The New York Giants entered Thursday night with an offense missing 1,184 yards and seven trips to the end zone.
Running backs Saquon Barkley and Wayne Gallman would not be there for rookie quarterback Daniel Jones. Wide receiver Sterling Shepard and tight end Evan Engram wouldn’t be, either. It showed on a short week of walkthroughs. And it showed against a defensive nor’easter that had allowed 78 ground yards per game, 6.8 points per game and not a single score through the air over the regular season’s initial five games.
But the New England Patriots weathered back and forth with the Giants on the way to a 35-14 victory at Gillette Stadium.
Here’s a touchdown’s worth of observations from what went into it.
Patriots’ stable of running backs remains a divvying one
Rex Burkhead resided among New England’s inactives after a foot injury held him out last weekend and again left him questionable on the final injury report. Joining him as a healthy scratch was rookie running back Damien Harris.
Harris has seen five snaps on special teams thus far into his stay. He’s seen the gameday roster once. It’s not what the No. 87 overall draft pick out of Alabama was expected to see. But given that the likes of Shane Vereen and James White combined to appear in eight games during their rookie seasons with New England, it’s best to reserve judgement on a player who finished his SEC career ranked eighth in Crimson Tide history in rushing yards while ranking tops among 400-carry qualifiers in average.
The Patriots didn’t go with a shorthanded backfield versus New York. Sony Michel posted 86 rushing yards on 22 carries to go with 27 receiving yards on two catches. White and core special-teamer Brandon Bolden also balanced out the production with 90 total yards from scrimmage and one TD. And Bolden, who has now found the end zone in three consecutive weeks for the Patriots, doubled as the top return man and more.
Tom Brady climbs the ladder on NFL’s all-time passing list
New England took the field Thursday evening with Brady 18 yards away from Peyton Manning on the league’s all-time list for passing yards. New England’s quarterback, then with 91,923 to his name in the regular season, would hold possession of second place by the second snap.
A throw up the left sideline to Michel would see Brady stand behind only the New Orleans Saints QB Drew Brees’ 75,845 passing yards.
Brady would wind up 31-of-41 through the air with 334 yards and an interception against the Giants. He’d sneak across the plane for a pair of touchdowns. But the engine wouldn’t be firing for most of the evening. A strip-sack fumble returned for a 42-yard strike by Giants outside linebacker Markus Golden said as much.
Takeaways continue for New England’s torrid defense
Through five weeks, the Patriots held the league lead with 11 interceptions.
That tally would be added to early on against the Giants. Edge-rusher John Simon corralled a pass off a tip. It checked in as Simon’s second career pick. And while New England’s offensive side of the ball would respond with one of their own, there’d be subsequent shots.
Patriots safety Duron Harmon reeled in a pick midway through the second quarter, with defensive tackle Danny Shelton having a heavy hand in generating it. Reigning All-Pro cornerback Stephon Gilmore, who was responsible for the tip on Simon’s interception, reeled in one of his own after halftime. And in the final frame, a forced fumble by Jamie Collins would ship fellow linebacker Kyle Van Noy the opposite direction for a pylon-reaching touchdown from 22 yards out.
Veteran and rookie turn a Giants punt into a Patriots six
The aforementioned Bolden? He’d do more.
With less than two minutes remaining in the first quarter, the first points of the game reached the scoreboard. They reached it as Bolden bull-rushed Giants linebacker Nate Stupar into the punt. And it’d be rookie Chase Winovich out of Michigan who collected it for his first career touchdown.
Winovich has tacked on four sacks for the New England defense thus far into his inaugural season.
New England’s defense concedes its first passing touchdown of 2019
The Patriots’ defense hadn’t given up a passing touchdown since the January’s AFC Championship Game against the Kansas City Chiefs.
That streak reached its conclusion with just over six minutes remaining before intermission Thursday. Patriots nickelback Jonathan Jones deflected a pass intended for Giants slot receiver Golden Tate, but it’d deflect back into Tate’s hands en route to a 64-yard touchdown.
New England’s defense had an opportunity to become only the fourth team in the Super Bowl era with no touchdown passes allowed through six games, according to ESPN Stats & Information.
New England’s options at wide receiver dwindle
New England would be no stranger to two backs and two tight ends early on. But in the absence of Phillip Dorsett, who’d been ruled out Wednesday with a hamstring injury, New England’s options out wide against the Giants were down to Julian Edelman, Josh Gordon and undrafted rookies in Jakobi Meyers and Gunner Olszewski.
Those options became thinner when Gordon, already questionable due to a knee injury, exited for the blue medical tent before halftime with a knee injury. Gordon would ride a stationary bike as the organization announced he’d be questionable to return.
Edelman took the wheel with nine grabs for 113 yards on the way to eclipsing Stanley Morgan for the third-most receptions in franchise history. Meyers, meanwhile, accounted for 54 yards on four catches after accounting for four catches and 66 yards into October. And a defensive back by way of Bemidji State retrieved the first two passes of his NFL career.
Pats Pulpit Live: Week 6 vs the Giants
Welcome to another victory edition of Pats Pulpit Live! The Patriots took care of business on a short week by topping the Giants by 21 points to move to 6-0 on the season.Posted by Pats Pulpit: For New England Patriots News on Thursday, October 10, 2019