The first half was a scoreless stalemate. The Patriots left at least ten points on the board, but defensively, they were able to hold the Giants to just 71 yards through the air.
But as the second half began, the Patriots offense continued to make things more and more difficult for the Patriots defense. The Patriots had three third quarter turnovers, and the only thing that kept the Patriots in the game was a Kyle Arrington interception on a third and goal Giants play.
Entering the fourth quarter, however, it seemed that the Patriots offense and defense had a reversal of fortune. Patriots quarterback Tom Brady seemed to be on a different page with his receivers most of the day, but as the fourth quarter began, he finally led the team on a touchdown drive. Tom Brady capped off a 7 play, 80 yard drive with a five yard touchdown pass to Aaron Hernandez.
After another defensive stop, Stephen Gostkowski of the Patriots then booted a 45 yard field goal to take a 13-10 4th quarter league. But that's when things really started to fall apart for the Patriots defense.
On the Giants' next drive, Patriots cornerback Kyle Arrington had a killer 35 yard pass interference play - on a play where he never turned his head to make a play on the ball. Later in the drive, on a third and goal, Eli Manning found Mario Manningham on a beautiful fade to the corner of the end zone with Kyle Arrington, who was once again caught with his back to the ball, in coverage.
But the Patriots weren't done. Tom Brady continued his revamped performance with a dramatic drive in the game's final three minutes. The Patriots drove the ball 64 yards on nine plays, and on a final fourth and eight, Brady found Gronkowski in the end zone for a fourteen yard touchdown to give the Patriots a 20-17 lead.
Unfortunately, New England left too much time on the clock for the Giants. The Patriots nearly came up with a turnover a couple of times, but couldn't make the big play when it counted. The key play to the Giants final drive was a 28 yard completion from Eli Manning to Jake Ballard on third and ten on their own 39. A few plays later, Segio Brown of the Patriots was flagged for a back-breaking pass interference in the end zone. Two plays later, the Giants punched the ball into the end zone on a Eli Manning to Ballard one yard score, and the Patriots were defeated 24-20.
The loss puts the Patriots at 5-3, and in a three way tie for the division lead with the Bills and Jets. The Patriots will travel to the Meadowlands to take on the Jets next week in what will easily be the most important game of the season.
On a deeper level, this afternoon showcased yet again how the Patriots are a flawed team that has yet to put together a complete 60 minute performance in a game. Tom Brady's performance in the first three quarters was borderline disturbing and the defense, while it played well for three quarters, was ultimately hurt by multiple boneheaded plays that cost the team the game in the final period.
While there are certainly a lot more positives to take from this game than the Steelers game last week, it is clear that the Patriots are going to need to seriously improve if they want to be talking playoffs come January.