Tag Archives: Jamie Collins

Injury-Riddled Patriots Move to 6-0 With 35-14 Win Over Injury-Riddled Giants

Steve Balestrieri
October 11, 2019 at 7:13 am ET

Mini-Bye Week Comes a Great Time for NE

The Patriots are 6-0 and defeated the New York Giants 35-14 but this one went unlike most had envisioned on Thursday night at Gillette Stadium. Most had this one as a blowout which the final score indicated but in reality, it was anything but. 

Ah, the joys of Thursday Night Football…

With solid play and timely stops by their defense, the Giants were very much alive in this game with about nine minutes to play, with the score just 21-14. Then the Patriots defense, which was outstanding again, turned the game into the Pats’ favor for good. Jamie Collins jarred the ball loose from running back Jonathan Hilliman, where Kyle Van Noy scooped the ball up and rolled for a touchdown. Game over, thanks for coming, drive safely down Route 1.

New England could breathe a sigh of relief as this one was effectively over. Tom Brady added a final touchdown on a one-yard quarterback sneak to finish off the scoring, his second rushing touchdown of the game to put a bow on it, making the score 35-14.

It was the Giants who entered this game beat up missing three of their top offensive players [Saquon Barkley, Sterling Shepard, Evan Engram], but it was the Patriots who limped out of this one. New England entered the game missing two of its own offensive performers, wide receiver Phillip Dorsett and running back Rex Burkhead. But they then suffered a slew of injuries during the game.

Josh Gordon left after awkwardly twisting his ankle/knee and didn’t return. Fullback Jakob Johnson also left with an injury, as well as tight end Matt LaCosse who left early in this one. These losses would affect the way the offense was able to line up the rest of the game. With only one tight end and no fullback, the Patriots ran only 11 personnel grouping [3 WRs, 1TE, 1 RB] for nearly the entire second half. 

Gordon’s loss hit an already thin wide receiver position and forced undrafted rookie wide receivers, Jakobi Meyers and Gunner Olszewski, into prominent roles in the offense. 

On defense, Pat Chung, Dont’a Hightower, and J.C. Jackson left with injuries, although Jackson was able to return later. So, the mini-bye week with 10 days off before playing on Monday Night Football against the Jets, couldn’t come at a better time.

Other observations from tonight’s game include:

Defense Steps Up Again With Four More Turnovers:

The Patriots defense continues to play stellar team defense with great coverage in the secondary while generating turnovers. On a night where they generated just a single sack, the defense forced four turnovers with the aforementioned fumble and score by Van Noy and three interceptions by Duron Harmon, John Simon, and Stephon Gilmore. Gilmore almost had a fourth but dropped it when he jumped a route to Golden Tate on a third-down near midfield. 

The coverage was sticky all night long against a game but depleted Giants WR core. The defense did give up its first passing touchdown of the year, a 64-yard scoring pass from Daniel Jones to Tate, although Jonathan Jones had tight coverage and actually got his hand on the ball. But credit Tate with an outstanding play, he was able to keep his concentration and still able to haul it in for the score. 

But the defense limited the Giants to just 213 total yards [52 rushing, 161 passing] while being outstanding once again on third down, holding the G-men to just 2-10. 

You Think Bringing Back Brandon Bolden Was Worth It?

At the time Brandon Bolden was re-signed and brought back after a year with Miami, there were many who panned the signing,[including a hot-take dolt on the air] saying that Bill Belichick signs too many players with Special Teams talent only. As the Southwest Airlines commercial says, “Want to Get Away?” No, the return of Bolden has done nothing but pay dividends. 

Back in minicamp, I spoke with RB coach Ivan Fears prior to practice and asked him about bringing back the popular teammate inside the Patriots locker room. And what Fears said has rung true this season.  “No matter what we ask him to do, Brandon will do it, and do it well,” Fears said. 

In the last three games, Bolden has scored three touchdowns and figured prominently in a fourth. Bolden had a rushing touchdown against Buffalo, caught a 29-yard score from Brady against the Redskins and ran one in against the Giants in short-yardage tonight. But he caused the blocked punt in the first half which resulted in a Chase Winovich touchdown. 

Bolden rushed in on a punt block and drove Nate Stupar backward where Riley Dixon’s punt went off Stupar’s head. The ball bounced backward where Thor scooped and scored. This was all because of Bolden’s work while out on the field. 

Daniel Jones Can Sling It: 

What? you say, are you kidding? And a look at Jones’ numbers would seem to play that out. How so when he completed only 15 of 31 for 161 yards which was only good for 5.2 yards per pass and three interceptions?  

Granted Jones’ numbers weren’t good, nor his passer rating of 35.2, but his depleted receiving core was blanketed all night long and he frequently had nowhere to go with the football. 

But several of his throws, including the touchdown to Tate and another pass to Tate on a third-down slant were delivered in very tight windows, quickly and accurately. If you look past the boxscore and rewatch the tape, Jones did as well as could be expected given the circumstances.

The Giants, as we pointed out in our key matchups piece, would move Tate into the slot to take him away from Stephon Gilmore and have him battle Jonathan Jones. It was a good hard battle all night long.  

Jones had plenty of bad moments and plays to be sure, but he looks to be a good QB who was just placed in an unwinnable situation

Offense Needs Help But They Weren’t Quite As Bad As Believed:

  The Patriots struggled on offense for much of the night and had to claw and scratch for everything they got. The play of the offensive line continues to be suspect at times and they seem to be scuffling along in search of an identity. 

But at the end of the day, the generated 424 yards of offense and held the ball for nearly 40 minutes, which really tired out the Giants’ defense. 

Tom Brady struggled in the first half but ended up 31-41 for 334 yards. He scored on two short QB sneaks but threw a weird interception in the first half. While attempting a deep post to Julian Edelman, the ball was well behind Edelman where Janoris Jenkins picked it off. Was it miscommunication or the wind?  Edelman was outstanding with nine catches for 113 yards including a beautiful diving catch which set up Brady’s last TD dive. 

Sony Michel struggled for much of the night but ended up with 86 yards on 22 carries. The Patriots ground game, which struggled for much of the night ended up with 114 yards. But the offensive line and wide receivers need help. 

TE Ryan Izzo has really struggled with blocks to the edge which is supposed to be his strong suit. LaCosse can’t catch a break, or stay healthy, he’s hurt again. With the injuries to Dorsett and Gordon, an already hurting WR core was stretched mighty thin. Kudos to UDFA rookie wide receivers Meyers and Olszewski who both contributed in the passing game. Meyers had four catches for 54 yards including a nice 23-yarder where he high-pointed the ball and had the awareness to raise it over the defender to keep it from being knocked away. Olszewski chipped in with two catches for 34 yards. 

But within the next 10 days, they have some decisions to make. Even if Gordon and Dorsett are back, they should probably look at adding some help. One thing to keep in mind, 1st-round draft pick N’Keal Harry can begin practicing on Wednesday and return in another two weeks from then. 

And with LaCosse hurt again, it may be time to explore bringing in another tight end. The offense is getting by for now but with the meat of their schedule upcoming with Baltimore, Philadelphia, Dallas, Cleveland, Houston. and Kansas CIty yet to come, they need to get the offense figured out. 

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Patriots Players To Watch, Week 6 Against the Giants

Steve Balestrieri
October 10, 2019 at 11:00 am ET

 

The Patriots are back home in Gillette Stadium to face the New York Giants. With the short week to prepare, the game plans for either team will probably be limited so it comes down to execution. Thursday night games tend to be sloppier than their Sunday counterparts, so limiting mistakes while trying to force some mistakes on your opponents are always a big key, even more so than on Sunday.

Here are our Patriots players to watch this week as the Patriots try to improve to 6-0 on the season against the Giants. 

James White: 

The Patriots, as we pointed out in our key matchups piece, will no doubt try to target the Giants linebackers in the passing game by putting them in coverage against the running backs. And their main weapon in that regard continues to be James White. 

White is fantastic out of the backfield and keeping the sticks moving and when the defense wants to drop back and play coverage, he has always been able to take advantage of his opportunities in the running game. 

We look for White to play a big role this week in the offensive game plan, facing a defense that has struggled to stop the run or the pass, White on the field is the kind of versatile chess piece which will keep the defense guessing.

Jamie Collins:

The Patriots linebackers are having a fantastic season. Dont’a Hightower has dubbed them “the Boogeymen” and Collins has fit the bill [no pun intended], as the top Boogeyman for opponents to face. Collins is having a fantastic second stint with the Patriots. He’s been disruptive, has done a great job of setting the edge, getting after the quarterback and dropping into coverage. 

Every week it seems that we’re singing the praises of one of the linebackers after a game. Two weeks ago it was Kyle Van Noy, who was the defensive player of the week. Last week it was Hightower who seemed to be everywhere in disrupting the Redskins offense. This week, it is Collins’ turn. 

With the Giants missing three of their top offensive chess pieces in this game, it will allow Bill Belichick and Jerod Mayo to give Collins more opportunities to disrupt the flow of the Giants offense. And we expect him to do just that. 

Julian Edelman:

Bill Belichick said this week that Edelman is “one of the most competitive players I’ve ever coached.” Tom Brady took it one step farther heaping huge praise on the tough yet banged-up wide receiver. 

“He’s one of the best players in the history of the franchise,” Brady said in a radio interview on Monday. “When you think of some of the great receivers we’ve had, Julian is right up there at the top. So you’ve got to get him the ball, and he’s making a lot of yards with it in his hands. We put a lot on Julian. Julian’s a very smart player. Very tough. He’s mentally, physically tough. What he’s gone through the last few weeks with his injury and then still just laying it on the line — you see even on that catch-and-run there in the third quarter, him kind of diving over the pile. He’s an incredible player, an incredible teammate, and the more we get him the ball, the better it is for our offense.”

Edelman is questionable for this game as his chest/rib injury has been very painful, he’s been wincing every time he gets off the turf. But It would be folly to count him out of this nationally televised game. He knows how valuable he is to this offense. He’s the one matchup nightmare that the Giants will have a hard time covering tonight. 

Jonathan Jones:

Jones seems to be finally be getting his due as one of the outstanding slot corners in the NFL. The Patriots rewarded him with a 3-year extension this summer worth around $21 million dollars. Along with Stephon Gilmore, Jason McCourty, J.C. Jackson, the Patriots have one of the deepest and most talented cornerback groups in the league.

Jones may see a lot of Golden Tate this week. With Sterling Shepard and Evan Engram out this week, Tate may be the go-to guy for Daniel Jones and the Giants passing game. And the G-men may move Tate in the slot to keep him away from Stephon Gilmore and give Tate more options to break on the ball. 

This promises to be a great matchup between the two. Tate is an accomplished veteran who has been in many big games. The moment will never be too much for him and as he stated this week, the Giants aren’t intimidated by the moment. 

Matt LaCosse: 

LaCosse was a bit more involved in the offense last week, he only caught a single pass for 22 yards and has only caught three passes on the season, but he’s been banged up and now that he’s healthy, the Patriots are hoping that he can be more productive in the passing game. He did show up nicely in the running game, and easily had his best game of the season in that regard. He made a key block in springing Sony Michel for his 14-yard touchdown run. That is the type of play the team needs consistently.

The focus on LaCosse and Ryan Izzo will be much closer now that the team has decided to release veteran Ben Watson. Watson was considered to be the main TE target once his suspension was over. Now he’s gone and there the focus will be on these two, TEs to get it done. Especially on LaCosse who is considered the better receiver of the two. 

We’ll see if Josh McDaniels tries to get LaCosse more involved in the passing game this week. With WR Phillip Dorsett out with a hamstring injury, it would be a prime opportunity for him to begin to carve out a role for himself.   

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Check back with PatsFans.com for all of our pregame and post-game analysis. And if you’re a wiz at predicting the NFL slate straight up, register for our message board and then post your picks every week. We’ll see who is the top dog at the end of the season. That page can be found here: https://www.patsfans.com/new-england-patriots/messageboard/picks/

 

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 myself from PatsFans.com discuss the latest Patriots news.

 

Patriots – Giants Week 6 Key Matchups, Who Has the Razor’s Edge?

Steve Balestrieri
at 7:00 am ET

The Patriots return home on a short week to take on the New York Giants on Thursday Night Football. The team has the opportunity to begin the season 6-0 and will have 11 days off before facing the Jets next week on Monday Night Football.

This week’s game will be broadcast by Fox on Thursday, October 10 at 8:20 p.m. and can be seen locally on WFXT Fox  25. Joe Buck will handle play-by-play duties with Troy Aikman as the color analyst. Erin Andrews and Kristina Pink will work from the sidelines. The game will also be aired on the Patriots flagship radio station 98.5 The Sports Hub with Bob Socci and Scott Zolak on the call, produced by Marc Capello.

The Patriots (5-0) beat the Washington Redskins 33-7 with the defense getting six sacks and an interception while Tom Brady threw for 348 yards and three TDs.

The Giants (2-3) lost to the Minnesota Vikings 28-10. Daniel Jones threw a beautiful 38-yard touchdown pass but missed too many open receivers. The Giants run defense was gashed on the day to the tune of 211 yards.  

We here at PatsFans.com are continuing our “Razor’s Edge” column in 2019 to give some quick analysis on some of the key matchups of the game and what you can look for in how the game plays out.

Series History:

The Patriots and Giants have met 29 times in the preseason including 15 years in a row. But they are meeting for just the 11th time in the regular season. The Patriots lead the overall series 6-4, but the G-men can lay claim to two Super Bowl victories over Brady, Belichick and the Patriots after the 2007 and 2011 seasons.  

Here is a look at some of the key matchups and who holds the Razor’s Edge.

First up is the Patriots offense:

Patriots RBs vs Giants Front Seven – Razor’s Edge New England

The Patriots running game finally showed some signs of getting itself untracked against an albeit awful Redskins run defense which entered the game allowing 147.5 yards per game. Sony Michel churned out 91 yards, most of which in the second half as the run blocking got much better after halftime.

The Giants got chewed up last week and are allowing an average of 130 yards per game. The big men up front led by rookie Dexter Lawrence are playing well, but they were victimized by zone running plays that tested their speed and athleticism. They should get linebackers Alec Ogletree and Tae Davis back this week, which should help the run defense. 

With the quick week coupled with the travel, and the weather where it is expected to have heavy rains and winds over 20 mph, the Patriots may opt to further wear down a run defense that took a beating on Sunday. Look for plenty of Michel and Rex Burkhead, if he’s able to go tonight.           

Patriots WRs vs Giants Secondary – Razor’s Edge New England

The Patriots passing game ended up having a very solid Sunday as Brady passed for 348 yards and three touchdowns after getting sacked three times in the first half. Julian Edelman was nearly uncoverable where Washington had no one that could stick with him. The running backs out of the backfield made big contributions with James White doing his normal solid work and Brandon Bolden hauling in a 29-yard touchdown. 

The Giants pass defense has been bad, allowing over 280 yards per game and allowing opposing QBs to post a 106.8 passer rating. Rewatching the tape of the Vikings game showed the play-action passing and crossing routes were giving them fits. However, the way to beat Brady and the Patriots offense is to bring pressure up the middle. That’s where Lawrence comes in. He has the ability to throw a monkey wrench into the Patriots plans. 

Look for the Patriots to utilize Edelman on those shallow crossers as he’ll take on Grant Haley in the slot. There will be no Phillip Dorsett, so Josh Gordon will be working against Janoris Jenkins. Look for the Patriots to run a lot of those two-back “Pony” sets with James White and Burkhead. Play action passing will be huge here to slow the pass rush and get the open man quickly.

Next up the Giants offense:

Giants RBs vs NE Front Seven – Razor’s Edge New England

The Giants are missing the outstanding Saquon Barkley and his backup Wayne Gallman this week. Barkley suffered a high ankle sprain and is week-to-week and Gallman suffered a concussion against the Vikings. Now they’ll go with former practice squadders Jon Hilliman and fullback Eli Perry.  Perry is an intriguing player, tough physical, can carry the ball a bit and make the occasional catch. 

The Patriots front seven has been very good against the run. Last week, they had a single breakdown of a 65-yard jet sweep where the secondary missed tackles but other than that, they shut down the Redskins ground game. Danny Shelton, Lawrence Guy, Adam Butler, and Michael Bennett have been excellent at slowing things at the point of attack and allowing the linebackers to clean up. Unlike previous years, the Patriots are doing a much better job of setting the edge with John Simon and Jamie Collins doing a tremendous job. 

The much anticipated matchup with Barkley won’t happen this time around and with the G-Men on their third and fourth options, I don’t see them running a consistent rushing attack against a unit allowing 78 yards per game. 

Giants WRs vs NE Secondary- Razor’s Edge New England

The Giants passing game has shown definite signs of life with Daniel Jones, who was impressive here in August for the fourth preseason game. But he’s missing his top WR in Sterling Shepard as well as his top tight end Evan Engram who are hurt. He still has the talented Golden Tate and Darius Slayton but will that be enough? 

The Patriots pass defense has been on an absolute roll this year. With a deep and talented secondary with 11 interceptions, an excellent group of linebackers and a pass rush that has already generated 24 sacks, they are playing outstanding football. They are tops in the league allowing just 160.4 yards per game through the air and just 6.8 points per game. Despite the short week, the Patriots defense will have a slightly easier time to prepare for the Giants passing offense as it bears many of the same looks as Washington’s. 

Jones has mobility but look for the Patriots to continue to be aggressive and attack the Giants offensive line while rolling their coverages to try to confuse the rookie QB. Jamie Collins may be a spy on Jones if he starts to hurt the defense with his legs. But with a depleted pass receiving core, this matchup should easily favor New England.

Special Teams- Razor’s Edge New York

The Patriots Mike Nugent missed his first extra point attempt but then was perfect on his next three while hitting two chip shot field goals. Rookie punter Jake Bailey has been outstanding. While the return game has been hit or miss with rookie Gunner Olszewski. 

Meanwhile the Giants Aldrick Rosas hasn’t missed an extra point and has only one field goal miss although his long is only 36 yards. Punter Riley Dixon has been excellent and is averaging 47.5 yards per punt. Corey Ballentine has done a good job on kick returns, while Golden Tate and T.J. Jones handle punt returns. 

Next up, who wins and why…

Prediction:

The Patriots are playing on a short week, but get this one at home, which always helps on Thursday Night Football. The Giants are beat up physically and missing several key skill position players on offense. Their defense has been allowing over 400 yards and over 25 points per game.  

Bill Belichick has been kryptonite for rookie QBs when facing them for the first time and Tom Brady has an 11-1 record in Thursday games. 

Keys to the game from a Patriots perspective:

Running Game Center Stage – Look for the Patriots once again to try to establish the run against a team that is struggling to stop it. Sony Michel should see plenty of work along with Burkhead [if he is active], James White with some Brandon Bolden mixed in. 

Getting in good position on early downs will open up the entire offense. On the flip side, with no Barkley and Gallman, the Patriots should be able to shut down the run. 

Do a Better Job on Third Downs – The Patriots offense struggled again on third down going just 5-15 last week in Washington. That stat has to improve. With a strong running game, it will open up play action especially in third and short situations. The running backs in the passing game along with Edelman will be third down keys. 

The Patriots defense has been outstanding on third down and held Washington to just 1-11 last week. They will look to continue that as well as limit big plays by the Giants offense. They should be able to stifle them from making the long ball-control type of drives, so the Giants may have to hit some big chunk plays to keep pace. 

Turnovers, Turnovers, Turnovers – The Patriots have been crazy good at creating turnovers defensively with 11 interceptions and one fumble recovery. Look for them to try to keep creating a favorable field position for the offense. With a young, rookie QB, they may be able to bait him into making a mistake or two.

Brady has made two red-zone interceptions in the past two games, both of which were poor decisions. Those have to be cut out as well as maintaining good ball control on a night where the weather conditions are predicted to be bad. 

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This should be a game, [on paper] where the Patriots should roll easily. The Giants offense is missing their top two rushers and their top two pass receivers. Going against a defense that has been playing as well as New England’s while facing a rookie QB, it has the potential to get away from the away team quickly. That’s why they play the games. 

It will be interesting to see Josh McDaniels’ approach for the offense in this one. But with Sony Michel and the running backs in the passing game, along with Edelman and Gordon, Brady should have plenty of targets to go after a suspect Giants defense. Patriots 27-6

The “Knocking on Seven’s Door” tour heads to New Jersey and a Monday Night Football matchup with the New York Jets next week. 

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 and breakdown game analysis

 

Calling All Pats Fans, Kyle Van Noy Needs Your Help Designing A Shirt For “The Boogeymen”

Robert Alvarez
October 9, 2019 at 1:00 pm ET

Are you a graphic designer and love the New England Patriots?

Well, Kyle Van Noy wants your help, and he has an enticing reward for a job well done.

On Twitter Tuesday, Van Noy fired off a few recruitment tweets seeking a shirt/sweatshirt design for “the boogeymen”, a nickname for the Patriots linebacker corps coined by Dont’a Hightower.

If you think you have what it takes to win over what currently stands as the NFL’s best linebackers, get to work and send your shirt designs over to Van Noy before the weekend.

Through five games the defense has 24 sacks and is on pace for 77, a mark that would break the NFL record of 72, set by the 1984 Chicago Bears.

For even more perspective, the Patriots had 30 sacks total in 2018 and the team record sits at 57 which was set in 1979.

The Patriots also have 11 interceptions to lead the NFL.

Hightower voiced his praise for the defenses record setting start following Sunday’s win.

“We compete. It’s a great group not just in the linebacker room but the defense, we all want to compete. … We’re trying to get more picks, more forced fumbles. It’s a great defense”

The “boogeymen” meanwhile, will look to add to the record setting defensive numbers on Thursday night against a banged up Giants team, and perhaps celebrate another victory in new shirts.

Patriots Week 5 Report Card, 33-7  Win Over the Redskins

Steve Balestrieri
October 8, 2019 at 7:00 am ET

Patriots Sitting Pretty at 5-0, Despite winning against ugly competition

The Patriots are 5-0 and one of [at this time] two undefeated teams left in the league. The Redskins are in a complete tailspin and are now 0-5 and have fired Head coach Jay Gruden. So, while the Patriots aren’t a perfect team at 5-0, their opponents at this point of the season are 5-15, with just the Bills being a good team thus far of their opponents. 

The Patriots started out slowly and actually trailed for the first time in the 2019 season. By halftime they led by only five at 12-7. After halftime was a different game and they outscored Washington 21-0, completely dominating the game and improving to 3-0 on the road. It should be noted that the team has already won as many games on the road as they won in all of 2018. 

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

Quarterback: B

Tom Brady had an overall very solid day, throwing for 348 yards and completing 28 of 42 passes while tossing touchdowns to three different receivers. He also had another very bad red zone decision that resulted in another awful-looking interception. Early in the game, the Redskins pass rush disrupted things, but Brady missed a golden opportunity and overthrew Josh Gordon who had cleanly beaten the coverage. 

But despite losing Phillip Dorsett early to a hamstring issue, Brady spread the ball around to nine different receivers. His throw to Brandon Bolden for a 29-yard touchdown was a beautiful touch pass and the one just before that to James White was aces as well. Brady may not an easy touchdown as the one he threw Izzo. The Redskins cleared out to each side and nobody was within the same area code as Izzo. Easy six points. 

Nice comeback week for Brady after a rough outing in Buffalo. Completing 67 percent of your passes, throwing three touchdowns and 348 yards with a QB Rating of 106? Nothing wrong with that. 

Running Backs: B+

The Patriots got the running game started [read Sony Michel] by going back to the power running game between the tackles in the second half. Once they got the running game going, everything fell into place and the Patriots blew them out. Michel had 91 yards on 18 carries, including a 14-yard touchdown and chipped in with three catches in the passing game for 32 yards. That is something we have been clamoring for and if they can keep it going, then this offense will be much less predictable. 

James White turned in a classic JW28 performance with 72 yards combined rushing and receiving, helping keep the sticks moving. He does everything so smoothly, it sometimes looks too easy. Veteran RB Brandon Bolden scored on a beauty of a 29-yard touchdown pass from Brady. It was a carbon-copy of the same route and throw he and Brady connected against the Skins four years ago in Foxboro. 

Jakob Johnson was feeling more comfortable out there on Sunday. He laid some tremendous blocks in the running game and while he’s not James Develin, he’s looking like he’s going to be just fine. And he caught a pass to boot. 

Wide Receivers: B

Julian Edelman had a fantastic day, catching eight passes for 110 yards and a six yard touchdown catch on nine targets. The only misfire was on a drop where Edelman was wide open and had the ball hit him right in the hands. He had a lot of green in front of him there. But his toe-tapping catch along the sideline was superb. He was giving the Redskins secondary fits yesterday. 

Josh Gordon had five catches for 59 yards but the one that got away could have given him a huge game, he blew by his defender and had an easy touchdown and Brady overthrew him. Jakobi Meyers had one catch for six yards

Tight Ends: B

Matt LaCosse and Ryan Izzo not only got involved in the passing game, but they had their best day blocking as well. LaCosse had one catch for 22 while Izzo had two for 39 including a 10-yard touchdown. LaCosse had a tremendous block on Michel’s 14-yard touchdown run. 

Izzo’s touchdown reception was the first by a Patriots tight end since Rob Gronkowski found the end zone last year. His touchdown was a bizarre play where he went down the seam and the Redskins secondary parted like the Red Sea where there was no one even remotely near him. Izzo will take it, his first NFL touchdown. Hopefully, this is a sign of good things to come, especially with the news that Ben Watson will not be activated and was released.  

Offensive Line: B

The offensive line had a mixed day. In the first half, they gave up three sacks and could only generate about 10 yards of offense in the ground game. But they got things figured out and started clearing out holes in the running game for Michel to run through. Brady despite the pressure threw for 348 yards and three scores. 

Dante Scarnecchia’s group dominated the second half. Now they need to keep it going against the Giants. 

Defensive Line: A-

The defensive line once again was very, very good. They gave up a 65-yard run early but there were missed tackles that they don’t normally commit in the secondary. The Redskins generated some garbage time yards late in the game, but between those two moments, the Redskins were stuffed. Adrian Peterson had 18 yards on seven carries. 

The defensive line showed multiple fronts, gave Colt McCoy different looks and constantly changed up personnel. They helped put a ton of pressure on McCoy, generating six sacks and eight quarterback hits. Danny Shelton and Lawrence Guy are both having excellent starts to the 2019 season. 

Linebackers: A

The Patriots linebackers were once again outstanding. Sunday was Dont’a Hightower’s return to action and he was the player of the game. Hightower was everywhere and the Redskins had no answer for him. Hightower had 8 tackles, 4.5 for a loss, 1.5 sacks, 1 pass defensed, and two quarterback hits. 

Jamie Collins had a sack where it looked like he was shot out of a cannon. Chase Winnovich added his fourth sack of the season while Ja’Whaun Bentley read a screen to Chris Thompson and dropped him with a thundering hit.

Secondary: A-

The secondary had a rather ho-hum day while not allowing a passing touchdown while intercepting an opponent for the 11th time this season [Jason McCourty]. Terry McLaurin was held in check, the backs didn’t produce much in the screen game and the Redskins finished the game with 75 net passing yards and averaged 2.3 yards per pass. It doesn’t matter who the opponent is, that is domination.

Special Teams: B

Stephen Gostkowski err, Mike Nugent had another miss on the first extra point of the day in what seems like Groundhog Day. However, Nugent recovered sufficiently and was fine after that, hitting two chip shot field goals and the three extra points. 

Jake Bailey had another terrific game and punted six times, averaging 47.7yards per punt. Gunner Olszewski returned three punts for 49 yards. And nearly came away with a broken on down the middle of the field. 

Coaches: B

The Patriots coaching staff made the adjustments they needed to make offensively, where Josh McDaniels schemed the running game open. He also picked on the Washington linebackers in the passing game, something we pointed to in our Razor’s Edge pregame matchups. Other than that one play on defense, the Redskins were unable to move the ball at all. 

We’re on to the Giants and Thursday Night Football, with the puke color rush uniforms. The “Knockin’ on Seven’s Door” 2019 tour continues with the Patriots at 5-0. 

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.

 

Five Takeaways from the Patriots 33-7 Win Over the Redskins

Steve Balestrieri
October 6, 2019 at 7:18 pm ET

The Patriots head home from Washington with their 5-0 record intact and now have a short week to prepare for the New York Giants on Thursday Night Football. The Patriots dominated the second half today and came away with an easy 33-7 win. But for the first 30 minutes it was a close one as the team led only 12-7 at the half. 

Very uneven play along the offensive line, going nearly completely away from the running game and some uncharacteristic mental errors cost the team in the first half. But they made their adjustments after halftime and outscored the Redskins 21-0 after intermission. In fact, the Patriots scored 33 unanswered points. 

Tom Brady passed for 348 yards and three touchdowns and Sony Michel had a big second half and finished up the day rushing for 91 yards on 18 carries. 

After giving up a huge 65-yard touchdown run on a jet sweep to Steven Sims in the first quarter, the Redskins didn’t do much of anything offensively. The Patriots defense pretty much slammed the door shut after that. 

Here are our takeaways from the Patriots 33-7 rout of the Redskins. 

Brady Has a Bounceback Day And Finishes on a High Note:

It wasn’t all easy but overall Tom Brady had an outstanding day completing 28-42 for 348 yards with three touchdowns and one interception. In the second quarter, Brady had a red zone interception for the second week in a row.  

But his three touchdowns gave him #600 for his career counting regular and postseason. Ryan Izzo is also the 72nd player to catch a touchdown from Brady. He passed Brett Favre for third all-time on the list of career passing yards. With 17 yards on Thursday, he’ll surpass Peyton Manning on the list for the #2 QB in terms of passing yards. 

Brady spread the ball out to nine different receivers with three different ones [Edelman, Brandon Bolden and Ryan Izzo] scoring touchdowns. Edelman was his favorite target and had 8 catches for 110 yards and a score on 9 targets. 

The Offensive Line Struggled Overall in the First Half and With Protection All Game:

The Redskins came in with the 2nd least amount of sacks in the NFL today. But they registered four sacks of Brady, and for the most part rushed only three. They registered one sack by rushing just two. The offensive line also struggled to open holes in the running game where the Skins have been getting gashed all year long.

But their adjustments worked and they began to run the ball much more effectively in the second half. Sony Michel got 91 yards on 18 carries overall with most of it coming after halftime, and most of that came running between the tackles. 

With the running game going in the second half, the passing game clicked much better and the team scored three second-half touchdowns with Brady giving way to Jarrett Stidham for the final eight minutes. After running for 19 yards in the first half, the team finished with 130 yards on the ground. Maybe they can carry this over into next week.

The Defense Had Another Huge Day, Led By Dont’a Hightower:

We mentioned the hiccup in the early going on the Sims’ run for a TD, both McCourty twins had a shot at bringing him down, but give Sims credit for a beauty of a run. Kyle Van Noy was screaming for a flag for holding and Scott Zolak mentioned it as well. But after looking at the replay, it didn’t seem so. 

After that, the defense was lights out. Washington had just 220 yards of offense and was just 1-11 on third down. Colt McCoy ended up with just 75 yards net passing yardage. The unit got six more sacks, eight quarterback hits, forced an interception and two fumbles recovering one. 

Hightower was immense. He had eight tackles, four tackles for a loss, a pass defensed, one and a half sacks and two quarterback hits. He was a disruptive pain in the backside for McCoy and the Redskins offense all day long. 

Sony Michel Got Untracked Today And Contributed in the Passing Game:

Michel has had a frustrating start to the season. But the coaches haven’t lost sight of the fact that he was a very important cog in their postseason run a year ago. After another frustrating first half, Michel and his offensive line got going by running between the tackles. 

Michel had a beauty of a 25-yard run midway through the third quarter. He showed great patience and then with a nifty cut making a man miss [gasp!] before cutting to the outside and rolling for a really nice pickup before being knocked out of bounds. He finished off the drive with another really nice run, a 14-yard touchdown run. So, along with his 91-yards on the ground, Michel added another 32 on three pass receptions. It was nice to see the team getting him involved in the passing game. 

James White and Brandon Bolden also chipped in nicely today. White had 72-yards combined rushing and receiving while Bolden had a pretty 29-yard touchdown pass from Brady where he ran a wheel route, isolated on a linebacker and Brady made a beautiful pass, dropping it right in the bucket. 

Mike Nugent Doesn’t Fill the Foxboro Faithful With Hope:

After the Sims touchdown, Brady led the Patriots on a beautiful scoring drive, six plays, 75 yards, capped off with a Brady pass to Julian Edelman from the six to make it 7-6. Mike Nugent, who replaced the injured Stephen Gostkowski comes on for the extra point and pushes it wide right…by a large margin. 

You could feel the collective groan across New England. Nugent settled down and made two chip shot field goals from 23 and 37 yards. And then he made all three extra points after that, but it wasn’t the kind of start that anyone wanted to see. 

We’ll have to see how things play out but after five games in the season, the Patriots have missed five extra points. The last time they missed that many was back in 1988. So, we’ll be watching how this develops. Bill Belichick likes veterans to handle the kicking duties. Jake Bailey, on the other hand, continued his stellar rookie season, punting six times for a 47.7-yard average. 

We’re on to the Giants…

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 myself from PatsFans.com discuss the latest Patriots news.

 

Best Of Social Media: Week 4 Patriots vs Bills

Robert Alvarez
October 3, 2019 at 11:03 pm ET

The Patriots traveled out to Buffalo to square off in a battle of 3-0 teams and were seeking their fifth 4-0 start under head coach Bill Belichick.

Check out some of the best sights and sounds from social media over the course of the game below.

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Weekend business trip #LFG

A post shared by Julian Edelman (@edelman11) on

In the first quarter, the Patriots jumped out to a fast start on all phases.

Safety Devin McCourty made team history with four interceptions in four consecutive games.

https://twitter.com/Patriots/status/1178359662858641408?s=20

A Brandon Bolden four yard run gave the Patriots the first points of the night, but kicker Stephen Gostkowski continued his early season struggles with another missed extra point. 

https://www.instagram.com/p/B3KBD9WgqOy/

After going ahead 6-0, special teams captain Matthew Slater returned a blocked punt for his first career NFL touchdown.

13-0 New England after one quarter of play.

A rare Tom Brady interception in the end zone gave the Bills life just before halftime.

A Stephen Hauschka 46 Yd Field Goal cut the deficit to ten at 13-3.

 

In the third quarter, an opposing offense finally broke through on the Patriots stout defense as a Josh Allen opening drive rushing score made it a three point game.

13-10 New England

A Stephen Gostkowski 23 Yd Field Goal pushed the lead back to six after three quarters in a battle between two strong defenses.

The fourth quarter saw zero scoring from either side, but the Patriots defense out-dueled the Bills.

A Josh Allen/Jonathan Jones collision knocked Allen out of the game.

Jones’ hit drew a flag but not an ejection nor suspension.

The Patriots defense sealed the win when Kyle Van Noy came away with an interception of backup quarterback Matt Barkley.

A 16-10 Patriots victory marked the fifth time under Bill Belichick and first since 2015, that his team started a season 4-0.

The Patriots will head to Washington to take on the 0-4 Redskins on Sunday at 1pm.

https://www.instagram.com/p/B3AivkdgN-K/

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Great team win #4-0 #next

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W.

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For the man next to you.

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Patriots Week 4 Report Card, in Tough 16-10 Win Over the Bills

Steve Balestrieri
October 1, 2019 at 7:42 am ET

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness.”

The Patriots are, despite the hand-wringing going on 4-0 and have already beaten every team in the division. And yes, with the way the defense played, they did deserve to win. The offense, on the other hand, struggled mightily. And the Bills had the same issue, while their defense was lights out, their offense threw four interceptions and had another turnover on downs inside the five-yard line. So it was a tale of two cities…if you will.

Special teams once again played a big role, both positively and negatively in this game but in the end, it was a knock-down grind out contest that the Patriots won, on the road in a very hostile environment. 

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

Quarterback: D+

Tom Brady had a pretty awful day by his standards, completing 18-39 for just 150 yards, no touchdowns, and an interception. The pick in the end zone [his first of the season] was particularly bad as it took points off the field and was a bad mental mistake, something that Brady rarely makes. His best throw was early on a 26-yard drop in the bucket to James White that set up the Patriots first touchdown.

But he wasn’t getting a ton of support from his wide receivers nor his offensive line in this game. There was plenty of negativity to go around…and will. 

Running Backs: B-

The Patriots got back James White this week, and as we pointed out in our keys, he figured to be a big part of the passing game [like the Buffalo game a year ago] and he was. White caught eight passes for 57 yards and was his normal, clutch self out there, setting up the Patriots first TD on a 26-yard wheel route where he beat Matt Milano. 

Sony Michel had 63 yards on 17 carries [3.7-yard average] and showed some signs of getting the running game going. He does, however, seem to take an extra half-second or so, with hitting the hole. And in his defense, maybe it is because there isn’t any there. 

Brandon Bolden again got some early work and scored on a nicely designed 4-yard run. Rex Burkhead was limited with a foot injury and got no carries, and had one reception for 7 yards. [More to this below] Jakob Johnson had some nice moments in the blocking game, including a nice clean out of Milano that sprung Michel on a 10-yard run.

Wide Receivers: D

The Buffalo secondary totally dominated this matchup on Sunday as the wide receivers got very little in the way of separation on Sunday. Josh Gordon had 3 catches for 46 yards including a big 31-yard drag route that the Bills challenged. Julian Edelman was banged up and not targeted nearly as much as normal and had only four catches for 30 yards. He also had a drop where he was in the clear and had a lot of running room. Phillip Dorsett, “the man that catches everything thrown his way” was taken away by the Bills. He was targeted 9 times and had 2 catches for 10 yards. Jakobi Meyers wasn’t targeted but once all game.

Last week the top three Edelman, Gordon, and Dorsett had 19 catches for 198 yards. This week they were targeted 23 times and had 9 catches for 86. That ain’t getting it done folks. 

Tight Ends: D-

Matt LaCosse and Ryan Izzo weren’t targeted once in the passing game. When the TEs’ biggest contribution is whether or not his rub route was a foul or not, the production isn’t getting there. And the blocking has not been great either, not bad per se, but not great. It makes one appreciate Gronk so much more when he blocked like another tackle out there.  

Offensive Line: C-

The offensive line still is having struggles opening holes in the running game, and they’re not getting a push on the opponent. Too many times the Bills stood them up at the line of scrimmage. The stretch runs don’t seem to be nearly as effective as the middle runs are. They were able to spring Michel on a few of them. 

The pass blocking didn’t allow a sack, but a lot of that has to do with Brady being able to get rid of the ball so fast, as in the second half, the Bills pressure put Brady on rollerskates far too many times. 

Coach Scarnecchia is always preaching everyone pulling together, and I believe that he’s going to sort this out. 

Defensive Line: A-

The defensive line led by Lawrence Guy was excellent. Guy constantly takes on double teams and stops the offensive line from getting any push. Danny Shelton, who is really playing well in his second stint in Foxboro, had another strong game inside. 

The Patriots pass rush racked up another five sacks for 40 yards and eight QB hits this week against the Bills QBs. While Frank Gore rolled up 109 yards on 17 carries, [6.4yard average], two of those runs totaled 61 yards and were from players other than the DL not making the plays at or near the line of scrimmage. 

Linebackers: A-

The Patriots linebackers even without Dont’a Hightower had another excellent game on Sunday. Kyle Van Noy, [becoming one of Bill Belichick’s biggest steals] was outstanding on the field for the Patriots. Van Noy was everywhere, eight tackles, including two for a loss, two sacks and four QB hits, including the final play for the defense where he hit Matt Barkley as he was releasing the ball, and allowed Jamie Collins an easy interception. 

Collins was again very good and has to be loving his second go ‘round with the Patriots.He had four tackles, one tackle for a loss, one sack, one QB hit, one pass defensed and one huge interception to seal the deal. 

Ja’Whaun Bentley was solid in filling in for Hightower, but he had one major gaffe early in the game. Gore showed a run to the outside, Bentley reacted too quickly and tried to fill a gap that was set on the edge. Gore recognized it and cut back to a wide-open B gap and ran it for 20 yards. 

Secondary: A-

The secondary had another big day intercepting three passes and limiting the Bills to just 10 points. J.C. Jackson had a pair of interceptions and provided very solid coverage. Zay Jones was held to 2 catches for 4 yards on 8 targets. John Brown and Stephon Gilmore battled hard all day with Brown coming away with 5 catches for 69 yards on 11 targets. Cole Beasley led Buffalo with seven catches for 75 yards with most of them later in the game after matching up with Jonathan Jones. 

Jackson had two mistakes that he’ll hear about from Belichick. On Frank Gore’s 41-yard run, Jackson had a clear attempt to wrap him up about two yards from the line of scrimmage. He turned and attempted a shoulder block that Gore shook off like a dog coming in from the rain and rolled for 41 yard…tsk, tsk. He also left his feet on a blitz against a mobile QB. Uh-oh, BB will take umbrage with that. But overall the second year UDFA had an excellent day.

Pat Chung had a solid game and had excellent coverage on Dawson Knox who just made a fantastic over the shoulder 26-yard catch on a third down. Couldn’t defend it any better than that.  Devin McCourty had his fourth interception in as many games. 

Special Teams: B

Stephen Gostkowski had another miss on the first extra point of the day in an increasingly puzzling development. That miss may have loomed large if the Bills had scored in their final drive.

But the special teams’ units scored a touchdown on a blocked punt by J.C. Jackson that was returned for a score by Matthew Slater, his first touchdown in a stellar 12-year career. Jake Bailey was outstanding again punting nine times for a 48.1 average including two punts of more than 60 yards.

Coaches: B-

The Patriots coaching staff had the team prepared and they made nearly all of the correct calls on defense and special teams. Obviously, they saw something on tape that showed them the Bills were ripe for a punt block and they executed it flawlessly. 

The offense and Joss McDaniels, however, struggled and the play calling was seemingly stagnant. They were relying on too many screens at or behind the line of scrimmage that the Bills were not fooled by all game. The Bills weakness on defense is the middle of the field targeting the linebackers but the Patriots attempted precious few attempts there. Perhaps Edelman being banged up and lack of confidence in the TEs has something to do with that. But Ben Watson should return just in time. 

We’re on to the nation’s capital to take on the Redskins at 4-0, so there is a reason for optimism around these parts. The “Knockin’ on Seven’s Door” 2019 tour continues. 

 

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.

 

5 Thoughts on the Patriots Win Over the Bills

Ian Logue
September 30, 2019 at 10:52 am ET

Sunday’s game against the Bills went down as one of the toughest ones for the Patriots so far this season, with New England hanging on for a 16-10 road win to improve to 4-0 on the season.

Here are some thoughts coming off the vicotry:

1 ) With Stephen Gostkowski continuing to struggle, Sunday was really the first time his difficulties were magnified as the Patriots found themselves in a tight game that could have turned out badly had their defense not held on.

After missing the extra point on New England’s first-quarter touchdown, the Patriots found themselves in a dogfight late in this one as points suddenly were at a premium and the one point New England was lacking left the Bills with an opportunity to take the lead late.  Buffalo started their final drive of the game from their own 14-yard line, driving down to the Patriots 39-yard line before Kyle Van Noy put a hit on Bills quarterback Matt Barkley, which led to an errant throw and the game-clinching interception by Jamie Collins.

Fortunately, their defense carried the day and both New England’s offense and Gostkowski were let off the hook.  Had the Bills managed to go down and score and hit the extra point at the end of regulation, it would have potentially been a tough division loss that would have put the Patriots at 3-1 heading into next week’s game down in Washington.

Make no mistake, Gostkowski has gotten the benefit of the doubt from Bill Belichick, who is clearly willing to allow him to weather whatever it is causing his current erratic performance.  But as we now start heading into Week 5 and into the second quarter of the season, this is the time Gostkowski needs to start settling in as we start moving into October.  Hopefully, Sunday marks the end of his struggles.


Sunday’s game was tough for Brady and the offense.

2) Sunday was one of the more frustrating performances we’ve seen from Tom Brady and the offense in recent memory, with the veteran struggling to get anything going against a Bills defense that was nothing short of relentless.

Brady finished Sunday’s game 18-of-39 for 150-yards along with a gut-wrenching red-zone interception, which completely turned the momentum of this game as the Patriots had an opportunity to completely change the tone of this one.

The play in question came late in the second quarter after New England managed to string together the longest drive of the day by either team, marching 76-yards on 16 plays while holding the ball for more than 8-minutes.

After battling their way down to the Bills’ 2-yard line, Brady was flushed out of the pocket and forced to roll out to his right, firing a pass to Julian Edelman who was coming across toward the corner of the end zone.  The problem was, he didn’t see safety Micah Hyde, who had dropped off his man and broke on the football and snatched it out of the air for the interception.

That was a critical mistake by Brady, as it negated an opportunity to put them up 20-0 and instead allowed the Bills to take advantage of the turnover and take the football the other way for a field goal.  Suddenly, New England’s lead was just 13-3 and given how much they had struggled prior to that point, this one certainly felt like a game that wouldn’t be easy.

The Bills made Brady’s life difficult, breaking through the offensive line all afternoon and never allowed him to get into much of a rhythm.  In the fourth quarter when it mattered most, the Bills held Brady to just 3-of-8 (38%) for 13-yards throwing the football and it was really New England’s defense who, once again, carried the day.  The Patriots converted just 5-of-18 on third down Sunday, with Brady completing a mere 8-of-16 throwing the football including his interception.

Fortunately, the outcome turned out in their favor and New England survived a rare off day by New England’s signal-caller.  But give the Bills credit.  This group is tough defensively and they’ll likely be another tough out when they meet again on December 22nd.  With Buffalo still at 3-1, depending on how their journey goes from here, the rematch at Gillette Stadium may have a little more meaning next time compared to recent seasons.


New England’s defense was terrific on Sunday.

3) New England’s defense managed another impressive outing on Sunday, pressuring Bills QB Josh Allen all afternoon while holding Buffalo to just 2-of-13 (15%) on third down.  But the biggest story of the day was all the plays they made in key moments, with this group coming up with four big interceptions along with five sacks.

The turnovers started on the Bills’ first possession, with Devin McCourty coming up with his fourth interception in as many games.  That play was probably the most impressive one yet for McCourty, who leaped into the air in front of John Brown and took the ball away before returning it 19-yards to midfield.

New England’s offense took full advantage, scoring a touchdown off the turnover, which ended up being their only offensive touchdown of the day.

J.C. Jackson also got into the action, picking off two passes of his own, the second of which led to a field goal by Stephen Gostkowski, which put the Patriots up 16-10 with just under a minute left in the third quarter.

The final turnover of the day came courtesy of Jamie Collins, who took advantage of an errant throw by Matt Barkley, who was in the game after Allen was knocked out earlier in the contest. On the play, Barkley was hit as he released the football by Kyle Van Noy and his pass landed in the hands of Collins for the interception. That play was the knockout blow, as the Patriots offense ran out the clock and New England walked away with the victory.


Michel had to fight for every yard on Sunday.

4) Sunday saw a slight improvement in the ground game, although it was still a tough outing.  Sony Michel got the lion’s share of the carries, carrying 17 times for 63-yards while averaging 3.7 yards per carry.  That was a big improvement over last week after he finished with 9 carries for just 11-yards against the Jets.

But one thing that stood out is the fact that the offensive line’s struggles remain an issue, with Michel being dropped for a loss or no gain on 4 of his 17 carries.  Coming into Sunday’s game he had been dropped for no gain or a loss on 9 carries through the first three weeks.

To compound the issue, they tried to keep Buffalo off balance but Brady connected on just 6-of-15 (40%) for 34-yards throwing the football on second down, setting the Bills up to come after Brady on third down as the Patriots found themselves in 3rd-or-8 or longer on 11 of their 18 third down attempts.  That made for a tough afternoon as the offense had to fight for every last yard and they were fortunate that the defense came up with a stellar effort.

With all the injuries they’ve been dealing with up front, Sunday’s contest was one of the more frustrating reminders that they still have their work cut out for them.


Slater scored his first career special teams TD Sunday.

5) Special teams were a crucial part of Sunday’s win and veteran Matthew Slater certainly came up big in this one.

Following New England’s touchdown, the Bills had a punt blocked by Jackson, who dove in cleanly and got his hand on the football as it left Corey Bojorquez’ foot.  Slater swooped in and scooped up the football, returning it 11-yards into the end zone for the touchdown.

It was a huge play, with Slater celebrating his first career special teams touchdown in style, falling to his knees and raising his fists in the air as his teammates rushed over to celebrate with him.

His touchdown ended up being the game-winning play, which was massive given that they wouldn’t reach the end zone for the rest of the afternoon.

Another player who was big in this game was punter Jake Bailey, who played a critical role in helping the Patriots win the battle of field position as New England consistently found itself deep in its own territory.  But Bailey flipped things around repeatedly. He punted the football 9 times on Sunday, averaging 48.1 yards per punt.  That was big because for the most part, save for the turnovers, Buffalo didn’t really have good field position for most of this game and Bailey was a huge reason why that was the case.

Fortunately, the Patriots played the more complete game in this one and Bill Belichick was clearly pleased after the game with their special teams effort. However, the Bills were the first big test of the year and it’s obvious they still have some work ahead of them to get to where they need to be offensively.

For now, the Patriots will get back to work as they prepare to take on Washington on the road next Sunday at 1pm.

Patriots Players To Watch, Week 4 Against the Bills

Steve Balestrieri
September 27, 2019 at 7:49 am ET

The Patriots head out to Western N.Y. to take on the Buffalo Bills on Sunday afternoon. Both teams enter at 3-0 but there is real hope in Buffalo that they have a team that can finally solve Bill Belichick and the Patriots. Many national writers have stated that this Bills team is bound for the postseason with a one from NFL Network stating that they will dethrone the Patriots this year.  

The crowd in Buffalo is always a loud and raucous group, expect that x10 on Sunday. This game will be one of the games the league posts in the national spotlight for the 1:00 p.m. timeslot. And it should be a typical Bills – Patriots game with physical play and tough defense. 

Here are our Patriots players to watch this week in Buffalo as the Patriots try to improve to 4-0 on the season.

James White: 

White missed last week’s game with the Jets due to his wife giving birth to a baby boy. But he’ll be back and probably be a big part of the passing offense on Sunday. Last year in Buffalo on MNF, White was targeted 14 times and had 10 catches for 79 yards in the Patriots win that night. 

With Julian Edelman questionable to play this week, White and Rex Burkhead become even more valuable in the passing game as the Patriots will try to replicate some of the production that they normally get from Edelman by using the backs out of the backfield.

Red zone production this week will be key for both teams but having White in the backfield gives Tom Brady the option of moving him around and trying to create favorable matchups for the offense. 

Jonathan Jones:

The Bills brought in Cole Beasley from Dallas this spring and I’ve been beating this drum since then that Brian Daboll will use the slot receiver much like the Patriots use Edelman. He has 17 catches thus far on the season and has become a favorite target of QB Josh Allen. 

Jones has been playing tremendous football since the beginning of the summer and he’ll draw the matchup with Cole Beasley. This should be one of the keys to the game, to see who wins this duel. Jones has the talent to win this but Beasley is much like Edelman in that he’s tough to corral off the line with his quickness. 

One area to watch is the second half. The Bills have targeted Beasley a lot in the first half of games but for some reason have gone away from him in the latter stages of their first three games. They said earlier this week that they’re planning on using him some more. The latter stages of the game may come down to some chain-moving downs with these two battling against each other. 

Phillip Dorsett:

Is there a player who is rated so differently by so many people as Dorsett? Some think of him as an outstanding receiver, others as a JAG while many more think of him as something in between. Forget about convincing anyone else to go along with your feelings, after all, this is the world we live in now. 

Dorsett has been a Dyson vacuum cleaner with anything thrown his way, he captures everything. And he’s been a very good #3 option behind Edelman, and Josh Gordon. He was briefly #4 with another guy who is gone now. But that will change this week.

Can Dorsett step up in Edelman’s absence and be the #1 or #2 guy in the passing offense this week? Those are mighty big shoes to fill and a lot of production to cover. While he’s a very different player than Edelman, they’ll have to get him the ball in different ways than the way JE11 is used, but this week is a big one for Dorsett and the passing game. 

Jamie Collins:

Collins has been fantastic in his return to Foxboro this season. He’s making plays all over the field, and able to rush the passer, step up in run support and drop back into coverage. Part of the reason the Patriots defense has been so dominant this season is that they’ve found a way to unleash Collins in a variety of ways.

This week, Collins will be a very valuable piece in trying to shut down the Bills offense. With the ageless Frank Gore and Devin Singletary in the backfield, Collins will have to continue his play in run support along with Elandon Roberts and Ja’Whaun Bentley.

But in the passing game, one key component for the defense is keeping Josh Allen in the pocket. Collins will have to temper his pass-rushing with the knowledge that they have to contain Allen in the pocket and not allow him to make plays with his legs. 

Jakobi Meyers: 

With Tom Brady’s favorite target in Edelman likely out this week and both tight ends banged up and on the injury report, Meyers is likely to see an uptick in his snaps this week. Thus far in 2019, he’s been productive in the limited chances he’s had on the field. This will be a big chance to earn more reps down the road and build some trust and chemistry with Brady, albeit against a very tough secondary. 

The Patriots have used him mainly outside this season, I would expect to see him operating out of the slot more on Sunday. He doesn’t have Edelman’s quickness but he uses his body well and is a bigger type [6’2, 205] of a slot receiver. In NC State he caught 222 passes out of the slot from Ryan Finley [Bengals], of course doing it in the NFL is another matter. 

It will be interesting to see how Meyers can produce in just the fourth game of the season. Especially with Buffalo’s defense which is very good and particularly their secondary which is excellent. But he has the hands and the willingness to go over the middle and make those contested catches.  

_________

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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 myself from PatsFans.com discuss the latest Patriots news.