The New England Patriots got back on track Sunday with a 36-20 victory over the Las Vegas Raiders. Though things got shaky around halftime, the Patriots were able to pull away in the second half behind huge games from running backs Rex Burkhead and Sony Michel. We are all well aware of these performances but today is about focusing on those who didn’t get enough credit for their contributions in the win. Specifically a guy who is now used to leading the way...
But, before we get to him let’s take a look at the unheralded plays from Sunday.
Adrian Phillips, linebacker at heart and on the field
Phillips has bought in fully to the Patriot way. The former Charger has found a home in the box and if he can continue to step up in the run game, can prove to be vital in the defense’s success.
J.J. Taylor, N’Keal Harry, Isaiah Wynn, and Josh McDaniels help get the offense going
I will be nice to Josh McDaniels just this once... pic.twitter.com/rFtWQMenj8— Keagan (@KeaganStiefel) September 28, 2020
This was the play that started to turn things around for the Patriots offense. Play caller Josh McDaniels recognized where his unit could attack and went full force at it. Great call, design, and execution from all involved.
Sony Michel, do it all back?
Someone needs to piss Sony Michel off before every game. He had his best game since Super Bowl 53 on Sunday after being pushed a bit by undrafted rookie J.J. Taylor. Not only was he great in the running game (you’ll see why later) and a contributor in the passing game (two catches for 23 yards) but he saved Cam Newton’s ass in pass protection on the play above. He may be rounding back into his rookie form.
(s/o to our good friend @iambrianhines on Twitter for the video.)
Michael ‘Carl Lewis’ Onwenu
If you can move like this at 350 pounds you deserve mention on any list.
Shilique Calhoun making a case for more playing time
Ex-Raider Shilique Calhoun is one of the Patriots’ best pass rushers and he showed on Sunday by notching half a sack and forcing a pair of fumbles. His role should only increase as the season progresses.
FB Jakob Johnson
It was only a matter of time before we had everyone’s favorite international pathway player make an appearance as an unsung hero. There will perhaps be no better time than Week 3 as the Patriots ran all over the Rrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrraiders (I had to do it at least once) to the tune of 250 yards, and Jakob led the way for most of them.
Johnson came out after halftime and really turned the page, the play that caught my attention was this pitch to J.J. Taylor:
Patriots ran for 250 yards on Sunday. I wouldn't feel right without giving Jakob Johnson the credit he deserves. pic.twitter.com/A8frSINvCf— Keagan (@KeaganStiefel) September 29, 2020
The Patriots came back on the next drive and executed the best running play the offense has had all season:
We respect the offensive line around here. pic.twitter.com/t3n5yW7muK— Keagan (@KeaganStiefel) September 29, 2020
Finally, Johnson’s best play on Sunday was the lead block on this 3-yard run. In a play that was meant to bleed clock and pick up a few yards, the Patriots were able to do that because of the second-year fullback:
Get your hands on some Jakob Johnson stock before I buy it all. pic.twitter.com/0N4KomjLd5— Keagan (@KeaganStiefel) September 29, 2020
We’ve heard Belichick talk about how much growth they’ve seen out of Johnson and he seems to be getting better not just every week but every play.