In what’s becoming a recurring theme for the 2019 Patriots, the defense was transcendent and the offense did just enough, as New England took a 35-14 victory Thursday night against the Giants in Foxborough.
New England moves to 6-0, while New York drops to 2-4.
Tom Brady finished 31-for-41 passing for 334 yards and an interception, and Julian Edelman added nine catches for 113 yards. But it was the defense that again led the way, allowing only one offensive touchdown, a 64-yard touchdown pass from Daniel Jones to Golden Tate in the second quarter. (The Giants got their second score after a strip-sack of Brady, which led to a touchdown by linebacker Markus Golden.)
In fact, with four takeaways – three interceptions and a forced fumble – the defense was in command all night. Other than the 64-yard touchdown pass from Jones to Tate in the second quarter (the first touchdown pass the Patriots have allowed all year), the Giants couldn’t get much of anything going. John Simon, Duron Harmon and Stephon Gilmore had interceptions for the Patriots, and Jamie Collins had a forced fumble and Kyle Van Noy picked it up and scampered for a second-half touchdown.
Meanwhile, the New England offense really did just enough to come out with a win. After Chase Winovich’s thunderbolt of a touchdown off a blocked punt, the Patriots mostly relied on the defense to provide some great field position for the offense. They cashed in with a 20-yard drive in the first half when Brandon Bolden plunged over from the 1-yard line. They added a 1-yard score from Brady (at the end of an 11-play, 75-yard drive, their best offensive sequence of the night) late in the second quarter.
That was followed by the 22-yard scoop and score from Van Noy midway through the fourth that made it 28-14, as New England started to really get some separation from a feisty New York team. A fourth-quarter score from Brady – his second rushing touchdown of the night – ended things.
11:26 p.m.: That’s it. Pats win, 35-14.
11:21 p.m.: Two minutes left, and it looks like the Patriots have this one well in hand.
11:10 p.m.: So that might define “finishing on an up note.” Brady pushed forward for his second touchdown of the night to make it 35-14 with 3:49 to go in regulation. A good drive for New England, one the offense can theoretically build on going forward.
11:00 p.m.: The Patriots will get the ball back here as we pass the midway point of the fourth quarter. Let’s see if the offense can end the evening on a positive note. The numbers don’t really tell the whole story, but Brady is 29-for-39 for 291 yards with an interception as we come down the stretch. The truth of the matter is the offense has been inconsistent all night long. Of course, the flip side is that the defense and punt block group has been nails again.
10:53 p.m.: And again, the defense comes up big. This time it was Jamie Collins who forced the fumble (yet another highlight for his Defensive Player of the Year candidacy), and Kyle Van Noy took it all the way back for what looked like a touchdown. If it stands, pending the extra point, it’ll be 28-14. (Narrators’ voice: “It was a touchdown.”) New England is up 28-14 with 8:33 left.
10:48 p.m.: See our notes from earlier in the night -- pretty much a carbon copy. The New England offense can’t finish off the drive -- forced to go for it on fourth down, they can’t come up with it, and the ball goes back to the Giants. New England is 0-for-2 on the night on fourth down. The Pats hold a 21-14 lead with 9:28 left in regulation, but the Giants have the ball. The defense has to carry the load here again.
10:39 p.m.: It’s a seven-point lead as the third quarter is just about done. Not the sort of outing you want if you’re Bill Belichick and the Patriots. The defense continues to play well, with the exception of that one deep ball for Tate. On ihe other side of the ball, you can lean on the fact New England is without Isaiah Wynn, James Develin and Rex Burkhead. The fact of the matter is this shouldn’t be a one-score game. The Pats have had more than their share of chances on offense -- they just haven’t been able to convert.
10:31 p.m.: Nugent misses the 40-yarder -- it goes off the left upright -- and it stays 21-14 with just over two minutes left in the third quarter. The defense will have to bail out the offense again. A huge missed opportunity for New England, which can’t finish off the drive and gives the ball back to the Giants. Whether it’s matchups or personnel or a short week or something else, this offense is just struggling to find a rhythm right now.
10:28 p.m.: That fourth-down holding on Jenkins keeps the drive alive for the Patriots. It’s been their best and most consistent series of the night, and it’ll feel like a failure of they don’t get seven in this situation.
10:13 p.m.: The Giants are on the move here at the start of the third quarter, with a nice third-down pass play to Tate. But New York can’t stand prosperity -- Steph Gilmore comes away with an interception, and New England gets the ball back. Right now, it’s a good thing the Patriots have a defense -- any time there’s been the slightest whiff of trouble, the D has been able to bail out the offense. Their third INT of the game.
9:59 p.m.: The Patriots are up 21-14 at the half. A few thoughts:
The Giants have to be happy with the results of the first two quarters. Other than the deep ball for Tate, New York has had no offense to speak of, but the Giants are still in this thing. The Patriots need to have the sort of offensive momentum they got at the end of the first half carry over into the third quarter. A halftime lead at Gillette is as secure as they get when you stack it against the rest of the league, but they need more on offense. Defensively? Again, other than the Jones TD pass for Tate, it’s been business as usual for the group. No reason to change things up, in my opion.
9:54 p.m.: A QB sneak from Brady makes it 21-14 with 36 seconds left in the first half. A good answering drive for the offense, but they need to keep that level of consistency throughout the second half. Can’t let the Giants think they have a chance in this one.
9:45 p.m.: In year’s past, in tight situations, Brady has simply said “(Bleep) it,” and goes with his old reliables. I’d imagine we’d see a heavy dose of Edelman and White the rest of the way, with a little Bolden and Michel mixed in. (That being said, I’ve been impressed with what Meyers has done in relatively limited action.)
9:36 p.m.: So much for 28-7, eh? Great individual effort there by Golden to score after the sack and forced fumble on Brady. Carter forced the fumble and Golden did the scoop and score. A 41-yard run for the touchdown, and after the extra point, the game is tied at 14. Wow.
9:32 p.m.: The Giants get on the board with a really well-executed play, a pitch-and-catch betweem Jones and Tate down the Giants’ sideline that goes for 64 yards and a touchdown. It’s the first touchdown pass of the year allowed by the New England defense, and it gets New York back in the game -- it’s 14-7 with 6:05 to go in the first half. I still feel good about my 28-7 prediction, but we shall see.
9:24 p.m.: That 23-yard pickup from Meyers was good for a few reasons, including the fact the rookie made an adjustment to come back to the ball in the middle of the play. He also appeared to give a gentle push to the defensive back to get separation. Encouraging for a young receiver still learning the nuances of the game. Gets New England down near the goal line, and Bolden finishes it off. The extra point is good, and it’s 14-0 with 7:11 left in the first half.
9:13 p.m.: Matt LaCosse (knee) and Patrick Chung (chest) are questionable to return.
9:11 p.m.: Pats could use a steady, soul-sucking drive here in the second quarter to make a statement. Brady is 5-for-9 for 59 yards and an INT, and Bolden (who contines to have a really good year) has one carry for 21 yards, in addition to his special teams’ contributions.
9:02 p.m.: That’s the sort of jolt the Patriots needed -- a blocked punt and touchdown from rookie Chase Winovich. Great play from New England’s special teamers, and the Patriots are up 7-0 with 1:41 left in the first quarter. Conversely, if you’re the Giants, that’s the sort of thing you can’t afford to have happen on a night like this -- there’s no margin for error in this one.
8:49 p.m.: It’s clear this is going to be the M.O. for some of the games -- as the New England offense kind of figures things out in the early going, the group can rely on a stingy defense to keep the game in check. Not a lot to like about the New York offense so far, but the Pats’ offense is also trying to find its footing.
8:43 p.m.: The two teams trade picks, and New York gets the ball back with a nice interception from Jenkins. The Giants have it back, and after a good return, have good field position, even after the penalty. New York has an opportunity to go up early.
8:35 p.m.: Opponents are now 8-for-64 on the season on third down against the Patriots defense. New England forces a punt, and will start its second offensive possession of the night with 9:44 left in the first quarter.
8:29 p.m.: After an excellent start, the Patriots were unable to pick up the first down when faced with third and short and fourth and short situations. Not a great look for the offensive line. New York ball with 11:27 left in the first quarter.
8:00 p.m.: All right, it’s prediction time. I would have loved to have seen a game with a healthy Saquon Barkley, but Daniel Jones without Barkley in this one for the Giants will be like trying to fight a 1988 Mike Tyson with one arm tied behind your back. Even if the New York defense finds a way to slow Brady and the Patriots, I can’t envision a scenario where the Giants do anything more than score a fluky touchdown (like Washington last week). The weather could slow things for Brady, I suppose, but not much. If I’m a Pats’ fan, i want to see Nugent get a couple of solid kicks under his belt early to try and develop some consistency moving forward. In the end, I’ll go New England 28, New York 7.
7:55 p.m: I’ve heard all the excuses, but to me, instead of color rush on Thursday night, the league needs to embrace Throwback Thursday and have teams wear old-school uniforms when they play in this one.
7:48 p.m.: When it comes to the latest weather, it’s been back and forth all day, but the latest has showers starting just after nine, so weather could be an issue in the second half of this one. It also figures to be windy, which means it could be a challenge for both kickers. Something worth keeping an eye on as the evening develops.
7:30 p.m: When it comes to the comments from Kraft regarding Gronkowski, I don’t think anyone should be surprised. The combination of the Patriots possibly needing a boost on offense, combined with what could be an itch to return on the part of the Big Fella, likely served as a partial catalyst to reignite the rumor. (I can’t imagine what Bill Belichick must think when he hears quotes like this from the owner.) Gronkowski doesn’t owe anything to anyone -- I’d love to be able to see him walk at the age of 45 -- but if he wants to return, the Pats would love to have him back. I know others have discussed this before, but I fiurmly believe there’s one guy who could bring him back -- if Brady puts the full-court press on him, then, that would be a game-changer. Can you imagine him returning for, say, the game against the Chiefs?
7:19 p.m.: Not a lot of action on the line in the hours leading up to this one, as the Patriots opened the week as a favorite anywhere between 15 and 17 points, and it’s stayed that way pretty much the entire week. Thought this was interesting -- have to imagine the weather will have some sort of impact here. (For what it’s worth, I think it’s going to be a blowout, but a 40-3 game might be a tough target.
7:13 p.m.: Here’s your pregame reading list for tonight’s contest:
7:05 p.m.: The following players are inactive tonight for the Patriots: Burkhead, Dorsett, Cody Kessler, Damien Harris, Joejuan Williams, Byron Cowart and Kory Cunningham. Again, not a great look for Harris, who is inactive despite the fact the Patriots are also without Burkhead. Likely means a ton of work for Sony Michel and James White, with a little bit of run for Brandon Bolden. No real surprises when it comes to the rest of the list -- Williams, Cowart and Cunningham have all racked up previous inactives. And with no Dorsett, I’d expect more targets for the likes of Josh Gordon and Jakobi Meyers. But we shall see how it all shakes out tonight.
6:47 p.m.: Well, this is interesting.
Robert Kraft is on NFL Network.— Henry McKenna (@McKennAnalysis) October 10, 2019
He was asked if he thinks Patriots can coax Gronk back.
"We all love Gronk and I think the bottom line is, he hasn't put his retirement papers in. We can pray and hope. ... I think that's a good academic argument that there is hope with Gronk."
6:40 p.m.: Welcome back to football! The Patriots are set to meet the Giants tonight at Gillette Stadium. New York’s rookie quarterback Daniel Jones faces a sizable challenge -- no rookie signal-caller has ever won at Gillette against Bill Belichick, and Jones is without Saquon Barkley, making that obstacle even tougher. For the Patriots, we know they’re a little banged up on offense, as they won’t have Rex Burkhead and Phillip Dorsett. The thinking is that between the (expected) bad weather and the New England defense, that’ll be enough to carry the day for the Patriots. We’ll have the inactives before the top of the hour, as well as a weather update, the latest line, and a pregame reading list to get you ready for this one.