….*exhales*. The Patriots went in to the Meadowlands against a Giants team that I didn’t respect as much as I should. But they played just as well, if not better, for all 60 minutes. Lots of things to get through here, so let’s get right to it.
Offensively speaking, this wasn’t a very good game. The offensive line did not look good for most of the afternoon. I get it’s a bunch of guys patched together in places that they may not be comfortable in or used to playing, but if the offense is built on short to intermediate passing, then there isn’t an excuse. That’s especially considering the Giants had 9 sacks all season long coming into the game today. Julian Edelman got hurt, he looked in serious pain, and he didn’t return. Hopefully it’s something that’s not too bad, but for me, I’m not too optimistic. He was visibly frustrated, we didn’t see him on the sidelines much, if at all, after the injury. Ankles injuries suck to begin with, but especially for a shifty receiver who relies so much on his cuts and yards after the catch. Tom Brady looked average today. He had two turnovers- the fumble is something I chalk up to his offensive line, but the goal-line interception was all his fault. Completely on him- it wasn’t a good decision, it was going to be a tough catch for Lafell even if it was on target, and it was a bad throw. His first three plays on that last drive didn’t look too great, especially the almost-pick by Landon Collins, but he finished when it counted. The Giants D kept everyone, from Gronk (aside from his 76-yard touchdown) to Amendola to Blount, bottled up rather successfully.
Defensively, I can’t say that I’m too happy with one forced turnover, especially when playing against an offense that is prone to turnovers. Eli didn’t look great today, but his numbers were inflated by a lackluster performance from the Patriots’ secondary. Other than getting burned on the 87-yard touchdown, Malcolm Butler did very well on Odell Beckham Jr. OBJ will get his catches and yards, but he didn’t dominate the game like he is capable of doing. The rest of the secondary sucked. Utterly sucked. Whoever this Melvin guy is along with Coleman are two of the worst cornerbacks I’ve ever seen, and I wish I was exaggerating. They. Are Awful. I wasn’t too impressed with the Patriots’ pass rush either- I didn’t think it was consistent enough.
Special teams won the game. In a more direct way, Stephen Gostkowski, quite literally, won the game. He’s the best in the business, and to be honest, I wasn’t afraid when Jim Nantz said that it would be a 54-yard attempt. I place all of my trust in SG3, and it paid off here.
The Patriots took themselves out of the game with some penalties. Some of them were bad, but some of them were iffy. My friend Rob, a diehard Giants fan who hates New England, could even admit the touchiness of some of those penalties. It was a penalty that killed a LeGarrette Blount touchdown before Brady threw his pick.
Finally, I just want to discuss the two plays that will without a doubt be all over ESPN tomorrow. First, I’m thinking of OBJ’s non-touchdown. It wasn’t, the referees got that right. He didn’t finish the catch. I was in the vast minority of the room I watched the game in, but Butler made a great play by punching the ball out. You have to finish the motion, and OBJ didn’t. Simple as that.
Landon Collins’ near-interception, to me, was a closer call. But, it wasn’t an interception, the refs got it right. You have to finish the catching motion. The ground caused an incompletion. Sorry, it’s tough luck, but it was the right call.
Either way, the Patriots escaped, maintaining their undefeated record in front of the tyrant that is Roger Goodell. It’s Bills week ladies and gentlemen, and it’s a big one. Buffalo had a big win against the Jets on Thursday to keep themselves in the hunt, and there’s obviously some serious animosity between the two teams. I’m confident due to the fact that it’s a primetime game and that it’s at Gillette, along with the fact that Aaron Williams, who lost Buffalo their first meeting with Belichick’s boys, will not be in the game. It’ll be a good one.