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Quick-hit thoughts on the Patriots’ 24-10 win over the Vikings

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The Patriots stay in second place in the AFC with a win over one of the NFC’s elites.

Minnesota Vikings v New England Patriots Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images

The New England Patriots got a big win against the Minnesota Vikings today to stay in second place in the AFC. It may not have been pretty, but they got the job done and defeated their opponent with a final score of 24-10. Here are my quick-hit thoughts on the game:

  • A nice pursuit by Kyle Van Noy forces a three-and-out on the first drive.
  • A solid drive by the Patriots — on which the Vikings left the left side of the offense wide open twice — ends with a touchdown run by James Develin. He hadn’t had a carry in four years, and now he has two rushing touchdowns this season.
  • A quick side note on Develin: He might be the most underrated player on the team. Does a ton of things for them.
  • A great sack by Adam Butler and Trey Flowers and a delayed blitz by Van Noy to force an incompletion that leads to a missed Vikings field goal attempt. The defense got gashed a little, and Minnesota got a few favorable spots on the way down, but in the end, the Vikings ended up with no points.
  • One thing to keep an eye on: the Patriots have been vulnerable on the edge for most of the year.
  • Tom Brady escapes on third down and picks up his 1,000th career rushing yard. Then a terrible drop by Julian Edelman stalls the Patriots drive around midfield.
  • A good play by Dont’a Hightower on a screen ends a decent first quarter by the Patriots. A quarter in which Adam Thielen and Josh Gordon weren’t targeted, something tells me that’s probably going to change soon.
  • Another pressure by Trey Flowers forces a third down incompletion. The Patriots may be near the bottom of the league in sacks, but Flowers and others have forced a lot of pressures this year.
  • Edelman has a hard time with another punt, fumbling this one out of bounds. He’s been more a liability back there than a playmaker.
  • The Patriots drive stalls on the goal line, when, on third down, Edelman gets tackled before the ball gets there, but there’s no flag. The Patriots still haven’t targeted Rob Gronkowski or Gordon — just a bizarre decision, especially with so many snaps in the red zone on this last possession.
  • After the run defense gets gashed on, what else, a run to the outside, the Patriots force a punt and get the ball with just over three minutes left in the half. Since the Patriots get the ball to start the second half, they have a shot at the Brady Parlay, let’s see what happens.
  • And the Patriots can’t complete it either, as Josh McDaniels calls an absolutely terrible play on third down, and James White is stuffed on a sweep play.
  • Just one time, I’d like for the Patriots to be aggressive at the end of the first half on defense. Instead, they run a prevent and the Vikings walk right down the field and Kirk Cousins hits Thielen for an easy touchdown.
  • What was a solid first half by the Patriots is marred by the three-and-out with three minutes left, followed by an easy score by the Vikings. The Patriots still lead by three at the half, but must play better in the second if they expect to win.
  • The second half starts with a three-and-out by the Patriots. The Vikings secondary might be banged up, but Brady has only six completions to his receivers and tight ends tonight, and has yet to target Josh Gordon.
  • The Patriots luck out when Cousins overthrows Thielen, who had outrun three Patriots on a third down.
  • Then the Patriots get SCREWED on a holding call. The Vikings guy tripped over his own player, and Jacob Hollister gets called for holding, costing the Patriots about 40 yards after a decent punt return by Edelman.
  • Penalties kill the Patriots drive, and then a bad throw by Brady on third down (he threw it behind Gronk) and a missed field goal by Stephen Gostkowski, and the Vikings have the ball again with great field position down only three.
  • A terrible challenge by Belichick on a catch by Kyle Rudolph. It costs the Patriots a timeout and a challenge.
  • That Josh Gordon guy is pretty good, the Patriots should throw it to him more.
  • Trey Flowers with a great sack on third down to start the fourth quarter. Another stunt, the Patriots have had a lot of success with that this season.
  • DEVELIN. That is all.
  • After one of the worst spots I’ve ever seen on fourth down, Kirk Cousins decides to throw a 3-yard slant on 4th and 11. The Patriots take over with a chance to put the game away without even scoring.
  • And Brady throws a terrible pick on the second play of the drive: Vikings ball at their 45 with 5:25 left. Tons of time for them to come back.
  • Fantastic play by J.C. Jackson to knock the ball away, and amazing concentration by Duron “The Closer” Harmon. With that pick, he ties Richard Sherman with 11 fourth quarter picks since 2013.
  • They may have run a reverse to Edelman in there too, but it’s awfully nice to be able to run the clock out with a legit running game.
  • The Patriots won 24-10, but I think it should’ve been a lot more. They left a ton of points on the field tonight. Need to do more on offense if they expect to go deep in the playoffs. Luckily, they have some time to fix things.
  • The offense really had a hard time getting going today. Only three receptions for Gronk and Gordon tonight was strange. As soon as Gordon got involved, the offense took off. Sometimes the solution is simple.
  • There are more positives on defense than offense. The unit stepped up tonight, and, although I don’t think the Vikings were great offensively, they played well. The Patriots may not get a ton of sacks, but the pressures are pretty consistent, and they force a lot of incompletions and even some interceptions.
  • Up next is Miami, where the Patriots will have a chance to clinch the AFC East. They are much better than the Miami Dolphins, but the Patriots always seem to have a tough time playing down in Miami in December.

Pat is the host of The Patriot Nation Podcast

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Posted by Pats Pulpit: For New England Patriots News on Sunday, December 2, 2018