FOXBOROUGH — The Boogeymen were back getting their groove on again Thursday night.
These guys are here to do whatever they can to secure a Patriots victory.
New England linebackers Jamie Collins and Kyle Van Noy combined on the play of the night with Collins forcing a late fumble and Van Noy cashing it in for the 28-14 lead in an eventual 35-14 win over the Giants at Gillette Stadium.
Van Noy grabbed the loose ball, tiptoed down the sideline, and soared Julian Edelman style to the pylon, knocking it off its perch for an exclamation point on his 6-pointer.
“Just hold on to the ball,’’ Van Noy deadpanned when asked what he was thinking while airborne.
He then cracked a smile and chuckled before revealing, “I was thinking about Bill [Belichick], to be honest, because I didn’t want to lose the football because I’d have been in some trouble. I was glad I didn’t.’’
The Patriots also scored on three 1-yard runs, including two from Tom Brady, and a blocked punt return, once again getting contributions from all three phases.
The Patriots survived the Giants despite sending a parade of players to the blue popup tent over the course of the night as the medical staff hustled around like a M*A*S*H unit.
Matt LaCosse (knee), Josh Gordon (knee), Patrick Chung (chest), Dont’a Hightower (shoulder), J.C. Jackson (knee), and Jakob Johnson (shoulder) all needed first aid.
Injuries have become far too common in these Thursday night games as players who are used to getting adequate rest after a Sunday game are forced to sacrifice rest and recovery time.
It was a testament to the depth and versatility of the Patriots’ roster that it could take hit after hit yet still dominate the Giants (2-4).
“It’s tough, but at the end of the day we have a lot of depth on this team — offensively, defensively, special teams,” safety Duron Harmon said. “At any time somebody can get hurt, but we’ve got guys who we count on and who are confident to go in there, me being one of those guys to just go in there and keep this ship rolling with no letdowns and just continue to just find ways to win and play good defense.”
With Phillip Dorsett out and Gordon sidelined for the second half, the Patriots’ offense ran the final 30 minutes with rookie wideouts Jakobi Meyers and Gunner Olszewski playing heavy minutes.
The 6-0 Patriots now get 11 days to lick their wounds before traveling to the Meadowlands for Monday night date with the Jets Oct. 21.
With the Patriots’ offense stuck in neutral, Brandon Bolden decided a special effort was in order.
The versatile veteran with the long blond dreadlocks knifed through the Giants’ protection and blocked Riley Dixon’s punt at the 19-yard line late in the first quarter. The ball sputtered in the air for what seemed like a New York minute before Chase Winovich, the rookie with the long blond hair, snatched it and hustled in from the 6 for the touchdown and a 7-0 lead.
“I was thinking somebody’s going to hit me [before the ball came down],’’ said Winovich of his first touchdown since his high school quarterbacking days. “Shout out to my teammates for blocking the punt and blocking and helping me finish the play.’’
Winovich chucked the ball into the stands and acknowledged he didn’t realize he’d be facing a fine for his celebration.
“No regrets,’’ he said. “I didn’t get the ball back yet, but I’m hoping the lucky fan returns it to the proper owner.’’
With the offense continuing to sputter, including a turnover on downs and a Brady interception, the defense, like it has all season, gave them a little nudge when Harmon picked off an errant Daniel Jones throw and returned it to the Giants’ 20-yard line.
It took New England five plays to cash in on the turnover when Bolden busted over from the 1 for a 14-0 lead.
The Giants weren’t interested in just playing the part of the punching bag, however, and quickly tied it in Patriots-like fashion — with a big play from their quarterback and another from their defense.
Jones hit Golden Tate in stride for a beautiful 64-yard touchdown down the right sideline. Jones dropped the pass where only Tate, who was draped by Jonathan Jones, could catch it.
The Patriots were mounting a drive when disaster struck in the form of Lorenzo Carter, who drilled Brady for an 9-yard strip sack. Linebacker Markus Golden scooped up the loose ball and returned it 42 yards for the tying touchdown.
To add injury to insult, Gordon hurt his left knee when his leg bent awkwardly as he tried to tackle Golden inside the 5-yard line.
Gordon stayed on the ground for several minutes before limping off under his own power. He spent time in the medical tent and on the stationary bike before being listed as questionable to return.
With LaCosse already out with a knee injury, the Patriots abandoned their heavy, two-tight-end packages and stuck to 11 personnel (three receivers, one running back, one tight end) on the ensuing possession.
New England marched 75 yards on 11 plays, with Brady capping the drive with a 1-yard push to give the Patriots a 21-14 lead.
New York couldn’t answer on its opening drive of the second half as Stephon Gilmore picked off a Jones pass — New England’s third interception of the game.
The Patriots, with Gordon on the sideline and LaCosse in the locker room, stuck with the 11 personnel featuring Meyers and Olszewski.
New England embarked on a clock-killing 16-play drive but came up with bupkis when Mike Nugent’s 40-yard field goal attempt clanged off the left upright.
The Patriots stifled the Giants on their next possession and headed to the fourth quarter still clinging to a 7-point lead.