The New England Patriots defeated the Atlanta Falcons 23-7 in a game that wasn’t as close as the score suggests. The Patriots played surprisingly smothering defense, while the offense was efficient enough to get the job done. There weren’t many fireworks in a game shrouded by fog, but New England won in all three facets of the game in an old school early-dynasty type of victory.
This is what we saw take place.
Tom Brady was efficient, as was the offensive line
Brady finished the game 21 of 29 (72.4%) for 249 yards, 2 touchdowns, and 0 interceptions for a passer rating of 121.2. He’s continued to play at a high level at his advanced age and he bounced back after an inaccurate performance against the New York Jets. There were some plays that Brady would have liked to have back, but overall it was a strong outing.
The same could be said about the offensive line that allowed two sacks and one tackle for loss on the day. Both sacks happened in the first quarter, and while there were penalties on Nate Solder and Shaq Mason, it was a good game overall. Even the run game got going...
Dion Lewis led the deep backfield
Lewis had 13 carries for 76 yards (5.8 YPC) along with a catch for 6 yards. James White had 4 carries for 19 yards (4.8 YPC) and 5 catches for 28 yards. Rex Burkhead had 6 carries for 31 yards (5.2 YPC) and a catch for 11 yards. Mike Gillislee had 8 carries for 31 yards (3.9 YPC). All three backs topped 30 yards from scrimmage in what should be the ideal rotation moving forward.
White is the best receiver and can run in a pinch. Lewis and Burkhead can do it all- Lewis should get the nod when the offense needs quickness, Burkhead when it needs power. Gillislee can be the closer, although he probably should cede his short-yardage duties after another quiet showing.
Red zone offense was still an issue
The Patriots reached the red zone six times and scored just two touchdowns. Sure, one of them was at the end of the game, but two touchdowns on five trips inside the 20 is not good efficiency and that’s why the offense only produced 23 points. They had no problems moving on the Falcons over the final six drives of the game, but they still struggled to finish.
The red zone problems have been around all year and they continued. They need to get Brandin Cooks more involved because there’s no surprise that he scored on his first red zone target of the year.
After that first touchdown to Cooks, 9 of the Patriots next 10 red zone touches went to running backs. That needs to change.
The defense was outstanding
Adam Butler had a sack. Kyle Van Noy had two huge tackles for loss. The secondary defended four passes. The falcons finished the day 3 of 12 on third and fourth down. While the Falcons managed to produce on their garbage time drive to end the game, there’s no question that the Patriots did a great job of keeping the potentially potent Atlanta offense in check.
The defense has pieced together three straight solid games, which is enough to say that this defense is going to be alright for the rest of the year.
Jonathan Bademosi deserves a shoutout
I don’t have his coverage stats now, but he appeared up to an incredibly difficult task on Sunday night and the defense has honestly looked at its best with Bademosi and Malcolm Butler as the starting cornerbacks.
What does that mean for Stephon Gilmore? I would expect that he gets his job back, but now Bademosi joins Butler, Gilmore, Eric Rowe, and Jonathan Jones to form a strong depth chart- and don’t be shocked if Bademosi signs an extension before the end of the year.