By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston
Final, 23-7 Patriots: The Patriots faced little resistance, converting a third-and-1 with a two-yard Brady run. Lewis followed that up by gaining 21 yards on the next two carries, and the Patriots were able to take a knee coming out of the two-minute warning.
That’s all she wrote. Patriots dominated this one, and the Falcons didn’t show up.
Fourth quarter, 4:07, 23-7 Patriots: The Falcons’ onside kick attempt was recovered by Amendola, and that should do it. Atlanta does have two timeouts left.
Fourth quarter, 4:09, 23-7 Patriots: The Falcons are on the board.
They chipped away to get down the field, and they capped it off with a one-yard pass to Julio Jones — his first touchdown of the season.
So there’s no shutout here tonight, but I don’t think that one touchdown will do much to change the story of the game.
Fourth quarter, 9:15, 23-0 Patriots: The Falcons appear to have given up. They provided little resistance as the Patriots marched through the dense fog on another long scoring drive. The drive did stall out thanks largely to a Shaq Mason holding penalty, but Gostkowski kicked a 38-yard field goal to make that lead 23-0.
The only question now is whether the Falcons offense will show some pride and get in the end zone or whether they’ll pack it up and get ready for their flight.
Fourth quarter, 14:32, 20-0 Patriots. On third-and-goal from the 1-yard line, Butler broke up a pass in the end zone intended for Jones. It was an exceptional play.
The Falcons decided to go for it on fourth down (of course), with Ryan handing to Tyler Gabriel on a jet sweep. Kyle Van Noy wrapped him up for a loss of five, and the Falcons are still stuck at zero.
End of third quarter, 20-0 Patriots: The Falcons are carving up the Patriots’ defense the way we expected heading into the game, and they’ll have a second-and-goal at the New England 10-yard line to start the fourth quarter, looking for their first points of the game. It goes without saying, but they need touchdowns. Field goals won’t help them much at this point of the night.
Third quarter, 4:12, 20-0 Patriots: Another methodical drive for the Patriots, and another three points on the board.
Brady ran for six yards on a third-and-3, Cooks made a nine-yard catch on a third-and-8, and Hogan picked up 30 yards running free across the field on a first-and-10.
Though they couldn’t punch it in from inside the 10, the Patriots will take their three points and their 20-point lead with less than 20 minutes to play.
The fog, also, is bananas in here. It seems like they can see just fine on the field, but it’s getting tougher to see the game from anywhere else in the stadium.
That drive was 13 plays for 71 yards in 6:23, by the way.
Third quarter, 10:35, 17-0 Patriots: The Falcons drove quite a ways on that drive, notably when Devonta Freeman ran for 21 yards around the right end to get deep into New England territory. After Ryan threw to straight incompletions on second- and third-and-7, the Falcons sent out the field goal unit for a 36-yard attempt.
This one clanked off the left upright. The Falcons are stuck on zero.
Credit Jonathan Jones for flying off the left end of the defense on the field goal attempt. He might have affected Matt Bryant a little. Maybe he didn’t. In any case, the kick was no good.
Third quarter, 14:54, 17-0 Patriots: With a return out to the 28-yard line, the Falcons start the second half with the ball.
Halfitme, 17-0 Patriots: With 15 seconds on the clock, the Falcons decided to mount an 81-yard touchdown drive, or something. And they wanted to do it with short passes. In a shocking development, it didn’t work. Time ran out, and the Patriots took their first-half shutout into the locker room.
Nobody saw that coming. Nobody. But that’s why we watch.
The Patriots outgained the Falcons 219-130. They outrushed Atlanta 92-30.
Second quarter, :21, 17-0 Patriots: The Falcons’ decision to go for it on fourth-and-6 was really strange. Really strange. And the Patriots made it hurt.
New England looked like a well-coached team in marching down the field in the fog. White ran for five then made a catch-and-run for six. Then he ran it up the middle for eight. Brady connected with Amendola to move the chains again on a five-yard completion that allowed Amendola to get out of bounds.
Brady and then Cooks then showed off an incredible connection, with Brady throwing a perfect back-shoulder throw to the receiver for a gain of 18 yards to get deep into Atlanta territory.
Aided by an illegal hands to the face penalty, the Patriots ended up with a second-and-goal from the 2-yard line. Brady’s initial read wasn’t open, but he waited for White to run a little in-cut at the goal line. Touchdown.
Dan Quinn has screwed up. And now the Patriots lead 17-0.
Brady is 13-for-18 for 135 yards and two touchdowns. White now has four catches for 25 yards and a touchdown, in addition to 19 yards on five carries.
Second quarter, 1:55, 10-0 Patriots: Hey, how about this New England defense? Pitching a first-half shutout, they are.
On this most recent drive, Atlanta found some success. Freeman broke a tackle and scampered for 11, and Sanu made a catch for 13 yards. After offsetting penalties on the next snap, Coleman dropped a pass running a slant over the middle. Flowers’ presence might have contributed to that drop. On second down, Adam Butler powered his way through the line and took Ryan down for a 10-yard sack. On third-and-20, Ryan threw short to Jones, who was tackled six yards shy of the sticks.
The Falcons once again decided to go for it on fourth-and-kind-of-long near midfield. Ryan took a shotgun snap, looked left and fired nowhere close to Sanu.
What an odd call. Too risky.
Patriots take over at their own 47.
Second quarter, 4:42, 10-0 Patriots: An impressive drive from the Patriots, but they had to settle for a field goal. Gostkowski successfully kicked the 29-yarder to stretch the lead to 10 points.
It was a 14-play, 64-yard drive that took 6:37 off the clock.
The Patriots may have found their short-yardage guy in Rex Burkhead. He ran for two yards on a second-and-1 near midfield, and he ran for another two yards on another second-and-1, this time at the Atlanta 13.
They also had a pair of key third-down conversions:
Third-and-1 at New England 35: Gillislee up the gut for three yards.
Third-and-8 at the Atlanta 44: Gronkowski toe-tapping on the sideline (while bracketed by two defenders) for 27.
Yet on third-and-9 at the Atlanta 10-yard line, Brady didn’t see Gronkowski spring free in the front of the end zone. Instead Brady fired a bullet at Chris Hogan, who couldn’t make the catch.
Second quarter, 11:19, 7-0 Patriots: Another three-and-out for the Atlanta Falcons.
They went deep — real deep on first down to Jones, and Duron Harmon got away with grabbing the receiver’s arm a tick early. After a WR screen for six yards on second down, Ryan threw to a well-covered Jones again on third down. Incomplete.
Amendola got planted before he could take a step on the punt return. First-and-10 Patriots at their own 26.
Second quarter, 12:26, 7-0 Patriots: We have our first points of the game, thanks in large part to a very ill-advised hit to the helmet of the Patriots’ quarterback.
On a second-and-6 at the Atlanta 31, Brady bought some time by running right before launching into the end zone. He was picked off, but Adrian Clayborn also did some launching of his own. He went helmet-to-helmet on Brady, drawing the flag and negating the interception.
Two plays later on second-and-11, Brady threw a little shovel pass to Cooks, who burst to the left side, got behind Nate Solder, and rumbled over the pylon for a touchdown.
There were two other huge plays on that drive. On third-and-16 at their own 20, Brady connected with Hogan on a deep in-cut for a gain of 20. On the next play, Lewis found a seam in the line and gashed the Falcons for 25 yards right up the middle.
Brady is 6-for-8 for 69 yards and a TD. Lewis has 34 yards on five carries.
First quarter, 1:05, 0-0: The home crowd was fired up when Kyle Van Noy tackled Freeman for a three-yard loss on third-and-3 near midfield. But the Falcons didn’t punt. Instead, they lined up on fourth-and-7. Matt Ryan barely got off the shotgun snap, but when he did, he scrambled to his right and burst to the first-down marker for a 9-yard gain on fourth-and-7. Bold decision, good result. Can you imagine if that hand’t worked?
Two plays later, Sanu found a soft spot in the defense for an easy 19-yard pickup to move inside the red zone.
After a no-gain run (great tackle by Butler) and a deep completion out of bounds, Ryan scrambled left and threw to Andre Roberts, who was streaking over the middle.
The Falcons settled for a field goal … but Cassius Marsh had other ideas. He crept through the line and blocked it. Pats take over at their own 26.
The home crowd is fired up once again.
First quarter, 7:15, 0-0: Remember how I said you never know how they’re going to officiate Gronkowski? Well he just got called for OPI to negate an incredible 40-yard catch up the right side. It came right after Brady got railroaded by De’Vondre Campbell, forcing a fumble which Brady recovered himself.
The quarterback was unbothered by the sack, as evidenced by that perfect 40-yard pass. Alas, it didn’t count.
Brady dumped to White on third-and-25, but they came up just a bit (9 yards) short. So they punted.
Flags, flags, flags. Patriots with four penalties for 40 yards (and a negated 40 yards of offense) though one half of a quarter.
First quarter, 9:35, 0-0: Matt Ryan’s first chance to really stick it to the Patriots? Three-and-out.
Freeman went for two yards and Sanu made a six-yard reception before getting shoved out of bounds by Butler. On third down, Ryan went back to Sanu, but he couldn’t reach out and make the catch.
The Falcons punted … short. Amendola made a fair catch near the Patriots’ 40, but Patrick Chung got called for a needless hold well behind the return man. So they’ll start this drive at their own 27-yard line. Bad penalty by Chung. It could be described as a bit of a tussle. Didn’t need it there.
First quarter, 10:54, 0-0: On the second play of the drive, Desmon Trufant got called for holding Rob Gronkowski. You never know how officials are going to officiate with big No. 87, but that call might free him up for some big things.
The first one of those big things came on a third-and-11, when he came screaming across the middle, caught a pass, and stretched his arm out near the sideline while being tackled by Brian Poole. He picked up the first down by maybe an inch.
The drive didn’t make it much farther than that, though. Solder took a holding penalty on a second-and-3, and the Patriots couldn’t keep the drive going. They punted from their own 43, and Allen’s booming kick bounced into the end zone for a touchback.
The story early on was penalties. Three on the Falcons for 15 yards. Two on the Patriots for 20. That’s a lot of penalties on a seven-play drive.
First quarter, 14:56, 0-0: This game is underway. Dion Lewis took the shot kick out to the 21.
8:25 p.m.: The Falcons won the toss and elected to defer. The Patriots will get the ball to start the game.
7:05 p.m.: The inactive lists are out. For the Patriots, Elandon Roberts won’t be playing, which means David Harris will be suiting up.
Here are the Pats’ inactives:
LB Elandon Roberts
OL Cole Croston
LB Harvey Langi
DL Geneo Grissom
CB Stephon Gilmore
CB Eric Rowe
OL Cameron Fleming
Here are the Falcons’ inactives:
WR Nick Williams
WR Marvin Hall
S Sharrod Neasman
LB Jordan Tripp
G Sean Harlow
T Austin Pasztor
DL Ahtyba Rubin
7 p.m.: Good evening, ladies and gentlemen, from Gillette Stadium, where the air has suddenly turned crips just in time for tonight’s Sunday Night Football matchup between the Atlanta Falcons and New England Patriots.
The Super Bowl rematch tonight figures to be a big one for both teams, who enter Week 7 in similar spots.
The Patriots are 4-2, surprisingly tied with the Bills and Dolphins atop the AFC East. If they win tonight, they’ll be alone in first. If they lose, they’ll be in third.
The Falcons, meanwhile, are fresh off two straight losses to those Bills and Dolphins, leaving them at 3-2 on the season. If they win, they’ll be tied with the Saints for the lead in the NFC South. If they lose, they’ll be at three straight losses — including a gutting loss on national TV to the team that embarrassed them in the Super Bowl.
It ought to be good. Stay tuned throughout the night for updates and analysis live from Gillette Stadium.