Well, that game was close, probably much closer than a lot of New England Patriots fans expected. After going back and forth all game, Tom Brady led the offense on a game-winning drive in less than two minutes to beat the Houston Texans 36-33 in Foxborough. Let us take a closer look as to how the Patriots played yesterday by examining them in each facet of the game.
Tom Brady carried over his performance from last week and continued to look like the best quarterback in the league, as he finished the game with 378 yards and five touchdowns. He continues to make father time look stupid as the 40 year-old continues to look better than any of the younger quarterbacks in the league.
It was also great to see Brandin Cooks to get his first touchdown as a Patriot, and his second was the game winner in the last 30 second of the game. Cooks is finally getting onto the same page as his quarterback, which should make the rest of the league nervous.
Unfortunately, there was no real rushing attack to help Brady balance the offense. There were 20 rushing attempts totaling 59 yards, which is just under three yards per running play. The short-yard plays seemed to be useless as they seemed to have ended in little or no gain each time the patriots tried to get a short gain with a run up the middle. If the Patriots want to continue winning all season, the rushing attack must make more of an impact and get over the 100 yard mark as a team each game.
But the Houston defense was a big factor into that poor rushing performance. The Houston front seven made it tough for the Patriots on Sunday afternoon. They were able to sack Brady five times, including two of them forcing fumbles. One was returned for a touchdown and the other was luckily recovered by center David Andrews on the game-winning drive.
Overall, the offense looked really good when Tom was throwing the ball, but seemed to let the opposing defense make too much of an impact on Brady and the rushing game. The offensive line will have to prepare themselves better for next week’s game.
Offense Grade: A-/B+
After coming off a strong performance last week, the Patriots defense looked weak and out of sync with each other. They made rookie quarterback Deshaun Watson look like a long time pro out there in Gillette Stadium. But luckily for them, the “bend-don’t-break” policy (while giving up 33 points) can work when you have Tom Brady on your team.
The defense allowed Watson to complete 67 percent of his passes for 301 yards and two touchdowns. He also rushed for 41 yards, which brings him up to 342 total yards of offense yesterday. This is by far the best a rookie quarterback has ever done on a Bill Belichick defense, and it was tough for Patriots fans to watch.
There doesn’t seem to be enough blitz plays, as the Patriots were only able to get two sacks for a total of nine yards. They only rush three or four defenders most of the time, which allows a mobile quarterback like Watson to have more time to find a receiver open or possibly run the ball for a first down.
However, it was great to see Stephon Gilmore get his first interception as a Patriot, taking the ball back for 39 yards before being tackled. Hopefully this is just the beginning for him as the secondary needs to improve for next week’s match-up as the Carolina Panthers come to New England.
Defense Grade: C+
Stephen Gostkowski kept his season going strong as he was perfect on all three of his extra point attempts. No field goal attempts were needed for Stephen, which is a good sign for how the offense was needed.
Ryan Allen was also punting the ball pretty well, making the Texans start from inside their own 20 twice (not including one touchback). Only one of his punts was shaky, as he was punting out of the end zone and didn’t get the ball across the 50 yard line. I understand trying to get it off quick, but there shouldn’t be any hold back on power when you have over 100 yards of field in front of you.
The punt return was better this week, as Danny Amendola had two punt returns, one for 20 and another for 33 yards. Compared to the last two weeks, having Amendola back there will be very important for the Patriots giving themselves better field position at any point during the game.
Special Team Grade: B
The Patriots are now officially on a winning streak, and the passing offense is already looking in mid-season form. The rushing attack will always be streaky, but they will perform well with weak defenses. The most important thing will be for the defense to start getting better results and trying to put more pressure on the quarterback. As they face the Carolina Panthers next week, hopefully the front seven will be able to get to Cam Newton and knock him around. If they can do that, it will be another win for the Patriots.
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