A new era of football in New England got off to a great start on Sunday as the New England Patriots defeated their division rival Miami Dolphins 21-11. However, they were not able to do it in front of the Foxboro Faithful. Due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, the Patriots ran out to a sea of blue seats at an empty Gillette Stadium.
“It was different, different for sure, but it was nothing that we didn’t expect,” linebacker Ja’Whaun Bentley said. “I guess everybody kind of knew that the fans not being there would be the biggest difference this year. So, huge adjustment but obviously we adapt to it. Adapt and keep moving. So, for sure different, to answer your question.”
“Honestly it reminded me of the times I was back at the College of San Mateo, my junior college,” Edelman said. “It was obviously unfortunate that we don’t have any fans. That energy and getting to go out there in front of 75,000 people is amazing but it brought you almost kind of back. It was weird. It brought me back at least to high school, junior college, college – my college, we didn’t really sell out that much so it felt like that.”
As for David Andrews, who was playing in his first game since Super Bowl 53, no fans reminded him how much he loves the game.
“There we’re definitely moments where I was like ‘Woah,’ but it was obviously new to all of us,” Andrews said. “In some ways, it brings the game back to why you started playing, just to love playing the game. There’s no fans, it is just a bunch of grown men playing a kid’s game.”
The atmosphere was certainly expected to be unique as well. Quarterback Cam Newton called it “different” whereas head coach Bill Belichick compared it to “practice.”
“It’s like scrimmaging the Titans or scrimmaging Detroit or scrimmaging the teams that we scrimmage,” Belichick said. “There are a few fans there, but basically there’s no fans there. It’s just the competition. And there’s some energy from your teammates and your own energy, so it is what it is. But I mean, that’s what it’s like out there in practice. There’s no fans in practice either.”
Bringing the energy themselves is exactly what the Patriots did and will have to continue to do. After consulting with the Massachusetts Reopening Advisory Board, Gillette Stadium will not be hosting fans at any events through at least the end of September. The Patriots next home game falls on September 27.
“We had to bring our own energy,” Stephon Gilmore said. “We’re used to fans being here, but it is what it is, the situation. We knew we had to bring our own energy and feed off each other and make plays for each other. I think we did that today.”
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