This week, the New England Patriots had their first game against a divisional opponent as they traveled to East Lansing to take on the New York Jets. After going down 14-0 by the beginning of the second quarter, the Patriots finally woke up to score 24 straight points and go on to win 24-17. This was not a great win, but it gets our divisional record off to a good start and gets the team back to the top of the division. Let’s take a look at how each unit played yesterday afternoon.
After only scoring one touchdown last week, the Patriots’ offense came out on a mission to get multiple touchdowns and to get some big numbers up on the board. They weren’t able to get any points on their first three drives, with the second one ending on a Mike Gillislee fumble. With just under 10 minutes left in the first half, the offense woke up and Rob Gronkowski was the spark that this offense missed last week. He drew a big defensive pass interference play that brought the Patriots to the one yard line before Dion Lewis ran it in. Then right before the end of the half, Gronk caught a two yard pass from Tom Brady on an out route.
Heading into the second half, Gronk kept the energy going, scoring another touchdown on the first drive of the second half, bringing the Patriots their first lead of the game. With Gronk’s big performance, along with a balanced running game from Dion Lewis and Gillislee (post-fumble), the Patriots were able to pull out a second straight victory.
One of the biggest signs of improvement? The offensive line allowed no sacks for the first time this season, keeping Brady on his feet and providing him enough time to make plays. With Brady’s old age, this offensive line has to keep up the work to make sure Tom can stay healthy for the whole season and keep him on the field.
Offense Grade: B
The defense continues to show signs of improvement each week, but they are still far from perfect. They gave up their season low of yards for a second straight this week, going one yard less than last week to go down to 407. If this team wants to defend their Super Bowl title, you have to hold teams to under 400 yards and that needs to happen sooner rather than later.
After letting the Jets into the endzone on two of their first three drives for over 160 yards, the defense woke up and started making stops and causing turnovers. After the first two Jets’ drives led to touchdowns, the next three were punts, then the following three drives all had turnovers from the Jets. Back to back drives for the Jets ended in interceptions, then followed by the controversial fumble by Austin Seferian-Jenkins. Although that might have been called the other way, it was ruled a turnover in the Patriots’ favor.
Besides the first two drives, the Patriots defense looked the best they have all season. A season high in both sacks and turnovers shows that this defensive unit is getting stronger as the season goes on. Don’t think Belichick will accept nothing less than this defense improving from week to week.
Defensive Grade: B
For the first time this season, Stephen Gostkowski missed a field goal attempt from 47 yards at the end of the first half. Could have been a huge momentum killer if the offense didn’t tie the game up in the final seconds after a Malcolm Butler interception. It was Gostkowski first missed field goal of the season, which is fine if it came in week 6. Luckily it did not cost the Patriots the game.
Ryan Allen continues to impress, as he punted the balls an average of 48 yards for each of his four punts, even pinning the Jets inside their own five yard line early in the first quarter. Field position is very important in close games, and luckily there was no positive punt returns for the Jets, which is thanks to captain Matthew Slater finally returning to the field last week. He brings such a great energy to the special teams, that I can only see them improving as the season goes on.
Special Teams Grade: B
Every group is getting the same grade because I felt yesterday’s game showed a lot of positives in every aspect of the game. There is room to improve in each group, and small things that need to be perfected, but it was good enough to beat the Jets in their home territory. This effort may not be enough against some of the league’s elite teams, but Belichick already knows that and just wants his guys to get better every week.
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