It was much of the same script when the New England Patriots hosted the New York Giants on Thursday Night Football.
The Patriots were perfectly fine with a far-from-perfect offensive performance, scoring one defensive touchdown and one special teams touchdown in a 35-14 victory at Gillette Stadium.
Here’s what we can take away from the Patriots’ sixth win of the season:
Defense dominant, again
The Patriots forced four turnovers (three interceptions) including a scoop-and-score touchdown by linebacker Kyle Van Noy, which put the game away and gave the Patriots a 28-14 lead against the Giants. The Patriots defense made it tough for the Giants’ depleted offense (missing No. 1 and No. 2 running backs, No. 1 tight end, No. 2 receiver) had trouble moving the ball, and when they did, they had trouble finishing drives. The Patriots defense allowed just one big play, which went for the lone touchdown of the game for the Giants’ offense. The Giants managed just 10 first downs on 13 drives, recording merely 213 yards of total offense and just 4.4 yards per play. Have the Patriots played above-average offenses? Maybe not. But it cannot be denied that the Patriots defense has put together six smothering performances in six weeks.
Offense consistently inconsistent
It was far from a perfect game for quarterback Tom Brady and the Patriots offense. Throughout the first half, it felt like everything was slow to develop and out of rhythm. Of course, it did not help that the Patriots were missing two of their top-three receivers (Phillip Dorsett and Josh Gordon) for the second half. They had two of their top offensive playmakers (Rex Burkhead and Dorsett) inactive, but it wasn’t just that. Brady was not even in-sync with his most familiar receiver — Julian Edelman — for a majority of the contest. The pair completed just one of their first four targets. Edelman was also target on Brady’s lone interception in the contest. Brady thought Edelman was going one way, Edelman went the other. That’s as rare as a solar eclipse.
Eventually, however, the two got it right. Edelman caught nine of the 15 balls Brady threw to him for 113 receiving yards.
Another unusual Brady play came when he failed to recognize pressure on the backside. A missed block by tight end Ryan Izzo led to Brady getting strip-sacked on the play and the Giants returning it for a defensive touchdown. It was a horrendous scene of events, ultimately being capped as Josh Gordon went to the sideline with a knee injury that he never returned from.
Jones got Gilmore’d
Know how Giants’ quarterback Daniel Jones is a rookie? He didn’t yet know about Patriots All-Pro cornerback Stephon Gilmore, and the fact that he should tried to avoid throwing at him. Gilmore recorded one of three New England interceptions and forced another. His interception came with the Patriots leading 21-14, but the kicker Mike Nugent missed a 40-yard field goal attempt on the next offensive possession as the Patriots could not cash in. Previously, Gilmore deflected a first-quarter pass from Jones, which linebacker/edge rusher John Simon got under for the interception. Gilmore Unfortunately, Brady and the Patriots’ offense didn’t do anything with the forced turnover, throwing an interception on the next play. In addition to his second interception of the season (first in Miami), Gilmore recorded a few other pass break-ups.
Patriots’ special teams prove special, again
The Patriots punt block unit recorded their second touchdown of the season, which gave the Patriots a 7-0 lead as the offense was struggling. Brandon Bolden blew up the play, and while he did not actually block the kick, he pushed a blocker into the punter. New York punter Riley Dixon hit a teammate in the helmet as the ball bounced in the air for rookie Chase Winovich to get under like a fly ball. He returned it from the New York 6 yard line for his first career touchdown. A bit iffy of a celebration though, as Winovich chucked his first touchdown ball into the stands. He’ll pay for that one. And likely never see the ball again.
A record night for Brady, Edelman
Brady passed quarterback Peyton Manning in a pair of all-time categories on Thursday while Edelman advanced in a pair of franchise records as well.
On Brady’s first pass of the game, a 19-yard reception by Sony Michel, Brady moved into second all-time in career passing yards. He trails only Drew Brees (74,845) in the category. Brady also passed Manning for third all-time in pass completions. He trails only Brett Farve (6,300) and Brees (6,621) in the category.
Edelman, who also had his 13thcareer 100-yard game, moved into fifth all-time in franchise history in regards to career receiving yards with a 15-yard reception in the second quarter. He later moved into a tie for third with Stanley Morgan in regards to career receptions in franchise history.
Bolden goes three straight games with TD
Bolden has showed his versatility for the Patriots throughout the last three weeks, recording touchdowns in each of the last three games. He capped a five-play, 20 yard drive with a one-yard touchdown run after a Duron Harmon interception set the Patriots up in favorable field position. He scored a rushing touchdown against the Buffalo Bills two weeks prior. As Sony Michel continues to struggle in short-yardage situations, Bolden could be becoming the new James Develin.
Secondary allows first TD pass since AFC Championship
In the second quarter of Week Six, the secondary’s streak was broke. The Patriots allowed a 64-yard touchdown from Jones to Golden Tate. Tate bobbled the ball after Patriots’ corner Jonathan Jones looked like he could of recorded the pass break up.
Josh Gordan injured
The Patriots’ receiving corps took another hit when Josh Gordon went down late in the second quarter and did not play in the second half. Gordon hurt what looked to be his left knee as the sprinted back in hopes of keeping a Giants’ defensive player out of the end zone after a Brady fumble. He was seen on the stationary bike for much of the second half.