By Matthew Geagan, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — It was one of the ugliest three-touchdown victories in Patriots history, but New England is 6-0 on the season after their 35-14 win over the New York Giants on Thursday night.
Thursday night games are always tricky to decipher, given the short week to recovery and prepare. Mix in some nasty wind, and it was a tough night to play football in Foxboro.
But it’s abundantly clear that the New England offense is struggling. Tom Brady ended up with 334 passing yards, but he didn’t look so hot for much of the contest and threw another bad interception. The offensive line struggled, leading to more struggles by the run game. And there are some injury concerns. Lots of them.
But at least the defense continues to be an absolute force, and the Patriots got another special teams touchdown. It’s just a darn shame we have to wait until next Monday to see this defense in action again.
Here are New England’s Ups and Downs from Thursday night’s victory over the New York Giants.
For whatever reason, Daniel Jones kept throwing toward Stephon Gilmore. That was a bad idea.
With the Giants at the New England 30 on their first possession of the second half, Gilmore picked off the rookie quarterback at the 18-yard line. Gilmore also helped a teammate get an interception again, tipping up a Jones pass that wound up in the hands of linebacker John Simon. It’s the second time Gilmore has done that this season, after he tipped one up to Devin McCourty a few weeks ago in Buffalo.
Gilmore nearly picked Jones on a third-and-5 pass on their possession following Simon’s interception, forcing New York to punt. He also tipped away a third-and-8 pass to Darius Slayton at the end of the third quarter to end a Giants drive, and just for fun, punched another one away from Slayton on a fourth down pass late in the game. He finished the game with five pass deflections.
Stephon Gilmore. Really good at playing football. (Maybe don’t throw at him, but also, please keep throwing to him.)
More Defensive Dominance
The Giants were without four key players on offense, and rookie quarterbacks rarely beat the Patriots in New England. But the defense continued their ridiculous start to the season with another incredible effort.
Yes, they gave up their first passing touchdown of the year — a 64-yard strike from Jones to Golden Tate. But that was bound to happen, and it seems as though they only give up touchdowns on broken plays this season.
Everything else was pretty golden, though. The defense came up with four more turnovers, including another forced fumble by Jamie Collins that turned into a Kyle Van Noy touchdown. Simon, Duron Harmon and Gilmore all had interceptions, giving the Patriots 15 on the season. The Pats deflected passes nine times. (Nine. Times.) They only sacked Jones once, but they put eight hits on the rookie.
The Giants hung around because of New England’s offensive struggles. It turned into a blowout because of the defense. We should be concerned about the offense, but sleep easy knowing the Patriots have the best defense in the NFL.
Another Special Teams Score
With the offense sputtering to start, it was the special teams unit that found the end zone first. Brandon Bolden pushed linebacker Nate Stupar back on a New York punt, and Riley Dixon booted it right into the back of Stupar’s head. D’oh!
He kicked it into the back of his helmet… 😬
Pats with the easy score.
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) October 11, 2019
Rookie Chase Winovich picked up the loose ball and took it into the end zone for the first points of the game. He then fired the ball into the stands, unbeknownst to him that such a move means a hefty fine is coming his way.
It was a great play by Bolden, who had Stupar pushing up on his facemask on the play. And Winovich always seems to be in the right spot to make a big play. It’s the second punt block touchdown for the Patriots this season, which is impressive considering it’s only Week 6.
Edelman Was Everywhere
Edelman has been battling a chest injury and took a big shot in the first half, but he finished with a monster stat line. The receiver caught nine of the 15 passes that Brady sent his way, finishing with a game-high 113 receiving yards. He now sits third all-time in receptions for the Patriots.
Edelman’s best catch came late in the fourth quarter, as he sprawled out for a ridiculous 36-yard reception that set the Patriots up at the New York 3-yard line.
— New England Patriots (@Patriots) October 11, 2019
That’s one insane catch by Jules.
Young Receivers Show Something
The veteran QB threw to his rookie wide receivers on Thursday night. Mostly out of necessity (more on that in a minute), but at least he threw their way.
Jakobi Meyers caught all four of his targets for 54 yards, including a beautiful 23-yard snag at the New York 2-yard line to set up Bolden’s first half touchdown. Gunner Olszewski also made his first career reception and finished with a pair of catches, including a nice 29-yarder after he found a hole in the Giants zone defense.
Plus, A+ for Gunner on his postgame attire.
Gunner Olszewski said teammate Jakobi Meyers was more hyped up for his first career catch than he was. Olszewski said because he handles the ball a lot on punt returns, he didn’t think as much about the first catch. pic.twitter.com/1gQ94ebtCm
— Mike Reiss (@MikeReiss) October 11, 2019
Offense Was Not Very Good
For the third straight week, Brady threw another horrendous interception. He overthrew a wide open Edelman and was easily picked off by Jenoris Jenkins, who took it back 62 yards to the New England 35. This came one play after the Patriots picked off Jones. At least the interception wasn’t in the end zone, I guess, and it didn’t hurt, as the Giants went three-and-out and punted back to the Pats.
Brady still finished 31-of-41 for his 341 yards, but he had very little time to operate throughout. He was sacked three times and hit on three other occasions. The offensive line didn’t open up many holes for the run game, as the Pats averaged just 3.4 yards per carry. Josh McDaniels also made some pretty questionable calls, including a pitch to James White on a third-and-3 that lost two yards. The Pats turned it over on downs the next play.
Things need to get better on offense, but that’s going to be kind of tough with another pass-catcher out of the mix.
Josh Gordon was hurt trying to make a tackle on Tom Brady’s fumble that the Giants returned for a touchdown just before halftime. Gordon’s left knee turned in a way it shouldn’t, and he didn’t play again.
No word on how bad Gordon’s injury is, but it didn’t look good.
A nine-minute drive went for nothing as Mike Nugent doinked a 40-yard field goal attempt off the left upright. It was a blustery night and the laces were in on Jake Bailey’s hold, so maybe it wasn’t entirely Nugent’s fault. But the struggles in the kicking game continue for the Patriots.
Where Is Sony?
Michel got 22 carries, managing 86 yards for an average of 3.9 yards per carry. That’s an improvement from his past performances this season, but he wasn’t on the field when the Patriots were inside the New York 2-yard line. Instead, it was Brandon Bolden rushing it in — and then Tom Brady, twice.
It’s not a great sign when the starting running back, a first-round pick just a year ago, is on the bench in such situations. But it made sense, since Michel was stuffed on a 4th-and-1 run on New England’s first possession.
Gordon got hurt trying to make a tackle after Brady’s fumble. Patrick Chung left in the first half with a chest injury and did not return. Tight end Matt LaCosse was also banged up in the first half, and Dont’a Hightower (shoulder) and J.C. Jackson (knee) also got dinged up.
Maybe four days between games isn’t enough time for players to recover. Probably something the NFL should consider.
At least the Patriots have until next Monday to heal up before visiting the New York Jets. Perhaps a phone call to Ben Watson is in order?