When breaking down the game against the Vikings, it became pretty clear: the defense carried the day. The offense was doing what it's done for the past few seasons, but there was an obvious lack of explosion in the passing game. They ran the ball for 4-5 yards and threw the ball for 7-8 yards. No big plays, except for when a receiver made a defender miss. Control the ball, control the clock, and work on the little things.
Of course, while that's the perfect offense for how the unit currently stands, it makes for some pretty boring GIFs. While we could watch Julian Edelman turn a 6 yard gain into a 44 yard pick-up, it wasn't very exciting.
Instead, we were able to see some fantastic play on defense. Here are the four plays of the game:
Chandler Jones Manhandles Tight End
Anyone else glad that the Chandler Jones as full-time 3-4 defensive end experiment is now over? This is the type of skill and ability that he provides on the end and it was great to see him take advantage of the role. This happened on the second play of the game and it stuck out.
Devin McCourty Plays Centerfield
Rewatch that and note when Devin McCourty enters the frame. He comes flying out of the side of the screen. What a heads up play and it just shows the value he offers on the backside of the defense. Pay the man!
Chandler Jones is a One-Man Wrecking Crew
It's entirely possible that this will go down as the play of the season. Chandler Jones blocks the field goal, picks it up, and rumbles it the entire length of the field for a touchdown. To put the play in context, this was the difference between a 17-10 game and a 24-7 game, with the Patriots getting the ball after the half. What a tremendous momentum builder for the special teams unit and the defense.
Dominique Easley Makes Diving Interception
There's a subtle beauty to this play. It's Rob Ninkovich and Chandler Jones at 3-4 defensive end, with Easley as the nose tackle. Jerod Mayo blitzes to allow Jones to stunt back inside and force an early throw by Matt Cassel. The ball gracefully goes through running back Matt Asiata's hands and ricochets off of his helmet, popping the ball high into the air. Easley jumps up to try and swat down the ball, pirouettes, and then lunges five yards to come down with that interception.
It doesn't look like too much, but when you realize the full range of motions that Easley goes through in order to pick off the ball, you see that we have a freak of an athlete on the defensive line.
This year is going to be fun.
Vote for the play you thought was the game's highlight!