Tag Archives: Adrian Clayborn

PHOTOS: The Patriots Celebrate International Women’s Day

Robert Alvarez
March 8, 2019 at 3:03 pm ET

Friday marked International Women’s Day across the world, and to mark the occasion a few members of the New England Patriots and their families took some time over social media to show their appreciation for the most important women in their lives.

Quarterback Tom Brady, his wife Gisele, Adrian Clayborn, and Julian Edelman all shared family photos.


Best Of Social Media: Sights And Sounds From The Patriots Championship Parade

Robert Alvarez
February 8, 2019 at 3:00 pm ET

On Tuesday the New England Patriots concluded their Super Bowl celebrations with a championship parade through the streets of Boston.

For the twelfth time since 2001, the 2018 New England Patriots became the latest Boston “Big Four” sports team to be honored with a duck boat rolling rally.

Check out all of the best social media postings from the Patriots, media, and fans below.

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Can I call you Gronky too??? @gronk

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6 #StillHere

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Still Dreaming

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Boston. You are insane. #LFG

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How. Do. We. Feel.

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#mvp #flashthat #slimeseason

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All the way live. #champs

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Rookie and the Vet

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World Champs!

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Best Of Social Media: Super Bowl LIII Patriots vs Rams

Robert Alvarez
at 9:30 am ET

For the fourth time in five years, the New England Patriots earned the opportunity to capture yet another Lombardi trophy.

Their opponent, fittingly enough, was the same Rams franchise that on the same date 17 years earlier, the Patriots defeated for their first championship.

Check out all the highlights from social media during Super Bowl LIII below.

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Family and Football ❤️❤️ #LFG

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Still Here. Never Left.

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The best is ready to begin. #GrowingPats

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“Time is an illusion.” – Albert Einstein

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For the eighth time in the last nine Patriots Super Bowls, the team was held scoreless in the first quarter. 0-0 after one.

A Stehpen Gostkowski field goal gave the Patriots a 3-lead at the half in a surprise defensive battle between both teams.

A Greg Zuerlein 53 Yd Field Goal knotted the game at 3-3 late in the third, but the Patriots defense continued its domination of the Rams.


With the game still tied at three with seven left in the 4th quarter, the Patriots offense at last put together the first (and only) touchdown drive of the game.

Leading by ten with under five to play, the Rams appeared to be in position to tie the game.

Stephon Gilmore had other plans.


The interception by Gilmore led to a Patriots Super Bowl clinching drive when Stephen Gostkowski redeemed his first quarter miss with a 41 yard Field Goal to push the lead to seal a 13-3 championship win.

For the sixth time since 2001, the Patriots were Super Bowl champions.

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Family and Football! ❤️❤️❤️❤️

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Super Bowl LIII Champs!!!

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The GOAT. #SixRings

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Boston, we’re coming for you.

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Still here

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3 time

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My why! Super Bowl Champs baby!!!!!!

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Did it!

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Well…. last night was fun lol @alexbrandy

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What a week! @atlsuperbowl53 Champs!

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Mood……. Champ!!!! #picworth1000words

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Perfect ending to and imperfect story. #champs

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So blessed!! Dope!

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Best Of Social Media: The Patriots Super Bowl Send Off and Opening Night

Robert Alvarez
January 29, 2019 at 12:06 am ET

Beginning with this past Sunday mornings Super Bowl send off rally at Gillette Stadium, check out some of the best social media postings from the event in Foxborough.

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We’ve got a flight to catch

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#patsnation #everythingwegot

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On Monday night, the NFL’s annual Super Bowl Opening Night (formally known as Media Day) kicked off the weeks festivities in Atlanta leading up to Sunday.

From ridiculous and serious questions to funny antics, check out all the best sights and sounds from the Rams and Patriots.


Patriots Thrash Chargers, Move On To Kansas City

Steve Balestrieri
January 13, 2019 at 10:02 pm ET

Patriots Will Go to 8th Straight Conference Championship

All season long the doubters have circled the 2018 Patriots team like vultures over carrion, searching for any cracks in the armor, off-field drama, whether real or imagined, and any vulnerability. Indeed, many of these national pundits, perhaps more out of wishful thinking than actual forethought, proclaimed that today, the Chargers would end the Patriots dynasty.

Well, don’t throw dirt on the corpse of the Patriots just yet. And perhaps Tom Brady isn’t quite at the edge of the precipice as many thought (or in the case of a few national dimwits, outwardly call for). The Patriots dominated the Chargers in every phase of the game and walked away with a 41-28 win that wasn’t nearly as close as the score would indicate.

With a bye week to heal up the assorted injuries and prepare for the Chargers, the Patriots wanted to start quickly. They showed that by winning the toss and opting to receive the kickoff when they normally defer to the second half.

The Patriots came out loaded for bear, and the offense looked more dominant than they have in quite some time. Easily better than they’ve looked at any time this year. The Chargers zone defense was eviscerated by Brady and the running game in the first half. It was total domination for the first 30 minutes. Sony Michel ran 16 times for 105 yards, as the Pats offense rolled up 35 points, 347 yards, and 24 first downs, numbers that usually add up to a good game by halftime.

The Patriots in the first half were 5-6 on third down and 5-5 in the red zone. Remember this LA defense was Top 10 in both rushing (9th) and passing (9th), they boasted a pair of edge rushers in Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram and an athletic group who totally shut down the Ravens a week ago. They were not “tomato cans” or terrible posers. This team was undefeated outside of LA all year. But they were shredded like wilted lettuce.

So focused was Brady, even as the half wore down, he was screaming at the officials for ruling that WR Phillip Dorsett got out of bounds and that the team should have been allowed to go for a last-second field goal.

This game was over by halftime, the Patriots had a commanding 35-7 lead, and at home in Foxboro, they aren’t going to blow that. The Chargers answered the Patriots opening touchdown when Stephon Gilmore who has been so good all season, got totally fooled by Rivers looking inside that he allowed Keenan Allen to zip past him and Rivers hit him for a too-easy 43-yard touchdown pass. The Chargers wouldn’t score again until the game was way out of reach.

The QB pressure on Rivers was immense all day. Trey Flowers, Dont’a Hightower, and Adrian Clayborn were outstanding all day and they harassed, hit and flustered Rivers from start to finish. He finished 25-51 for 331 yards with 3 TDs and an interception. But much of his yardage was 4th quarter garbage time. He padded his stats a bit, but don’t look at the score sheet. This was a butt kicking. The Chargers run game netted 19 yards total. Melvin Gordon was never a factor because the Patriots offense was scoring at will.

Sony Michel ended up with 129 yards rushing on 24 carries (5.1 average) and three touchdowns. Julian Edelman was unstoppable out of the slot making nine catches for 151 yards.  James White caught 15 passes for 97 yards. Dorsett had four catches for 41 and a touchdown.

Gilmore settled down after that one gaffe and was excellent the rest of the game and got an interception off Rivers later in the game. Rookie J.C. Jackson was put on the dangerous Mike Williams, who was targeted 11 times. Williams made five catches for 68 yards.

And Brady, the guy who is done, going over the cliff, and getting ready to be pushed into retirement by the Chargers pass rush? He finished 34-44 for 343 yards with a TD and 0 INTs. The play calling of Josh McDaniels on Sunday was outstanding, he kept the Chargers off-balanced all game long and their pass rush was rendered to a milk carton by a dominating performance by the Patriots offensive line who dominated the point of attack.

Brady summed it up best by stating what everyone from the Patriots was thinking when he told CBS’ Tracy Wolfson after the game, “everyone thinks we suck and can’t win games.” Indeed, ESPN’s Power Poll lists New England as just having a 15 percent chance of winning the Super Bowl, the lowest of the four teams remaining.

Well, as they showed Sunday, you can doubt them all you want, but they’ve been counted out countless times before and if they play like they did today, they are capable of beating anyone.

And now they’re on their way to play in their 8th consecutive AFC Championship Game. Think about that for a second. How will that turn out? Nobody knows, but…

We’re on to Kansas City.

Follow me on Twitter @SteveB7SFG or email me at [email protected]Listen to our Patriots 4th and 2 podcasts on blog talk radio as the writers Russ Goldman, Derek Havens and I from PatsFans.com discuss the latest Patriots news.

Best Of Social Media: Week 9 Packers vs Patriots

Robert Alvarez
November 7, 2018 at 11:04 pm ET

For just the second time ever, Tom Brady and Aaron Rogers were set to square off at Gillette Stadium on Sunday night.

The Patriots came into the prime time match up at 6-2 and were seeking their sixth consecutive victory.

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Sunday night fight. #LFG #GameDay

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Before the game, the Patriots welcomed the World Series champion Boston Red Sox into Foxborough for a special pregame ceremony on a duck boat.




The Patriots opened the games scoring first as running back James White continued his hot streak with an eight yard touchdown run for an early 7-0 lead.

A Mason Crosby 29 yard field goal cut the deficit to four after one quarter of play.

In the second, the Patriots offense put together two straight highlight reel plays but could only come away with a field goal by Stephen Gostkowski from 28 yards out. 10-3 Patriots.

Aaron Rodgers and Davante Adams responded with four minutes to go in the half to tie the game at 10.

The tie didn’t last long, as wide receiver turned running back Cordarrelle Patterson found the end zone just before halftime. 17-10 Patriots heading into the break.


In the third quarter, the Packers again responded with a game tying touchdown. This time Rodgers found tight end Jimmy Graham from 15 yards out to knot the game at 17 after three quarters.


In what became a recurring trend on this night, the Patriots defense made big plays when needed most.

Looking to regain the lead, the Patriots pulled off a some more trickery to keep the Packer defense off balance.


The Flea Flicker by Brady and Edelman setup James White for his second touchdown of the game and a Patriots lead they wouldn’t relinquish again. 24-17 New England with 10 to play.

Nursing a seven point lead, the Patriots defense stepped up yet again, as Trey Flowers and Adrian Clayborn shut down the cheese offense.

Getting the ball back with seven minutes to play, Brady found Josh Gordon deep to put the game away, a 55 yard touchdown reception and a 31-17 victory, their sixth in a row.





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Hey Tom. Good game. #12 #also12

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No one’s catching the ⚡️! #PatsDub

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Naw son

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Patriots Down Packers 31-17, Observations, 3 Who Stepped Up

Steve Balestrieri
November 5, 2018 at 7:45 am ET

Mission Accomplished, Role Players Shine

The New England Patriots pulled out a tough victory over the Green Bay Packers 31-17 on Sunday Night Football in only the second meeting between Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady, and perhaps the last.

Both quarterbacks looked excellent at times and struggled at others. But Brady rallied his team in the fourth quarter with two touchdown drives and the Patriots pulled away after forcing a fumble where it appeared Green Bay would take the lead.

Defense/Gilmore Steps Up:

The Patriots defense,much-maligned by the fans on social media actually played a very strong game, holding Rodgers and the Green Bay offense to just 17 points. The game plan was to mainly use Stephon Gilmore to shut down Davante Adams. Adams this week, proclaimed for all to hear that he didn’t believe anyone could cover him. And who could blame him? His last three games, he’s had 133, 140, and 132 receiving yards.

Well, Gilmore just put that thought to bed. Gilmore blanketed Adams to where the talented wide receiver was becoming frustrated to the point where the Packers were trying to force the ball underneath to him, just to get him involved. Adams finished the night with 6 catches for 40 yards. Mission accomplished.

The Patriots pass rush had only one sack but were getting good pressure on Rodgers all night long and his mobility didn’t allow him to make as many plays as we’ve seen in the past. Trey Flowers was outstanding and Adrian Clayborn had his best game in a Patriots uniform. Rodgers final numbers? 24-43 for 259 yards with 2 TDs with an 89.2 passer rating. Not bad but not great either. But Rodgers 4th quarter numbers? 2-7 for 15 yards. That is pretty impressive for the Patriots defense against any QB. Much of the talk pregame was “who gets the ball last will win”, well the defense put that to bed as well. Mission Accomplished 2.

Brady and Co. Keep the Packers Off-balance:

Brady finished 22-35 for 294 yards with 1 TD with a passer rating of 99.0. Julian Edelman had one pass and completion to James White for 37 yards. With Rob Gronkowski, Sony Michel, and RG Shaq Mason out, the Patriots had to get creative offensively…and they did. A Flea Flicker, a double pass and using WR Cordarrelle Patterson as a tailback again were just some of the things we saw. Patterson is quickly proving to be much more than the one-trick pony kick returner that the team signed this spring. He carried 11 times for 61 yards and had one touchdown and another taken away when the review showed him down just short of the goal line.

Josh Gordon, dislocated his fingers early in the game but played on and had five catches for 130 yards and a touchdown to ice the game. Julian Edelman had six catches for 71 yards, James White had six for 72 and added 31 yards rushing.

The Patriots got the opening kickoff and went on a blistering pace where they were moving faster than Han Solo when he did the Kessel Run in less than 12 parsecs. They moved easily down the field where the Packers’ defense was having trouble even getting set and never able to catch their breath. James White took it in from the 8-yard line for the first of his two TDs on the ground.

Rodgers answered and led the Packers on a 62-yard drive but only came away with three. It was clear, that although Rodgers and the Packers could move the ball, the Patriots defense was making them earn their way down the field and nothing was coming easy.

The Packers would tie it at 10-10 when Rodgers hit Adams with a 2-yard pass on 3rd and goal after he scrambled away from pressure. But the Patriots answered the bell and Brady led them on a 7-play, 69-yard drive, nearly all of which was on the ground, with Patterson battering his way into the end zone from 5 yards out and the Pats went into halftime up 17-10, because there were no heroics by Rodgers at the end of the half. The defense did their job.

Rodgers and the Packers took the third quarter kickoff and went 76 yards to tie the score. The big play was a 51-yard bomb from Rodgers to Marquez Valdes-Scantling. The rookie has incredible speed and cleanly beat Jason McCourty and Rodgers dropped the ball in the bucket. On 2nd and goal from the 15, Rodgers had a ton of time and that allowed Graham to run all the way across the field where Rodgers lasered a pass in the back of the end zone. That tied the score at 17.

Brady drove the Pats down the field but they were stuffed on four attempts after getting a first and goal at the one. The Packers played some incredible defense but the play calling in that sequence was a bit curious, to say the least.

After trading possessions, Rodgers had the Packers moving at the end of the third quarter. After back-to-back great plays by Rodgers and Valdes-Scantling for 50 yards, the Pack had the ball at the New England 34. Aaron Jones carried for six yards, but Lawrence Guy coming up from behind, punched the ball loose where Gilmore recovered. Crisis averted and the momentum switched back to New England.

Brady and the Patriots went 76 yards for the go-ahead score. On a 3rd and 7, Brady hit Phillip Dorsett with a huge 17-yard catch to move the chains. Then they dusted off the double pass from Edelman to White for 37-yards. White powered it in and the Pats had the lead they would not relinquish.

On the ensuing drive, Rodgers was sacked by Flowers and Clayborn to force a three and out. On 2nd and 10 at the New England 45, Brady faked out the Packers DBs, by staring down Edelman in the flat. Two defenders raced up as Edelman waved his hand for the pass. Brady then looked downfield and hit Gordon who was wide open. He loped easily for a 55-yard touchdown. That was it, game over, thanks for coming and ensure your trays are locked and in the upright position. Mission accomplished 3.

So who stood out in this big team win this week? Lots of people but we’ll narrow it down to just three…


Stephon Gilmore – The Patriots paid Gilmore last year like one of the top CBs in the league. After a slow start to his career here, he was excellent in the second half of the season. This year, there is no doubt the Pats paid the right corner as he’s been simply outstanding since the spring.

Gilmore had the big task of shadowing Adams for much of the night and he did so frequently without any help. And he was outstanding. Adams had over 400 yards in his last three games and had 40 tonight. That is Ty Law/Revis territory folks.

Trey Flowers – This guy is really turning it on the past few weeks. And he was simply overpowering at times tonight. Despite being held frequently, Flowers was a disruptive influence all night long. He did a great job of setting the edge and getting pressure on Rodgers, on one play, beating his man and then a double team before forcing Rodgers to throw the pass off-target.

Flowers is the gaudy stat machine some edge players are…but he’s no less valuable to this defense than any of those players are to their respective teams. Perhaps even more so. He’s going to get paid.

Josh Gordon – Gordon had his fingers get dislocated a few times during the game, but toughed it out, had them jammed back in and kept going. That alone deserves praise. But his ability to go up and grab contested passes is something no other receiver other than Gronkowski is really able to do.

He put the dagger in the Packers with the 55-yard TD catch and run and had his first really big game in a Patriots uniform with 130 yards and a score.

Follow me on Twitter @SteveB7SFG or email me at [email protected]

Listen to our Patriots 4th and 2 podcasts on blog talk radio as the writers Russ Goldman, Derek Havens and I from PatsFans.com discuss the latest Patriots news.

Best Of Social Media Week 8: Patriots vs Bills

Robert Alvarez
October 31, 2018 at 6:46 pm ET

Quarterback Tom Brady entered week eights match up with the Buffalo Bills boasting a 28-3 lifetime record against the AFC East Rival.

Riding a four game winning streak into western New York, the Patriots were heavy favorites once again.

In the first quarter, the Buffalo Bills play calling turned some heads to begin the night. As Bills offensive coordinator and former Patriots coach Brian Daboll attempted to throw the Patriots defense off early.

After a punt to begin the game, quarterback Tom Brady did whatever it took to keep the next drive alive, even if it meant trying to block.


The drive ultimately setup a Stephen Gostkowski 25 yard field goal for the first points of the game.  3-0 Patriots after one.

In the second, Brady also showed off his running ability.

So to recap, a block and a run for Brady in the game already.

Unfortunately the offense continued to struggle against the Bills defense, as they could only muster two additional field goals.

9-3 Patriots at halftime.

In the second half, “Bills Mafia” made their presence known following some unwanted items ending up on the field of play.

As the Patriots offense continued to find a groove, the defense kept them in the game as defensive end Trey Flowers had a monster game.


Linebacker Kyle Van Noy also continued his hot streak of big defensive plays.

With the score cut to three following a Stephen Hauschka 51 yard field goal, Buffalo’s own Rob Gronkowski struck back.

The offense again stalled in the end zone as Gostkowski tacked on his fourth field goal of the night to up the score to 12-6 after three.

In the fourth quarter with the score surprisingly low and the Bills right in the game, Brady looked to running back James White and wide receiver turned back Cordarrelle Patterson to finally get something going.

James White from a yard out for six and the Patriots first touchdown of the game to open it up to 18-6 with 10 minutes to play.

Trailing by 12 with six minutes to go, any hope of a Bills comeback was quickly dashed following a pix six from safety Devin McCourty, the first points scored by a Patriots defense in 40 games.



The 84 yard interception return for a touchdown all but closed the book on a week eight 25-6  victory for the Patriots who move to 6-2 in 2018.

The Patriots head home with a four game winning streak to take into next Sunday nights highly anticipated game with Aaron Rogers and the Green Bay Packers.

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Patriots  Week 8 Report Card, New England Beats Buffalo 25-6

Steve Balestrieri
at 7:00 am ET

The Patriots have won five in a row and have opened up a good bit of distance between themselves and the rest of the AFC East, at the halfway point of the season. They currently have a two-game (with a tiebreaker) lead over Miami. They took care of business in Buffalo winning 25-6 despite the offense struggling to finish drives.

The lack of Sony Michel really hurt the running game and that was a big reason for the lack of finish when it comes to the offense. They pressed Cordarrelle Patterson into running back duty for the game.

But the defense was very good against arguably the worst offensive team in the NFL. But regardless, they shut down the run and scored a touchdown defensively while holding the hapless Bills’ offense to just two field goals.

So, check out our grades and see how the team fared in this week’s close win.

Quarterback: B-

Tom Brady was not at his best in Buffalo with several passes that were off the mark, most notably, the red zone incompletion to James White that skipped off the ground a good 2-3 yards in front of White, which cost the team a touchdown and a late throw on a screen that was nearly picked off.

However, he was under pressure for a good portion of the night as the Bills were getting good pressure up the middle which definitely hinders his ability to step into his throws. The Bills did a very good job of getting after him, partly because of the lack of the running game.

Brady did have several excellent passes as well. His third down laser to Edelman for 26 yards was a beauty as well as his back shoulder passes in the red zone to Chris Hogan and Rob Gronkowski. Brady was the first passer in 16 games to throw for 300 yards (324) against the Bills.

Running Backs: B-

James White couldn’t get anything going in the running game but in the passing game, he was money as always catching 10 passes for 79 yards. Patterson, as we mentioned above, stepped into the tailback position. He did rip off a nice 22-yard run in the second half. While Patterson isn’t suited for that, it should be noted that he led all running backs (both teams) in terms of carries and yards…

Brady got into the act with a slow-motion eight-yard scramble for a first down and Edelman had a couple of carries on the jet sweep. James Develin was solid as usual in the blocking game and was targeted a few times in the passing game. Brady tried his best Develin impression on Lorenzo Alexander and was leveled, but he got in the way long enough to spring Edelman past the line of scrimmage.

Wide Receivers: B

The wide receivers had to fight for everything as the Bills were dropping into a two-deep zone and allowing the short passes underneath but tried to take away everything in the vertical category. Julian Edelman had a terrific game, he was finding the soft spots in the zones and was being hammered when he caught the ball. His 26-yard reception was huge on third down. He finished with 9 catches for 104 yards.

Josh Gordon (who played the entire game despite reports to the contrary) didn’t have a big game. He misread a deep ball by Brady on the first series, that may have gotten knocked down with the wind when he had clear separation. But he made a nice 18-yard grab on a slant but finished with just 4 catches for 42 yards.

Chris Hogan had just two catches but for 49 yards and that back shoulder grab down to the one-yard line set up the Patriots lone offensive touchdown. He’s still well within that Brady circle of trust.

Tight Ends: C

Rob Gronkowski was coming off the injured list with ankle and back woes and he looked right neither in the passing game or in the running game. Gronk is normally a devastating blocker and he didn’t have that normal oomph which probably means that his back is still bothering him. He and Brady never got in sync in Buffalo and he was given extra special attention by the Bills secondary. He ended up with just 3 catches for 43 yards but his 22-yarder, with a defender all over him, while still having the presence of mind to get his feet down was a highlight reel catch.

Offensive Line: C-

The offensive line didn’t have a very good night. Granted, part of it was the lack of Sony Michel in the lineup. When Patterson was in the game, Buffalo knew they were going to run and they attacked the gaps. But the run blocking wasn’t there and because of that, Buffalo teed off with their pass rush.

The Bills only blitzed once or twice all night yet they got consistent pressure off of their front four and were pushing the offensive linemen back into Brady not allowing him to step into their throws. The proof was in the pudding, the Pats were just 1-3 in red zone opportunities and when you score one offensive touchdown but four field goals, you aren’t getting the push you need up front.

Defensive Line: B

The defensive line had a very solid game. Bills OC Brian Daboll emptied the playbook on the first series of the game with the Wildcat, direct snaps to Shady McCoy and a flea flicker. After McCoy got 12 yards on his first carry of the game, things went progressively downhill for the Bills running game. McCoy finished with 12 carries for 13 yards. Buffalo only rushed for 46 yards on 19 carries. For a team that is run-first…that is a good job for the defensive line.

Trey Flowers was huge in this game. He was immense and very disruptive in the running game with two tackles for a loss. He had two quarterback hits and two pressures in the passing game. It was easily his best game of the year. Adrian Clayborn had a sack for the second straight game.

Linebackers: B+

The Patriots linebackers were without Dont’a Hightower and we knew that Kyle Van Noy had to step up this week. And he certainly did. Van Noy was arguably the best Patriots defender on the field on Monday. He made 7 tackles, had 2 tackles for loss, 2 sacks and 2 QB hits. He was all over the field and disruptive. John Simon had a run stuff in his first action since getting injured a few weeks ago. Elandon Roberts had another gift interception go right thru his hands…sigh.

Secondary: B+

The secondary albeit against a bad Buffalo offense had a very strong game. Devin McCourty put the game away with an 84-yard pick six where he perfectly read the play down the middle of the field. Stephon Gilmore was outstanding and did a great job of blanketing Kelvin Benjamin. Pat Chung was outstanding and allowed just five catches for 35 yards while being targeted 10 times. And he fell on and recovered the fumble that Van Noy forced. Overall, when your defense outscores the opponents’ offense you’ve had a very good effort by the team.

Special Teams: C-

The Special Teams are not performing to the level that we’ve been accustomed to (spoiled with?) the past several years. Once again we have to ask, was Brandon Bolden and Jordan Richards that valuable to the Patriots STs? A silly penalty on Julian Edelman for a block after calling for a fair catch, an illegal formation call on a kickoff, where a player holding the ball for Gostkowski wasn’t covered up right by the other players. A poor punt and worse coverage allowed the Bills a 30-yard return which put them in field goal position. Stephen Gostkowski was the lone bright spot kicking four out of five field goals. His lone miss from 50 we’ll give him a pass on since Lawrence Guy was flagged for holding on the play and would’ve wiped it out anyway. Joe Judge needs to light a fire under those guys this week.

Coaches: B

The Patriots had a good game plan coming into this one and they absolutely produced on one half of it. Defensively, they were going to take away the run as the Bills are a run-first team. They did, and they were going to take away the deep plays because they knew that Buffalo doesn’t have the horses to slowly work their way down the field. Check.

Offensively, the team never looked in sync and the play calling while at times very good was suspect in a few others. On the third and two call at the Patriots 12-yard line, Buffalo knew the Patriots were going to run and snuffed it out easily. That would have been time for a play-action pass.

But in the end, they were on the road against a divisional opponent with a loud, raucous crowd, intent on throwing sex toys on the field again…and got the job done. We’re on to Green Bay.

Follow me on Twitter @SteveB7SFG or email me at [email protected]

Listen to our Patriots 4th and 2 podcasts on blog talk radio as the writers Russ Goldman, Derek Havens and I from PatsFans.com discuss the latest Patriots news.

Patriots  Week 7 Report Card, New England Downs Chicago 38-31

Steve Balestrieri
October 23, 2018 at 7:00 am ET

The Patriots have won four in a row and are now alone atop the division at 5-2, they won their first road game of the season against division leader Chicago. But in doing so, they made life quite harder than it had to be with some really sloppy mistakes and some poor play at times. They could have, should have won a lot more comfortable than 38-31. But that’s why they play the games.

With the extremes of highs and lows, this one is rather difficult to get an accurate reading on. Several players made bad plays and then redeemed themselves with very good or even great ones. So we’ll dive in and after watching the game for the third time this afternoon, try to get an accurate read on this one.

So, check out our grades and see how the team fared in this week’s close win.

Quarterback: B+

Tom Brady began the game as a man possessed. He chewed up the Bears much-ballyhooed defense like he was facing the London Silly Nannies not the Monsters of the Midway. The Patriots skewered them easily and waltzed down the field for a TD.

Things got a little more difficult once Sony Michel went down after just six snaps. Already missing Rob Gronkowski, he spread the ball around and had a very good statistical day, completing 25-36 for 277 yards with 3 TDs and 1 INT. That pick was another pass that went from his receivers hands and flew out straight into a defender’s.

He wasn’t perfect on the day but he was plenty good enough, his QB rating of 108.2 would have been around 120 without that weird pick on the throw to Develin.

Running Backs: B

James White, Mr. Reliable was tasked to do a lot more once Sony Michel went down on the first play of the second quarter. White caught 8 passes for 57 yards and two touchdowns and ran for 40 yards on 11 carries, including several at the end of the game while the Patriots were running down the clock.

Kenjon Barner came in when Michel went down and played okay, considering he doesn’t get many snaps and has been just relegated to spot duty. He had 10 carries for 36 yards and against a good run defense of the Bears, that isn’t bad. Brady had one carry for six yards and Cordarrelle Patterson had one for four and a first down.

Michel went down with what appeared to be a really bad injury, but minutes ago Ian Rapoport of NFL Network said, that there was no structural damage and he appeared to dodge a major bullet. Michel was off to another very good start. He had four carries for 22 yards and one catch for 13 yards, not bad production at all for just six snaps.

Wide Receivers: B

The wide receivers were once again solid for the Patriots in Chicago. Josh Gordon caught four passes for 100 yards, including a 55-yarder where he ran out of gas on the one-yard line and was tackled from behind. His lack of conditioning due to his lingering hamstring issue was at play there, Gordon said after the game that he was gassed after going on that 96-yard drive. His catch from Brady to convert a first down where he went up over a defender and came down with the ball, smashing his head on the turf as a result was a beauty.

Chris Hogan had an uptick in targets with Gronk and Michel out and had another solid afternoon pulling in six catches for 63 yards on seven targets. Julian Edelman chipped in with 5 catches for 39 yards. Phillip Dorsett had one catch for 8 yards on the day.

Tight Ends: C+

With Gronkowski and Jacob Hollister out, Dwayne Allen was the only tight end active in Chicago. He did very well in the run blocking department, which he always does. On one key play in the fourth quarter, he pancaked Khalil Mack allowing White to pick up the first down.

However, he was a non-factor in the passing game, he ran several routes but was not targeted.

Offensive Line: A-

The offensive line was very good against a Bears defense that was supposed to be much, much better than the Chiefs unit that they faced the week before. They still rolled up over 100 yards on the ground and averaged 4.0 yards per carry despite losing their top runner in Michel.  When the Bears knew they were going to run at the end of the game, they still did well. Here is where they needed Jeremy Hill back but the line play was good.

In pass protection, overall they were outstanding. The only sack was a communication breakdown where an interior lineman was left unblocked. But overall the offensive line pass protection gave Brady plenty of time to survey the field. Mack and Leonard Floyd, the Bears best pass rushers were handled.

Defensive Line: C-

The defensive line? Here is one of those quandaries that we mentioned above. Did they stuff the Chicago running backs? Absolutely. Bears running backs gained only 53 yards on 19 carries, which is less than 3 yards a pop. Did they pressure Trubiski, which was part of the game plan? Yes, they did and did so pretty consistently (with help) all game long. They still have some issues getting home and finishing up with sacks (they had two, one by Deatrich Wise, one by Adrian Clayborn) but the pressure was pretty consistent all game long.

But in containing Trubiski and stopping him from running? The line was horrible, and that may not be exaggerating things. They did a really poor job of containment and Trubiski was able to escape much more often than not. And when he ran, he ran extremely well, gaining 81 yards on six carries, a 13.3-yard average.

Linebackers: B-

The linebackers were okay, on Sunday and two combined for one of the turning points of the game. Dont’a Hightower burst thru the Bears line and blocked a punt that Kyle Van Noy scooped up and returned for a touchdown. It gave the Patriots a lead that they would not give up. The linebackers filled in nicely in the running game. Van Noy had an excellent text play of setting the edge, stringing along his blocker and then forcing the speedy Tarik Cohen out of bounds for a three-yard loss.

Elandon Roberts, Hightower, and Van Noy all had times creating pressure and they did that fairly well also. Van Noy in particular, had pressure on Trubiski on the final Hail Mary which no doubt had something to do with the pass not reaching the end zone.

But they weren’t much help in containing Trubiski, although when they placed Van Noy to spy him, he seemed to do well, albeit for a few plays in the first half. Roberts had a gift interception airmailed to him in the end zone and dropped it. The Bears scored on the next play….that hurt.

Secondary: B-

The secondary was once again a quandary. Stephon Gilmore had another stellar game, he blanketed whoever he was covering. But he too dropped an interception that two plays later was turned into a Bears touchdown. Jonathan Jones made an outstanding play in the end zone for a pick, high pointing the ball.

However, J.C. Jackson had three penalties all of which hurt because they were drive extenders. But he too made some redemption later when he made a very difficult interception of a Trubiski pass. They made the difficult ones and let the gifts get away.

Pat Chung had a pass breakup but Harmon had a holding penalty and every time they went to zone, Trubiski hit Trey Burton wide open down the middle of the field.

Special Teams: B

Nowhere was the discrepancy between good and poor play as distinct on Special Teams. Rewatching the tape, Patterson’s fumble wasn’t caused by the Bears but by Nicholas Grigsby. That wasn’t good, the penalties on Crossen and Nate Ebner were worse. Then Edelman nearly had another turnover where a punt bounced off of his face mask but he was able to recover. Ryan Allen is normally excellent at placing punts inside the 10, but his yesterday sailed badly deep in the end zone. A delay of the game on the kickoff?

But then there was the good. Patterson’s 95-yard TD on the kick return was outstanding. He nearly had another with a 38-yarder later in the game. Hightower’s punt block and Van Noy’s scoop and score bumped the score up much higher than where they started.

Coaches: B-

The Patriots had another excellent game plan offensively. Josh McDaniels, I’m sure had to change things up with Gronkowski out and it started off swimmingly. Then they lost Michel after just six snaps and everything had to change again. All in all, without Gronkowski and Michel, the offense did pretty well for itself.

The defensive game plan was sound and they started off pressuring Trubiski. They tried to force mistakes…which they did but they didn’t capitalize on many of them. Worse, they lost containment on several plays allowing him to make big plays with his feet. That is a performance issue and a coaching one as well.

But despite the sloppy play, turnovers etc. they Patriots persevered and won a tough game on the road against a division leader. They are 5-2, are all alone at the top of their division and have a week to prepare for Buffalo on Monday Night Football.

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