The New England Patriots pulled out an incredible last minute comeback to beat the New York Giants 27-26 and while it might have been painful, exciting, inebriating, vomit-inducing, and magical, there was plenty to take away.
The Patriots really missed Dion Lewis in the offense
There were multiple plays where LeGarrette Blount missed his blocks, or where the Patriots could have used a bigger receiving threat coming out of the backfield and James White or Brandon Bolden couldn't deliver. Lewis adds another dimension to this attack and no one should be surprised if the Patriots ended up signing another running back like Pierre Thomas in the upcoming week.
The offensive line managed to get through the worst of it
The Patriots will hopefully see Sebastian Vollmer return to the field this week after clearing concussion protocol, a move that greatly improves the rest of the line. The Giants were glad to match Jason Pierre-Paul on "right tackle" Bryan Stork and the return of Vollmer allows everyone to revert to their more natural positions. Marcus Cannon and Tre Jackson should both return in the next week or two and that will right the offensive ship. Tom Brady was clearly not comfortable behind the current unit.
Danny Amendola deserves a statue
I can't think of another player that has stepped up at crucial moments time and time again as convincingly as Danny Amendola. Kevin Faulk? Not sure if there is a player that has been as clutch. That punt return was amazing and his third down conversions were vital to this attack.
Julian Edelman's foot deserves monitoring
It's reported that Edelman was on crutches and in a boot after the game. We have to watch out for more information, but missing Edelman and Lewis really exacerbated all of the issues behind a makeshift offensive line. If Edelman misses extended time, look for Amendola and Aaron Dobson to assume bigger roles in the offense.
The pass rush was fairly nonexistent due to the Giants coaching
The Patriots like to rotate their defensive ends and their defensive tackles in order to win match-ups, with the bigger bodies like Alan Branch and Malcom Brown on running downs, and Dominique Easley on passing downs. The Giants went into the hurry-up which prevented the Patriots from substituting and it let Eli Manning stand in the pocket with less pressure to worry about.
Jamie Collins needs to come back ASAP
I think we finally saw Jerod Mayo take the third linebacker spot away from Jonathan Freeny, but there's no question that the Patriots missed having Collins in the middle of the field. Collins is great against the run and he allows the Patriots to pass rush up the center. Hopefully he recovers from his flu this week.
Malcolm Butler has ascended into the upper tier of the league
He's not 2009 Darrelle Revis, but Butler just played the best game of his career. He was lights out against Odell Beckham Jr., one of the best receivers in the entire league. He knocked away passes, he was sitting in the receiver's hips, and he was defending the passes that were completed to Antonio Brown in the opening week. Give props to Logan Ryan, too, but Butler is on a whole other level. Hopefully Justin Coleman can rebound after a poor showing (maybe it was a bad match-up), but the third cornerback spot is worth monitoring.
Stephen Gostkowski is the greatest kicker in the league
There's no question here. That was a wildly difficult kick in one of the highest pressure situations. He connected on a perfect 54-yard field goal to win the game, to go with a 31-yarder and three extra points. Gostkowski is alone as the best kicker in the NFL.