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Other Than Attitude, Patriots Prove Dolphins Defense Has Little Else Going For Them

Bob George
November 26, 2017 at 10:01 pm ET

FOXBOROUGH – The Miami Dolphins have a defense with an attitude, sometimes making questionably dirty plays. Maybe the reason for that is that is all they have going for them.

Miami’s season turned in the preseason when Ryan Tannehill was lost for the season. Retread veteran Jay Cutler was brought in, but his injury gave way to Matt Moore starting at quarterback. Patriot nemesis Jarvis Landry, who predicted two wins over the Patriots, tried his best to make that questionable prediction come true.

But the Dolphins aren’t anywhere close to the Patriots on paper, and having the game at Gillette Stadium didn’t help. Miami has now lost nine straight games in Foxborough, with the Patriots prevailing 35-17 on Sunday. Despite Landry catching eight passes for 70 yards, Moore was sacked seven times, threw two interceptions, and despite some stretches of finding a rhythm, was completely overmatched by the Patriot defense, who played cleaner and better than Moore’s Miami teammates did.

Tom Brady was knocked silly at times by the Dolphin defense, but looked happy and upbeat in his postgame press conference. Some of the hits on Brady were questionable, none of which drew penalties for roughing the passer. Cameron Wake was not called for a leg whip on a sack of Brady in the fourth quarter. Kiko Alonso, who ended Jimmy Garoppolo’s season last year at Gillette, gave Brady a forearm on a second quarter hit. Ndamokung Suh stopped Dion Lewis for a three-yard loss in the third quarter, tackling him by the facemask but did not get called for a penalty.

But those sacks of Moore helped the Patriots put the clamps on this game, and Brady was able to find receivers and throw four touchdown passes. Twice Brady hit Rob Gronkowski for touchdowns; those two are now the fifth most prolific quarterback-receiver touchdown duo in NFL history. Brandin Cooks continues his uptick, making six catches for 83 yards and a touchdown on a jet sweep in the fourth quarter.

Lewis enjoyed his best day as a Patriot, rushing for a career high 112 yards on 15 carries. Cooks also had an end around for 11 yards to go along with his pass catches. Rex Burkhead continues his yeoman work with 50 yards on 13 carries.

The Patriots were at times sloppy themselves. Brady was charged with two turnovers, but was responsible for only one of them. On the fourth play of the second quarter for the Patriots, they were sitting at their own 39, second and three. Brady was set up in the shotgun and was looking to his right, calling an audible. But backup center Ted Karras, filling in for the injured David Andrews, snapped the ball too early. The ball sailed over Brady’s left shoulder and rolled back towards the end zone. Reshad Jones picked up the loose ball and stumbled into the end zone to make it 14-7 Patriots. On the sideline, Dante Scarnecchia let Karras have it with a vocal onslaught. Karras called it “100% on me” when he was interviewed in the locker room.

Brady threw an uncharacteristic bad pick later in the second quarter. On third and eight at the Miami 48, Brady tried to force one into Danny Amendola in the left seam, but the ball went right to Bobby McCain, who would later be ejected from the game for throwing a punch at Amendola. Fortunately, the ensuing drive for Miami also ended in a pick, as Stephon Gilmore hauled in a Moore pass in the end zone at the end of the half.

The Patriots also suffered some noteworthy injuries. On the opening drive of the game, Miami held the Patriots to a three and out, but on fourth down at their own 27, the Patriots ran a fake punt and ran rugby buff Nate Ebner around right end for a try – oops, first down. Seriously, Ebner sustained a knee injury on the play and would not return. Special teams suffered another blow when Trevor Reilly had to leave the game after a violent collision on the opening kickoff of the second half. Marquis Roberts also left the game in the third quarter after assisting on a sack of Moore by Trey Flowers. Kyle Van Noy left the game in the fourth quarter, again also following a sack of Moore.

Brady finished the game 18 of 28 passing for 227 yards, four touchdowns, one interception and a passer rating of 114.1.   Moore was 23 of 34 passing for 215 yards, one touchdown, two interceptions and a passer rating of 70.1. Despite Landry making some plays, Moore was never really able to find or sustain any kind of rhythm all game long.

The Patriots were able to keep pace with Pittsburgh for conference playoff positioning. The Steelers have the tiebreaker over the Patriots for the moment with a better conference record, but play an interconference game Sunday night against Green Bay. Assuming the Steelers win that game against a Packers team still minus Aaron Rodgers, other tiebreakers will kick in which will determine which team actually has the lead in the conference. The entire football world will still be looking to three weeks down the road, and that December 17th matchup at Heinz Field between the Patriots and the Steelers.

Bill Belichick will only be looking at next week, and the Patriots’ first matchup against the Buffalo Bills in western New York. The Patriots then get Miami again, down south in sultry south Florida. Both of these games could be trap games if Belichick allows it, which he won’t. The Patriots will finish the season with home games against Buffalo and the Jets. Most everyone assumes that the Patriots-Steelers game is the only game that matters.

Buffalo has shown flashes of brilliance this year, but currently has a quarterback issue with Tyrod Taylor and rookie Nathan Peterman. Peterman started last week and threw five picks. Taylor started this week and engineered a win over the floundering Kansas City Chiefs.

So, we are on to Buffalo, not Pittsburgh. That game will still have to wait.

Brady Still Trying to Fix Bad Connection With Cooks on 3rd Down

Ian Logue
November 22, 2017 at 10:35 am ET

The Patriots have very few flaws offensively, but looking over the numbers after Sunday’s win over Oakland, there’s one number that stands out on the stat sheet that is a little surprising.

Tom Brady finished the afternoon 4-of-8 on third down, with his 50% completion percentage on third down being his lowest since their week one loss to the Chiefs.  Given how easily they took care of the Raiders, that fact was a little odd, but that total ties into an overall season total that may surprise some people.

2017 Tom Brady 3rd Down Passing:

Brady’s third down success on Sunday included the usual suspects, with Brady connecting on 3-of-4 attempts to Danny Amendola with 3 first downs, along with 1-of-1 to Rob Gronkowski.  He missed one attempt to James White, while wide receiver Brandin Cooks finished 0-of-2 on third down.

The latter number is the one that stands out, and it’s been an issue between Brady and Cooks all season.  Overall, Brady is just 4-of-16 when targeting the speedy receiver on third down, far and away the lowest success rate among all the receivers he’s targeted this season with 10 or more attempts.

2017 Third Down Receiving Totals Through Week 11

Looking back, Brady was just 1-9 targeting him on 3rd down over the first five games and over the past five, he’s a mere 3-of-10.

But the last three games, he’s just 0-of-4.

It’s bizarre, and it’s obvious that the two have had trouble getting on the same page when they’ve needed to in order to move the chains. 

Except of course, for one situation.

Put these two in 3rd-and-over-10 yards, and their percentage goes up quite a bit. In fact, Brady’s hit him on 2-of-3 attempts, averaging 31.5 yards.

2017 Receiving Totals Thru Week 11 on 3rd-and-over-10 yards:

The good news?  All this means is that there’s still plenty of room for improvement between the two, who aside from this problem, have already had some big moments. Cooks has caught 6 of the team’s longest 10 plays of 2017 and they hit a couple more huge ones on Sunday. One of those plays saw them connect on a 64-yard touchdown that blew the game open on just the third play of the third quarter.

Thankfully, they just keep slowly getting a little better.  Now if they can figure out this one aspect that they’re struggling with, it’s only going to make this offense even more dangerous. 

And with six games still left to play, there’s certainly more than enough time to get it right and if Cooks gets his wish, he’ll be around for a while to work on it.

“The goal is to play the rest of my career here,” Cooks told “That’s God willing. I don’t know what the future holds, but this is a special place.”

Patriots Visit To Mexico Turns Out “Muy Bueno”

Bob George
November 19, 2017 at 10:34 pm ET

They want to put an NFL team in Mexico City, but London may get one sooner.

What difference does it make? Put a team in Japan, China, Australia, or even sub-Saharan Africa, and Tom Brady will be good for at least 3 touchdown passes and the Patriots a blowout win. London has proven to be Patriot-friendly, and now you can add Ciudad de Mexico to that list. In three games outside the USA, the Patriots are 3-0 with an aggregate score of 113-22.

The Patriots made their first regular season appearance in the Mexican capital city, their second overall visit in 20 years, and their second straight game in high altitude. Mexico is an intriguing country, with a broad spectrum between opulence and poverty, where retail prices are always negotiable, and with the always intimidating Montezuma’s Revenge (which is why the locals will tell you “No bebide el agua!”). Mexico City is the most populated city in North America, with three times more people than New York City, and that is no lie.

The Patriots are the better team on paper against the Oakland Raiders. But the on-field gap between the two cities is as wide as the Golfo de California. Bill Belichick kept his team all week in Colorado Springs at the Air Force Academy to acclimate to a higher altitude than Denver, where they spent last weekend and enjoyed a rare win in the Broncos’ crib. Oakland’s head coach Jack Del Rio kept the Raiders at home and came to Mexico on Saturday.

Maybe the altitude didn’t matter. The Patriots totally outclassed the Raiders, played fresh most all game long, and came away with a 33-8 win on Sunday at Estadio Azteca, the iconic soccer venue. That’s two blowout wins in a row for the Patriots in high altitude, which is nice considering their track record of playing in Denver, which is 5,280 feet above sea level. Aztec Stadium is 7,320 feet above sea level, but the Patriots could have played atop Pico do Orizaba and have done just as well against the Raiders.

It’s hard to look at the Raiders and think about the fact that they should have been the opponent for the Patriots in last year’s AFC Championship Game and not the Steelers. Derek Carr suffered a season ending leg injury last year just prior to the playoffs, but the former Fresno State quarterback is back and healthy and the Raiders seemed poised to resume their return to greatness, especially now with former Seattle running back Marshawn Lynch in the fold.

Such was not to be. The Patriots came out in a no-huddle offense to try and tire out the Raider defense. They opened the game with a 15-play, 87-yard drive capped off by a Brady touchdown pass to Dion Lewis for 15 yards. Four plays before the touchdown, Oakland blew a chance to shock the Patriots early when Rex Burkhead coughed up the ball after a six-yard run, but Dwayne Allen fell on the football with two Raider defenders all around the ball.

The blown fumble recovery and subsequent touchdown more or less spelled doom for the Raiders, even that early in the game. On the ensuing drive, facing third and 11 at the Oakland 35, Carr tried to hit Johnny Holton deep down the left sideline. The ball glanced off Holton’s shoulder pad and Duron Harmon was able to make the interception. The Patriots failed to score on the ensuing drive, but Oakland took themselves out of their next drive thanks to a pass interference penalty on Amari Cooper.

Brady hit Brandin Cooks for 52 yards, setting up a touchdown pass to Danny Amendola from 5 yards out to make it 14-0 Patriots. The next sequence more or less sealed the deal for the Patriots, as they showed their complete superiority over the Raiders.

Carr drove the Raiders from their own 25 to the Patriot 15. With under two minutes to go in the half, the Raiders had first down at the Patriot 15. Carr hit Seth Roberts in the right flat for 12 yards. But Marquis Flowers knocked the ball out of Roberts’ hands, and Patrick Chung fell on the loose ball. 39 seconds remained in the half, the Patriots sitting at their own 7 with two timeouts left.

Leading 14-0, you take a knee and head for the locker room. Not the Patriots. They have to get that double score.

Brady hit Lewis over the middle for 20 yards, then hit Amendola for 18 yards along the left sideline. A ten-yard pass to Rob Gronkowski over the middle put the Patriots at the Oakland 44 with five seconds left. Stephen Gostkowski came out to try a 62-yard field goal. Kicking from the right hash mark, Gostkowski blasted one which would have been good from 70. It was his career long and a new franchise record long field goal. It looked like the automatic field goals Gostkowski used to kick prior to his yips dating back to last season.

Naturally, the Patriots scored to open the second half. On the third play from scrimmage, Brady found Cooks down the right seam on a post pattern for 64 yards and a touchdown. Gostkowski would kick three more field goals, one from 51, one from 40 and one from 29. A shutout was possible until early in the fourth quarter, when Carr found Cooper for a nine-yard touchdown pass. Otherwise, the Patriots dominated the Raiders completely, and outclassed the Silver and Black in every way.

The Patriots were not impervious to the altitude, although their play on the field suggests otherwise. Both Amendola and Stephon Gilmore had to go to the locker room to be treated for dehydration. The walk to the locker room itself could cause medical problems, as the long upstairs walk caused several players on both teams to have to catch their breath. Otherwise, the Patriots were the better prepared team, and played a near-perfect game.

Brady finished an eye-popping 30 of 37 passing for 339 yards, three touchdowns and a rating of 131.9.   Cooks had easily his best game as a Patriot, catching six passes for 149 yards. Amendola had eight catches for 66 yards. Lewis had 60 yards on ten carries, averaging six yards a carry. Carr finished 28 of 49 passing for 237 yards, a touchdown, an interception and a rating of 68.2. Michael Crabtree led the Raiders with six catches for 51 yards. In his first game against the Patriots since Super Bowl XLIX, Lynch had similar numbers to Lewis, rushing for 67 yards on 11 carries.

The rest of the Patriot season is five of six games against AFC East teams, the one exception being a potentially season-defining tilt at Pittsburgh on December 17. Two of the next three games are against Miami, with a home date with the Dolphins on tap next weekend back home.

But the Patriots will leave Mexico with good memories. Everyone knows about the beach resort cities, the food, and Jose Cuervo. Not much is said about Mexico City other than overcrowding, pollution and the recent earthquake back in September. But Brady had nothing but praise for the city in his postgame press conference. It is a major financial center for North America, with a ton more going for it than most people unfamiliar with Mexico might know.

Whatever the case, the Patriots now head home, and nobody will be complaining. Adios, Mexico!

La Canfora: “Very Real Chance” Patriots May See Bennett Debut Sunday Night

Ian Logue
November 11, 2017 at 11:44 am ET

The return of Martellus Bennett was one of the more exciting stories this week and while the initial signs seemed to a potential appearance next weekend against Oakland, it appears we could see him a little sooner than expected.

According to FoxSports’ Jason La Canfora, there appears to be a “Very real chance” the veteran tight end could suit up as soon as Sunday night when the Patriots battle the Broncos out in Denver.

This wouldn’t come as a shock given that Bennett already had a full season in this offense last season during the team’s championship run, which would certainly help with his ability to pick the offense back up so quickly.  If New England can get him started this soon, it would certainly be a great for a group that will be without Chris Hogan heading into their showdown against the Broncos Sunday night in Denver.

It’s been an interesting week for Bennett.  After being waived by Green Bay for an undisclosed injury, which was later learned to be a torn rotator cuff, Bennett fired back with some harsh words from the Packers’ medical staff.

The good news for Patriots fans is, despite his ailment, it appears it won’t slow him down here in New England.

Bennett’s production last season ended up being key behind their Super Bowl run, especially after the loss of Rob Gronkowski.  Bennett finished the regular season with 55 receptions for 701 yards and a team-leading 7 touchdowns during the regular season.

Bennett’s Return Will Hopefully Jumpstart Patriots Red Zone Offense

Ian Logue
November 9, 2017 at 8:37 pm ET

It never hurts to add a player with a proven track record to your roster, and the Patriots got a huge break on Thursday when ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported they were able to claim Martellus Bennett off of waivers after the Packers dropped him in their lap following the team parting ways with him Wednesday.

The addition of Bennett in 2016 paid serious dividends, with the veteran tight end playing an intricate role in New England’s Championship run, especially since he helped offset some of the blow after Rob Gronkowski went down for the season.

As it stands right now in 2017, his return couldn’t have come at a better time.  Sitting at 6-2 and about to embark on two critical road games, the Patriots were already in tough shape after Chris Hogan suffered a shoulder injury during the club’s win over Los Angeles two weeks ago.  Adding Bennett to the mix suddenly gives Tom Brady and the offense another dimension, adding another play-maker to a group that has had to seemingly fight for everything they’ve gotten this season.

His addition should help them in a couple of areas, particularly on third down and in the red zone.  Last season Bennett caught 11-of-13 on third down for 97 yards and 7 first downs, 4 of which were touchdowns.  Having caught all but two targets thrown his way, his completion rate on third down was the best of any Patriots player with 10 or more targets in 2016.

Down in the red zone, it gets even better.  He caught 8-of-10 with five touchdowns, including catching 3-of-4 on third down with three touchdowns in scoring territory.

That’s just the weapon they need, and they’re fortunate the chips happened to fall in their favor.  If Bennett can settle back into the player he was last year, it’s a LeGarrette Blount-esque addition that could be what fans look back on at the end of the year as the move that gave them just enough to get back to a championship level.

We’ll see if that ends up being the case.  But now that Bennett’s back in the fold, it’s safe to say that, if nothing else, their chances of getting to Minneapolis just got a little better.

VIDEO: 49ers Documenting The Beginning of the Garoppolo Era

Ian Logue
November 3, 2017 at 4:35 pm ET

When San Francisco gave up a second-round pick in order to acquire Jimmy Garoppolo from the Patriots, it’s clear that they really feel strongly that he’ll be the player to bring them back to a championship level.

This is even more evident in a recent video posted by the club, which is documenting the first 49 hours behind the scenes as Garoppolo begins his time with his new team.

Obviously they believe that each move he makes could be an opportunity to document history if he lives up to the expectations, and that’s essentially how they’re handling it.

Check it out below:

Video Link: CLICK HERE

Surprising Stat For Brady Has Seen Significant Improvement

Ian Logue
October 31, 2017 at 11:25 am ET

One of the topics of discussion over the last couple of weeks has been the team’s struggles with maintaining drives at the end of games, and after taking a look at the numbers, there was a notable trend that stuck out that may explain some of their problems.

Looking at Tom Brady’s passing totals on third down late in the game it’s an area that prior to the last two weeks had been really, really bad.  The good news is, he’s seen dramatic improvement in recent weeks, but prior to that, it’s been an area that was certainly in need of improvement.

Overall in the first half, he’s been terrific.  He’s completed 33-of-45 (73%) for 470-yards and four touchdowns on third down over the first two quarters.  But from there, his total dips to 12-of-19 (63%) for 159-yards and a touchdown in the third quarter, and then plummets to just 9-of-19 (47%) for 83 yards in the fourth quarter.

Breaking it down week by week, he’s had much better luck over the last two weeks, completing 3-of-4 (75%) for 17yds on third down during the final quarter of play.  But prior to that, he was just 6-of-15 passing (40%) for 66-yards

Here’s how it breaks down by each quarter for the season:

Tom Brady 3rd Down Passing By Quarter:

1st QTR: 20-of-24 (83%) 285yds 3 TDs
2nd QTR: 21-of-13 (62%) 185yds 1 TD
3rd QTR: 12-of-19 (63%) 159yds 1 TD
4th QTR: 9-of-19 (47%) 83yds

TOTAL: 54-of-83 (65%) 712yds 5 TDs

The last two weeks have seen them finish strong during the final quarter of play, which on Sunday included a 10 play drive that helped set up a 26-yard field goal by Stephen Gostkowski, giving the Patriots an 8-point lead that ended up being a big key in the win.

But one of their most impressive fourth quarter performances came the previous week against Atlanta where the Patriots took over with 4:07 to go in the game and ran out the clock, which included a 2-yard run on a 3rd-and-1 by Brady to move the chains and seal the victory.

Here’s a full week-by-week breakdown of their third down totals by quarter:

Third Down Passing By Quarter By Week:

Week 1 vs Kansas City:
Q1: 1/1 (100%) 5yds
Q2: 2/3 (67%) 38yds
Q3: 1/3 (33%) 17yds
Q4: 1/4 (25%) 1yd

Total: 5/11 (45%) 61yds

Week 2 at New Orleans:
Q1: 5/5 (100%) 101yds 2TDs
Q2: 0/0
Q3: 1/2 (50%) 6yds
Q4: 0/0

Total: 6/7 (86%) 107yds 2TDs

Week 3 vs Houston:
Q1: 3/3 (100%) 52yds 1TD
2/2 (100%) 20yds
Q3: 2/2 (100%) 19yds
Q4: 2/3 (67%) 42yds

Total: 9/10 (90%) 133yds 1TD

Week 4 vs Carolina:
2/2 (100%) 11yds
Q2: 3/4 (75%) 33yds
Q3: 1/2 (50%) 3yds
Q4: 1/2 (50%) 5yds

Total: 7/11 (64%) 52yds 1TD

Week 5 at Tampa Bay:
Q1: 1/3 (33%) 12yds
Q2: 2/2 (100%) 20yds
Q3: 0/1 (0%)
Q4: 2/3 (67%) 18yds

Total: 5/9 (56%) 50yds

Week 6 at NY Jets:
Q1: 2/3 (67%) 26yds
Q2: 2/4 (50%) 27yds
Q3: 3/3 (100%) 68yds
Q4: 0/2 (0%)

Total: 7/12 (58%) 121yds 1TD

Week 7 vs Atlanta:
2/3 (67%) 27yds
Q2: 2/3 (67%) 47yds
Q3: 1/1 (100%) 9yds
Q4: 1/1 (100%) 3yds

Total: 6/8 (75%) 86yds

Week 8 vs Los Angeles Chargers
4/4 (100%) 51yds
Q2: 0/3 (0)
Q3: 3/5 (60%) 37yds
Q4: 2/3 (67%) 14yds

Total: 9/15 (60%) 102yds

Third down remains an area of focus, as does trying to score when they get inside the red area.  Brady admitted after Sunday’s win over the Chargers that working on putting up points remains an area of focus.

“I think we just have to do a better job of that,” said Brady following Sunday’s win. “I know I’ve said that about 100 times this year, but it’s tough. I mean, we’re trying. It’s just the execution is coming up a little short in critical times.”

Fortunately for Brady, after what he’s done the last couple of weeks when it comes to moving the chains late in the game, it appears they’re at least they’re making progress.

Garoppolo No Longer In New England’s Future After Surprising Trade

Ian Logue
October 30, 2017 at 9:51 pm ET

It looks like Jimmy Garoppolo won’t be the future of the Patriots after all.

Bill Belichick made a surprising move on Monday night, with ESPN’s Adam Schefter reporting that the Patriots agreed to a trade with San Francisco ahead of the trade deadline, shipping Garoppolo off to the 49ers.

The Patriots will reportedly receive a second-round pick in 2018 as a result of the deal.

Schefter also reported that part of the decision to move Garoppolo stemmed from the fact the Patriots had been unable to reach an extension with the back-up quarterback, who was set to become a free agent after this season.

What makes this interesting is the fact that thanks to injuries, New England is thin at a variety of positions, which could potentially mean that the pick they acquired for Garoppolo could perhaps be currency to swing a deal with a team to bring in another player.

For Garoppolo, it removes the uncertainty surrounding his future given that Tom Brady has continued to play at a high level and has yet to show any signs of slowing down.  Brady has made it clear he plans on playing until his mid 40s, and so far he hasn’t given anyone a reason to believe that it’s not a realistic goal.  It also reveals how much Belichick believes in his 40-year old signal-caller, especially given that the club has now traded both of his back-ups, leaving them currently without a viable back-up behind him.

Garoppolo now joins Jacoby Brissett as he looks to take advantage of his opportunity to be a starter in the NFL.  Garoppolo completed nearly 70% of his passes in his two outings last season for the Patriots during Brady’s suspension, finishing 43-of-63 for 502-yards and four touchdowns, as well as a QB rating of 113.3.  He’ll now join a 49ers team that is currently 0-8.

San Francisco also released former Patriots quarterback Brian Hoyer on Monday, who after today’s move, may be the player New England looks to in the interim to back-up Brady.

Short-Yardage Remains a Work In Progress For Gillislee

Ian Logue
at 5:30 am ET

Newcomer Mike Gillislee is still growing in New England’s offense, but he’s got one growing pain that still seemingly remains a challenge for him.

For whatever reason, facing 3rd-and-1 hasn’t quite been an automatic for this group of running backs so far this season, with Gillislee’s name standing out on the stat sheet.

Gillislee has been the running back who has struggled the most this season, with the running back having carried 6 times for 6 -yards on 3rd-and-1, while converting just half of his attempts. The Patriots faced 3rd-and-1 three times on Sunday, with Gillislee’s number being called on two of those attempts.

Gillislee picked up one of them, but he was stopped for no gain on another and it forced them to go for it on fourth down. The good news is, they went back to him on that attempt and thanks to a terrific block by James Develin, Gillislee picked up eight yards on the play.

However, that was only Gillislee’s first successful fourth-down attempt. He had previously been stopped for no gain on two other rushes on 4th-and-1.

Meanwhile, Tom Brady had the other 3rd-and-1 attempt Sunday, picking up two yards to move the chains.

Patriots Carries on 3rd-and-1 Through Week 8:

Overall on 3rd-and-1 this season, he’s been stopped for a loss once, and for no gain twice, making him 3-of-6 on the year.  His carry for a loss came down on the goal line last week against Atlanta.

James White has just one attempt, which was also for no gain.

Patriots Carries From the 1yd Line Through Week 8:

Taking another look where picking up a yard has been an issue, down on the goal line has also been a struggle for Gillislee.  He’s had four total attempts and was stopped for a loss once (his carry last week) and stopped for no gain twice, with one successful carry for a touchdown.  Dion Lewis has one attempt on the goal line, which saw him score against against the Jets.

Patriots Carries Through Week 8:

Through eight games he has 21 carries this season where he’s failed to pick up a yard, with seven carries for a loss and fourteen for no gain.  But that total is out of 98 carries, which to provide some context there, he’s actually gotten better.  Fourteen of those came over the first four games, while only 7 of those have happened in the last four.

For a comparison, here’s a look at the Patriots rushing totals through Week 8 of last season:

2016 Patriots Rushing Chart Through Week 8:

LeGarrette Blount, was stopped for a loss or no gain 35 times at this point last season, but he also had 44 carries of at least 1-2 yards, which is significantly higher than Gillislee’s 19. He also had 14 rushes of over 10 yards, which includes two of 20+ and one of over 40. Gillislee has yet to break one off a big run of 20+. Lewis is the only player to do that this season, having gained over 20 on one (a 25-yard gain against Atlanta) and another over 30 (a 31-yard run against the Buccaneers).

But the bigger issue is the situational carries where Gillislee hasn’t quite reached a point where he can be counted on to pick up a yard when the team needs it most.  With the Patriots’ offense still trying to find some consistency thanks to injuries, they’re going to need players to move the chains and to get into the end zone when the opportunity presents itself.

Needless to say, Gillislee obviously factors into that equation and it’s a weakness that hopefully he’ll improve on as he continues establishing his role in New England’s ground game. For now, it remains something to watch over the final half of the season.

Win Accomplishes Rare Feat For Brady Over Rivers

Ian Logue
October 29, 2017 at 10:13 pm ET

Watching Philip Rivers at the end of Sunday’s game against the Patriots, he seemed pretty excited after getting his team to the line with one second to go in the game, giving him just enough time to spike the ball and set up a potential game-winning play.

The veteran QB raised his hands in the air after he spiked it, seemingly accomplishing a minor victory and he appeared pretty fired up at the opportunity to potentially throw a touchdown pass and steal a win from the Patriots.

But the game ended in frustration for Rivers, who was picked off on his final throw by Patriots defensive back Jonathan Jones, sealing the win for New England.

Although, then again, Rivers is probably used to this feeling by now.  He’s lost every game he’s ever played against Tom Brady, with Sunday’s loss improving the New England veteran to 7-0 all-time in head-to-head match-ups against Rivers, putting him in some rare company in that category.

TSN Sports posted a graphic after the game showing the list of names who have accomplished similar records, which includes the likes of Steve Young and Jim Kelly, who each dominated Jim Everett and Jeff George respectively during their careers.

Two of those wins included two playoff losses over Rivers, with Brady beating them in the AFC Championship game in 2008, as well as in the Divisional round in 2007.

Rivers said after the game that they competed hard and despite the loss, he’s encouraged by what they did against New England Sunday.

“They’ve beaten us just about every time I’ve trotted out there against them,”said Rivers. “They’re sitting there at 6-2 at the top. They’re going to be playing in January, so something you can take from it is, again, there are no participation trophies, but we are right there.”

“We came to their place and we’re right there as a lot of teams have been this year against them and we just didn’t find a way to get it done.”