BOSTON (CBS) — The New England Patriots are rounding into their usual form as we approach the midway point of the 2017 season.
The Patriots are now 5-2 on the season after their 23-7 win over the Atlanta Falcons at a foggy Gillette Stadium on Sunday night, an evening that saw the New England D play their best game of the year. They held Matt Ryan to 233 passing yards, the first time all season they’ve kept a quarterback under 300 passing yards, and the Falcons were just 2-for-9 on third down and 1-for-3 on fourth down.
On offense, Tom Brady completed 21 of his 29 passes for 249 yards and two touchdowns, and New England’s stable of running back rushed for a season-high 162 yards.
Boomer Esiason of WFAN and CBS’ The NFL Today joined 98.5 The Sports Hub’s Toucher & Rich on Monday morning to break down Sunday night’s Super Bowl LI rematch, and echoed something we’ve known for years in New England: The Patriots have an advantage every time they step on the field thanks to No. 12.
“I would say the difference between every team the Patriots play is the quarterback. He’s always the defining player of the team, and in this case, Tom Brady is one of the smartest to ever play the position and handle the position. He has so much poise and understanding of what is going on around him it doesn’t matter who is out there or the situation at hand, he’s never going to panic,” Esiason said of Brady. “On the other side, whether it be Matt Ryan this week or Philip Rivers next week, you always see a quarterback who, for whatever reason, has to work harder than Brady does. You know you are going against the greatest of all time and you have to be on top of your game, you have to be perfect if you want to win, especially up there in New England.
“I would say the difference in all of these games, and we saw it yesterday in Green Bay and wherever they lose their quarterback, is the quarterback under center,” Boomer continued. “[Brady] was on really early, and they didn’t have to use him too much because the defense had their best game of the season almost shutting out the Falcons.”
It’s clear that the Patriots are still in the Falcons’ heads after last year’s devastating Super Bowl defeat and Esiason gives Bill Belichick all the credit in the world for his approach to every season, which keeps his team from suffering those crippling “Super Bowl hangovers.”
“The sustained greatness from 2001 until now is unheard of. You look at the Falcons, who had a great year last year, Matt Ryan was the MVP and they go to the Super Bowl and they have a Super Bowl hangover. It never seems like the Patriots ever have a Super Bowl hangover and they could have had seven of those,” said Boomer. “But they always come back the next year and are always in the mix and one of the best teams in the league. It’s unheard of and we’ve never seen anything like this for the longevity of this.
“Anytime you play a team that was in the Super Bowl the year before, whether it was the Panthers, Broncos or Seahawks a few years ago, they may stay somewhat relevant but they never get back to the greatness they had the year before,” he said. “That’s why what Belichick and [Robert] Kraft and everyone has done in New England, you try to model yourself after that but you can’t unless you have the greatest quarterback of all time.”
Boomer also touched on the play of New England’s secondary without Stephon Gilmore, whether the Buffalo Bills are an actual threat in the AFC East, and Marhsawn Lynch’s antics — both on and off the football field. Listen to the full interview in the podcast above!