Jaylen Samuels averaged a staggering 7.5 yards per-carry after rushing for 142-yards on 19 carries.

Overall, they did a relatively good job against Ben Roethlisberger and limited the damage Pittsburgh did through the air, with Duron Harmon picking Roethlisberger off twice. They even managed to hold the Steelers without a touchdown in the second half, but their inability to stop the run was a problem for most of the game.

The other key stat was the fact the Patriots defense allowed an incredible 7 runs of 10 or more yards, including one for 20+. That’s obviously a major problem, and it allowed the Steelers to possess the football and keep the ball out of Brady’s hands.

It’s been a consistent issue and remains one that doesn’t appear will get fixed heading into the playoffs. Factor in their inconsistencies on offense and it certainly raises the concern level to the point where not having the advantage of home-field in the postseason could be a serious issue.

The only saving grace is the fact that other top teams in the AFC are also having issues down the stretch and there’s still time for things to go New England’s way. The problem is, they need to take care of business on their own and they haven’t been able to do that after Sunday’s result leaves them with back-to-back December losses for the first time since 2002.

Hopefully being at Gillette Stadium over these final two games will cure what’s ailed them the last two weeks and they’ll at least be able to lock up the Division and finish out the year strong.

We’ve seen them get through worse, but Sunday’s game is enough of a reminder that this group has a fair amount of problems that historically haven’t been this bad at this point in the year. The bad news is, they’re running out of time to get them fixed, but whether or not they can is now the biggest question heading into what’s about to become the most important two weeks of their season.

WATCH: Chris Hogan Scores 63yd TD

Ian Logue
at 5:00 pm ET

Patriots wide receiver Chris Hogan got the Patriots on the board on their first drive, scoring on a 63yd TD after a catch and run where he was wide open:

It was the longest receiving play of the year, eclipsing the previous long 55yd marks set by Josh Gordon and Cordarrelle Patterson.

Five Takeaways From Sunday’s Patriots Loss at Miami

Ian Logue
December 9, 2018 at 6:51 pm ET

It’s not often you see a game where a Bill Belichick-coached team beats themselves, but Sunday’s showing down in Miami is a game that will have people second-guessing this one all week.

Here are some thoughts as the shock continues to set in.

1) Gostkowski deserves some criticism, but he’s not the reason they lost – One of the obvious things people will be discussing this week were the two misses by Patriots kicker Stephen Gostkowski, who has had a couple of surprising misses in the last two weeks. 

After the Patriots opened with a 12 play, 75-yard drive that ended with a terrific run by James Develin from 2-yards out for a touchdown, Gostkowski hit the right upright on the extra point, giving New England a 6-0 lead to start the game.  That miss loomed large for much of the contest, as the Dolphins kept going up by one point for much of the game as the two teams spent the rest of the afternoon exchanging leads after New England’s defense couldn’t quite consistently stop them.

But the most surprising miss came early in the third quarter after New England’s defense forced a punt on Miami’s first possession of the second-half, with the Patriots putting together a terrific drive that started from their own 22-yard line and took them down to the Dolphins’ 24-yard line.  Gostkowski came out for the 42-yard field goal attempt and pushed the ball wide right, squandering an opportunity to take a 9-point lead at 30-21.  Instead, Miami took the ball the other way after driving 68-yards on 4 plays, the last of which was a 23-yard reception from Brice Butler that went for a touchdown.  The score put the Dolphins up 28-27 with 3:58 left to go in the third quarter.

That was Gostkowski’s second miss from 40-49 yards of the year after he missed a 48yd field goal last week against the Vikings, which snapped a streak of having made 35 straight inside of 50-yards.

While both misses were tough to take, he made two key kicks in the fourth quarter that put the Patriots up 33-28 with just 0:16 left to go in the game.  Many will likely spend this week complaining about the ones he didn’t make, but what happened in those final seconds was far more inexcusable than the veteran’s misses.  Which brings us to the play in question.

2) The Patriots completely blew it on that final sequence – Looking back at the final play of the game for the Dolphins, it’s still a little staggering to look at how close they were to making a play before it all unraveled and ended in a shocking loss.

After Ryan Tannehill completed the pass to Kenny Stills, Jonathan Jones was right there to make the tackle following the completion but missed after he had his arms around Stills but couldn’t wrap up.  He dove again but slid past Stills, who then turned and lateraled to DeVante Parker.

Parker then lateraled to Kenyan Drake, who started running up the sideline and Kyle Van Noy accelerated and seemed to have an opportunity to take Drake down after being right behind him, but dove and couldn’t quite wrap him up.  J.C. Jackson tried to run in and get him, but he got blocked by Parker, who got in his way as Drake slipped past.

The last shot they had was Patrick Chung, who was right there with the one chance they potentially had to bring him down.  But Danny Amendola came up and created the illusion that he might be an option for Drake to lateral to.

Instead, Drake ran behind Amendola, who shoved Chung back and out of the play and then Drake took off for the races, which was when it was suddenly clear the Dolphins had a shot to pull this off.

That left Rob Gronkowski as the only player back there to try and stop him, but he came too far up and then lost contain on the outside when he took a bad angle and stumbled as Drake beat him to the end zone.

It was a frustrating sequence that until the page is turned, will leave players and coaches frustrated knowing how close they were to winning this football game.  While it’s easy to blame it on a couple of missed kicks, what happened in those final seconds was completely embarrassing and will likely haunt these guys for the next couple of days until they start preparing for the Steelers.

3) A rare mental error by Brady cost them – It’s not often you see the greatest quarterback in the history of the game make a serious mental error in what was a potential Division-clinching game, but that’s exactly what happened with Tom Brady on Sunday in the closing minutes of the first half.

The veteran quarterback squandered terrific field position after a second blocked punt in the closing seconds of the half, with the Patriots’ special teams pulling off their second punt block of the contest that gave the offense the ball at the Dolphins’ 15-yard line with 0:30 left to play.

But after hitting Gronkowski for a 13-yard pass that got the Patriots down to the Dolphins’ 2-yard line, New England used their final timeout with 0:21 left to go in the half.  Brady then threw two incompletions, including one as he bailed out on a play where he had a shot at finding Chris Hogan, who was open in the back of the end zone.  He then took an ill-advised sack on 3rd down, not realizing that they were out of timeouts.

He took responsibility for it after the game, but that was a huge missed opportunity, as points were at a premium for most of the game and squandering a chance to score after their special teams unit had them so well set up is frustrating.  Fortunately, situations like these are rare, but still certainly disappointing nonetheless.

Brady and the offense seemingly took the foot off the pedal in the second half. (USA TODAY Images)

4) Offensively, they played well but played far too conservatively down the stretch – Had the Patriots won the football game, they could have hung their hat on the fact that while it wasn’t perfect, they did enough on that side of the football to win the game. 

They finished the game without turning the ball over, with Brady throwing for nearly 400-yards along with three touchdowns.  They also ran the ball relatively well, doing enough to keep Miami off balance as they continued keeping the pressure on the Dolphins to match what they were doing offensively.

But the thing that really stood out was the fact that the second half had a different feel than the first two quarters, with the Patriots scoring just two field goals in the second half, including zero points in the third quarter.   The game plan seemed more conservative, which didn’t make a lot of sense given that they were playing relatively well up to that point.

After putting up 21 in the second quarter and building a 27-21 lead, they were far too careful, especially on the final drive where after getting down to the Miami 6-yard line, they ran the ball on two consecutive plays and settled for a field goal instead of a potential touchdown.  Had they gone for a touchdown, it would have been the knockout blow.

When you’re trying to win an important game, you typically want the ball in the hands of your best player.  Why Brady wasn’t given an opportunity on at least one of those plays is surprising, but it’s certainly easy to second-guess when you see something like what happened ruin what could have been a solid Division win on the road.

5) Dolphins did enough to make the ending possible – The worst part of this game was the fact that at no point did the Dolphins really do anything to take themselves out of the game.  Save for the two special teams blunders, they got more than adequate play out of their skill players.

Ryan Tannehill quietly had a great game, missing just 5 passes all afternoon after completing 14-of-19 for 265-yards and 3 touchdowns.  He suffered a scare during the game after getting his ankle stepped on, which briefly saw him sidelined.  But he later returned and shook it off, and did just enough to win the game.

There were no ill-timed turnovers, he didn’t give the ball away, didn’t really make any significant mental errors and it ended up being the reason why Miami was still in the game in the closing minutes.

He was extremely sharp with Stills being the player who he had the most success with.  He completed 8-of-9 for 135 yards and a touchdown, but it was the final completion at the end of the game people will be talking about as Stills was the one who got the whole play started

It’s a frustrating defeat and it certainly changes the playoff landscape after the Patriots went from being in contention for the top seed to now having to hope a few things go their way for them to have a chance at a bye.  At the end of the day, they’ll likely look back on this game as a massive missed opportunity, which now puts some additional pressure on them heading into next Sunday’s game when they go on the road again for another key match-up down in Pittsburgh.

5 Things We Learned From the Patriots Win Over Minnesota

Ian Logue
December 4, 2018 at 10:57 am ET

After the Patriots improved to 9-3 thanks to their victory over the Vikings, here’s a quick look at some things we learned from Sunday’s win at Gillette Stadium:

1) This was one of the best defensive performances of the season – Despite a couple of big plays by Minnesota, one of the most noticeable aspects of Sunday’s game was the play of New England’s defense, which put up one of their most complete efforts of the year.

The biggest thing that stood out was how fundamentally sound they played and with the amount of energy and tenacity they put forward throughout the contest.  It was one of their best performances in getting to the quarterback, with New England’s defense doing a great job of putting pressure on Kirk Cousins.  They harassed him the whole game, sacking him twice and hitting him six times, with Lawrence Guy (2 QB hits), Dont’a Hightower (1 QB hit), Trey Flowers (1 Sack), Adam Butler (1 Sack) and Kyle Van Noy (1 QB hit) among players responsible for making Cousins miserable.

Their tackling was probably the best we’ve seen all season, with the two McCourty brothers standing out on a couple of plays.  That’s been one of Devin’s strengths since he was drafted, but it was good to see Jason also step up the way he did on Sunday.  While the two had a forgettable moment when they let Adam Thielen get away from them on Thielen’s only positive moment of the afternoon when he scored on a 5-yard touchdown, it was just a blip on an otherwise decent day.  Overall, Thielen was kept largely in check, finishing with 5 receptions on 10 targets for just 28-yards.

Even their two interceptions were notable, with J.C. Jackson making a terrific play on the ball on a deep attempt from Cousins to Aldrick Robinson, which saw Jackson come in at the last second and get his hand in and deflect the pass, while Duron Harmon was right there and showed tremendous concentration to come down with the football for the turnover.  It was a key takeaway, as it happened three plays after Tom Brady was picked off the series before after he threw behind Julian Edelman on a 2nd-and-7 near midfield, which was one possession after the Patriots had scored to go up 24-10.

Had the Vikings gone down and scored, they would have gotten back into the game and potentially grabbed the momentum.  Thanks to Jackson and Harmon, that didn’t happen.

The end of the game was also terrific, with Jonathan Jones coming back across the field to track down Cousin’s pass attempt to Thielen, with Jones snatching it out of the air in-stride before high-kneeling his way back up the field and irritating a clearly frustrated Vikings group that saw several players bump him in anger as he went by.

Overall, it’s a positive sign for a team that still has some tough battles ahead of them.  More importantly, it’s hopefully a reminder to each member of this group that they can be much better than they’ve been.  Hopefully they can build on it Sunday down in Miami.

Sunday was one of Brady’s more impressive performances in recent memory.

2) Aside from the turnover, it was one of Brady’s better efforts – While it wasn’t necessarily perfect, Sunday’s game against Minnesota was one of Brady’s more impressive showings in recent weeks.

Overall, Brady threw for over 300-yards but more importantly he completed 75% of his passes, finishing the afternoon 24-of-32 for 311-yards along with a touchdown.  His interception was the only blemish on the stat sheet and it happened when he was under pressure, with Brady throwing just behind Edelman as he was coming across to his right.  Vikings linebacker Eric Kendricks made an alert play as he reached up and snatched the ball out of the air and it’s one of those moments that you just have to give the defender credit.

He was sharp on early downs, with Brady hitting on 11-of-12 for 173-yards and a touchdown on first down alone.  New England’s ground game gets a lot of the credit for that, with their offensive line playing physical against the Vikings as they accumulated 160-yards on the ground, with Sony Michel (17/63yds 3.7avg), James White (6/26yds 4.3avg) and Rex Burkhead (7/20yds) doing most of the damage.

With New England’s rushing attack enjoying success, it kept Minnesota off balance and Brady took advantage on early downs.  Overall, he completed passes to 9 different players as New England’s offense finished the afternoon converting 7-of-14 on 3rd down.   He also completed 5-of-6 attempts in the Red Zone, which was key as the offense converted 2-of-3 opportunities in scoring territory.  It was also his first 300+ yard performance since the team’s Monday night win over a month ago.

It may not have been a flawless effort, but it was certainly the best we’ve seen from him in a while.  With the team set to begin one of the most important stretches in the coming weeks, Brady’s picked a good time to hopefully get hot as the team begins it’s postseason push.

Brady finally reached 1,000 career rushing yards on Sunday.

3) A Historic Milestone for Brady – One of the more enjoyable moments of the game for Brady was his five-yard scamper, which came on the team’s third play of their second offensive series.  Facing a 3rd-and-3, the Vikings defense came hard as Brady dropped back, but the veteran QB found a crease to step up in and then noticed an opening and took off, picking up 5-yards before going into a slide across the turf.

As he skidded to a halt, he smiled and signaled first down, with fans at Gillette Stadium erupting when they realized that run put the veteran quarterback at 1000 career rushing yards.

Brady made sure to preserve that at the end of the game, stepping forward on the team’s final kneel down, pointing out to the officials where he was down to ensure he kept his rushing total.

He’s not the most fleet of foot, but after looking back at the film, the way he slid through the defense on that play was pretty impressive for the 41-year old player.  Unfortunately, that was the highlight of that drive as the offense stalled three plays later as Brady twice missed on pass attempts to Edelman, resulting in Ryan Allen being forced to punt away the football.

4) Gronkowski still battling – While the hope has been that Rob Gronkowski might get healthy over the final stretch of the season, Sunday was another reminder that this last month may end up being somewhat of a grind for the veteran tight end.

Gronkowski took some shots during Sunday’s game, including one play late in the third quarter where the veteran tight end took off on a post play across the middle and Brady hit him just as Vikings safety Harrison Smith arrived, with Smith drilling Gronkowski in his hip, upending the tight end on what ended up being a 15-yard completion.  Gronkowski landed with a thud and then briefly stayed down on one knee, before gingerly getting back up and looking hampered as he returned to the huddle.

He came off the field briefly and then later returned, but after focusing in on the tight end over the next few plays, he was clearly in pain.  It seemed to get better as the game wore on, but for a guy who really looks like it’s a battle to be out there, it’s another reminder how important a first-round bye will end up being to this football team if they hope to have Gronkowski be an effective asset in the postseason.

James Develin scored two touchdowns Sunday.

4) Nice to see James Develin involved – When you put the ball in James Develin’s hands, good things seem to happen and the Patriots certainly got him more involved in the offense on Sunday.

The veteran fullback carried the football four times for five yards and two touchdowns, with three of his four carries either moving the chains or resulting in points.

His first carry of the game came on the opening drive, with New England marching down to Minnesota’s 1-yard line after starting at their own 19.  After the Vikings bottled up Sony Michel on first down for no gain, Develin pounded his way forward into the end zone on the next play, which put New England up 7-0.

He scored again on New England’s first possession of the fourth quarter after the Patriots started off with great field position thanks to a 23-yard punt return by Julian Edelman.

After New England’s offense made their way down to the 2-yard line, Develin again got in, this time leaping up and into the end zone for the score that essentially sealed the win as it put the Patriots up by two touchdowns at 24-10.

It was a fun moment as Develin is obviously well-liked and was greeted by nearly all of his teammates, with each coming over to congratulate him after he scored.

It was a productive afternoon for the veteran, who once again reminded everyone that he’s quietly a key player in this offense.

5) Gordon slides back into a supporting role – One thing that stood out Sunday was the fact receiver Josh Gordon was once again a supporting cast member to an offense that did a good job spreading around the football.

Gordon had a quiet first half and then just when it seemed like the Vikings may have forgotten about him, he caught three passes on three targets for 58-yards in the final two quarters (all first downs) including a touchdown.

The touchdown was historic for Brady, with that pass ending up as his 579th career touchdown pass (including the postseason), tying Peyton Manning for most all-time.  Gordon also previously caught another of Brady’s milestones, hauling in the quarterback’s 500th career regular season touchdown pass against Indianapolis back in October.

The change of focus in Gordon has been huge, and the numbers certainly don’t lie.  In the two games heading into the bye week, Brady was just 9-of-22 targeting the veteran receiver with a touchdown.  In the last two games, he’s a perfect 8-of-8 with 6 first downs and a touchdown.

But more importantly, his team is 2-0 and playing at a higher level.

As for Gordon, he’s fine with however it goes, whether he’s targeted on every play or not until later in the game.  He said after the win his trust is with the coaching staff and he’s clearly happy with the results.

” I didn’t really question the game plan, I just went along with it,” said Gordon. “It seemed to work in our favor, and the coaches, my trust is in the coaches. I think they trust me. So, it worked out for us.”

New England will spend this week getting ready for a trip down to Miami next Sunday to battle the Dolphins, who took care of the Buffalo Bills 21-17 to improve to 6-6 with 4 games to play.

Five Things We Learned From the Patriots Win Over the Jets

Ian Logue
November 26, 2018 at 9:38 am ET

With the bye week in the rearview and the home stretch now upon us, here’s a look at some things we learned following the Patriots win over the Jets on Sunday.

1) Patriots issues with inconsistency on offense continued – One of the things discussed over the bye week by both Bill Belichick and Tom Brady was the fact the Patriots needed to be more consistent on offense, which included being better on third down after their recent struggles prior to their week off.  Unfortunately, on Sunday that still remained an issue.

The Patriots overall in the previous three games coming into Sunday were a dismal 12-of-40 converting on third down and things weren’t much better against the Jets.  They finished the game just 5-of-12, with Tom Brady completing only 3-of-7 with two first downs, one of which happened to be an impressive 34-yard touchdown by Rob Gronkowski, who made a highly contested reception with a defender on him for the score.  It’s been rough going for Brady, who before Sunday’s game had completed just 9-of-23 on third down during the club’s previous three match-ups.

In the Red Zone, it wasn’t great either.  Brady was just 1-of-6 in scoring territory, which included a frustrating sequence toward the end of the first half when the Patriots managed to get down to the Jets 16-yard line and then Brady threw two straight ill-advised fade patterns to Gronkowski, who was well defended on each attempt.  They would be forced to settle for a field goal.

Much like their 3rd down issues, passing in the red area for Brady has also been a problem.  Over the previous three games, Brady completed just 5-of-14 passing without a touchdown.   On Sunday, those issues continued after Brady went 1-of-6 throwing the football as the offense produced just one touchdown in three trips.  Their lone red zone touchdown came on a one-yard run by Sony Michel, who muscled his way into the end zone early in the fourth quarter for what ended up being the death knell for a Jets team that couldn’t keep the Patriots from pulling away in what was another hard-fought game at MetLife Stadium.

It’s these types of issues that continue to hamper them and remain a problem that will need to get solved over the remaining five games.  While it likely wasn’t the performance they were hoping for, Brady said after the game he was glad to get the win but knows they still have work to do.

“In every area we can do a better job,” said Brady after the game. “We’re certainly not where we want to be. We’re going to keep building for it and we’re going to go out there and try to get better. Hopefully everyone can stay healthy and we’ll see where we’re at next Sunday.”

Gronkowski got into the end zone for the first time since Week 1 Sunday.

2) Gronkowski looked better, but still not quite himself – One big addition to the offense on Sunday was the return of tight end Rob Gronkowski, who was back on the field for the first time since the team’s Monday night game in Buffalo nearly a month ago.

Gronkowski finished the afternoon with 3 receptions for 56-yards, one of which was a 34-yard touchdown that saw him make an incredible play with a defender right on him, with the veteran tight end snatching the ball out of the air and hauling it in just as he was hit.  A Gronk spike followed, which was his first since week one.

That proved to be the highlight of the day as he was targeted 7 times with just three receptions, with the Jets defense once again beating him up and making life difficult.  Gronkowski still appeared to be limbering at times and still had a tough afternoon as he had a defender in his face nearly every time the ball was thrown his way.  The good news is it seemingly opened things up quite a bit for Josh Gordon and Julian Edelman, who each had big games.

But one of the bigger things that stood out was his impact in the running game, which saw him open up several runs for both Sony Michel and James White, who each combined for over 200-yards running the football.  Gronkowski was matched up on multiple plays against linebackers Brandon Copeland, Jordan Jenkins and Frankie Luvu, along with defensive end Henry Anderson when he was called on during his blocking assignments.  Gronk did a solid job of keeping each out of multiple plays as the Patriots moved the football, including some notable moments.  He was key in the first down Cordarrelle Patterson picked up on a 3rd-and-1 early in the 3rd quarter when Gronkowski easily blocked safety Jamal Adams out of the play. He also took down Anderson on the outside on the 4th-and-1 Patterson converted on the drive that led to the go ahead field goal by Stephen Gostkowski.

Gronkowski even helped out in pass protection, including providing a solid pocket for Brady on the 27-yard completion to Chris Hogan on the next drive.  He followed it up with a good block to seal off the edge on James White’s 27-yard run on the next play.  The drive led to Julian Edelman’s touchdown.  Gronkowski also fought off Jenkins to start the next possession, which sprung Michel’s 33-yard run.  That’s another drive which ended in a touchdown.

Those are contributions that obviously don’t show up on the stat sheet, but after what we saw on several replays, his blocking ability is something that shouldn’t go unnoticed and it played a big role in Sunday’s win.  If Gronkowski continues to struggle in the passing game, what he does in the ground game could be the area where he quietly makes a difference if his physical ailments see him forced into a smaller role in the offense.

Either way, the good news is the big tight end was at least all smiles after it was over and said after the game that even though it was nice to get into the end zone, he was happy the team was able to get back on track and get the win.

“It feels good, but what feels better is getting that win. Just scoring on that one drive was just contributing to what we were trying to do and that was just get the W,” said Gronkowski. “We just kept putting points up throughout the game (and) just running the ball well which was huge. Our running backs are doing a great job. We’re doing a great job in that phase of the game, which when you can run the ball that’s always a good thing for sure.”

3) Solid outing for Edelman – Gronkowski’s return saw one of the better games we’ve seen so far from Julian Edelman, who caught four passes on five targets, all of which went for a first down including a 21-yard touchdown on Sunday against the Jets.

Edelman looked much quicker than he had in previous weeks and didn’t appear to be showing any ill-effects from any of the ailments he appeared to be dealing with heading into the bye, although he took a couple of big shots on Sunday.  One of those plays saw him come down hard on his elbow and despite seemingly being in a lot of pain, the veteran receiver never left the field and played well.  He also had Brady’s lone red zone reception, which went for 16-yards.

Having Gronkowski back in the mix definitely appeared to help open things up a bit more in the passing game and Edelman admitted that having him back certainly helped.

“There are a lot of eyes going to him,” said Edelman of Gronkowski. “He’s probably the best tight end to ever suit up. Anytime he’s on the field he’s going to attract attention and it helps everyone.”

The win improved the team to 8-3 on the season and helped ease the sting from their loss against the Titans before the bye, however, when asked if the win brought joy or relief, Edelman said that he’s glad they won but it’s time to turn the page.

“It’s a little bit of both,” said Edelman. “But you’re on to the next one. We have Minnesota next and you turn the page, whether it’s a win or loss. Obviously, the taste in your mouth is a little better right now. But it’s the NFL and it’s on to the next one.”

Brady spread the ball around, which actually led to a better performance by Gordon.

4) Brady shifts focus from Gordon, which leads to a strong performance for the veteran wideout – One of the things that stood out about Sunday’s game was the fact Brady did a better job of spreading the ball around compared to past weeks, which ended up being a positive when it came to receiver Josh Gordon.

The veteran quarterback finished the afternoon completing passes to eight different receivers, with the most notable numbers on the stat sheet being the fact Brady was a perfect 5-of-5 targeting Josh Gordon.  That’s a massive improvement over the 4-of-12 performance two weeks ago against the Titans, which saw the veteran quarterback lean on Gordon a bit too much as the offense struggled to get into a rhythm in what ended up being a frustrating loss in Tennessee.

Gordon finished Sunday with 70-yards receiving, with three of his five receptions resulting in first downs, with the receiver accounting for two of Brady’s three completions on third down.

After the game, Gordon credited the running game and the return of offensive lineman Shaq Mason as being among the reasons they were so successful on Sunday.

“It opens it up for everybody,” said Gordon.  “It takes the pressure off of the entire offense.  But it was good to have Shaq Mason back in the line-up, I think that contributed to a lot of it.  Sony fought through injuries and being hurt and the consistency of James White, it’s amazing.  So it makes our job a lot easier.”

Michel looked more like himself Sunday.

5) Michel is back to his old self after two weeks off – One of the best things we saw on Sunday was the return of Sony Michel, who was once again brilliant against the Jets.

The rookie was back to his quick and shifty self, showing terrific acceleration and vision as he slashed the Jets defense for 133-yards as well as breaking off two runs of over 30-yards.  Seven of those carries went for first downs, including a touchdown.

It’s Michel’s third career 100-yard game of the season and probably his most impressive performance during his short tenure with the team.

However, he had a scary moment in the game after he was briefly injured in the third quarter after getting bent back as he tried to convert a 3rd-and-1 from the Jets’ 11-yard line.  The Jets defense bottled him up and pushed him back, bending him backward awkwardly as he went to the ground.  Michel initially didn’t get up, laying on the ground for a bit until trainers came out and eventually helped him off the field.  Fortunately, Michel missed the rest of the series but later returned to the game.

He appeared to be in good spirits after the game and told reporters he just “got tweaked up a little bit” and couldn’t wait to get back out there.

“That’s just us being able to play Patriot football,” said Michel on their performance running the football.  “We want to be physical. When you’re physical, you can run the ball, you can throw the ball. It’s almost like you control the line of scrimmage and do what you want to do. Coach McDaniels has a great plan and we’re excited to go out there and just execute it.”

The team will now return home to face the Vikings next Sunday at Gillette Stadium.

Thanks to Some Help From The Broncos, Patriots Take Over #2 Seed With 5 Games to Go

Ian Logue
at 9:26 am ET

While the Jacksonville Jaguars couldn’t help the Patriots last week, the Denver Broncos provided New England a little assistance on Sunday as it pertains to their playoff hopes.

The Broncos took care of the Pittsburgh Steelers at home with a 24-17 win, which included a huge interception against Ben Roethlisberger in the end zone as the Steelers tried to tie the game in the closing minutes.

The loss dropped the Steelers to 7-3-1 on the season, giving the Patriots the #2 seed with five games to go after New England took care of business at MetLife Stadium against the Jets on Sunday with a 27-13 win.  That’s good news for the Patriots, who with that seed would have a first-round bye in the postseason.  That’s critical since in the event they’re able to maintain that spot over these final five weeks, it would provide them with another chance to potentially get healthy heading into the postseason and put them one step closer to reaching the Super Bowl.

New England will have an opportunity to knock the Steelers further down the ladder in three weeks when they travel to Pittsburgh on December 16th in what will be their final road game of the season.  It’s a huge opportunity, as it would also give the Patriots the edge in the event of a tie-breaker since they would have won the head-to-head match-up.

The Patriots would then play their final two games at home against the Bills and Jets respectively.

Meanwhile, if they’re able to win out, the top seed is still in play thanks to the Rams beating the Chiefs last Monday night.  The Chiefs were on a bye this week and still have three potentially difficult games left to go against the Ravens, Chargers and Seahawks.  They come out of their bye with a trip to Oakland to face the Raiders next weekend.

If the Chiefs were to drop one more and the Patriots are able to win their final five games, the team would then earn the top seed thanks to the fact they hold the tie-breaker from their win over Kansas City back in Week 6.  If Houston runs off five more wins, the Patriots would still hold the top spot thanks to their head-to-head win over the 7-3 Texans back in Week 1.  Houston will play at home against Tennessee tonight on Monday Night Football.

For now, the Patriots are at least in control of their future with December looming.  They’ll return home after Sunday’s win and start preparing for the Vikings next Sunday at Gillette Stadium.  It should be a tough match-up as Minnesota is coming off of a big win after beating Green Bay 24-17 on Sunday Night Football.

6 Patriots Thoughts Coming Off the Bye Week

Ian Logue
November 19, 2018 at 9:55 am ET

With the Patriots season set to resume this week, here are some thoughts as we await the team’s next contest down in New Jersey against the Jets this weekend.

1) With the Patriots set to begin on their final six games of the season after a week off, it’s hard not to feel like this coming week will be a pivotal one for a team that’s in need of trying to turn things up a notch as they try and make their playoff push.

A trip down to MetLife Stadium is what’s on deck for New England, with an AFC East battle looming against the last-place Jets, who are sitting at 3-7 and were also on a bye this week.  But despite their record, Sunday’s game likely won’t be an easy one.  Recent history has seen tight battles between the two clubs in each of the last three seasons, with a touchdown or less having been the difference in those contests:


10/15/2017 – Patriots 24, Jets 17 Win
11/27/2016 – Patriots 22, Jets 17 Win
12/27/2015 – Patriots 20, Jets 26 Loss

The Patriots have been on the right side of two out of the last three of those road meetings, including each of the last two seasons.  The logical thinking coming off a bye, the Patriots should be healthier and should have the advantage since they’re also the better team.  But if history is any indication, this will likely be more difficult than fans may think and it’s also somewhat of a litmus test when it comes to forming an opinion about who they’ll potentially be over the final six weeks of the season.

It will be their first match-up against rookie quarterback Sam Darnold, who has had an up and down season as a starter in his first season in New York.  His worst performance came in their most recent game down in Miami where he finished without a touchdown and threw a season-high 4 interceptions, with many saying he looked tired and run down before the team headed into the break.  One would have to believe he spent his own bye week trying to correct a lot of his mistakes while also preparing for a game that he likely considers to be the biggest of his rookie season.

While the Patriots have had their success against young quarterbacks, it seems like recent match-ups have been a little more difficult than many might have expected.  Fans only have to look as far as this season against the likes of Deshaun Watson, Patrick Mahomes or Mitchell Trubisky.  In each of those contests, they’ve been victories but certainly not easy ones.

Needless to say, as much as we like to joke about the Jets, with this team still trying to get into a rhythm and play better consistently, this Sunday may not be a guaranteed win.  We’ll find out this week if the bye did them any good from a health standpoint and whether or not they’re any better off as they try and finish strong with just over a month left to play for the 2018 season.

Gronkowski’s had to fight for every reception this season.

2) While the discussion about Tom Brady following their loss in Tennessee has centered around his skills having potentially diminished, that seems far less concerning than what’s happened with Rob Gronkowski this season.

Despite his slow start, Gronkowski had been putting up relatively respectable numbers prior to when injuries finally caught up with him.  Most of his problems came during the first four weeks of the season as teams were able to clamp down on the offense while the Patriots were without Julian Edelman, especially prior to the arrival of Josh Gordon.  Gronkowski drew double and even triple coverage at times as his surrounding cast struggled to get open, clearly leading to frustration after comments we heard from his brother and other reports that trickled out over that span.

Overall, Gronkowski has 29 catches for 448 yards and a touchdown, which puts him behind where he was through 10 games last year after he totaled 41 receptions for 620-yards and 5 touchdowns to this point in 2017.

Gronkowski hasn’t played since the team’s Monday night win over the Bills back on 10/29, having missed each of the last two weeks against the Packers and Titans.  In each of those games, he looked tired and beat down, lacking explosiveness and the power we’re used to seeing.  Injuries have hampered him as he’s been dealing with back and ankle issues, but all indications seem to point to the veteran tight end being back out there this weekend.  However, for the first time, there actually seems to be a little bit of doubt about whether or not he’ll return to form.   He’s obviously taken a beating over his career and the early part of the season certainly appears to have taken its toll on him.  As a result, it’s going to be interesting to see if he’s truly able to bounce back, or if he might actually be the player whose career might be coming to an end a little sooner than most fans might have expected.  Hopefully he’s got a little more left in him, because this team will need him to be at his best in January (and hopefully February) if they hope to make another run.

3) Mike Reiss of ESPN pointed out on Sunday that veteran tight end Dwayne Allen was spotted on crutches this week, which may be a bigger deal than some might think.

Allen’s biggest contributions since joining the team last season has been his consistency from a blocking perspective, which Allen quietly deserves some credit for the success the team has enjoyed in their ground game.

Paired with Gronkowski, Allen has been an unsung hero in an area that he doesn’t get any credit for on the stat sheet and any prolonged absence might end up being one additional problem that could hurt the team down the stretch.  Couple Allen’s loss with the injuries they’ve endured on their offensive line and it’s an area that fans can’t help but be a little worried about as the Patriots continue trying to jumpstart things offensively.

Allen’s injury was a little ironic given that he had logged receptions in each of the last two games, marking his first receptions since back in September when he caught a pass for a 4-yard loss against the Dolphins.  Reports before the bye seemed to indicate that he’ll miss a few weeks with an apparent knee injury, adding another obstacle this team will have to try and overcome during the final six weeks.

Brady had a rough outing in Tennessee in his last start.

4) Kudos to Tom Curran of NBC Sports Boston during the bye week after Curran took some time to try and add some context to a game that had the critics against Brady out in droves after an obviously frustrating performance.  He broke down every one of Brady’s throws, trying to find out the real reason behind the quarterback’s disappointing outing.

There’s no question that the Patriots loss to the Titans was one of the worst of the season for not just the team, but especially for Brady.  There were moments in that game where Brady was clearly rattled, with former Patriot Mike Vrabel and his coaching staff cooking up a game plan that their players executed to a tee in one of the most lopsided losses of the season.

In that game, the Titans brought pressure up the middle and got to Brady with such frequency that the veteran quarterback had a hard time doing much offensively, which included some questionable throws and moments where the mechanics he normally works so hard to maintain were nowhere to be found.

But what Curran pointed out was the fact that the pressure from Tennessee and the coverage was such that there was little for Brady to work with, which gave him little margin for error.  That’s why the mistakes he made were so magnified but also why there needs to be a little more perspective when it comes to the criticism.

While he’s not without blame, Brady remains the least of this team’s problems and can more than quiet the doubters with better play over the final stretch.  After a full week of self-scouting along with some much-needed rest, hopefully, that will be exactly what we’ll see the next time he takes the field.

Brady’s taken some big hits so far this season.

5) Staying on the topic of Brady, seeing what happened to Alex Smith on Sunday for the Redskins is a reminder of how things can change in an instant for an NFL quarterback.

The play that took Smith out was simply a play where he got his leg caught underneath him as he was going down, with Smith reportedly suffering a fractured fibula and tibia in what was a gruesome injury where his foot was turned in the wrong direction after it happened.  He was carted off the field and reportedly had emergency surgery, which will obviously end his season.

Ironically, the play looked eerily similar to Joe Theisman’s career-ending injury, which strangely enough, happened 33 years to the day Theisman’s occurred.  The veteran broadcaster saw the injury and wished Smith well on Twitter, with Theisman Tweeting, “Alex’s leg is exactly like mine 33yrs ago” and “I feel so bad for him.”

Brady’s been fortunate since suffering a fairly gruesome injury of his own in the opener against the Chiefs in 2008, which saw his knee bend at a really bad angle after being hit low by Bernard Pollard following a completion on their first drive.  That hit ended his season before it ever got started, but has luckily been his only injury-related absence during his career.

Save for his four-game suspension from DeflateGate, and Brady’s been a pretty dependable player.  Brady had played in 112 consecutive regular season games prior to his suspension, good for 9th all time of the longest regular-season streaks of any quarterback in the league.  Brett Favre holds the all-time record at 297 games (9/27/1992-12/5/2010), followed by Eli Manning (210 games – 11/21/2004-11/23/2017), Peyton Manning (208 games – 9/6/1998-1/2/2011), Phillip Rivers (202 games – the current active QB leader, whose streak started on 9/11/2006), Matt Ryan (140 games – another active streak that started on 12/20/2009). Joe Flacco (122 games, 9/7/2008- 11/22/2015) and Matthew Stafford (121 games – also an active streak).  Ahead of Brady with 116 regular season starts in the #8 spot is Ron Jaworski (from 9/18/1977-11/25/1984).

Durability has been one of Brady’s staples and one of the things he prides himself on, but we’ve already seen him get taken down and folded in half on multiple occasions this season, including the beating he took two weeks ago.  While he was fortunate enough to escape without incident, what happened to Smith is a reminder that things can turn sour in an instant and one can only hope that Brady’s career can end on a high note, instead of the way Smith’s career may turn out should this injury prevent him from taking the field next season.

Bortles and the Jaguars couldn’t close Pittsburgh out Sunday.

6) It’s been enjoyable to see the Jaguars get dropped back to reality after they beat the Patriots back in Week 2, but it would have been nice if they could have made themselves useful with the Steelers in town on Sunday.  Instead, Jacksonville snatched defeat from the hands of victory in a frustrating loss in front of their home crowd.

The Jaguars took a 16-6 lead into the fourth quarter and all signs seemed to point to a potential upset, but Jacksonville simply couldn’t close the deal.  Instead, Jaguars fans were treated to watching the Steelers score 14 points in the final quarter of play, shutting out Jacksonville’s anemic offense in the last 15 minutes to come away with a 20-16 win.

Jacksonville’s offense went three-and-out in each of their final four possessions and then turned it over on their fifth with :05 left to play to close out the game after Blake Bortles was sacked by T.J. Watt and fumbled away the football.  It was the culmination of a year that started out with a 2-0 start after their win over New England, only to go 1-7 since that afternoon, including having lost their last six in a row after Sunday’s defeat.

Meanwhile, the win puts the Steelers ahead of the Patriots for the second playoff seed, with every fan in New England likely rooting hard for the 9-1 Los Angeles Rams tonight, hoping they can beat the 9-1 Kansas City Chiefs.  New England already faces an uphill battle to earn a bye should they make another playoff push, with their surprising loss against the Titans two weeks ago potentially being a pivotal defeat that could hurt their chances. Unfortunately, they’ll now need a little help and will have to hope the Rams will be one of two teams that can stop Patrick Mahomes and company over these final six weeks as the Patriots continue fighting to get themselves back in the mix for a top seed.

5 Things We Learned From the Patriots Loss to The Titans

Ian Logue
November 12, 2018 at 10:25 am ET

Coming off of six straight wins, the Patriots were likely hoping to head into the bye with one final victory before the break against the Titans, but Tennessee spoiled any chances of that with a 34-10 blowout win over New England on Sunday.

The Patriots seemingly had no answers for the Titans on both sides of the football, with former Patriot and Tennessee head coach Mike Vrabel’s group outplaying New England from start to finish in a game where it never felt like they were going to get back in it.  Sixty minutes later, Tom Brady and Bill Belichick walked away with their third loss of the season, ruining any hope they had in potentially heading into the bye on a high note.

Here are some things we came away with from this one.

1) Vrabel knew how to disrupt the offense – Getting pressure up the middle has always been a recipe for success for opposing defenses and Vrabel’s defense did a terrific job of doing just that.  They spent the entire afternoon making Brady miserable, forcing him to step up while throwing off New England’s timing and never allowing them to get into a rhythm.

New England finished Sunday’s game a dismal 3-of-15 on third down, primarily because they didn’t have any success on early downs.  Brady was just 7-of-14 for 37-yards on 2nd down, putting the Patriots offense in 3rd-and-6 or longer on 11 of their 15 attempts, including 7 of 3rd-and-10 or more.  That led to Brady finishing 3-of-8 throwing the football on third down on the afternoon, causing problems with an offense that before Sunday had put up 38 or more points in five of their last six games during their six-game winning streak.

Vrabel credited Titans defensive coordinator Dean Pees for Tennessee’s success, with Pees having had similar success making things tough on the Patriots during his time in Baltimore.

“I can’t give enough credit to Dean (Pees), his staff, and most importantly the players,” said Vrabel after their win. “Dean (Pees) had them ready to go. They were prepared, they weren’t caught off guard, we were lined up, we didn’t hand them anything.”

That’s certainly true.  Between Tennessee’s game plan and injuries to both tackles Trent Brown and Marcus Cannon, it ended up being a recipe for disaster that will obviously be on their minds until they take the field in two weeks.

Josh Gordon and the offense couldn’t get anything going Sunday.

2) Not Brady’s Best Day – With the Titans getting pressure on Brady, it didn’t take long for frustration to set in and for Brady to uncharacteristically begin falling apart.

With Tennessee’s defense coming in hard up the middle and fighting off blitz pick-ups, Brady kept trying to move around and evade the rush and as the game went on, it was clearly affecting him.  Brady had several attempts where no one was near him where he wasn’t stepping into his throws while either over or underthrowing his targets.  He also had a couple of pass attempts where he threw deep and to a spot where no one was (but where someone was likely supposed to be), which generally stems from frustration and it’s a problem that tends to show itself in games like this one.

The worst was during the second quarter when Tennessee held him to just 6-of-14 (42.9%) throwing the football, which saw him trying to force the ball into both Josh Gordon (0-for-4 over that span) and James White (1-for-3).  The Titans went into the half up 24-10 and ended on a high note, dropping Brady for a 7-yard sack to close out the second quarter heading into the locker room.

The misery continued for Brady into the second half, with the Titans dropping him for a 5-yard sack on third down on New England’s first possession, and then shutting him down on their next drive after he connected with Gordon on a 23-yard pass that put them in Tennessee territory.  However, he lost Dwayne Allen to injury on the outside and that hurt their blocking given that it was a group that was already in tough shape injury-wise.  Brady would later come up short while trying to hit Jacob Hollister on a 3rd-and-4 after Hollister was blanketed and couldn’t haul in a pass that slipped through his fingers.

Tennessee then put together a 10 play, 78-yard drive that ended in a 31-yard field goal that put them up 17 at 27-10 late in the third quarter.

It didn’t get any better and the Patriots were shut out over the final two quarters, with Brady eventually giving way to Brian Hoyer after the game was well in hand for the Titans.  The veteran QB admitted after the game that Tennessee did a good job of making life tough between the pressure and the coverage in the secondary. Put those two things together, along with the fact they were trying to play from behind, and it was just too much to overcome.

“I think it’s probably a mix of both. It’s good rush and good coverage,” said Brady.  “They had a good plan and they did a good job of executing it. When you play from behind all day, it’s not very ideal. We just didn’t play well enough to make enough plays to score the touchdowns we needed to. It was just a bad day.”

It also didn’t help that Brady kept forcing the football to Gordon, with the quarterback hitting him just 4 times on 12 attempts.  Left out of the offense was Chris Hogan, who saw just one target and was clearly frustrated on a 4th down attempt late in the contest after he had beaten Malcolm Butler for a potential touchdown but didn’t get the football.  Instead, Brady threw incomplete to Julian Edelman.

Only Brady knows the reasons for some of his throws and even Belichick declined to discuss Brady’s performance after simply saying, “You’ll have to ask Tom.”

Unfortunately, they’ll just have to get back to work when they return from their break before they face the Jets, who were blown out by the Bills 41-10 Sunday.

Mariota had his way against New England’s secondary. (USA TODAY Images)

3) Rough Day for Gilmore – One player who the Patriots don’t normally have to worry about is Stephon Gilmore, but Tennessee went after him with pretty good success early in the first half after they mounted an early lead.

Following a 58-yard kickoff return to open the game, the Titans went to receiver Corey Davis early and often.  Davis caught a 24-yard reception on their first play from scrimmage that helped get them deep in New England territory to set up their first touchdown and then drew two pass interference penalties after beating Gilmore on the next drive, the last of which was declined after Davis scored a 23-yard touchdown against him.

Tight end Jonnu Smith beat him for a 29-yard pick-up to start their next drive, which led to a 33-yard field goal that put the Titans up 17-3 and put the Patriots on their heels as they spent the rest of the afternoon trying to get back in the game.

Gilmore admitted after the game that there wasn’t one particular thing that Tennessee did that made the match-up difficult.  They just didn’t play well enough defensively to give them a chance.

“They did a little bit of everything,” said Gilmore. “They ran the ball, passed the ball. I just think we didn’t play good as a whole.”

4) Positive return for Michel – The return of Sony Michel was relatively positive, although the rookie seemed a little hampered after carrying 11 times for 31-yards (2.8 avg).  Part of that had more to do with New England’s issues on their offensive line, but despite that, Michel had just 2 carries where he didn’t pick up a yard.

Unfortunately, Michel carried just 4 times in the second half as the Titans pulled away, forcing the Patriots to be one-dimensional against a defense that continued making life tough on them.  But the good news is Michel seemed to come out of this game without any setbacks, which will hopefully help the offense over its final six games.

Michel said after the game that he “felt good” and that the biggest problem on Sunday was just the fact they couldn’t get into a rhythm after they kept dealing with negative plays offensively.

“We had some plays, we had some not so good plays,” said Michel. “It was just a mixture of both, and it is just hard to get into a rhythm when you have so many not so good plays.”

Belichick and his staff have their work cut out for them.

5) The Patriots now have serious questions heading into their final six games – One thing that Sunday’s loss does is create some questions and cast some doubt about New England’s chances heading into the rest of the season.

At 7-3, there’s zero margin for error over the Patriots’ final six games after the Chiefs won yet again on Sunday, improving them to 9-1 on the season.  Given how they’ve been playing (they beat Arizona 26-14 Sunday) recently, New England will now have to hope Kansas City drops two of their final six games if the Patriots have any hope of not playing in Arrowhead in January.

But winning out will be no easy task.  They’ll travel to MetLife Stadium against the Jets in two weeks, followed by a home game against the Vikings, a game down in Miami against the Dolphins, a trip to Pittsbugh to battle the Steelers and then they’ll close out the season against the Bills and Jets at home during their final two games.

In order to do that, they’ll need Rob Gronkowski to suddenly get healthy and play at a Gronk-like level.  They’ll need more production from Chris Hogan.  They’ll need even more from Julian Edelman, who even with 9 receptions for 104 yards still looks like a player who is getting his legs back under him.  Brady has said on multiple occasions during their recent winning streak that they weren’t playing to their potential and Sunday ended up being the setback that you could essentially see coming given some of the problems they’ve been able to mask in recent weeks.

Edelman probably said it best after the game after saying it’s a game that they’re definitely going to need to learn from.  The problems they have are fixable and if they do, they’ve got enough talent to make another push.  If they don’t, it’s going to be a tough stretch because things certainly aren’t going to get any easier.

“You better learn from a game like this, because the weeks get harder and harder,” said Edelman. “That’s a good football team. They’re well coached and have good players. You tip your hat to them, but we got to go out and we’ve got to watch this film and we’ve got to fix it because this is when you start separating or you start falling behind.”

For now, Edelman said they’re left with a bad taste in their mouths that will hopefully motivate everyone to improve.

“Well, I mean, we got a bye week, so you’re going to go into that bye week with a dirty taste in your mouth. So, you could either do well from it or you could tank it. So, we go out and take advantage of it this week, and I’m sure our coaches are going to have us ready. Guys going to be out there fiery and it’s up to us.”

The Patriots will play their next game in two weeks down at MetLife Stadium against the Jets on November 25th at 1pm ET.

VIDEO: Patriots Belichick Mic’d Up Against the Packers

Ian Logue
November 7, 2018 at 10:58 pm ET

Bill Belichick was mic’d up during the Patriots win over the Packers Sunday night and the NFL released about 4-minutes of footage that is most certainly a “must watch” if you haven’t seen it.

Check it out, although you’ll need to click the link within the video to view it on

5 Things We Learned From The Patriots Win Over the Packers

Ian Logue
November 5, 2018 at 10:36 am ET

It was a strong effort on both sides of the football during the Patriots win over the Packers Sunday night, and here are some things we came away from the victory.

1) A Solid Effort on Defense – While New England’s defense didn’t get much credit for their effort last Sunday against the hapless Buffalo BIlls, they came up with a terrific performance against Aaron Rodgers and the Packers offense.

They kept Rodgers off balance and were able to put pressure on him during much of the first half, forcing him out of the pocket and making things difficult on him.  His best performance came in the 3rd quarter where he completed 6-of-9 for 121-yards overall and a touchdown, but from there, New England’s defense held him to just 2-of-7 for 15-yards in the fourth quarter.

One other number that stands out was the fact that while Rodgers threw two touchdowns, the Patriots held him to just  3-of-8 passing in the red zone.  That was big, especially early on when the Packers were held to a field goal on their first possession of the night, which came after the Patriots opened the game with a touchdown

But the biggest play of the evening came in the fourth quarter after Rodgers completed back-to-back passes of 24-yards and 26-yards, which had them back in Patriots territory with a chance to retake the lead with the score tied at 17-17.  But Lawrence Guy forced a fumble by Packers running back Aaron Jones, with Stephon Gilmore recovering the football which sent the fans at Gillette Stadium into a frenzy as it killed the Packers drive and gave the Patriots the momentum and a chance to take back the lead.  From there, Tom Brady engineered a 10 play, 76-yard drive that was highlighted by a backward pass to Julian Edelman, which the receiver turned around and fired a pass to James White.  White then took off 37-yards down to the Packers 2-yard line and two plays later, he took it into the end zone to put the Patriots back up 24-17 with 10:06 left to go in the game.

And it didn’t stop there.  The defense forced a 3-and-out on the ensuing drive and when the offense got the ball back, Brady hit Josh Gordon for a 55-yard touchdown on the 3rd play from scrimmage, which put the game away at 31-17.

It was a terrific performance by a group that hasn’t gotten much credit for how much they’ve improved.  After beating Rodgers and the Packers, hopefully they’ll keep it going next Sunday down in Tennessee.

Brady was clearly the better quarterback Sunday night.

2) Brady finished with the better night – While the two veteran quarterbacks exchanged blows through the early part of the game, it was Brady that managed to pull things together in the key moments and that ended up being the difference in this meeting.

Brady actually got better as the game went on and finished a perfect 6-of-6 for 104-yards and a touchdown in the final quarter after the Patriots scored on back-to-back drives to put the game away.

As noted previously, Rodgers was a paltry 2-of-7 in the fourth quarter for just 15-yards and wilted against a New England defense that kept bringing pressure all night.  Brady dealt with similar pressure, but he never got rattled and there was never a point where the offense seemed like they might be in trouble, even when Brady went through a stretch where he missed six straight throws.

For a player who is known for his fourth-quarter heroics, Rodgers certainly came up short.  If there’s any question among the critics when it comes to which QB is currently the best in the league, Brady clearly proved that he’s still on top after his strong finish.

3) A Gutsy Performance By Gordon – While Josh Gorfon finished the night with 5 catches for 130 yards and a touchdown, his numbers really don’t tell the story for what he managed to to do Sunday night.

What was most impressive for Gordon is the fact that he jammed his finger early on in the contest and spent multiple times during the course of the evening popping the finger back into place in between receptions.  It was quietly a gutsy performance and it was huge as he made some big plays, with none bigger than the 55-yard reception where he beat his defender and then took off for what ended up being the game-clinching score.

It was Gordon’s second 100-yard performance in his last three contests, with the veteran receiver settling in well in the offense.  He’s done a good job of gaining Brady’s confidence and already has moved into third place on the team in receiving yards with 396, trailing White (531yds) and Rob Gronkowski (448yds).  But the fact he battled through what he was dealing with Sunday night and didn’t miss a beat, it was one of the more impressive performances we’ve seen in a long time and it helped them weather the absence of tight end Rob Gronkowski, who missed the contest due to injury.

Another strong night for Patterson.

4) Patterson steps up again – After seeing time at running back last week against the Bills, receiver Cordarrelle Patterson came up big again on Sunday night.

Following a knee injury that knocked him out of action early in the game, James White’s loss seemed like it might derail the offense and change the course of the game.  But Patterson came back in and ran hard, picking up gains of 15 and 17 yards before capping the drive with a 5-yard touchdown run that put the Patriots up 17-10 at the half.

That was key as had New England struggled and failed to take the lead, it could have given the Packers some momentum and allowed them to take control of the game.  Instead, Patterson’s ability to help out allowed the Patriots to weather White’s injury and ultimately win the game.

Patterson finished the night with 11 carries for 61-yards, along with his touchdown.  For a player who started off slow, he’s come on strong and his contribution in the running game has been a terrific addition.  Fans are used to the “next man up” mentality but after what we’ve seen from the former Raiders receiver, what Patterson has managed to do these last two weeks is nothing short of remarkable.

5) Allen was big in the field position game – It’s not often that punters play a big contribution in a football game, but Sunday night proved yet again how important this position is and how lucky the Patriots are to have a good one.

While he only punted three times, Ryan Allen played a big key in Sunday night’s game in terms of the Patriots winning the field position battle.  Of his three punts, he averaged 49.7 yards per punt and two were inside the 20-yard line, which forced Green Bay to consistently have to put long drives together against New England’s defense.

Allen’s first punt came after the Patriots drive stalled at their own 34-yard line and Allen hit a booming punt of 53-yards that pinned the Packers in at their own 13 yard line.  His second came after the Patriots had gone three-and-out at their own 27-yard line and he hit a 52-yard punt that forced the Packers to start that drive from their own 21-yard line.  Green Bay did manage to put together a 13-play drive that ended in a touchdown, but they forced Aaron Rodgers and the offense to work for it.

His final two trips on the field saw him first hit a 50-yard punt on a 4th-and-21 at their own 27, but the Packers were called for roughing the kicker, which gave New England a new set of downs.  However, after the drive stalled again, Allen came through one more time, hitting a 44-yard punt that pinned Green Bay in at their own 7-yard line.

It was a solid outing and it’s the type of performance that tends to fly under the radar for a position that doesn’t get a lot of attention.  But thankfully Allen’s consistency remains one of the big intangibles that New England is fortunate to have and it quietly played a key role in the win.

The victory puts Patriots at 7-2 on the season and they’ll now get ready to head to Tennessee to take on the Titans next Sunday at 1pm.