The New England Patriots played their most complete game of the season on Sunday, blowing out the visiting Detroit Lions with a final score of 29-0. The defense dominated the highest scoring team in football; the offense moved the ball well despite again missing its starting quarterback; special teams drew responsible for 17 points.
Add it all up, and you get a full-team victory that has propelled the Patriots to 2-3 on the year. For team captain Matthew Slater, it also is a blueprint for how the team needs to play moving forward.
“That’s when we’re at our best, when we’re able to go out there in all three phases and complement one another,” Slater told reporters on Monday. “Get a big stop, get a punt return, set the offense up in big field position — situations like that.
“That’s something that we’ve always preached around here and we have an understanding that when we do that we’re going to give ourselves the best chance to be successful on game day. We want that to be a big part of who we are. I think yesterday we did a good job of playing some complementary football, and hopefully we can continue to do that moving forward.”
Against the Lions, the defense set the tone. The unit not only shut out the highest-scoring team in the NFL, it also registered two takeaways — including a fumble returned for a touchdown — as well as six turnovers on down.
The defense laid the foundation, but the offense and special teams also played their part while showing some marked improvement compared to the first four weeks of the season. Accordingly, Slater sees the victory over Detroit as one that has the potential to serve as a stepping stone toward greater things that might lie ahead.
“We’re encouraged, and I think it’s always encouraging when you get a chance to reap the benefits of your hard work. Certainly we were able to reap some benefits of our work yesterday,” Slater said.
“But I think the message needs to be now, ‘Don’t let up!’ We haven’t accomplished anything, we’re not the team that we want to be. We’re still a long ways off. So, hopefully, we can use yesterday as a stepping stone as we move forward to try to gain some confidence, gain some momentum, fortify our identity and see who we become. It’s a good step for our team, but the real work, the real heavy lifting is still ahead of us.”